This week, New Delhi is hosting a premium event for students looking for education opportunities abroad through a collaboration between The Red Pen, Linden Educational Services and Case.
Over the past few years, The Red Pen education consultancy has witnessed an encouraging spike in families considering boarding schools in India and abroad. To address this interest, The Red Pen has partnered with Linden Educational Services – a US-based global boarding school admissions marketing firm and Crayons Academy for Skills Excellence (CASE) – a Delhi based skills development and career counseling firm to host an International boarding school fair in Gurgaon on 6th November 2019, from 12 noon to 6 pm at ‘The Leela’ in Gurgaon.
At the fair, representatives from over 25 international boarding schools across the US, UK, and Canada will be present to share information with families one-on-one. Charterhouse and United World College are amongst some of the prominent names. This is an exclusive opportunity to meet admissions officers, explore various boarding school options, learn about their unique offerings and understand the application process.
Operating out of Mumbai since 2011, The Red Pen is known for its bespoke educational counseling services for applicants based anywhere in the world. The Boarding School Fair initiative reflects The Red Pen’s commitment to empowering parents and applicants to understand their best-fit educational choices and make informed decisions about their future. The Red Pen has supported over 5000 students with admission to best-fit institutions around the world – whether Ivy League universities, M7 business program, global management, and technical master’s programs, specialized colleges, small liberal arts institutions and a wide range of global and Indian boarding schools. The 70+ member team is led by partners Dr. Kimberly Wright Dixit and Namita Mehta. Consultants with diverse backgrounds, with a wealth of education, experience, and knowledge represent The Red Pen’s strong foundation.
Sending your child far away from home is a difficult decision and one that requires a lot of time and thought. A great way to decide if this is the right decision for your child is to visit the campus to learn about each school’s unique offerings, location, and suitability for your child’s interests and aptitude. Here’s some information about schools from the US, Canada, and the UK to get you started.
The sheer number of boarding schools spread across the US and Canada makes it difficult to choose what type of school you should consider, as each focuses on different aspects of education. Knowing the answers to questions such as ‘what is each boarding school offering for my child?’ ‘what is the best fit for my child?’ and ‘what school aligns with my child’s goals?’ can help you narrow down your search for suitable boarding schools. Military schools such as Admiral Farragut Academy in the US and Robert Land Academy in Canada offer an education with a military influence, while therapeutic schools, such as Grand River Academy in the US, support students with learning differences and offer non-conventional education. In addition to this, there are many mainstream preparatory schools such as Phillips Exeter Academy and St. Paul’s School in the US and Ridley College in Canada that may serve as a bridge to competitive universities in these countries and focus on character-building and leadership opportunities. Each of these schools differs in size, resources, and opportunities, so ensure that you spend some time researching each school and what it offers.
There are many reasons to consider a boarding school in the US or Canada, the primary one is the high quality of education. Most schools in the US and Canada offer college prep curricula, often including AP courses or the IB Diploma Programme. These courses are designed to meet the needs of a modern classroom. One of the most unique teaching methods in US boarding schools is the Harkness Table where students lead discussions on various topics in a round table setting rather than a typical classroom lecture. This is beneficial as it encourages students to be more confident, develops an open-minded, self-driven approach to learning and enables a smooth transition to the college environment.
Boarding schools in the US and Canada have demanding requirements that vary from school to school. Most schools will require your child to submit SSAT scores as a prerequisite, along with grades from the last two years. The SSAT is a standardized test that measures basic verbal, math and reading skills and is ranked in percentiles. These results are used to assess the academic ability of all students seeking to enrol. In addition, some schools may also ask international students to take an in-house English proficiency test or submit TOEFL/IELTS scores. While achieving high grades and scores are important, admissions officers usually admit students based on their entire application, including extracurricular activities.
Starting your child’s application process well in advance is crucial. The academic year at most schools commences in August and application deadlines are usually at least six months prior. Each school in the US and Canada has its own, school-specific admission process, application forms and timelines, however, there are some that are a part of a centralized application portal like The Gateway to Prep School and Standard Application Online. Common requirements, which you can compile ahead of time include scanned copies of your child’s school transcripts and report cards. Apart from this, having a resume ready can help you to keep a better track of extracurricular involvement so that you can easily showcase what your child can contribute to a new academic environment beyond the classroom. In addition to this, a few schools may require an essay, which is a simple statement of purpose talking about a student’s academic journey so far and their plans for the future. In addition to a student essay, some schools ask for a parent essay as well. After submitting your child’s application forms, some may ask for additional testing. Following these tests, the school will extend an interview invitation, which can be conducted at the campus or via video conferencing. Post this, the school will make an offer of admission, which may depend on the completion of certain academic conditions.
When considering sending your child to boarding school, the cost can become a deciding factor. A typical boarding school education would range from 45,000 to 60,000 USD. However, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes, depending on the size and location of the school, the fees may be above the typical range. Fortunately, more and more schools in the US and Canada have begun reshaping their financial policies to allow academically-strong students to attend, irrespective of their financial situation. Aid generally goes to students who demonstrate financial need, usually families that earn less than 150,000 USD a year. A small number of schools are 100 percent need-blind and will not reject a student because of their inability to pay. For example, schools such as Phillips Academy (Andover) in the US have large financial endowments that allow them to offer scholarships to deserving students. More schools are exploring their ability to offer such scholarships to add to the diversity of their school ecosystem while maintaining a high academic standard.
The boarding system in the UK is split into three levels–primary (ages 4-13), secondary (ages 13-16) and what is referred to as ‘sixth form’ (ages 16-18). In secondary school or high school, your child usually will study for GCSE qualifications, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme or Intermediates in Scotland. In the sixth form, they would take the IB Diploma Program or A-levels and in Scotland move to Highers. Most boarding school class sizes tend to be small so as to ensure that your child gets individual attention from teachers.
Most boarding schools in the UK follow a house system, which will serve as your child’s home during their time at school. The number of houses varies according to the school. For example, The King’s School, Canterbury has 13 boarding houses, six for boys and seven for girls, while Charterhouse has 15 boarding houses, 11 for boys and four for girls. Each house has its own head, a matron and supporting staff to ensure their welfare. Typically, younger boarders share their accommodation with others, while older boarders may have the option of getting their own room. Besides accommodation, these single-sex houses also have common areas where your child can study and spend time with their fellow house students and may even have a house kitchen. Depending on the school, your child may have the option to choose their house, else, one will be allocated to them.
The education requirements are extremely school-specific and as such, they vary based on the school to which your child applies. Students entering the sixth form will most likely be required to sit the UKiset–an online test that measures ability in non-verbal reasoning, mathematics and vocabulary, Some schools may offer your child a place in the sixth form solely based on these exams, school reports and personal interview such as Oakham, while others such as Malvern and Sevenoaks may ask your child to sit their own entry papers based on their choice of subjects such as English, maths, and science in addition to the UKiset. These tests are held on specific dates at the school, however, if your child can’t attend, the school may make arrangements to have the assessment sent to the student’s school or a recognized testing center, for instance, the British Council. Apart from this, the school may ask your child to take an English proficiency test as well, such as the IELTS. Once a school has confirmed that your child can manage the academic expectations, previous grades and marks matter less relative to their overall profile.
Since each boarding school has its own application form and procedure, your child will have to apply directly to the school through their website. Boarding schools in the UK require your child to register and apply at least one year prior to attending, however, some schools may require this two years in advance, depending on the grade for which the student is seeking entry. Prior to applying, most schools encourage you to attend an open day with your child to meet with the headmaster, members of staff and tour the school with current students. Apart from filling out the application form, which will ask for some basic details, your child’s academic transcript the past three years will need to be sent. For example, if a student is applying to grade 11, transcripts from grade 8 onwards may be required. Some schools may also request your child to attend an interview either online or in person to get a better understanding of their interests and academic background. Your child may also be asked to write a personal statement or essay, which addresses why they want to attend boarding school and then, why that particular boarding school. Once your child has applied, the school will contact their current school for an academic reference. All students, including international students, would require a legal guardian in the UK to attend school in the country. Note that overseas families can avail of guardian services.
The average fee at a boarding school in the UK is approximately £10,000 per term. This fee encompasses education, accommodation, sports facilities, extracurricular activities, and dining. Most boarding schools have ‘extras’ which the student will be expected to pay for separately including private music or dance lessons, additional outings or dry cleaning. Scholarships for international students are rare, however, your child can participate in open scholarship examinations, where the exam papers are sent to British Council offices across the world.
If your child is between 4-17 years of age, they would need a Tier 4 child student visa. For this visa, your child must have a confirmed acceptance to the course/school, consent of a guardian, financial support for course fees and living costs and not be from a country in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
For more information: Get in touch with The Red Pen.
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- an online parenting resource repository dedicated to jumpstarting conversations around millennial parenting, encouraging parents to bring their attention to words, thoughts and actions that will enable them to raise a well-rounded, empathic and motivated generation. You can also find her on the Huffington Post, Parent.co, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha and many other publications.