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How to Best Market Your Boarding School Using Your Website
Debbie Eisenach

Does your boarding school website build excitement and anticipation or do you burden prospective families with an abundance of administrative information? When creating a boarding school marketing plan, it’s important to remember that families are looking at your website while trying to make an emotional connection with your school and community in the hopes of their child taking up residence on campus.

Whether your school is solely a boarding school or offers both day and boarding options, there are marketing strategies to help prospective families and students make connections while also reducing worry and fear.

Essential elements to include on your homepage

When crafting your school website, boarding should be a key element of the design, navigation, and user experience, and the boarding team should be included in the messaging, content, and story you are trying to convey. There’s a lot of information to communicate so it needs to be well-organized, engaging, and concise.

Hebron Academy, a day and boarding school in Maine, captures your attention and guides visitors on a journey to discover more. The homepage clearly states it offers boarding and the mega-navigation offers key messaging from “Imagine Yourself Here” to what happens on weekends, wellness, diversity, inclusion, and community — a comprehensive overview in a digestive and informative format.

screenshot of Hebron Boarding program

The site features video, interactivity, infographics, and calls-to-action making it easy for families and students to learn more and easily take the next step to inquire, apply or visit.

Loomis Chaffee Screenshot

Loomis Chaffee, a day and boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut, captures your attention and guides you on a journey to discover more on its interactive homepage that's rich with video. There's a message of personal growth, and a journey told through images, testimonials, school stories, and social media.

Boarding school marketing strategies

The information presented online is a cornerstone of any boarding school marketing plan. Without direct access to tour campus, meet faculty, or talk directly to students, the content you present to your target audience will be critical in catching boarders' attention and holding their interest.

Think beyond the homepage

Parents typically have a long list of questions when they are considering boarding. From the staff to facilities, to mental health and the culture, there is so much information to provide, like: 

Having it on your website in an informative and engaging format is critical for gaining the trust of prospective families and will help alleviate repetitive questions. It will also set you apart from other schools and encourage more families to inquire.

Why choose a boarding school?

For parents and students considering boarding schools, helping them understand boarding life is the first step. It’s important to provide an overview as well as the benefits and practicalities of attending a boarding school.

Canadian Academy, an international boarding school in Japan, leads with Why Board and shares the joys, benefits, and reasons to board.

Canadian Academy Boarding program

Student life is another general concept many boarding schools showcase. It’s not all about academics, but rather the whole experience. Helping new families understand this is important in the admissions process. The Gow School provides an interactive infographic to help communicate the various aspects of boarding.

Gow School boarding icons

Holderness, a boarding school in New Hampshire, provides a landing page as a foundation with links to details on the elements of boarding.

Holderness Boarding program

Who is looking after my child?

Whether you are sending your child across town, across the country, or to another country altogether, everyone wants to know who is looking after their child. Creative ways to showcase this include:

  • Staff profiles - titles can mean little to parents, so show and explain key roles.

  • Blogs and articles - use your internal experts to write articles including team coaches, house staff, well-being leads, and pupil leadership.
  • Support team profiles - include groundskeepers, laundry, catering, cleaning, nurses, and IT. All of these people are important!

Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in Massachusets, provides a student/parent center graphic showcasing the 360 personal support every student receives, and beneath the graphic are detailed descriptions of each team member's roles and responsibilities.

Northfield Mount Hermon 360 community

Showcasing your boarding community is important for parents looking to entrust their children with your schools. Merchiston, a boarding school in Scotland, provides a directory where visitors can click on each member to learn more including interests, greatest achievements, and inspiring moments — great information to help make emotional connections with prospective families.

merchiston Boarding community

St. Andrew’s School, a boarding school in Delaware, shares its dorm parents and provides details about their life as well as contact information.

St. Andrews boarding community

What’s the campus and local community like? 

Showcasing your local community goes a long way—and not just with prospective families but also with your community. A strong partnership is critical in order for your school to thrive, and enables your community to show pride and actively participate in the success of your school.

Information to showcase includes:

  • Local town and reputation
  • Medical facilities and dental practices
  • Hairdressers and barbers
  • Campus and area security
  • Gym and sporting facilities
  • Catering, dining facilities, and local restaurants
  • Shopping, coffee shops, parks, and other social spaces

Millfield School, an all-boys boarding school outside of London, brings its community to life on its homepage. And a clever addition is its guide to Independent School Terminology.

Millfield student swimming

What are boarding houses (dorms) like?

Since this is a home away from home, what does that look like? These are often the most popular pages with the students as they want to feel like they will fit in, be comfortable, and make life-long friends. Each house should have a media-rich landing page that showcases its personality and should include:

  • Videos and images to drive engagement and help students picture themselves as part of this story
  • A typical room layout and content — add some color and don't just show a bed and desk!
  • Well-rounded introductions to boarding staff
  • Other fun facts like a housepet, themes, traditions, and dining options

The Hun School of Princeton engages and informs with their boarding school landing page:

Hun school board life

What happens on weekends?

Do a lot of children go home? Is the campus alive with activities? These are important questions to answer. Parents value transparency so don’t be vague and include things such as:

  • Filtered news stories
  • Galleries of previous trips and activities
  • Quotes or videos from boarders talking about what they like to do on weekends 
  • Social media showcasing weekend activities
  • Wider cultural experiences

The Dublin School, a day and boarding school in New Hampshire, shares weekend events and traditions to help parents and students feel at ease.

screenshot of dublin boarding school

St. Andrew’s School has each weekend thoroughly documented with an agenda for Saturday and Sunday including sports events, activities, volunteer opportunities, and let’s not forget dining. Amazing!

St. Andrews boarding community life

How do you manage student well-being?

This is one we cannot stress enough and it's often overlooked on websites. What if a student is sad, lonely, gets sick, and the list goes on? Parents want to know about:

  • Buddy systems and peer mentors
  • Success stories of boarders
  • Pastoral care team profiles and well-being initiatives
  • Staff contacts and signposting for parents
  • Boarders contacting home information
  • Tutor or house system
  • Flowcharts demonstrating “who should I talk to?”
  • International boarders- integration and communication channels

The Dublin School’s wellness page includes much of the above and more:

Dublin Wellness

What does success look like?

Success is a relative term but parents do want to know outcomes. In fact, these outcomes are often shared via word-of-mouth which is one of your most powerful tools. Don’t just focus on academic achievements but also highlight and share: 

  • Alumni achievements 
  • How pupils are prepared for independent living and higher education
  • Social, practical, emotional, and mental skill-building
  • Alumni networks - long-lasting friendship groups
  • More opportunities and time outside the classroom
  • Wider cultural awareness and empathy

Bolles, a boarding school in Florida, offers a Boarders in the News section sharing timely news stories about their students. This a great way to engage prospective students while also reinforcing the value of your institution to current families.

Boles boarders in the news

Key takeaway

As a boarding school, it’s important to highlight your points of difference, showcase your community, update your website regularly, and personalize the experience as much as possible. Having a powerful content management system like Composer enables schools to easily manage and update their sites to achieve great results.

Composer Navattic Demo

Debbie Eisenach

As part of Finalsite's marketing team, Debbie has worked with international schools for the past 11 years while living in both Asia and Europe. She helps schools understand how they can maximize their web presence while partnering with Finalsite. As a parent of three children who graduated from IB World Schools, she has keen insights into the marketing and communication needs of international schools.

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