What to Do in Advance

Schools abroad almost always require some sort of formal entrance application. This can range from a few forms to be filled out all the way up to an exam process as rigorous as some colleges.

As soon as you know when and where you'll be heading, contact the school or schools available. Many times schools abroad fill up quickly, especially if there are few alternate choices. Find out when you need to apply (some may want you to apply several months in advance), and what you will have to do to apply. Your child may have to take an entrance exam; how to do that from abroad? The school may want to interview you and/or the child; can this be done by phone?

Schools abroad may also need records from your child's U.S. school, as well as detailed information on what your child has covered in his math classes, for example, in order to figure out which grade level abroad he would best fit in. It is safe to say you will need to do more work in advance concerning schooling abroad than you would normally do if moving from Boston to Seattle.

You may need to update and provide information on your child's immunizations, or have her take a medical exam on a form the school will provide.

One other very important thing: schooling abroad is far from free. In fact, the cost for a year at a top level international school in Tokyo is higher than a year of tuition at a large state university. In addition, some schools have elaborate field trip and laboratory fees. At the American School in London, for example, high school juniors took their class trip to Egypt, which parents were expected to fund. Model United Nations programs are also popular with overseas schools, and often involve expensive travel.

If your company or organization is not paying for the schooling, begin to make your own financial arrangements early on. How will you get the money to the school (they may not accept your check)? What fees are due immediately, and what are the due dates for tuition? Is there some sort of time payment plan available to spread the costs evenly over the year?

Actually moving TO the U.S.? This book, Understanding American Schools, is worth a look. We also have a review of the book.

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