If you are reading this, then it probably means that this is a moment in your life when you are considering studying abroad. Maybe you have been tempted by the thought of the excellent teaching at the universities, maybe you want to study in a multicultural environment, or maybe you are thinking about the high wages you will be able to earn. Great. What do you think about beginning your educational journey earlier, and going to high school abroad? Is it worth the candle? Of course it is!
Studying at a high school abroad will give you exactly what you are looking for in a university, just earlier. If you can communicate in English, you can start thinking about applying to some brilliant high schools in countries like the UK, Germany, Switzerland, the USA or even Singapore. What’s waiting for you there? Everything that it of the highest quality — outstanding teaching, an international atmosphere, lifelong friends, and, most importantly — the best preparation for university.
It sounds good, doesn’t it? Before you and your parents start planning your departure, it’s well worth asking yourself a few questions and deciding on your priorities. Below, you will find three topics it’s worth thinking about before you start filling in your applications.
Private or Public School?
Private schools differ from their public counterparts because they charge tuition fees. This means that you have to add the cost of paying for your living expenses to the fees required by the school. Private schools do not charge these fees for nothing. For a start these are extremely well equipped institutions which offer boarding, excellent catering and state of the art sporting facilities, in fact anything which students might need. Classes are small, with 10-12 pupils per class, on average, and this means that teachers have strong relationships with their students, and have the time to get to know each one well, and offer them individualised support. This helps pupils develop their natural talents, as well as their social and academic skills. As a result, most private schools do very well in the exam rankings.
Does this mean that public schools should be dismissed out of hand? Absolutely not! You can find many public schools which provide their students with outstanding teaching, personal attention and do very well in the national leagues. It is, however, far more difficult to get a place in a public school, so it is essential to submit applications in the September before you wish to be considered, since the earlier you apply for a place, the more likely you are to be accepted. You do need to remember that if you decide to apply to a state school, where teaching is undertaken in English, your only option will be to apply to the UK, since other English-speaking schools in Germany and Switzerland, for example, only have private schools which teach in English.
A Levels, IB or GCSE?
The next important question to decide is whether you want to study for the IB, A Levels or GCSEs, since these are widely-recognised qualifications accepted across the international community. GCSEs take two years and you will sit them at the age of 16, after which your choice will fall between the UKs A Levels or the International Baccalaureate, both of which carry equal weight for universities. The structure of the programs differs in terms of the number of subjects you will study, with A Levels normally being sat in 3 subjects and the IB in six. This allows for differing degrees of specialisation, and while the IB may well be a little harder because it includes more subjects, what you decide on depends to a great extent on your interests and your career plans. Universities normally demand three subjects.
Boarding school or a host family?
Another important consideration is deciding where you will live – with a host family or in a boarding school. Both options are popular and your decision depends on your character. If you are sociable and enjoy the company of your peers, then boarding school may well be for you. Most boarding schools are conveniently situated on campus or close by, so you don’t waste time on travel and you are also perfectly safe. Every boarding school has its own rules — normally, pupils have to be back by 22.30 during the week and 23.30 at weekends , so parents have no need to worry. On the other hand, boarding schools have a number of disadvantages: it can be a noisy environment and this could stop you from studying when you want to, and revising at times which suit you.
Living with a host family could involve travelling to school, but you will soon build up close relationships in a home environment and in a short matter of time you will truly feel at home and part of the family. In fact, many students end up calling their adult hosts aunty and uncle, and feel extremely sad when they have to leave at the end of the year. Living with a family is probably quieter, so if this matters to you, a host family could be ideal.
As you can see, there are many questions you need to consider before applying to study in a high school abroad, and this blog has only touched on a few of them. Making the decision to study abroad is hugely important for both you and your parents, so the first step must be to ask yourself: am I really ready for this and will it make me happy?