Group of flags of various countries

Looking for boarding school options for your child? Army & Navy Academy has what it takes to be “a home away from home” for diplomatic families. Close access to international airports, a rich diversity of international and domestic students, and a rigorous college-prep experience set it apart from other boarding schools.

Ranked in the top five boarding schools in California, in the top 20% of private schools, and a model school for boys, the school is geared exclusively for boys in grades 7-12. Structure, motivation, and leadership training are cornerstones of what makes it unique. Of course, a prime campus location in San Diego county with ocean views and direct beach access certainly adds to the appeal.

Whether you are a diplomat or working for a corporation overseas, there are a number of things to bear in mind when selecting a boarding school. Being able to see your child requires access to airports, hotels, and the assurance your child will thrive and be safe in their new school.

Boarding School for Diplomatic Families 

Now, don’t get me wrong, attending a boarding school abroad also has a number of benefits too. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of a U.S. boarding school versus schools abroad.

Attending an international school or a local private school in another country has benefits including: cultural immersion, learning and improving foreigin language skills, and experiencing a whole new way of life. However, not all students want to relocate. They may be tired of moving and prefer to stabilize their lifestyle as they prepare for college. By remaining stateside, they reap a number of benefits if they choose the right U.S. boarding school. Here are some considerations to bear in mind as you do your research.

10 Variables to Look into When Considering a Boarding School:

  1. Types of Schools – What are the different types of boarding schools in the United States and what makes each one different? There are traditional boarding schools, military boarding schools, and boarding schools with very specific specializations. There are schools for all boys, all girls, middle schools, high schools, and even some boarding schools that begin in fourth grade and some schools offering a postgraduate (PG) year.
  2. Curriculum and Electives – Does the school offer college prep, Advanced Placement (AP), and Honors classes? Most reputable boarding schools are geared for college readiness and offer both, along with academic support through tutorials and faculty office hours.
  3. College Planning Services – Boarding schools often boast a higher percentage of students matriculating to college and going on to graduate school. In the case of Army & Navy Academy, the curriculum is based on University of California standards. These standards are quite rigorous and provide a pathway to Ivy League and other prestigious public and private universities across the U.S.
  4. Athletics – What kinds of sports are offered at the boarding school? Most boarding schools have a number of options, including sports with broad national and international appeal (e.g. lacrosse, soccer, table tennis, basketball, football, track and field, golf, tennis, swimming, surfing, and more). Many boarding schools have gymnasiums, athletic fields, tennis courts, swimming pools, workout centers, and more.
  5. Clubs and Trips – Does the boarding school offer Harvard Model Congress, Model United Nations, east coast college tours, and trips abroad? Diplomatic families typically want their children to expand their horizons, so many boarding schools offer trips in the U.S. and even abroad during specific breaks.
  6. Weekend Activities – Do the students get to go to any local museums, theme parks, shopping, movies, or other local places for weekend activities? This is why the Army and Navy presents such an interesting opportunity. In close proximity to downtown San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, Southern California is home to a variety of theme parks, museums, hiking trails, boating, and other activities.
  7. Health and Safety – Are teens safer at a U.S. boarding school versus going to school in another country? This all depends on the location of the school and country. Check with schools about their safety protocols to ensure you are comfortable with the policies and the neighboring community. Also, the Department of State should be helpful in this regard.
  8. Specialized Programs – Some boarding schools offer specialized support services and programs, including: Learning Strategies for ADD, ADHD and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). JROTC leadership training, and character development. In addition, some schools, like the Army & Navy Academy offer electives and programs such as: aviation, cyber security, unmanned aerial systems, computer science, media, and the arts.
  9. Holidays – Do students go home during the holidays and summer? Students typically go home for all holidays and during the summer. This is required by most boarding schools unless the student has a local guardian or a host family where the student may stay or a special school trip is planned.
  10. Location and Amenities – What are the best locations in terms of airport access? There are hubs in many metropolitan areas. For instance, Army & Navy Academy is in close proximity to international airports including: San Diego International and LAX. In addition, consider the types of amenities on campus.

Where do the Children of Diplomats Go to School? 

Education for diplomatic families is a pressing issue as it is not always possible to keep your children in the country where you are working. For any number of reasons, you may be thinking about keeping your child in school in the U.S. Let’s take a look at boarding schools in the United States and review the different types of schools, so you can begin narrowing down your search.

Choices for international and diplomatic families often focus on the east and west due to easy airport access and family travel plans; however, there are boarding schools in the five main regions: Northeast, Southwest, West, Southeast, and Midwest.

Boarding School Benefits:

  • Boarding schools attract students from all over the world and international students typically make up a significant percentage of the student body. Many of these students are the children of diplomats or parents working abroad. While some boarding schools have less than 10% international students, there are some that are as high as 35% or more.
  • U.S. boarding schools offer the perspectives and experiences that many students experience through diplomatic placement, foreign exchange programs, and parents working for corporations abroad. Boarding schools attract students from Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Australia.
  • According to an article on AFSA, “In an exhaustive study of boarding school students, graduates and their parents, TABS found that 87 percent of boarding school alumni report being ‘very well prepared’ for college. In addition, the study found that boarding school students spent twice as much time outside of class with teachers and coaches than did students in public schools.”

Types of U.S. Boarding Schools:

  • Military Boarding Schools
  • Boarding Schools
  • All Girls and All Boys Boarding Schools
  • Boarding Schools for Learning Differences
  • Faith-Based Boarding Schools

A popular choice for diplomatic families is a military boarding school. The structured daily schedule, strong values, focus on leadership, and strong preparation for college and life hold strong appeal. Here are some options to check out in the west and east.


Beyond St. Catherine’s Academy in Anaheim, CA (Catholic) for boys TK-8th grade, the Army & Navy Academy for boys in grades 7-12 is the only other private military school on the West Coast. Due to the close proximity to airports and college-like setting, Army & Navy feels like home for many teens from diplomatic families.

Army & Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA (non-denominational) is geared exclusively for boys in grades 7-12 and offers a number of key benefits, including: ideal west coast location on the beach with easy access to international airports, a robust college preparatory curriculum, JV and Varsity Sports, and dynamic clubs, trips, and activities. In addition, Army & Navy Academy offers teenage boys a chance to focus on practical life skills, including: communication, leadership, time-management, goal-setting, and character development.


If D.C. is a common place to travel, some diplomatic families may require close access to Washington Dulles International Airport, Richmond International Airport, or Norfolk International Airport. However, travel should be just one consideration, so check schools as every school has a different emphasis.

In the eastern U.S, there are several military boarding schools in Virginia, including: Randolph Macon (Methodist Affiliation), Hargrave (Baptist Affiliation), and Fork Union (Baptist Affiliation), Fishburne, and Massanutten. If you are considering the Army & Navy Academy or military academies in general, here are some questions to ask the admission offices.

Frequently Asked Questions about Military Academies

  • Are military academies strong preparation for diplomatic careers? Many notable diplomats attended a boarding school in middle and/or high school. Military academies have a great track record for grooming top leaders in government, diplomacy, business, science, technology, engineering, law and medicine.
  • Do military boarding schools promote enlistment versus college prep? Military schools provide life and college preparation. Typically, only a small percentage of students enlist after high school graduation. Check out college matriculation information when researching schools.
  • Will attending a military academy provides a competitive edge to get into one of the service academies: U.S. Military Academy West Point, NY, U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT, or UnIted States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY? In short, the answer is yes. For instance, at Army and Navy students gain the benefit of extensive leadership training and receive letters of recommendation from retired military officers working on campus.
  • Do students matriculate to the Ivy League or top universities if they attend a military boarding school? Absolutely, there is no implied obligation to attend a military service academy after graduating. In fact, at Army & Navy Academy, the majority of cadets matriculate to public and private universities, including: Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, Rutgers, MIT, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and other reputable higher education institutions.

Next Steps for Diplomats:

  1. Determine the type of boarding school that is the best fit for your teen.
  2. Pin down the best location based on airport access and amenities.
  3. Compare school overviews on school sites and on Boarding School Review.
  4. Contact the Office of Admission to schedule campus visits or virtual appointments.
  5. Complete all the application requirements in a timely fashion.
  6. Once accepted, finalize your choice and complete the registration process.

In summary, if your teen prefers to attend school stateside, find the right “home away from home” at a boarding school in the U.S. Make sure you do your homework and your child participates in the process. Boarding school can be a great way for your teen to develop life and college readiness and develop a high level of confidence and independence.

For diplomatic families, you can also contact the Family Liaison Office’s Education and Youth team at the U.S. Department of State. They will be able to provide additional resources, financial support information and address other questions.