Many expatriates live in their assignment location with their children. For this reason, one of their main concerns is how relocation might impact their kids’ education.
International assignees rarely opt to enroll their children in a local school since curricula vary significantly per country. It wouldn’t be practical to adjust to a local curriculum, especially if there’s a good chance that the family would have to relocate again in a couple of years. Continuity and flexibility are important factors to consider when making choices with regard to education.
More often than not, sending their children to an international school with a British or American curriculum is the preferable choice.
How Do Children Benefit From an International School?
There is a certain prestige from being an international school student or a third culture kid. This is a term that has been coined to refer to children of expatriates, but is most commonly used to refer to international school kids.
Prestige only goes so far. A school must offer other worthwhile benefits to truly be the better choice. What are the most important ones offered by an international school?
1. Admission is year-round.
International schools understand that international assignments don’t always occur in the beginning of the school year. Students may enroll any time throughout the year.
2. English is the default language.
It is used for instruction and for almost all interaction. ESL is automatically available to those who don’t speak it quite as well.
3. It is more practical than a boarding school in the home country.
For some expats, but especially the British ones, sending their kids to a boarding school in their home country is a strong consideration. However, an international school in their assignment location would be less expensive. It would also allow the family to stay together.
4. It provides British or American education with the perks of living in a foreign land.
An international school provides a good blend of familiarity for expat families and exposure to various cultures, not only that of the country they’re assigned to. The cultural exposures are an education in themselves.
5. Students can easily resume their studies elsewhere when they leave.
International schools have very transient communities, so students may come and go, but the curriculum has been designed to ensure that they can easily transfer to another school and pick up where they left off with minimal disruption and adjustment.
6. Students’ qualifications are recognized by universities all over the world.
Many of the most prestigious and discriminating universities are in North America and continental Europe and they have a high regard for students who have received an international education. International school students do have an easier time being admitted by high-standard foreign universities.
7. It cultivates an impressive worldly outlook in its students.
International school students can’t help but be more cosmopolitan. They think more diversely and tend to be more sensitive to cultures as well as tolerant of differences. They’re conditioned to have an appreciation of distinct viewpoints and a keen interest in language, culture, and world politics.
8. Student culture is more welcoming.
International school kids tend to be more accepting of each other and welcoming of new students. Most of them have been in that same situation often enough and can empathize. Everybody is trained to be more flexible and adaptable.
Contrary to popular perception, international school students come from all walks of life. Some are children of teachers. Others are children of pilots. A good portion of them would be children of employees of multinational companies. Of course, there are also children of diplomats, politicians, celebrities, and tycoons, but they all successfully coexist on pretty much equal footing in this unique community.
Choosing an International School
Understandably, different international schools vary in standard and quality. Make sure to check out your prospects’ track record in sending students to good universities. Find out as well what opportunities they offer in terms of classes, extra-curricular activities, etc. Inquire about the credentials of the college staff. You can definitely give your children an important edge by sending them to a great international school.
Sybil AbouRahal-Jones is the Marketing & Communications Manager at The English College in Dubai. She majored in Graphic Design and has experience of 20 years working in Graphic Design, Branding, Marketing and Communications. Her role is to set the MarCom strategy for both primary and secondary schools, and implement branding, graphic design, internal and external communications, marketing, and digital marketing.