A Guide to Boarding Schools for Troubled Youth

The "Right" Boarding Schools for Troubled Youths

Boarding schools for troubled teens are a great idea when it is necessary to remove your child from their present environment, to minimize distractions.

Boarding schools offer top-notch academics, which is at times more rigorous than curriculum found in mainstream public and private schools. Private boarding schools also offer structured study hours that are monitored by the staff. Your child will spend more time on studies and less time on other, more frivolous pursuits in a boarding school environment or therapeutic program for a troubled teenager.

The use of televisions, video games, and the internet are highly regulated within boarding schools, forcing children with emotional or behavior problems to find other ways to spend their free time. Many attendees play sports, read books, play music and tackle other outside pursuits. Students who are enrolled in a long term boarding school are usually very active, with very little downtime.

General Differences Between Boarding Schools and Non-Boarding Schools

The facilities that are afforded by boarding schools are typically better than those of their mainstream counterparts. Boarding schools typically have a better athletics program as well as a more comprehensive program for music and the fine arts. Boarding schools are typically set in locations where it is possible for children to take a chance on partaking in a program that they wouldn’t have otherwise have tried. Because of the wide range of activities and events offered by a boarding school, it is easy to see a child exponentially grow their interests while away from home.

While at a boarding school, your child will meet peers from a diverse background. Specialty boarding schools easily broaden the minds of its attendees, with students coming from all over the nation, as well as internationally. Students at a boarding school also earn a degree of independence during their stay, which preps them for the outside world. Your child will learn how to interact with others, while fine-tuning personal responsibilities, like cleaning up one’s room. 

The boarding school environment will help your child to figure out what is expected of them while helping them hone in on what they should expect from others.   Click here to learn about the pros and cons of boarding schools for teens.

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Picking the Right Boarding School for Your Teen

When choosing the correct boarding school for your teenager, there are several factors that come into play, not only with your teen but with the school that you are looking at. There are several different kinds of boarding schools, each with a different area of focus, to help nearly any kind of teenager.

Below we examine a few of the main types of boarding schools for teenagers, some of these schools are better suited for troubled teenagers or teens with behavioral problems.  A teen boarding school that specializes in troubled teenagers offers both academics and therapeutic programs in a  residential environment designed to improve the teen’s life.  

College Preparatory

Most boarding schools consider themselves college preparatory schools. These schools help prepare students for college life, better preparing them than public schools. Making the jump from normal home life to college dorm life can be an extreme shock to the teenager, and college preparatory schools help with that transition.

Religious Boarding Schools

Many families take their beliefs and practices extremely seriously. When looking into improving their child’s education is no different. There are several different kinds of religious boarding schools that cater to just about any major belief.

Junior Boarding Schools

This kind of boarding schools provide education to students in middle school and below. These boarding schools are not nearly as common as the more traditional boarding school for high school-aged students. They are commonly known as prep-schools, as they prepare the student for further education either in a public high school or a boarding school.

Pre-Professional Arts Schools

There are also boarding schools that have a main focus on the arts, be it performing arts or visual arts. These special kinds of boarding schools help prepare students for a future in the arts, starting with specialized colleges and leading all the way to their future careers. If you have a child that excels in music or art, these pre-professional arts schools could be for you.

Military Boarding Schools

Military Boarding Schools are a more common type of boarding schools. These facilities not only focus on academic achievement but help instruct its students in a military-style education, discipline, and tradition.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Provide clinical inpatient services for students with disabilities or other behavioral/social problems. This includes students dealing with ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorder, substance abuse issues, acting out, and many others. These are the best kind of boarding schools to help turn your troubled teens’ life around.

Choosing the Right Boarding School for Behavior Problems

Choosing where your child will learn is no easy task. If you decide boarding school is right for your child you will need to select which is the best boarding school option for them. In doing this you will need to consider what matters most to you and your family. You will apply these important factors to the selection process. Setting a schedule and following through with the steps you have created will help you handpick the school that is right for your family.

Searching for a Boarding School for Teens

Start a list of what you consider the most important aspects of a boarding school. Cost is normally a concern for any family and their budget. Tuitions will vary, and depending upon how much you are willing to pay will be the first step.  Boarding school tuition costs range between $30,000 to $60,000 per school year. 

Unfortunately, there are not free boarding schools in the US.  You may be able to find an “affordable” boarding school and there are scholarships and financial aid available.  If your child has special needs your school district may be able to provide resources or even reimburse for some expenses. Other considerations maybe if the school has a religious affiliation, their dress code, the number of students in the school, the acceptance rate, or if they offer certain sports or other extracurricular activities. Any other matters that are important to you should be added to a list. 

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Final Steps to Choosing the Right Boarding Schools

The next step is taking the list and identifying the boarding schools that fit within that desired spectrum of wants. At this stage, you will want to look at schools that may not fulfill all of your criteria. 10 to 15 schools is a good starting number of schools to initially look over. Then you will start to narrow your list down. Visit as many schools as possible. The feel of individual schools cannot be experienced through brochures and information alone.

Some of the last steps in the process would be admissions testing, applying and paying for the chosen boarding school. Most boarding schools will only accept students that score within a certain percentile of the admissions test. By the time you are ready to apply for a school you should have your list narrowed down to two or three. Before payment is arranged look for scholarships to see if any would apply to your youth.

Try to start your search 16-18 months before the admission dates. This will enable you to start your list and visit schools prior to the admission period. Visiting the schools that meet your criteria will be the most time-consuming portion but also one of the most valuable. If you keep to your scheduled steps the whole process can be much less overwhelming and should provide you with better results in your choice of boarding school.

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Updated 8/25/2020