Attending a top-notch boarding school sets students up for lifelong success, but some of the most elite boarding schools are incredibly selective about which students are right for the experience.
Business Insider recently published a list of the most elite boarding schools in America. The ranking was based on three metrics weighted equally: endowment, acceptance rate, and average SAT score. Here we've re-ranked the schools based solely on acceptance rate to determine which boarding schools are the country's most selective.
Despite Phillips Exeter Academy's title as the No. 1 most elite boarding school for the second year in a row, it comes in at No. 8 on this list with a 19% acceptance rate, tied with Milton Academy. The Groton School, the No. 5 most elite boarding school, is tied with The Thacher School as the most selective, each with an acceptance rate of 12%.
View the slideshow for the 16 most selective boarding schools in America:
At The Governor's Academy, each class is tailored toward helping students develop one of the school's seven essential skills, which include thinking critically, communicating effectively, and readily adapting to new situations. Students can also take advantage of the school's college counselors, who partner with them to help narrow down their choices and put together competitive applications.
The oldest Jesuit school in the country, Georgetown Prep focuses on helping each student build a strong mind, body, and spirit. The all-boys school provides ample opportunities for growth — in and out of the classroom — through numerous athletic teams, student publications, and extracurricular clubs, including speech and debate, chess, and student government.
Choate Rosemary Hall celebrated its 125th anniversary last year by ramping up its commitment to innovation. The school, which requires its students to bring iPads to class, dedicated a new mathematics and computer-science building that's LEED Gold-certified and home to Choate's award-winning Robotics Team and i.d.Lab — a tech-packed facility for creative thinking and innovation. There's also the Kohler Environmental Center, where juniors and seniors can enroll in the yearlong Environmental Immersion Program that combines sustainable living, study, and independent research.
An average class size of 12 and a 6-to-1 student-teacher ratio allows Peddie School to give each student individual attention and academic support. It pays off: The most popular college destinations among recent Peddie graduates include prestigious schools like New York University, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell.
The Taft School's volunteer program, sustainability initiatives, and Center for Global Leadership and Service support the school's motto: "Not be served but to serve." Students have the opportunity to graduate with a "Service Diploma," which asserts a second-language proficiency and community-service experiences abroad. In the last five years, graduates matriculated to top schools, including George Washington University, Georgetown, and Cornell.
Students at The Hotchkiss Schoolhail from all over — 35 states and 34 countries, in fact — and can venture back into the world for a semester abroad in France, Italy, China, Spain, or one of Hotchkiss' domestic destinations. During school breaks, students can also participate in shorter, faculty-led tours of places such as Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Kenya, and elsewhere.
The Lawrenceville School is defined by its House System: a living situation for boarders and day students where each of the 18 dormitories represents a subcommunity informed by grade and gender. The houses often compete for academic and athletic honors and have individual traditions like sports games and community-service events. Lawrenceville is committed to its Green Campus Initiative, which includes a 30-acre solar farm that covers 90% of the school's energy needs.
Students at Milton Academy narrow down their schedules from a wide range of courses, choosing between everything from Latin literature to computer programming to jazz improvisation. Outside the classroom, students can also participate in community-service and outdoor programs like rock climbing, kayaking, and camping.
At Phillips Exeter Academy, all classes are taught seminar-style, with students gathered around circular tables. The strategy, known as the Harkness method, originated at Exeter and is the school's signature — and students love it. According to the school, pupils come to class prepared and ready to discuss, and engage with the material on a deeper level than could be achieved through traditional lectures.
Exeter counts Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg among its notable alumni.
The Middlesex campus was designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm and is just 20 miles outside Boston, among some of the country's most historic towns. The school balances personal exploration and demanding academics — an Introduction to Mindfulness course that teaches pupils how to reduce stress and improve relationships is required for all new students. Notable alumni include former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and Kevin Systrom, the cofounder of Instagram.
Deerfield Academy provides 35% of its student body with $8 million in financial aid annually.In addition to participating academically, students are required to be involved in a cocurricular activity like community service, dance, theater, or sports. More than one-fourth of Deerfield's 330-acre campus is comprised of athletic fields, tennis courts, a fitness center, and a 5,900-square-foot boathouse along the Connecticut River.
During their time at St. Paul's School, students engage with class material through hands-on assignments and collaborative projects, including experimentation in laboratories and exploration outside the classroom. Graduates of St. Paul's then go on to top-tier universities, with Georgetown, Brown, Columbia, and Harvard included as some of the most popular choices over the past four years.
The vigorous academic courses at Cate School are designed to foster students' self-knowledge and the village-like campus — known as the Mesa — encourages students to take advantage of the nearby Los Padres National Forest and Pacific Ocean for outdoor learning and leisure activities. Cate School's selectivity could be explained by its commitment to diversity: The student body is comprised of 42% students of color from 31 states and 17 countries.
A total of 835 students board at Phillips Academy Andover, the oldest incorporated boarding school in the US, now in its 238th year. The school offers students a rigorous academic curriculum — and access to two on-campus museums — in preparation for college. Over the last three years, dozens of graduates went on to attend all eight Ivy League schools with the most at UPenn, Harvard, and Yale. Former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are alumni.
The Thacher School is in California's serene Ojai Valley where the mountains run east to west and hiking and horseback riding are common outdoor activities for students and faculty. The school aims to teach its student body — 90% of whom are boarders — the value of a disciplined education in congruence with adventures in the wilderness.
At Groton, students must take at least five full-credit courses per semester, including classes in expository writing, ethics, and foreign language. More than just academics, Groton also prioritizes its sense of community, a value emphasized by traditions such as morning Chapel Talk, daily check-ins, surprise holidays, and the school birthday dinner.
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Forbes top colleges 2015
The 16 most selective boarding schools in America
#10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Founded in 1861 and now one of the nation’s premier technological institutions, MIT is the No. 10 college on FORBES' rankings list this year. MIT’s academic community includes 80 Nobel laureates, 56 National Medal of Science winners, 43 MacArthur Fellows, and 28 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners. Located in Cambridge, MA, MIT is part of a vibrant intellectual community that includes cross-registration partners Harvard University and Wellesley College. Home to the acclaimed MIT Media Lab, the school excels in the art, science, and business of innovation. According to the National Science Foundation, MIT ranks first in industry-financed research and development expenditures among all universities and colleges without a medical school. About 56% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Though best known for its excellence in STEM fields, the university also has noteworthy fiction and poetry programs. The school is often referenced in popular media such as “Good Will Hunting” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Notable alumni include the billionaire Koch brothers, American economist Lawrence Summers, and Khan Academy founder Salman Khan.
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#9. Amherst College
Ranked at No. 9 this year, Amherst College is one of the top small private liberal arts schools in the country and one of the few need-blind institutions. About 57% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $43,000. Since Amherst belongs to the Five College Consortium, students can attend free classes at Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts. Amherst offers bachelor’s degrees in 38 fields of study, and many students work one-on-one with renowned faculty members who have received awards from National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. The college boasts one of the oldest intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation, with 27 NCAA Division III varsity teams known as Lord Jeffs. Students can select from over 100 different clubs and groups, including Croquet Club and a Much Ado About Knitting group. The 1,000-acre campus is home to the Wildlife Sanctuary, the Book & Plow Farm and four museums. Students take advantage of the snowy Massachusetts winters by grabbing dining trays and sledding down Memorial Hill.
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#8. Brown University
Ranked at No. 8 this year, Brown University has the reputation as the most eccentric and liberal of the Ivies. Brown offers an open curriculum in over 40 academic departments, imposing no core requirements and allowing students to “concentrate” rather than “major” in their preferred areas of study. About 47% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Established in 1764, Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the U.S., celebrating its 250th anniversary in the previous academic year.
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#7. Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College, ranked at No. 7 this year, is a private liberal arts school in Swarthmore, PA, whose students are known for their academic intensity. Founded in 1864, the college is located just 11 miles outside Philadelphia. Students can choose from more than 40 courses of study. First-year seminars are capped at just 12 students. Swarthmore is a member of the Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and students can cross-register for courses at the nearby University of Pennsylvania. About 49% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $36,000. Those looking to get involved outside of the classroom and laboratory can participate more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Around 93% of students live on the 425-acre campus, which is home to the 300-acre Scott Arboretum full of trees and perennials. Swarthmore is the third-highest producer of Ph.D. students in the country, with nearly 20% of students entering doctoral programs after graduation.
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#6. Harvard University
Founded in 1636 and now ranked No. 6, Harvard University was the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. Its history, influence and wealth haven’t stopped it from experimenting with new educational models in experiential learning and online platforms, such as edX, co-founded in 2012 with nearby MIT. Harvard alumni include 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. Scores of prominent people in business, the arts, politics and more have studied and taught at the university, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., NBA star Jeremy Lin, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and actress Natalie Portman, who delivered the 2015 Class Day address. FORBES' No. 46 Power Woman Drew Gilpin Faust currently serves as the university’s president. Harvard boasts the largest university endowment in the U.S. at $36 billion and has taken a stand against fossil fuel divestment. In June 2015, Harvard received the largest gift in its history of $400 million to endow a School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The school motto is “veritas,” which is Latin for “truth.” About 58% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging about $42,000.
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#5. Yale University
Granted its charter in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the country and ranked at No. 5 in the country this year. The 1,153-acre campus in New Haven, CT, is home to 440 buildings and four museums, including the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Collection of Musical Instruments. Undergraduate students can choose from more than 2,000 courses and 81 majors. The most popular majors are economics, political science, history and psychology. The library is one of the largest in the country and houses more than 15 million volumes. Yale boasts an endowment of $19.3 billion. 51% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $43,000.
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#4. Princeton University
Chartered in 1746, Princeton University is one of the oldest colleges in the country, and ranked No. 4 on this year's list. Nassau Hall, first among the historic buildings that adorn Princeton’s 500-acre campus in Princeton, NJ, served as the nation’s capital in 1783. Undergraduates may select from 36 academic departments. Nine current faculty members are Nobel Prize recipients. The university’s generous financial aid program provides grants and campus jobs in place of student loans. 60% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging more than $34,000. Admitted students can defer their enrollment for a year to participate in community service work abroad through the Bridge Year program. On-campus housing is guaranteed for all four years for undergraduates.
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#3. Stanford University
Located in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the tech world, Stanford University is a private research university ranked at No. 3 this year. The school is known for its strength in research and successful alumni. Railroad magnate Leland Stanford founded the school in 1885. Stanford boasts more than 5,300 externally sponsored research projects with a total budget of over $1.3 billion. About 53% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging more than $39,000. The university has produced a number of leaders in government and finance, including U.S. president Herbert Hoover, four U.S. Supreme Court justices and business moguls like Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Marissa Mayer. Around 93% of students live on Stanford’s campus, which consists of around 700 major buildings across 8,180 acres.
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#2. Williams College
The No. 2 Top College, Williams College is a highly elite liberal arts school in Williams, MA whose students are known for their academic and athletic prowess. Founded in 1793 as a men’s college, it began admitting women in 1970. Williams follows a 4-1-4 annual schedule, in which students take four courses during the fall and spring semesters and one course during the winter term. While students can choose from 36 majors, they are required to take three languages and arts, three social sciences and three science and math classes. Around 96% of the student body participates in at least one of the 150 student organizations and 53% of freshmen receive school grants averaging $40,000. The 32 varsity athletic teams, nicknamed the Ephs, compete at the NCAA Division III level.
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#1. Pomona College
The No. 1 college in the country this year, Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, CA, offering 47 majors and 600 classes. Established in 1887, it is the founding member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of neighboring schools. Students can choose from over 2,000 classes offered through the consortium. Around 80% of students have taken a class at another Claremont school. 57% of freshmen receive grants from the school averaging nearly $40,000. Nearly all students live on campus.