Going off to boarding school can be intimidating for some students, but those coming from other countries face additional challenges. Fortunately, after an adjustment period, international students can find their groove in their new countries and have an experience to last them a lifetime. Here are some tips to guide students from other countries toward a positive experience no matter where they are headed.
Start the Process Early
Depending which country a student will be traveling to, there might be restrictions governing when he or she can apply for admittance. This process may be complicated by the time needed to apply for and be approved for a student visa. Some countries, such as Canada, don’t have true application deadlines. Students may be admitted at any time in the school year. Boarding schools in English-speaking countries may require applicants to pass the TOEFL test for non-native English speakers. All of these necessary steps will take time to complete, so it’s best to allow plenty of leeway to handle them.
Arriving at the School
Again, no matter what country new students find themselves in, there will be an acclimation process as international teens learn to thrive in their environment. In most cases, at least one parent accompanies the student to the boarding school and gets him or her settled. However, after a day or two, the parent is expected to let the staff transition to caring for the teen. Students who are used to having a luxurious home and servants may be in for a surprise at boarding school, but most make the adjustment to self-sufficiency fairly quickly.
Hitting a Stride
International students may find a different academic rigor in boarding school than they were used to at home, whether classes are tougher or easier. They should be prepared to delve into the learning culture at the school in the same way the other students do. If they struggle with a language barrier, students must be empowered to seek out extra help from the instructors. Some schools place a high emphasis on test scores and meeting national standards, but others don’t face these restrictions.
Sometimes parents worry that their international students will be alone at the school during holidays or fail to make friends in general. However, this rarely is the case. Traditional students commonly invite international students to their homes for the holidays so they can experience the event as it is observed in a native household. In fact, international students can be quite popular due to the “exotic” nature of being from somewhere foreign to the other students.
Foreign nationals who wish to eventually leave boarding school and attend a college in their new country likely will find they are well prepared to do so. Not only are international students highly desired at many universities, they also should be well qualified to excel at entrance exams thanks to the quality of the education they received at boarding school.
International students whose families are considering sending them to boarding school may be initially worried about the prospect, but some time on campus may quickly change their minds – and their futures.