The international school experience is an exciting and excellent opportunity for students to form new and diverse friendships, explore new challenges, and participate in various sports and co-curricular activities.
But for your child to have these experiences, you must first find the right school.
When applying to most international schools, the skills of prospective students are evaluated, and their experiences are considered. This process often includes student placement assessments and interviews with admissions and academic leadership.
However, applying doesn't need to be stressful. We suggest you take your time to find the best fit and consider your child's specific needs as part of the process.
At the Western International School of Shanghai, we understand that one of the biggest challenges parents face is choosing the best-fit school for their child. To assist parents with this important process, we share five expert steps and tips to help you get the most out of your search for that best-fit school.
1. Understand your Child
2. Make a List
3. Evaluate and Shortlist Schools
4.Visit Shortlisted Schools
5. Preparing The Application
1. Know Your Child
The first step in choosing the right school is determining what type of student your child is and what environment they are most likely to succeed in.
Before considering the features of any particular school, parents are encouraged to look at their child's needs, strengths and personality.
2. Make A List
Armed with a better understanding of your child, the next step is to evaluate your child's needs and your family's needs before researching prospective schools.
It is essential for parents to do their “homework”. International Schools generally have quite comprehensive websites. I would suggest that parents start there. Through a web search, you can gain so much insight. From the way that schools present themselves, their curriculum, faculty, sports, news, student achievements, and co-curricular activities. This process will assist you in familiarizing yourself with the available international school options and give you an idea about which school may best fit your child's unique needs.
Some key factors that prospective parents consider include the interests and talents of their child, and what academic, cultural, and co-curricular activities are available to support these.
3. Evaluate and Shortlist Schools
Now it's time to look at specific schools to see what they have to offer. Many parents we have spoken to begin by visiting international school fairs. Some parents also look at published school guides and websites, which provide an overview of what's available at international schools.
Other forms of research often include speaking with fellow parents. It is important to note that what other parents say about a school should not necessarily be one of your deciding factors. Just because one child had a positive or negative experience does not mean your child will have the same experience.
We also encourage parents to think beyond school rankings when evaluating best-fit schools for their children. "Parents will often say, 'But that school didn't have a good rating,' and what we ask them is, 'What else do you know about the school? Have you visited the school? Are there elements of the school that fit needs of your child? In isolation, these ratings are not particularly useful.
4. Visit Shortlisted Schools
Now that you've done your research and homework, narrow your choices to no more than 3 – 5 schools.
When narrowing down the options to those best-fit international schools where your child can thrive, a visit to the school is a must.Joining an International School Open House event is a great way to get a feel for the school and the campus, experience the culture, explore the facilities and meet with faculty members.
Generally, a visit to the school can be arranged through the Admissions Department. An Admissions Advisor will take you on a custom campus tour and should guide and support you through every step of the school's admissions process.
TIP: Applying to too many schools can get stressful, and it can also get expensive. Most schools have application fees attached, so we suggest setting a budget for the application process.
It is also important to remember that many schools have application deadlines and waiting lists and accept applications more than a year in advance. However, some schools, like the Western International School of Shanghai offer a rolling admissions process, which means new students are accepted and enrolled at any time throughout the school year.
5. Preparing the Application
Once you've identified the international schools you want to apply to, it's time to fill out applications. These days applications can be completed online, and as long as you have all supporting documentation, like teacher recommendations, report cards, and identification documents, for example, filling out applications is pretty straightforward.
Admission advisors recommend giving as much information as possible on the application, including any learning needs, advanced learning abilities, or any other details on areas and subjects your child shows a keen interest.Being open and transparent can help provide schools with the information they need to make sure they can meet your needs.
Join one of the Open House Events at the Western International School of Shanghai as part of your evaluation for a best-fit school. Alternatively, contact our Admissions Team to schedule a personalized campus tour.
Click here to download the guide: “5 steps for finding a best-fit International School”
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