Canadian private schools have a lot of opportunities to offer international students. Consider some of the following guidelines to ensure your international student a smooth and safe transition to their new Canadian school.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine
For many international students, leaving the comforts of home to attend a Canadian school is a memorable, life-changing event. The benefits of studying abroad include broadening their worldview and knowledge of other cultures, having access to resources and specialized courses not available at home, perfecting their English language skills, gaining self-confidence and becoming more independent.
With the various options for boarding schools and ESL (English as a Second Language) schools it is important to assess your child’s interests and needs (e.g., ESL course, academic or extracurricular options), consider family circumstances and do enough research on both the school and staff to ensure the best fit for your international student.
Also consider the following guidelines to help your child have a smooth transition to a Canadian school:
1) Find out about the specific application requirements for international students beyond those required of all students; each school has their own requirements and procedures. For example, at Branksome Hall, a “non-denominational independent school for girls” all students apply through an online application system, complete academic testing and undergo interviews. However, international students are also required to submit recommendations from a math and English teacher, and may complete their interviews via Skype or telephone.
2) Find out about how the school assists students needing a student study permit visa. At Branksome, once an international student has completed registration, including full tuition payment, the school prepares the required forms (Acceptance Letter, Receipt of Payment and the Canadian Custodian Declaration Form) with information from the applicant. They then have the forms notarized by a lawyer and sent to the international student, who will use them to apply for a visa at their Canadian Embassy. Other schools similarly issue support documents needed to secure a student study permit visa upon fee payment. Click here for a comprehensive government guide to study permits for international students.
3) Make sure your school of choice has adequate support systems in place for your international student. For students in a foreign land, it is vital to have certain support systems in place as they become more independent. Look for a school with a strong ESL program to facilitate proficiency and self-confidence in English language abilities. Find out if the school offers an international language program where your student can continue to study their mother tongue, or staff who speak their native language to serve as mentors. Finally, ensure that your child’s physical and psychological needs are met via a school nurse and/or guidance counselor; pack any needed medications and dosage instructions, and keep staff abreast of your child’s medical requirements.
Finally, Kimberly Carter, Branksome Hall’s Director of Admissions, recommends that families “apply between November and February for entry the following September, visit the school and campus [if possible] and [remember to keep their] international student’s passport up to date.”
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