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Niche's 2020 "Best Boarding High School's in America" Recap

August 8, 2019

This week, ranking website Niche released its yearly ranking of the top boarding schools in the United States. One of the few comprehensive rankings of boarding schools, many parents and prospective students use it as a baseline to learn more about certain schools and their reputations. This year there were a few big moves on the list, which we’ll be covering in this article. It is important to note that these rankings are not concrete and do not take into account the countless other factors that are important to each school, and you should do your own research when deciding if a school is a good fit… blah, blah, blah. You get the idea.

That being said, no matter what your background, as an attendee of a highly-selective elite, prestige-driven private high school (or Salisbury) you obviously will pay way too much attention to these rankings, especially to use as battle ammunition against the inferior institutions of your dumb friends.


Niche’s 2020 “Best Boarding High Schools in America”

Top 15:

1. Phillips Exeter Academy (Previously: 2)

2. Phillips Academy Andover (Previously: 1)

3. Choate Rosemary Hall (no change)

4. The Lawrenceville School (Previously: 5)

5. The Hotchkiss School (Previously: 15)

6. St. Paul’s School (Previously: 4)

7. Noble and Greenough School (Previously: 9)

8. Deerfield Academy (Previously: 6)

9. Cate School (Previously: 11)

10. Middlesex School (Previously: 13)

11. Groton School (Previously: 10)

12. Cranbrook Schools (No change)

13. The Loomis Chaffee School (Previously: 14)

14. Milton Academy (Previously: 8)

15. St. Andrew’s School (Previously: 19)

Full rankings at the end of the article.


Right off the bat, shoutout New England, which has 12 of the top 15 boarding schools in the nation. The Northeast remains the place to be if you want the best prep school education, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Phillips Cousins

Commence the Battle of the Nerds! In one of the most interesting changes to the ranking this year, it seems Niche has decided Exeter finally deserves a stay on the throne, moving Andover to second place. This may serve as a crushing blow in their rivalry, but the rest of the prep school community might take a little pleasure in seeing the egos at Andover take a little hit. It is yet to be seen if Business Insider renames their article “Inside America’s Best High School” to “Inside America’s 2nd Best High School”. Doesn’t have quite the same ring, no?

St. Paul’s slides down to 6th

Another prep school giant is falling. Ranked number 4 last year by Niche (after losing its place in third to Choate… we don’t know how either) it has now taken up shop in the 6th position, with its diversity score improving to an A from an A-, but their sports falling to an A-. All other categories remained steady, but not enough to keep its spot. In all honesty, we suspect the drop could have something to do with one of their most high profile graduates, Owen Labrie, who is now back in the free world after his stint in jail. Welcome back, Owen!

Lawrenceville moves up a spot to number 4

Not much to talk about here, “Princeton Jr.” seems to be on an upward trend.

Hotchkiss takes a massive leap from 15th to 5th place

Propelled by their multiple founders league championships, their sports have improved from absolute trash to an A- and they find themselves right back amongst the prep school titans. Due to their sports grade of B last year, they fell all the way down to 15, one spot below Loomis Chaffee. Loomis. Chaffee.

Deerfield inches down to 8th from 6th

Deerfield slides a few spots here, nothing too big, just a drop caused by their new A grade for diversity, down from an A+ (it was that high?)

Middlesex jumps to 10

After last year’s ranking of 13th, “Groton’s Copy” has made improvements in its diversity rating, an A, up from an A-. This lands them right above, ironically, Groton. Where’d that 17 year head start go, Groton? Elsewhere, Middlesex stayed consistent, and with their continuous yearly growth, they could possibly break the top 10 next year.

Milton plummets

Ranked number 8 last year, it seemed Milton Academy was headed on an upward trend, however, despite absolutely no change in any category grades, Milton has dropped to 14th. Sorry, that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Now, keep in mind, there are other factors than just the category grades, but nonetheless this is a significant hit to the otherwise prestigious school… providing you truly care about these rankings.

Cate carries

Cate School alone now shoulders the entire reputation of west coast prep schools as the only one in Niche’s top 10 after Thacher drops from 7 to 19.


Yeah, we had the same reaction. Turns out, Mitt Romney went there...nice?

Other things to note:

Concord Academy is now ranked 17th, marking their first time in the top 20.

Peddie dropped to 20th, down from 16th.

Taft dropped three spots, now ranked 25th.

St. Marks overtook Taft and jumped into 24th.

Emma Willard tops the all girls list at 27th.

Pomfret climbs to 31! Those grass eaters (Instagram reference) are evolving!

Northfield Mount Hermon at 37th.

Kent at 41st. Ms. Porter’s at 52nd. Berkshire 57th. Westminster 61st. Salisbury 91st.

And last but not least, a great effort by Avon Old Farms squeezing in the top 100 at 96! Interestingly, their “Academics” were given an A+... hmm...


That’s our recap of Niche’s 2020 Boarding School rankings. In the end, Niche’s methodology is far from transparent, and is definitely not an exact science. We’ll see you next year!

You can view the full rankings here:

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