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Schools as big as the world

For students who want to get out there. Really out there.

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International education can mean many things, but for some schools, that term is used at its most literal — they promote learning from getting out there and bumping up against the world. 

These aren't the kinds of schools that parents perhaps think of first. For many, it's surprising that they even exist. But they do. You can board on a tall ship, or attend a school nestled in the Alps. You can learn art history in Vienna, and learn French in France. You can experience international development by participating in it.

For all of that and more, these schools offer life-changing experiences along with structured, rigorous academics. Not for everyone, for sure. But for the right student, these programs can, um, make a world of difference. 

Class Afloat

In the world of unique educational options, Class Afloat takes the prize. It’s exactly what it looks like: students board a tall ship and sail off to see the world. While they do that, they take classes in support of earning credits toward completion of their high school diploma. Unreal. But, there it is. The ship provides, as you might imagine, a focal point, though it does so in ways that you may not initially think of. Living and working aboard a tall ship can be challenging—students need to live in close quarters, and work with their peers in order to achieve certain goals. For some, that experience itself can provide some of the best lessons. It’s not for the faint of heart, and is only for students who choose this option themselves, and are very keen to make the most of it.

Neuchâtel Junior College

Neuchâtel Junior College

Neuchâtel was founded in 1956 and, from then to now, there’s been nothing else quite like it when it comes to options for Canadian students. It’s so unique that, in some ways, it’s hard to believe that it exists at all: a school, offering the Ontario curriculum, nestled within the natural and political environments of Europe. The views are inspiring, as is the proximity to international organizations, including the UN in Geneva. Skiing in Zermatt, studying art in Venice … it goes on and on. The instruction is strong, and classes are intimate. The majority of students arrive from Ontario, though there is some diversity within the student population. The ideal student is one who is inclined to make the most of the vast range of opportunities that the school provides. Likewise, for students interested in international relations and development, Neuchâtel can provide a unique and singular learning experience.

Blyth Academy

Blyth Academy Global High School

Blyth Academy is impressive, so much so that it can be a bit difficult to get your head around. Whereas some schools are just that, schools, Blyth represents a range of programs at a range of locations. It was founded by Sam Blyth in 1977, and quickly established itself as a leader in global education with the creation of a Canadian high school in France, as well as an accredited program at Oxford University. Those global education programs provided a unique addition to the Canadian educational landscape.

With the creation of the first brick-and-mortar school here at home in 2002, Blyth applied the same concept to domestic education. In the intervening decades, the program has grown exponentially, now including 11 campuses which, together, represent the largest single private school student population in Canada. Still, the program continued to grow, today including a campus in Washington DC. A majority host summer programs, night and weekend classes, intended to provide challenge or support for students of the school, or those interested only in specific courses. And on it goes … there are further international programs, year-long study abroad program under the Blyth Global High School banner, as well as online/distance course offerings. There are even March break courses, both here and abroad.

Again, it’s a lot, with a range of programs to support a wide range of students and academic goals. Again, for anyone who thinks of school in a traditional way—a building with classes—Blyth can be a lot to get your head around. Given the historical strength of the programs, however, it’s very much worth the effort.

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While Rhodes Scholar Colin Robertson, has always been strong academically, he credits this camp with giving him the confidence in his talents and in himself that, ultimately, the Rhodes committee was looking for. [Read more]

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