Attending an elite boarding school sets students up for lifelong success. It can open doors to prominent colleges, place students in a powerful alumni network, provide a top-notch education, and create lifelong friends.
Prestige is derived from more than just strong academics, though, so to determine the most elite boarding schools in America, we looked at the size of a school’s endowment, how selective it is based on its acceptance rate, and the average SAT score its students earn. To rank the schools, each metric was weighted equally.
Because of the scope of the list, we relied primarily on data from BoardingSchoolReview.com, a website that collects information on boarding schools directly from the institutions. Gaps in the data were confirmed with individual schools or taken from Niche, another organization that researches and compiles information on schools.
For the second year in a row, Phillips Exeter Academy earned the No. 1 spot on the list. Best known for pioneering the Harkness teaching method — a seminar-style class setting where the teacher and students sit around a table and freely discuss subjects — the school is highly selective with a 19% acceptance rate and touts an endowment of $1.15 billion, which is more than most colleges.
Read on to see the rest of the 50 most elite boarding schools in America.
Additional reporting by Andy Kiersz.
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50. St. Anne’s-Belfield School
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Endowment: $32 million
Acceptance rate: 35%
Though only 17% of ninth- to 12th-grade students live at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, boarders are essential to the school’s diversity and inclusivity commitment. St. Anne’s-Belfield is also deeply interested in reducing the gender gap in computer-science-related disciplines by mandating technology education courses for all K-12 students, with an emphasis on college prep for the upper school.
49. Shattuck-St. Mary’s School
Location: Faribault, Minnesota
Endowment: $25 million
Acceptance rate: 36%
Shattuck-St. Mary’s School takes a unique approach to education with programs that allow students to learn at their own pace. As part of the school’s new ScholarShift program, 11th- and 12th-graders take blended classes that officially meet only twice a week, leaving time for students to speak one-on-one with instructors and pursue outside projects. For such projects, students can use the school’s weCreate space, which features studios for video editing, music recording, fashion design, and more.
48. Indian Springs School
Location: Indian Springs, Alabama
Endowment: $12 million
Acceptance rate: 52%
Inspired by the motto “learning through living,“ Indian Springs School takes education outside of the classroom. For instance, the student government is set up like a small town with a mayor and six commissioners and weekly town meetings, placing decision-making power in the hands of the students. The Indian Springs campus is 15 miles from Birmingham, Alabama’s biggest city, and its surrounding mountains, spring lake, and state park give students the chance to further explore outside a traditional academic setting.