Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Travel blog

Last September we travelled to the coast of Florida to visit and select the best private schools in the state, both boarding and homestay options.

In this occasion I brought Diego with me, my 15 year old nephew, since we are going to send him to the United States to study for one academic year and the best way to select the perfect school is always visiting it.

In order to make the most of the week we rented a convertible Mustang (I always wanted to drive such an iconic American car) and drove across the entire east coast of Florida in around 10 hours starting in Miami, and driving through Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Ocala and Orlando and selecting the best private schools in each area.

Right after the arrival you can immediately see the Spanish heritage Florida has in many areas like architecture, culture, folkore, food, and lenguage, very similar to the traditions we have in Spain. Specially in Miami where many of the citizens are both fluent in English and Spanish.

Thanks to the semi tropical climate, Florida is undoubtedly one of the best options for international academic year candidates who prefer a warm weather and beach related activities rather than the cold states located in the north, like the New England area, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Chicago, or New York to say a few. Florida is always warm and sunny and therefore is a perfect destination for surf lovers, marine biology enthusiastics, and students who prefer warm environments and have no ski interests.

This privileged weather allows students to participate in outside sports all year long with a wide range of options like soccer, golf, lacrosse, swimming, tennis or field hockey among many others. Besides the school teams, the students have the option to join local clubs where they can play those sports during the entire length of the academic year program.

Florida is a state with a very strong sport tradition and all boarding schools compete at the highest level in very different specialties and tournaments, from regional competition to state or even national championships.  For these reasons many of the students in these schools are competitive athletes and thanks to their performances and academic results, they may obtain merit scholarships or financial aid for becoming important assets to the centers.

Regarding weekend activities and once the students have finished all their academic and sport obligations, the idyllic environment of Florida allows many spectacular options like trips to the beach, surf programs, water parks, amusement parks like Disney, Universal Studios and Adventure Island, etc. The same goes for urban activities like NBA games, football games, baseball, movies, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.

At this report you will be able to see all our impressions of the best boarding schools in Florida.

The schools are located in differente areas, some of them right by the ocean with amazing beaches, others situated in more urban environments or close to major cities. Like in any other of the programs we promote at International Academic Programs, in order to select the best possible school for each candidate it’s essential to determinate the key parameters and interests of the student.

Every boarding school we have selected has the College Prep denomination, so their students are guided to secure places at the best universities of the USA. Since academic results are the most important thing to secure places at the best centers, every school has a 2 hour daily mandatory Study Hall. These periods of study are supervised by teachers and advisors to make sure the students get all the academic support they need.

On top of that, every school has their own Learning Center where students have access to all kinds of help like how to learn time management skills, public speaking tips or organization methods to improve their academic results. These centers also provide help for students with learning difficulties like dyslexia or ADHD.

One of the biggest advantages of the boarding schools is concentrating every single aspect of the program in the same campus: dorms, classes, labs, sport fields, theaters, gyms, cafeteria, etc. Thanks to the proximity of all these features, the students can focus in their academic performance without wasting time on the road traveling to different facilities elsewhere.

All students develope strong relations with their classmates, roomates, coaches, teachers, advisors, and every single school staff member since they all live together and become part of the community.

Thanks to the mandatory Study Hall, the students quickly develop their study habit so they can obtain the best possible academic results and combined with the reduced average class size of around 15 students, they get a much personalized treatment from teachers and advisors, so they can achive their full potential.

The academic method and the rounded class tables are set to encourage debates and active participation so students quickly lose the fear to speak in public and learn how to defend their points of view.

For the more academic students, the boarding schools offer high level subjects like Honors, or the most challenging level called AP (Advanced Placement). Some universities even grant full college credits to students who have taken AP subjects at the schools. For less academic students the schools also have regular level subjects.

Regarding academic specialties, every school offers spectacular programs in business, economics, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or even impressive organic chemistry or pre medicine programs. Some schools even invest millions of dollars in Anatomage Tables, perfect for students with medicine interests since they allow to study the human body in a virtual way while they see through the bodies, bones, organs, bloodstream, etc. The same goes for students interested in technologies, robotics, drone design, web programming, coding, or even incredible marine sciences or biology programs with field trips to the ocean or national parks to study marine species.

Over 70% of teachers and staff members is highly quialified with masters and even PhD in their respective fields.

About sports, the offer available is outstanding with top coaches and nutritionists, state of the arts facilities and cutting edge training technologies so athletes can reach their highest performance.

Every school has incredible soccer programs with many training fields and the official ones for competition, olympic size pools, waterpolo programs, (being champions in many water specialties), tennis courts, golf courts, equestrian programs… a dream came true for all kinds of athletes and students with sports interests of every level.

The sports take part in different seasons while the students compete against other private schools in the area at the highest level. Sometimes if the team is good enough they even make it to national championships.

Each sport has different teams according to the student’s level so they will always have an option to participate in.

Regarding clubs and extracurricular activites, every candidate gets to choose among a wide range of opportunities like public speaking, oratory or community service among many others.

Between the specialties we found the ones that had the most incredible facilities were movie and tv production, radio, photography and all kinds of media studies. Great options for students with journalism and broadcasting interests.

About the uniform some schools have dress code, and others allow students to dress in a formal way, but nothing too strict.

Below you will find the best photos of the schools we promote in the area showing the best facilities, classes, labs and programs.

At the following link you will find all the details of the program: