SPS vs Nobles

Sorry for this being a re-post from the waitlist thread. We need a decision really quick and would like suggestions. Thanks so much!

Just got a call 2 days ago. DD got a spot in ST Paul’s school from being waitlisted.

SPS is a great school and it has the best ballet program among the top schools. DD is a very active ballet dancer so it is really our dream school.

We already committed to Nobles, Nobles also has a good dance program but not at the same professional level as SPS. And not like SPS, in Nobles dancing can’t be treated as athletic program to fulfill the after school activities requirement. That means, she comes home around 5-6 and has to go ballet training in a local studio, and then come home for homework. I don’t even know if that is doable.

Nobles is day school and DD likes that better than boarding but that’s also because we don’t know much about boarding. It may be the best experience she misses out. She is a friendly kid and makes friends everywhere.

Any suggestions? We have a make a decision very quick and DD and I are both torn.

Edited: We loved Nobles too. It will be very difficult for my daughter to give it up. And even if we decide to, not sure if it is possible at this phase and how bad the financial sacrifices will be.

Every day? That’s not sustainable.


At least 3/4 days out of 5 to be able to compete at national level.

If competing at the national level is the goal, then you need to choose the school that supports that aim, which might be neither school in this case.


At least for now, academic learning and college admission are the main goals for her high school education. I see that she is talented in ballet but not that talented to be a professional ballet dancer but I could be wrong. We just want to support her for what she loves to do.

Thanks for replying.

Both schools offer top notch academics.

In your case, difference is how much time do you want your daughter to spend in a car/SUV commuting.

If affordable, SPS seems to be the better choice.


My daughter was in a serious pre-pro ballet program affiliated with a professional company. In 9th and 10th grade, she would go straight to ballet (45 minute drive each way) from school and get home at 8pm, dinner, homework, bed. 6 days a week. She had zero time for any school related activities or friends. She is heading to board at a school for 11th where dance counts as her extra curricular/sport and also will have a class during the academic day. She is over the moon excited to actually have time to be with friends and involved in school activities. We would highly recommend SPS (she decided not to apply there as she wants to focus less on ballet and experience more variety and genres). But time-wise, I doubt the other option will be sustainable.


Fellow ballet mom over here and I would agree with @AnonMomof2 comments.
I’ll add my take: for me, there would be zero question – we would choose SPS. (DD1, ballerina, did not apply to SPS because she didn’t want that level of academics, but I did visit and see the ballet and it is very solid there.)
This doesn’t mean you necessarily should choose SPS.
But the reality is that ballet will absolutely go way, way down, and stress and driving time will go way, way up most likely by doing a rigorous day school + sport + ballet. (Even without another sport/activity, that sounds really hard! Hence the reason for so many dancers to do creative schooling like homeschooling or community college class dual enrollment, etc… Not suggesting your daughter is THAT committed to her ballet life, but just pointing it out how difficult it is to get ballet to work in normal high school life, let alone adding super rigorous academics and a whole other sport!)

I think SPS could be a life changing opportunity for her – perfect for kids who absolutely love ballet and yet aren’t headed necessarily for professional ballet (and yet I think it’s strong enough training that if ballet were to become the desired profession, it might still be possible.)

Just one perspective.


SPS is set up to allow her excellent ballet and excellent academics. Whether the ballet will be what she needs for her aspirations, only you will know. And whether she can balance the demands of her studioat home with Nobles may be a challenge. With superb time management, willing drivers, and good understanding by the school and the studio, it could be doable.

I would see one of the huge pluses of SPS to be that she will be part of a cohort who are ALL balancing the same dance/academic demands. Ime, when demanding ECs which are unaffiliated with school are involved, there will be inevitable conflicts involving time and commitment (i.e. performances and exams at the same time, labs and rehearsals.) She will also likely be the “outsider” in each group at home because of her other commitment – at school, she won’t be as involved and will be “the girl who dances” while at the studio, she’ll be the one who is always studying. Not a given, of course, but it’s hard to be fully part of 2 immersive communities.

I think I’d pick SPS, especially if you think she would like the social element.


I would pick SPS. I’m also a dancer, not pre-pro ballet but dance at a company level(not at a prestigious program, though). I didn’t apply there due to my lack of BS knowledge, but I wish I did. I’ve heard amazing things about the dance program. Although you said DD would rather a day school, I think the benefits of a boarding school are too good to pass up sometimes. DD could focus more on dance, have more time for friends, and it might just be a better fit. I agree that the drive to dance could become very challenging and stressful. It would also be time consuming. Academics are amazing at both. I know I personally wouldn’t want to do that drive, and would want the BS experience more than a day one.

These are just my thoughts coming from a student.


Thank you all for the good advice. Sorry for not replying, we are touring SPS for the last time and have a lot to discuss with my daughter.

DD read all the advices. Thank you so much for that! She also wanted to add that the local studio is not just a studio, the teacher has been like her family and is very important to her. But we just met SPS dance director, she can’t be kinder. It is really a difficult decision to make now.


Good luck, @gravitymaze !

I understand the attachment to the current teacher. Remind her that she won’t be losing this person, just adding another mentor. But I get it!

And most of all, as hard as the decision is, they are both incredible options. Don’t let her lose sight of that. It’s always wonderful to have no bad choice in the mix!


I’m a day student at a majority (70%) boarding school, so it’s a slightly different situation, but I would recommend the boarding school for a variety of reasons:

Not only would the scheduling be incredibly difficult for balancing outside-of-school ballet and in-school athletics, but doing all that training after 1-2 hours of intense sports practices is even more grueling, and could take an intense physical and mental toll on your child.

Because of all the ferrying back-and-forth needed, your child would likely also have a lot of wasted time spent in the car (even if we assume only 10 minutes between every location, that’s 40 minutes, and in an environment where every minute counts that can be a lot).

Finding space to do homework can be incredibly difficult. If your child has no free periods (which is especially likely in earlier grades), this may mean sacrificing lunch breaks, which can take a severe toll on their mental health, both due to a lack of relaxation and socialization. I had a similar experience this past spring, and I would not recommend it under any circumstance.

Overall, the boarding school will give your child a far better work/life balance, which will only increase in importance as they continue at the school.


Thank you! That does help a lot.

I just read our contract with Nobles and we are probably not in a position to freely withdraw. We are responsible for the full tuition after 8/1.

We can’t pay for 2 tuitions so it is now simpler.

But I appreciate all the comments on the BS experience which we did not considere much before. How do you feel about losing daily interactions with your kids/parents?

@gravitymaze , if you seriously want to do SPS, you should call Nobles and talk to them. They might agree to release you from your commitment if they can fill your spot (which they probably can.)

Just wanted you to know that it may be an option if you want it. The schools want full enrollment which is why they have the clause. They aren’t trying to make money from changes in enrollment status unless it impacts them negatively.


SPS needs an answer by today so we basically rejected. I guess I can check with both schools on Monday. Thanks!

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Until September 2020, we had never considered boarding school. I have to say, my daughter and I are Very close. Probably from all of the years spent in the car driving back and forth to dance, and her subsequent lack of time for friends her own age. Despite this, I am so excited for her that I can hardly wait. It will definitely hit me at some point. Just not yet.


Wish all the best for you and your daughter.

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Sounds like you decided already, but I just want to say you posted on boarding school board, so of course the majority of people will recommend the boarding school. We have done both and I have to say there are distinct advantages of having your child at home every night. Especially since you said your daughter was not eager to go away to begin with. Unless Nobles is a huge commute, it will be fine. Also, at least in our case, the college acceptances were definitely better at the day school. Plus you have a lot more influence in your child’s life still, which for the 14-18 set is generally a good thing.

Thank you, it is great to hear some other perspectives. We are a very close family and treasure the time we can be together so it is good to hear that keeping kids at a day school could be beneficial for the kids.