Three Under 23K: Subiaco Academy, St. Bernard Prep, Houghton Academy

Talking about boarding school bargains is something of an oxymoron. How can a $23,000, or less, annual tuition for a high school education be construed as bargain? Easily, in light of the fact that traditional boarding school tuition runs about $42,500. Easily, in light of the lasting affects that a sound boarding school education can have on a student.

A student’s growth and development combined with the permanent, lasting effects, of an education from any one of these schools possibly makes 23k a bargain.

Affordability is an issue.

Here at AdmissionsQuest, questions regarding affordability, and financing a boarding school education, come in at a rate higher than all others save- school inquiries. Some colleges have been addressing ‘affordability’ for roughly 25 years. I’m proud to see the serious conversation beginning in the boarding school community.

Higher priced schools work to defray their tuition sticker price through financial aid- mostly in the forms of tuition remission grants and or loans.

However, with each school administering its own aid and relying on its own internal monies to finance its financial aid pool, the limits are obvious. Tuition income, endowment income, minus operating expenses, leaves only so much money for financial aid grants and awards. Schools do the best they can.

For many families, expensive schools remain expensive, even with a financial aid award.

Three Schools Committed To Affordability

I share this look at Subiaco, St. Bernard and Houghton because I’ve learned over the last couple of years that, through their philosophical and practical commitments, these schools provide a traditional boarding education at a lower cost than most all of their peers.

This group features two coeducational schools and one all boys school.

I came to know each school independently, but, as I visited campuses and spoke with their admission directors, I found a host of common philosophies and operational approaches that these schools share in their work with students and families.

How do they do it?

  1. Clear mission. These schools are very comfortable with who they are and who they are not.
  2. The first, most obvious, perspective to acknowledge- all three schools operate from a service-based religious commitment.
  3. They focus on serving regional families and students. All three schools are located outside of traditional boarding school concentrations (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Western Schools). All three schools love their international students and students from all over the United States. Their primary constituents are, however, regional.
  4. You will find relationships at the core of these schools. If you’re seeking fancy facilities and physical plants that rival, or dwarf, the facilities of some small colleges. You’ll need to look elsewhere.
  5. None are located in regions of concentrated affluence.
  6. Faculty at these schools live and embody a ‘life of service’ world view. Teaching is a labor of love and faculty members at these schools sacrifice personal gain in their commitment to teaching their students.
  7. Students, their learning and lessons, come first. The focus stays on school and personal growth of each student.

A Boys School

Subiaco Academy (Subiaco,AR)
Subiaco Academy is an all-boys (grades 7-12) college preparatory residential and day school founded in 1887. The school is an educational apostolate of the Benedictine monks at Subiaco Abbey located against the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains in the Arkansas River Valley.

“The Academy strives to instill in its students the spirit of St. Benedict expressed in his Rule: a respect for the value of work, development of personal talents to serve others, a sense of peace and fraternity, self-discipline, trust, and an appreciation of the Christ-centered nature of monastic communities. Subiaco provides an engaging and supportive environment that is academically well-rounded, structured, and challenging.”

Two Coeducational Schools

St. Bernard Preparatory School (Cullman, AL),
St. Bernard Prep is a co-ed Catholic boarding and day school for grades 7-12 operated by the Benedictine monks of St. Bernard Abbey.

I’m most fond of St. Bernard’s Prep’s stated Goals that move beyond a classroom setting. Here’s a paraphrased sampling:

The  instillation of “a solid background in Christian teaching and practice and in the rights and responsibilities of being members of Christ’s Body the Church, of American society, and of the global community.

To exemplify the Benedictine tradition of daily prayer and work.

To provide experiences by which students may explore, understand, appreciate, and develop tolerance for racial, cultural, and socioeconomic differences.

To help students establish patterns of lifelong spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health.

To present in a positive and healthy way, life-coping skills which address realistic questions, challenges, and problems that young people must encounter in our rapidly changing society.

To encourage students to investigate career possibilities that a higher education may offer them.

To expose students to aesthetic qualities through music, art, literature and other contemplative and creative media.

Houghton Academy (Houghton, NY)
Houghton Academy is a Christian, college-prep boarding and day school enrolling students in grades 6 – 12.

Headmaster Stockin is fond of describing our program as having a three-fold emphasis on head, heart and hands. We seek to supply core knowledge, allow knowledge to be informed by faith, and then encourage students to put their knowledge and faith into action. To that end, we offer more than academic coursework. We encourage our students to get involved in sports or music or drama or art or publishing as we believe that good education should encompass more than just books and information.

…When all is said and done, students should not learn merely for the sake of learning. Education should, inevitably, result in action…

…We seek to help our students recognize that day-to-day living offers many opportunities to serve and assist others. From the simple act of picking up a piece of paper off the floor to the intense moments spent volunteering in a nursing home, we strive to teach and model a lifestyle that is enthusiastically others-centered.

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