Boarding schools are under threat ...

Boarding schools are under threat from extreme market forces, and today even more so with the reality of a global pandemic caused by COVID-19. We hear of individuals one or two pay checks away from personal hardship. Yet some independent schools are not too far away from such a scenario.This is a perfect storm caused by a diminishing middle class, an over- reliance on international enrolment in this era of globalization, and now a global pandemic.

Independent schools are not immune to COVID-19. Government fiscal packages will not be available to private schools, and they must find ways to inoculate themselves from the possible serious side effects: e.g. falling enrolment as travel diminishes, requests for fee refunds in the event of school closures, falling wealth and affordability indexes meaning even fewer families inquiring, let alone attending, boarding schools.

Scholarships and bursaries must be a priority for fund raising staff at independent schools in order to close the ever widening affordability gap. Swimming pools can wait!

‘March Madness’ in the private school circuit is well under way with decisions being conveyed to students who are slam dunking with joy or slumping to the floor in disappointment upon receiving application decisions. Independent schools are great options for families; they need to keep their fans!

My clients comprise new Canadians in Vancouver, and Hong Kong families fleeing the uncertainties there. They revere top level education. I visited Hong Kong twice this past year and it is heartbreaking to see the hardships people there are facing now on multiple fronts. I also visited administrators and schools in the United Kingdom and the United States.

As of March 15th, my client results this admissions season are as follows:

St. George’s School - Vancouver
Mulgrave School - Vancouver

United States:
Waverly School, Pasadena, California
Philips Exeter Academy Summer Program, New Hampshire

United Kingdom:
City of London Freemen’s School

Wait - List:
The Hockaday School, Dallas Texas
The Hun School of Princeton, New Jersey

I wish these students congratulations! Life’s a pretty resilient thing. As are students and schools!