Moving abroad is an exciting venture; we all know it. The new environment, the difference in cultures, foreign languages, and of course, the people. Settling in a new country stretches the borders of our inhibitions, allowing parents and children to flourish in the new atmosphere and learn adaptability.
However, besides all the rains and rainbows, at the end of the day, the idea is daunting, to say the least. There are hundreds of apprehensions for you as parents, evaluating the variables, the location, neighborhood, and on the top of it all, the right school for your child.
Deciding on an international school for your child in the country you’re moving to takes a lot of time and thought. Beyond that, the admission process itself is time-consuming. Therefore, we are here to help you narrow down your choices, provide you with the essential factors to consider, and ultimately simplify the selection process.
Read ahead to know what variables are worth your time and brain juices in this power-packed guide on choosing the right school when it comes to international schools foreigners.
Things to consider when choosing an international school
Global citizens prefer enrolling their children in an international school as compared to a local one. The reason behind it is simple; international schools provide foreign-focused, compatible, and international qualifications and values, while a local school is structured to be consistent with local values, beliefs, and goals.
Here’s a list of factors that should be your priority above everything else when choosing the right international school.
1. School Culture
The culture of the school is very important. A slight degree of variation is welcomed and even encouraged, but ultimately, the school’s culture must be aligned with your beliefs and values.
Form some questions in your mind and remember to have each of them answered satisfactorily: What is the overall focus of the school? Is it highly supportive of sports, or does it focus on academic excellence? You can find the answer to it by reading the school’s mission and vision statement.
What’s the main area of curriculum? Is it mathematics or the arts? What extra co-curricular activities does it offer to the students? Are there any yearly or bi-yearly trips/events? If yes, what are they like? And ultimately, the question that rises above all should be; how many of these factors are important for you?
Of course, if you have strong religious beliefs and want to cultivate that in your child as well, enrolling them in one of the religious-based/faith-based international schools may be a wiser choice for you because they develop the curriculum tailored to the beliefs. If not, it is best to take a day tour at the school, once or twice, before making a decision. Look it up on Google and find key statistics on teacher turnover rates and admission acceptance rates.
2. School Fees
Another variable to weigh is the school fees for international students of the institute that you’re eyeing on. International schools are usually expensive, so you have to budget before you decide. If your company is paying the bill, you could probably choose the most expensive one because they may offer much more than other schools.
If the cost is on you, you can consider choosing one that is farther away from your home or even smaller. Do heavy research on this because the tuition fees vary globally and geographically. Also, make sure that you keep extra bucks apart from the fee band you find on their website; the ‘yearly’ fees are usually not exclusive as there are always more charges to consider for foreign students.
The curriculum of a school is one of the most important factors you should consider because it is where your child gets the most exposure to. The ethos of the school must be well-maintained, internationally recognized, and fully mature. Most international schools boast about offering International Baccalaureate (IB), which can be your primary choice. Other curricula for international students may be the National English or American curricula. The IB, of course, is preferred.
Usually, smaller international schools only have one choice of curriculum, whereas larger ones may have two. Moreover, some international schools use French or German as the primary language for instruction. You should double-check it if you are purely English-medium. Remember, the curriculum must be consistent and qualified as it shapes the way for your child’s tertiary studies.
Location could be something you are looking at if you happen to stay somewhere out of the city area. How far is the school away from home? What are your child’s options for the commute if they have to take the public transport? Is the school going to be nearer to your workplace so you can send and pick them up daily?
Punctuality is critical to your child’s school life – not only because it is a mandatory part of schooling but also because it inculcates discipline and organization. You can always choose a school far from where you live if it meets the rest of your assessing criteria. The distance can be managed, but poor academics or child development must not be compromised. Make sure you’re not letting go of a really good or suitable school just because it’s in another neighborhood. There’s always a routine you can follow for a healthy and manageable school life!
5. Admission Process
Before anything else, start applying right away at schools as soon as you know you’re moving abroad. Application processes take time, obviously, and more so for international students. Most applications are submitted online and may require your child to show English language proficiency by a certain age – either through school reports or entrance assessments.
Usually, applications for international students open one academic year ahead of the session, so you have plenty of time to prepare if you get the cue; if you’re transferring, you can also be accommodated.
You may also be put on a waiting list until any student chooses to opt out if the school have chose does not have any open slots left.
6. Do any graduates get accepted at top universities?
The school you’re choosing today will end when your child graduates with a high school diploma or even college certificates. Therefore, your decision of today is critical to your child’s future of tomorrow. Do research, ask around, and see whether any graduates from that school have been accepted to the Ivy Leagues or other top universities in the world.
Find out the acceptance rates of graduates at coveted universities you would want to send your child to. Even if your child later opts out of higher education, this variable will lend you a peace of mind and verify the school’s credibility in the quality of education.
7. Campus activities
Take a tour of the campus to get the feel of the environment. See if they have artwork or big playgrounds to gauge the extent of creativity and focus on athletics. If you get the vibes of a prim, business-like school, you might want to reconsider if this is the best choice for your child.
Ask around the teachers and students about the extra co-curricular activities of the school. What events are held on campus? Are there more art festivals or science exhibitions? Does the school have an intramural sports team? Or maybe, Capella groups? Are there any dancing classes? The campus activities are most often determinants of your child’s intellectual, physical, and cognitive development.
The last on our list, and probably as important as the first, is the school’s safety. Over the years, there have been plenty of crimes committed, particularly in international schools. Therefore, if you’re moving abroad, it is advisable to get all the information about crimes and crime rates that happened in the school before making your decision.
Safety, as of this day and age, is very important because you cannot only rely on the school’s administration to give you kind and reassuring words. You have to have a solid argument and reason before you finalize the entrance of your child. You may also ask the students on your tour how safe they think the school is. Records, second opinions, and statistics should be enough to give you a peace of mind on the safety factor.
While we have covered most of the factors to consider when admitting your child to an international school, there are plenty of more variables that you can add to the list – provided you have time in between moving and jet lag!
The classroom size, for instance, is of minor significance but a factor to consider. Your child’s needs, of course, is another vital consideration because while you’re busy hunting the best international school for your kid, he/she may be more concerned about making friends, having fun, or even proximity to home because they may not enjoy the long bus rides home.
Talk to your child, discuss about the characteristics of the school you have chosen, and without further ado, send the application right in. The confirmation of the admission may take longer than you’d expect!