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AdmissionsQuest's onBoarding School blog anniversaryAn epiphany struck us today; onBoarding Schools, our boarding school blog, launched one year ago today. Via serendipity, or just plain old "dumb luck," this first birthday coincides with this 150th post.

We've averaged almost 3 entries a week since starting with Brian doing lots of the heavy lifting. He has done a fantastic job keeping AQ's finger on the pulse of the boarding school world.

I extend heartfelt thanks to our readers & contributors who keep the questions and conversations thoughtful and lively. Our readers move the dialog; I hope you'll continue reading and commenting.

Photo credit: darkewolf
Because of the current financial crisis in our country, people are hesitant to consider applying to independent schools thinking they can't afford the tuitions. I am writing to tell the readers not to despair... all boarding schools offer generous financial aid to families who can demonstrate financial need.

Yes, the application process can be daunting, but the end result may be admission to a terrific boarding school program where your son or daughter can shine. And the great thing about financial aid is that your request for aid does not have any impact on admission to the school. Admissions decisions are separate from financial aid decisions. This does not mean that every family who applies for aid will get it. Schools usually get many more requests than they can meet. Sometimes your son or daughter may be accepted to the school but get put an a waitlist for financial assistance. In addition, aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and failure to meet the firm deadlines of the Financial Aid Committee may eliminate you from consideration. So be very cognizant of the deadlines. Priority for aid is oftentimes given to returning students.

All schools use the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS) to collect basic information on income, assets, family size and the number of siblings in private schools charging tuition. SSS prepares a needs analysis which the school uses as a basis for its award. You can contact SSS for a copy of the Parent Financial Statement (PFS) at 866 387 2601 or online at www.nais.org/go/sss. Admissions Directors at the various schools and private Educational Consultants can help you navigate through the application process.

As stated earlier, don't give up on your dream of enrolling your child in an independent school because of finance. Take advantage of the generosity of schools through need based financial aid programs.

Good luck!!
There are many different kinds of boarding schools in the United States. Some are highly academic and serve only exceptional and motivated students. Others are geared to working with the average to above student. And a few select schools work with children and adolescents with special needs which cannot be met by traditional or regular programs. These special needs schools can address a wide variety of disorders from Aspergers Syndrome to dyslexia to emotional problems. Some are college preparatory; others have a more transitional mission and are preparing their students for a return to the mainstream.

Families oftentimes find it a daunting task to identify the right boarding school for the "special" child. Websites and brochures don't give enough detailed information for a parent to make an informed decision. Current psychological and academic testing may be inconclusive so parents don't understand the problems or how to best treat them. Some families seek the counsel of an educational consultant to help them sort through the various options. Whether a family uses a consultant or searches on their own, it is vital to find the school that is the "right fit"; one that can address the child's unique learning style.

Close to 20% of the school age population are diagnosed with a learning difference. Most of these children have a problem using language and are said to have a language based learning disorder. Others have a non-verbal learning disability and struggle with some of the following: organizational difficulties, poor social skills, visual-spacial weaknesses, conceptual reasoning deficits. Many children have attentional issues and executive functioning deficits. Some LD students just need small classes, academic support and minor classroom accomodations; others whose LD issues are severe and more debilitating, need direct and intense skills-based language remediation. There is a significant difference between academic support and remediation. Boarding schools that offer support usually have a few LD trained teachers in tutorial center. Their role is to help the LD student keep up with what's happening in the classroom. On the other hand, remedial instruction is a structural approach to helping the child learn strategies to compensate for their weaknesses. Curriculums at these schools use a multisensory approach and experiental teaching strategies. All teachers at these schools are trained in using these techniques. It is very important for parents to understand the difference and to know what a boarding school can and can't do before placing their LD child.
Most people are not aware of the fact that there are a number of boarding schools that serves the needs of boys and girls of middle school age (10-15). Some of these schools are for high achieving, highly motivated students; others are for children who struggle with some aspect of the learning process and for whom academics can be a challenge. This range is one of the great things about junior boarding schools; there is a place for anyone. The job of the Educational Consultant is to help the family find the right fit and to guide the family through the admission process. For more information about this unique group of schools and specific info about each school, check out their website at www.jbsa.org.

I recently visited 2 junior boarding schools devoted to working with students with learning differences--The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont and the Linden Hill School in Northfield, Massachusetts. Both are for boys only and enroll a small number of students-- Linden Hill has 32 students, Greenwood 44. Remediation of a language based learning disability (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, etc.) is the focus of each school although they will also enroll boys with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I was impressed by the level of personal care at each school. Teachers and Administrators know each student and their specific needs. Faculty training is extensive and constant. Students often enter the school with low self confidence and a lack of academic success and leave with a new set of academic skills and a belief they can be accomplished students. The programs are highly structured, success oriented and offer an array of competitive and recreational sports and extensive arts and other extracurricular activities. The boys who graduate from these two schools will usually enter a secondary boarding school that can continue to provide academic support and, in some cases, language remediation. Each school has a Director of Placement who will help the family select the right high school and will assist with the application process.

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AdmissionsQuest's blog dedicated to boarding school admission & schools.

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