You have made the tough decision to enroll your son or daughter in boarding school and have even eliminated a few places. However, you now need to narrow down your choices to “the” one that is right for you and your child. You might feel understandably overwhelmed and aren’t exactly sure how to go about this process. Here are some tips that will help you make your final decision.
1. School location – While you might want your child to leave the state, you probably don’t want him or her on the other side of the country. Consider neighboring states or even those within a two-hour flight. Look at the locations of major airports, their distance to the facility and the overall ease of access for when you visit.
2. School cost – Therapeutic boarding schools can vary widely in cost. Set a budget, and stick to it. However, don’t eliminate every school that is out of your price range as some of them might have grants, scholarships or other funding that can help subsidize your expenses.
3. Types of facilities – While you can get an idea of the type of school from photos on a website or in a brochure, nothing beats actually visiting the facilities in person to see what the program looks like. In addition, an older facility is not necessarily less desirable than a newer facility. Observe the amount of campus space and the overall appeal of the dorm set-up, libraries, laboratories and the cafeteria. Remember to consider the intangibles of the general “feel” of the campus. Does it seem warm and inviting or do students seem withdrawn and unhappy?
4. Therapy model – Nearly all schools offer individual and group therapy. However, you might not realize that other types of therapy, including experiential, family and recreational, can greatly benefit your child.
5. Extra-curricular activities – Does your child enjoy theater and the arts? Or is he or she more sports-minded? In either case, look for a school that has the extra-curricular activities that will interest your child. Remember to consider social groups, off-campus opportunities and other clubs before you make the final decision.
6. Student-body size – You know your child and how school size might affect him or her. Narrow your choices down to the minimum and maximum student-body size that you and your teen prefer.
7. Type of education – While academics are important, they might be near the bottom of your priority list unless you want your child enrolled at a top university. Your goal is to have your child finish high school, and all therapeutic boarding schools for teens focus on academics. However, they will differ in the type of schooling, student-to-staff ratio, protocol for making up lost credits and other variables. In addition, consider staff-to-student ratio and the types of classes offered.