Frequently Asked Questions about Boarding Schools, Wilderness Programs, Residential Treatment

These programs seem expensive. What types of financial assistance or insurance is available to help defray the cost?

Sallie Mae, Key Bank, and other lending institutions offer student loans for K-12 education at very competitive rates, which may cover part or, all of your child’s secondary private education. Because many programs are licensed to offer residential treatment for psychiatric diagnoses or substance abuse, your health insurance may cover some of the cost. Discuss this with the program’s admissions counselors and your insurance company to find out if this is the case.

What is the difference between the boarding schools I have always heard about and these “emotional growth” boarding schools?
The main difference is the focus on behavior. While academics are extremely important, if a teen is acting out, skipping class, defying teachers, and refusing to do homework, the best academic program in the world will not help them. Traditional boarding schools are fine for students who are already motivated, but a traditional boarding environment will not work for defiant teens whose behavior is out of control or who are significantly behind on schoolwork. The therapeutic boarding school that specializes in working with adolescents who need a highly structured environment and need not only academic support but therapeutic support is the place for students to receive focus is on their whole being–emotional, behavioral, and academic. The high ratio of instructors/therapists to students means no one child will slip through the cracks. These schools also specialize in learning disabilities or challenges such as attention deficit or dyslexia where the child is challenged without being frustrated.

What should I look for in choosing a residential program?
The most important aspect is to find a school that best suits the needs of your child. Some programs specialize in ADHD, some in substance abuse issues, some have reputations for turning failing students into top SAT scorers. Visit the school’s web sites and request materials from programs to make a list of the questions that are important to you before you contact an admissions counselor. Of course, you want to make sure you are making the best choice for your teen. Most programs will also offer phone numbers of parents who have sent their children to their school and these parents can help you decide if a particular residential program will best serve your child.

How long will my teen need to stay at a therapeutic boarding school?

The answer to this question varies from child to child. Wile one adolescent may only need a year to catch up, improve behavior, and develop more responsibility, another teenager may need 2 years to make up for lost coursework, deal with entrenched behavioral problems, and develop a more responsible attitude. Don’t make the mistake that many parents who enroll their children in such schools make. They are often too anxious to bring the teen home as soon as they see an improvement in behavior and therefore jeopardize their children’s future. Many therapists believe 24 months is the optimal period to effectively improve behavior and academic performance in a lasting way.