Boarding School Admissions & Application Process
A boarding school is a residential school where pupils live and study during the academic year. When parents choose to send their child to a boarding school, they must organise admission by following its enrolment process.
The enrolment process will vary from school to school. It will usually entail organising a visit to assess if the environment is suited to their child and their needs. The next stage is filling in an application form and paying a fee to register interest. Registered children will be invited to sit the school’s entrance examinations, including an online test, an interview - or both. Schools then must assess their applications and decide which pupils they will offer places to.
The process can be completed within two weeks in certain circumstances and subject to availability. Most boarding schools recommend applying for admission at least a year before your desired start date.
Some boarding schools have specific intakes, but some operate on a rolling intake basis. If you want to send your child to boarding school, it is important to establish the application process and timeframe at your institution of choice.
What is the admission process for a boarding school?
The admissions process includes five steps, from an initial visit to completing an application form and accepting a place that leads to admission to the school, which means receiving an offer of a place and a start date.
The first step of the admissions process is a visit to the school. Visits are conducted in person wherever possible if the family lives within a suitable distance of the premises; international students can visit online. Parents can organise a personalised visit or join a school open day event if there is one in the near future. Visiting allows families to experience a school in action and meet both teaching and admissions staff.
If the visit is successful, as a second step, parents can complete an online or offline application form to register interest. Boarding school admissions processes will vary, but most schools will require a registration fee at this stage.
Following the application form submission, as a third step, prospective pupils are invited in for an entrance assessment and interview, depending on the child’s age. International pupils can sit their assessments and be interviewed online.
The fourth step is for the school to consider all applicants, including those who have made financial aid applications, and then issue decision letters to parents with an offer of a place and a start date for successful candidates.
The fifth and last step of the admissions process is for parents to formally accept the offer and enroll their child.
How to apply for a boarding school?
To apply for a place at a boarding school, parents are advised to arrange a visit in the first instance. A visit can be arranged by completing an admissions enquiry on the school’s website detailing the child’s age and desired year of entry, or by calling the school to arrange a personalised appointment or to attend an open day event.
Following a visit, parents can apply for a place for their child by requesting and completing a registration form, and returning it with the required (usually non-returnable) fee. When the school has received the form and the fee, prospective pupils will be sent an email or a letter confirming a date for their assessment and interview.
Entry points can vary across boarding schools and of course, availability is fluid. Some boarding schools have specified intake dates and associated deadlines, whereas some operate on a rolling intake basis.
For students applying to school for a scholarship there are specific intake points per school. There are various types of scholarships available across arts, sports, etc. and assessments vary for these. Academic scholarships are based on performance at the entrance assessment. There is typically a dedicated scholarship application form, a fee, and dedicated application deadlines for specific year groups. Students applying for a bursary will be able to contribute significantly to the school and from the education provided. Financial aid in the form of a bursary is awarded for one year only, after which a new application form is required.
How to fill out the registration form for boarding school?
To fill out the registration form, locate it online and download it from the Admissions section of the school website. Prospective parents are also given a physical form to fill in when they visit if they are interested in registering for their child. The form is simple to complete. Parents must also submit the child's latest school report, a copy of their child's passport (and their own passports if they're international). Additional relevant supporting information personal to the child, such as medical info, must also be submitted with the registration form.
What is the application timeframe for boarding school?
There is no definite time frame for boarding applications but schools prefer they are submitted a year before entry. In certain instances, the whole admissions timeframe, from a visit to a decision can be completed within two weeks. It is important to establish the process and timelines at your school of choice so you know what to expect.
The next stage is for the school to consider all applicants, including those who have made fee support applications, such as scholarships and bursaries.
Is there an interview for boarding school?
Yes, there is an interview for boarding school. Prospective pupils up to and including Sixth Form are invited to attend in person for an informal interview, while international students are interviewed online. The Headmaster or a member of the Senior Leadership Team will conduct the 30-minute interview which follows the online tests on assessment day.
Do you need to do a test to apply for boarding school?
Yes, prospective pupils must sit a test as part of an assessment day (08.30 am to 4.00 pm). They will participate in some lessons before sitting online tests during their visit. The online assessment includes English, Maths, and verbal and spatial reasoning.
International students sit the online test. They also sit an English as an Additional Language assessment. Reports and references are also required from the child’s current school, as well as informal conversations about whether the child is mature enough to attend a boarding school even if they are deemed of a suitable age.
Do you need to write an essay to apply for boarding school?
Yes, many schools require pupils to write an essay to apply for boarding school as part of the entrance test but Stonar does not.
What age should a student be to go to a boarding school?
Boarding schools accept children from age four but, the ideal age range of students is nine to 18. At Stonar, children board from Year 5 to Sixth Form.
The age at which an individual should go to boarding school varies depending on the school, their unique needs, and the parents' preferences.
Some factors to consider when deciding the right age for your child to go to boarding school are the child’s maturity levels, academic needs, family circumstances, and your child’s preferences. Some parents might be better off waiting until their child is older before boarding. The decision to board should be made mutually between pupils and their parents.
Boarding fees alter according to the child’s age.
How much does boarding school cost?
The cost of boarding varies from school to school, and different termly prices apply depending on the child's age. In the UK, boarding can cost anything from £10,000 for Prep pupils to upwards of £50,000 per annum for Seniors. Sometimes, financial aid is available. E.g., talented pupils may be awarded a scholarship for boarding, while others might be afforded a bursary in specific circumstances, to cover some of the school fees.
As well as varying by age, factors affecting the cost of boarding school can include the location, the school’s reputation, and facilities. The world’s most expensive boarding school costs £100,000 per year.
The fees paid by parents contribute towards the quality of the experience. Boarding schools can offer an enhanced academic experience due to smaller classes and personalised learning. They can also provide ample opportunities for character development through building independence and resilience via a wealth of extracurricular activities, international exposure, and enriching trips that contribute to life experience.
What is life like at boarding school?
Following the admissions process, pupils feel excited to have been chosen to attend their chosen school and look forward to boarding life and making friends.
Boarding life maximises academic output and ensures fun downtime. A typical day in boarding school follows a schedule for all pupils. After lessons, pupils can enjoy free time or organised activities before eating supper together and studying in their boarding houses or their rooms during Prep Time.
At weekends, many boarding schools run compulsory Saturday classes. At Stonar, lessons are off at weekends and pupils can partake in various leisure activities with friends. Pupils of all ages return home during the longer school holidays and can stay on-site during half terms to be with friends.
Boarding feels like a home-from-home. The boarding houses are spacious and equipped with everything pupils need to feel at ease, and they are run by boarding parents who live on-site with their own families, contributing to the familial atmosphere.