There are a few different reasons you may be researching education abroad – most likely you are a college student (or soon-to-be) wanting a study abroad opportunity, or you are parent of an expatriate child who will need to enroll in school once you arrive.
Get some helpful tips for researching your education opportunities abroad (for you or your child) so your international moving will be as harmonious as possible.
Transitioning your child to school abroad
Whether your child is just beginning his or her school career or is already in high school, you want to be sure you choose the best opportunity possible. However, this can be a daunting task when you’re researching an unfamiliar area thousands of miles away from your current home. Typically, you will be choosing to enroll your child in either a local school or international school.
International schools are often pricier, but they enroll many expatriate students each year from various countries all over the world. The perks to enrolling your child are:
- These schools will likely follow the same curriculum your child was studying in your home country, so you won’t need to worry about your child having to “catch up” or be too far ahead.
- The school environment will also be similar, which will make your child’s adjustment to your new country that much easier. Your child will be socializing with children from various cultural backgrounds, but all in the similar situation of having just moved overseas.
Local schools are where the local children attend. If you’d rather your child jump right into the culture, social life and customs of your new home country, then enrolling him or her in one of these schools may be best.
- If you have moved to a country where learning a new language is in order, a local school will be the best way to expose your child to this language.
- Be aware that your child may feel like an outcast in this situation, so you should be ready to give any additional emotional support as needed, even if that means seeking professional help while your child adjusts.
Where do I begin my search?
A good education for your child begins with good and thorough research. For starters, you can contact the consulate of your home country (in your new overseas city) either by going to its website or calling. You can also start by doing a simple internet search for schools in your new area, as most developed countries have websites for each school, including:
- Student body population
- Mission statement (if applicable)
- Tuition (if applicable)
- Phone number (be sure to call any schools you may be interested in)
Questions to ask and things to keep in mind
- Is the curriculum similar to what my child has been studying? If we return to our home country, will my child be able to finish school seamlessly?
- Is there a waiting list? How long is it and what steps need to be taken to reserve a spot?
- If I enroll my child in a local school, will the teaching staff be equipped to handle him/her? Do they have experience teaching international students? How will they help my child adjust?
- If my child graduates abroad, will his/her diploma be recognized upon returning to our home country?
The answers to these questions will greatly vary depending on the country you are moving to, as every education system is different. However, if you know you are moving to a city with a large amount of expatriates, chances are you will have an easier time getting information about popular schools from those who have emigrated before you (expat blogs generally have forums to discuss important topics like education).
Even if the information you need on finding the right school for your child is not readily available on the internet, putting in the time to make a few extra phone calls will certainly be worth it in the long run.