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Let's Talk About American and International Schools

Daren Worcester
Mar 12, 2023
41 minutes
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#admissionchat episode 3 welcomes Joshua Clark, the director of student recruitment and admissions at TASIS The American School in England, to discuss the differences between American and international schools, as well as the advantages of studying abroad. Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Top reasons that families choose an American or international school
  • The differences between the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs
  • Advantages of attending an American or international school for college or university applications
  • The differences between attending a national or international boarding school
  • FAQs parents often have about American and international schools

Listen to the episode above or subscribe to #admissionchat on your favorite podcast platform: Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify.


Daren Worcester: Welcome to #admissionchat. Let's talk about American and international schools.

[Intro music]

Daren Worcester: Hey there, I'm Daren Worcester, and I'm excited to be joined in this discussion by Joshua Clark. He's the director of student recruitment and admissions at TASIS The American School in England. Josh, welcome to #admissionchat.

Joshua Clark: Thank you very much.

Daren Worcester: Josh, let's start by having you tell us a little about yourself and your journey to your current position at TASIS England.

Joshua Clark: I was married, doing graduate work and we ran out of money, which is probably a common problem for many people doing graduate work.And we decided I was... We were thinking of going into education, and we needed something to do before I finished my program, because we just didn't feel like we could stay in there that long and go that much more into debt. And so we had a brother who was living in Arizona, and he said, "Well, there's a thing called a boarding school down the road." Because we were all public school kids. And he said, "And I know that they're looking, I know someone there and they're looking for some teachers." So we went out, and they had an opening that my wife could take. And then they said, "Well, we don't have any openings in your field." I was going into history because I was apolitical science major.

But they said, "We do have something in admissions if you're willing to consider that." And so I interviewed for the job. And I realized when I stepped foot on the campus of a boarding school how many opportunities there are compared to what's available for someone like me who'd gone to public school. And I thought, "Oh, I could sell this. I could easily sell this." So I took the job, my wife took the teaching position. And that started a long relationship that we have with boarding schools. And that was over 20 years ago. We've since moved to a boarding school on the East Coast. And then, we then worked 14 years in Hawaii at a boarding school before this past year, we moved to TASIS England.

And it was really, we were very happy where we were in Hawaii and working at the school. But this opportunity came up and so we said, "Hey, we know you're happy but are you interested in at least looking at that." So we thought, every day I'm I'm telling families to stretch and expand their horizons and take that next leap by considering a boarding school. We're happy and we're comfortable. But maybe that's not always a good thing. And so maybe we need to stretch ourselves as well. So we came out here, looked at the school, fell in love with it and said, "Yeah, let's make this our next adventure." So that's what we did. We were here—talk about adventure, we came here during the pandemic. So we had to go through the quarantine, it took a while to get our Visas because the Visa centers were closed and stuff. But we finally made it and it's been a great experiences since then.

Daren Worcester: Sounds really exciting. What's the sort of cultural shift going from Hawaii to England?

Joshua Clark: Well, first it's the weather. That's the biggest shift to go from warm weather, beaches to a little bit more rain, a little bit colder. My dress changed, I was wearing Hawaiian shirts every day. That was my uniform back at the previous school. Now I'm in a shirt and tie or a jacket and tie, suit. So that's the second big change. And then I think the third biggest change would be driving on the left side of the road and the streets are much more narrow in the UK than they are United States. So you have to do a little bit more on the ball when you're driving just to make sure you don't sideswipe anything.

Daren Worcester: I have one experience with that I'd like to apologize in retrospect to the motorcyclist that I almost took out. I was also surprised by the amount of rotaries, many more rotaries. Alright, so let's move this on to topic. For this #admissionchat, we're talking American schools. And TASIS England is both an American and an international school. Can you explain what an American School is? And what are the similarities and differences to international schools?

Joshua Clark: Sure. To start, I should probably begin with international schools. Because that would be kind of the larger umbrella. And there really isn't an accepted definition of what an international school is. But you're really dealing with to a certain extent three different components. The first component would be the curriculum. And an international school typically is going to be offering a curriculum that is not available in their host country.Or it's not the host country's national curriculum. Second, you're going to have the makeup of the student body, and then third would be the makeup of the faculty.

So international schools, generally you would have an international school that is teaching, for example, in the UK they're teaching a non-British curriculum. Or in China, a non-Chinese curriculum. Or in the United States, it could be a French school or a British school or something to that effect. On top of that, when you're talking about the student makeup, you don't necessarily have to have only non-nationals attending that school. So for example, for many years, American schools required that you had to have a passport outside of the country that that school is located in. So for example, if you're in an American School in India, you had to hold a passport outside of India, either an American passport or British passport or something like that. And you couldn't hold an Indian passport. But that has since been relaxed. And now you could have nationals attending these international or American schools.

So nowadays, you typically will see with international schools that they are going to be a little bit more diverse in their population, rather than just having only students from that country. But that isn't necessarily the hard and fast rule. You could have an international school because it's an international curriculum and still have students come exclusively from that country. Now the difference between that and American schools, generally now you start to focus in on the curriculum of that country.So you'd have Canadian schools teaching the Canadian curriculum, the UK schools teaching the British system, and then American schools teaching the American curriculum.

There's a wide variety within the American curriculum, because as you know, the United States, states and districts have their own different sets of curriculum or standards. And then you also have your accrediting bodies for private schools and things like that. So for us, typically what you'll find is schools, there's a certain style of teaching that we might get into a little bit later that is different than what you'll find in other countries. But also the curriculum itself, even leading up to the advanced placement for other types of curriculum.

Daren Worcester: You've kind of already dug into my next question. So my impression of American schools, naively, has been a little bit of what you've talked about, in that it's for expat families that are abroad and want to give their children an American education. But clearly, they're not just for Americans. So what is the family that chooses an American school? Why do they typically go that route?

Joshua Clark: Sure. I think partly, it's related to the curriculum and the style of teaching. What you find when you look at the American curriculum compared to other national curriculum, is that generally in the U.S. we tend to... And I'm talking degrees, levels of degree here not necessarily stark differences, but generally, we tend to focus on the developmental side. And so when you're teaching math, or you're teaching, something like that, we tend to focus on the problem solving skills, the learning how to learn, so that you can then apply those skills in multiple situations. Whereas in other curriculum, there's a lot more focus and it's much more formal and much more focused on memorization.

And so what you can find at times is, especially at the younger years, a family will say, "My child in first grade is much more advanced in this system than their counterparts in the American system." And that could be true, but then usually by third or fourth grade, they start to level out because then that... By third or fourth they're in that system, they've got to work on the developmental side. And then we start to focus more on kind of the memorization side, but they've got that foundation of problem solving, of understanding how to go through the process. And so generally, it's a difference in theory in how to approach the process of education. But usually, what you'll find is that we are, the style of teaching is less focused on memorization, more focused on problem solving and critical thinking. And I'm trying to make it very stark, but that's not always there.

Another, I think, difference between the two systems, or between any system and the United States would be usually you'll find in the American schools, that there is a greater emphasis and there is always going to be a University Counseling or College Counseling Department. That is going to help students through identifying which university they want to apply to and where they'd eventually go. And a lot of other systems or curriculum, what you'll find is that it's they're more exam focused. And so the exams to a certain extent determine where you go and kind of get tracked a little bit earlier in that system than you would in the U.S. system. And so usually, you have less focus on college counseling, and then it's just the families relied upon to then find the university for their child.

So that does bring up the idea of their more exam focused. So some students would drop out because they didn't hit their exams in ninth or tenth grade, or they didn't necessarily meet the exams that they wanted to when they finished at the terminal year of their curriculum in their country. And you find that in Asia, you find that in Europe. There is that winnowing, or that narrowing effect that you don't necessarily have which is much more democratic in the United States. Where we have different levels of universities, different opportunities, we have foundation programs, there's a lot of ways to help students get there.

And so it's a little bit more open. And some families feel that's a little bit easier for their child, if they don't feel like they are that stereotypical high flyer, highly motivated student. It's an easier process to still get them where they want to go, rather than they get shunted off into a different direction vocational schools or something like that, that could be an excellent fit for some but others that may not be what they want.

Daren Worcester: Got it. So you guys offer both an AP program to stick to the American curriculum and as an international school, you offer the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma program. What's the differences between these two offerings?

Joshua Clark: So the Advanced Placement, when I'm talking to families and I want to give them a general overview of the differences between the AP and the IB, as I say, the IB is like going to a gourmet restaurant where you have a five course meal, and you have some flexibility. You could choose the soup or the salad, or maybe which entree the fish or the chicken and what kind of dessert you want. But to a certain extent, we've got your courses. And there's a certain flow that you are structured, that you're part of. And you can't necessarily change that.

The AP, on the other hand is like going to a buffet restaurant. You can walk up and put crab legs on your plate, and that's all you eat, and no one is going to stop you. Or you can choose a little bit of everything. So you have a little bit more flexibility with how you want your experience to be. So if we then take that to the AP versus the IB, the Advanced Placement is really a year long course per subject. And so you can choose Advanced Placement Biology and Advance Placement Physics. And there's dozens and dozens of these subjects. You study that subject for one year, there's an exam at the end of the year. And if you score high enough, generally a three, four or five, then most universities are going to say you've done the equivalent of one of our entry level courses in that same subject. And they will give you credit they will allow you to be placed in a higher level course.

There's something there that will allow you to kind of advance your opportunity. Some of the more selective universities wouldn't necessarily give you credit. But they would say, "Because you've done these Advance Placement courses, you've demonstrated that you've taken the most challenging courses available to you." And so that does help you get into those universities even if they don't necessarily give you credit. So one year you choose what you take. You could take as many APs or as few as you like, based upon kind of recommendations or the policies of the school that you're attending.

When you go to the International Baccalaureate, it's a two-year diploma program, the IB or the Diploma program. And so you have two years, and you have six courses, or six subject areas and groups that we call them. One is going to be language and literature, next will be language acquisition, which is going to be more foreign language studies. Then you get into kind of, I like to call it more of humanities, it's going to be the sociology, it's the economics it's those portions that kind of round out your humanities side of it. You have kind of a math section, a science section, and then an art section. Three subjects, it's almost like a major and a minor, you choose three subjects at standard level and three subjects at higher level. And then there's also a core that they talk about, which would be cast, which is creativity, action, and service, I believe.

I can't remember the acronym. And then the other one would be a theory of knowledge program. And then finally, an extended essay. Which is similar to a master's thesis where you're writing a long paper. All of that is a two year program. And so when you're done and you kind of get your points based upon some of the exams you're doing at the end of each year, some of course work that you do so on and so forth, you get points out of 47. And then university will say that you've done the equivalent of this much work and then in some universities you would have been in the second year, other universities we have other opportunities to receive credit. So it is possible to a certain extent, kind of replicate the IB with the AP, depending on which AP courses you take, and which scores you get.

But between both of them, they're accepted by universities in 70 different countries. And so there are students that could do the APs and go to a British or European university. And they're also students very much so that do the IB Diploma and then get accepted to U.S. universities. So, typically people, in their mind, think APs, U.S. Universities, IB, elsewhere. But you can actually go to either with both programs. It does require a little bit of research to make sure that the university has kind of a set list that says if you're doing IB we expect you to do these courses in higher level. You have to have this score. And if you're doing APs, you need to do X number of APs. Two or three of these have to be in this subject area and you have to have these scores to be accepted. But most universities will lay that out for families and they could just go through that process. And normally, their University Counseling Department will help them through that as well to make sure that they're checking off all the boxes they need to get into their university of choice.

Daren Worcester: If a student were to come into your school and they start with taking AP courses, and then they say, "Hey, IB, I think is better for me." Are they able to switch over? Or is it like Hotel California, once you're in one, there's no getting out?

Joshua Clark: Pretty much. With the IB, there are schools that offer lower levels of the IB curriculum. So you have early years, you have Liberal Year Program, all that leading into the diploma, which is just grade 11, and 12. Once you go to grade 11, you're in it. And if you're not in it, you can't get into it. Because it's a two year program. You could repeat a grade and redo 11th grade and start it, but you can't join partway through that diploma program. There are some possibilities to at least do a little bit of both, or at least experience what's a good fit. What we find a lot of times, and I don't know if this will make sense for some families, but a lot of times you'll find students when they're taking the ACT and the SAT, students perform better in one or the other.

Joshua Clark: So they find which one is better suited to them. And then they might then select that as the score or the test that they will then share with universities. Similarly, there are students who might perform better in the AP versus the IB, based on their personality, whether they like the structure of the IB, or they want the flexibility of the AP. Or just the style of the test that are done in either of those programs. So because we offer both. And because our faculty are aware of both, what can happen is some of our students will come into grade 9 and grade 10. And then they're able to one, if they are advanced in certain areas we do have a couple of courses, I think a computer science course, where even a ninth grader can take the AP Computer Science. And there's a couple courses that are available for 10th graders. So they can at least sample some of the AP courses before they have to commit and see if that's a good fit for them.

And then on top of that, because we're working with faculty that are familiar with both of the curriculums, they can then say to, the faculty can say to the student, "Johnny, you are a better fit for IB, and here's why. Or you really are Susan, you're an AP girl." Or vice versa. And so by offering both of them together in the same school, they can then make a more informed decision. Rather than, unfortunately, what a lot of families have to do is they're saying, "Okay, I want to study abroad. I've waited until grade 11. Now I have to decide between an AP or an IB school. And because most schools in the world either offer one or the other, only a few offer both." Then they have to actually make that decision without having all the facts in hand as to what might be a better fit for them. So I always encourage families, if you aren't sure, if you're at least open to both possibilities, try and see what you can and go early. Just so you have that gift of time to make an informed decision.

Daren Worcester: It sounds like families that are already in your program, students get a good amount of support and advising. You kind of alluded to it a little bit. But are there other avenues for families that are not already in a school such as yours and are looking to go to get support and advice.

Joshua Clark: Yes. And I forgot I was going to mention one other thing, and I forgot what it was until just now, I should go back and mention, it is possible to do a little bit of both, but you can't do all of both. In other words, rather than doing the full diploma program in the IB, it is possible todo International Baccalaureate certificates. Which would be roughly similar to the AP, where you get a certificate in certain subjects. So then what you could do is almost ride the line, and do some AP courses and some IB certificate courses and still fulfill all of your graduation requirements.

Still do what you need to do to look good for a university, you just wouldn't be in the full IB Diploma program. You'd only be taking bits and pieces of the IB and mixed with the AP. So that is possible almost do a hybrid approach. But it's not super common, but it is possible when we've had students go through that.

Now to go back to what you were asking where are there other options for families? Absolutely. And so one of the things that I would recommend for a family is when they're looking at schools, and let's say they're waiting until grade 11 before they decide to change schools and then they have to make that decision between the AP and the IB. What you can do is start to do some research.

Have some conversations with the faculty who do know you.And do your research on both the AP and the IB program. If you are the type of person that would benefit from a little bit more structure, and you have that level of organization to say, "Okay, I feel like I would be in a better position to show this totality of who I am by going through this diploma program. But that might be the way to go." and having some conversations talking to some trusted parents or teachers, and even your parents would be a good first step.

A second step would be to actually talk to the school that you're looking at. And have some conversations either with the Dean of academics or someone at that school—a department head who's been in the IB program or the AP program to get a better idea of, what is the profile of the students that go to one or the other at your school? And does that mirror who I am? And if that looks like it's a fit then that might be the perfectly good way to go. If it doesn't feel like it's a good fit, then it could be a school fit issue, or it could be a curriculum fit issue. And that's when you have to do a little bit more digging to find out. But we have a lot of kids that come into 11th grade here. And they have to make that decision in going into either into the AP or the IB or you work with them very closely to make sure that they're successful.

So it's done all the time. It's not like it's a... You're not going to have a lifetime of regrets, if you go into one or the other. Both are going to be academically rigorous. Both are going to show your potential and your ability to universities. It's just sometimes a little bit of a nuance as to what might be a better fit one over the other.

Daren Worcester: That's good advice. You had also mentioned to me earlier that the IB generally has the reputation of being a preferred program for students that are moving in their families are moving around from country to country, school to school, etc. What are some of the challenges that come with that?

Joshua Clark: That is kind of potentially the original idea, or the stereotype is that the IB Diploma program, now there's offered all over the world, if you have a family that the parents have to move because of their job, and they need to relocate from say, Singapore to London, or from South Paulo to St. Petersburg. The idea was that you can go from one IB school to the next IB school, let's say between grade 11 and grade 12, pick it up, and everything's consistent because it's still the IB Diploma program. And then you can ahead and complete your diploma and then go off to university. In theory, that's great. But I think it is important for families to realize that there are complicating factors.

And so it does require some flexibility. For example, some schools offer some courses that are not offered in other schools. So you can say I have my two year Diploma already figured out my whole plan. So in my senior year, I'm going to be taking this, this, and this. And then you can go to that school and they could say we don't even offer it. Or you could say I'm going to be taking these courses in year one and these courses in year two, and you get to that other school and they've actually flipped it and they're offering the year two courses in year one and year one courses in year two. And there could even be some adjustment issues where what is covered, the material that is covered by the faculty member and one school would be different than the material covered at another school.

Not to say that it still isn't easier and better to go with the IB program than to go from one school to a completely different school with a completely different curriculum—that is much, much more challenging. But I wanted to at least let families know that it isn't always as easy as they may think it is. Where it's... Because we have families that even want to come in January. And they're saying, "Yeah, we just got relocated.We were just informed that we have to leave and we're ready to go for second semester 11th grade."

And we're like, "We can't do that. Because the courses don't line up. We don't even offer the same things." And so it's easier for us to do between 11th and 12th. But even there, we have to be very careful and intentional to make sure that we're providing it. And sometimes the family has to say, or a student has to say, "Okay, I was planning on taking this course, but it's not available. So I'll do this instead." And as long as they're flexible, then generally we can make it work. But it can be disappointing if the parents aren't aware that there could be some potential challenges.

Daren Worcester: I would hope a family that has to move around every year that maybe they're getting accustomed to being flexible.

Joshua Clark: It does help. Yes. It just depends if they're at the beginning of their international moving career or towards their end they're much more flexible, absolutely.

Daren Worcester: Now, your school also has a boarding component. I'm going to presume that you probably enroll some American students that are looking to board internationally. What are the advantages for a family to send their child abroad for upper level grades nine through 12, as they're looking forward to trying to get in, if they're trying to get into colleges and universities in the United States or Canada?

Joshua Clark: So I think there are a couple different advantages of considering studying abroad. First, we know that there's a lot of research that's been done on the benefits of studying abroad, in higher education and in secondary education. How much it helps the student develop—not only in their maturity, in their ability to be more flexible. How they can work with others, especially when they have differences in opinion or different backgrounds or beliefs.How they're more independent. So there are certain advantages that you're going to get, soft skills that you will develop above and beyond any of the other benefits that I think is worth mentioning.

On top of that, though, when we're talking about an American student studying abroad and going to a school, for example like TASIS England, what you also find is that you set yourself apart. And in many cases that could be an advantage when you're applying for universities. What I mean by this is, I'll use an example, there's an applicant that I'm working with who left the United States and went to study abroad last year in a different country. Had an amazing experience, but had to leave early because of COVID and school shutting down and things like that. She then enrolled at her old school. And what she found was that she had grown and she had changed and all her friends stayed the same.

She could no longer connect to them the same way that she used to. And she felt like something was missing. That she missed the horizon expanding opportunities that are no longer available to her. So she's back now applying to study abroad, because she felt like that opportunity allowed her to expand not only her thinking, but her experiences and her growth that wasn't available to her by staying at home. So you're giving your child and the student is giving themselves the gift of expanding their opportunities. And you also are differentiating yourself from others who are having the same experience all together in lockstep.

So if I'm a university admissions officer, and let's say I cover the region of New England. And I'm receiving all these applications, and let's sayI'm only looking at boarding school applications, not even private, day, or public school applications. Many of the boarding schools are going to be competing in the same sports because they're competing against each other. On weekends they're going to the same cities, whether it's New York or Boston, or something like that, for their weekend activities and adventures. They're potentially going to the same ski hills, they're going to the same programs or concerts. And so a lot of times, if I were a student and I have to write my essays about my experience, it will be harder for me to differentiate myself from the hundreds of other graduates who have had a similar experience.

And so I have to rely on either my own personal experience, or a unique program or a teacher at that school that is doing something a little bit different. But at least, the choices available to me area little bit more narrow than if I had gone abroad. And I'm sitting in a completely different country, different customs, different backgrounds, different opportunities, students who are from all over the world with once again, even more races, religions, and customs and beliefs. And then you're studying in other locations, whether it's in Europe, or in Asia, or South America, this allows you to have a wealth of potential talking points or essay topics above and beyond my personal experience, my family background, a teacher, or a program that is unique to the school.

And so it is allowing me to not only grow, but the benefit of that when you're applying for universities is it allows you to then demonstrate how your experiences may be different, and can then provide a little bit of a benefit to the university. Because you're bringing a different perspective, you're bringing a person who's going to build bridges, you're going to be a person who's going to be able to think creatively, because you've had to think on your feet in different situations because you've lived abroad. And sometimes living abroad isn't always easy. Sometimes we come across challenges. So you bring all those things to the table and universities recognize that. So a lot of times they say to you, "We love having students from international schools, because they have a different profile, and they bring a lot to our campuses."

Daren Worcester: That's a great point. I kind of phrased the question in terms of students from North America, but I would assume that that diverse experience transfers wherever you're coming from in the world, and wherever you intend to go to university or college.

Joshua Clark: Absolutely.

Daren Worcester: So what are the some of the questions that you get from families about American and international schools? What is it that they want to know?

Joshua Clark: Typically, one of the questions that we get a lot is going to be related to, what is the curriculum? Where do our graduates go to university? Especially if you're in American school they think that you're only going to go to U.S. universities. At TASIS England, 40 percent of our graduates go to the U.S. universities, 40 percent go to UK universities, and then 20 percent to universities all over the world—Europe, Asia, Canada, latin South America, Africa. So what I find interesting is that a lot of times when I worked in boarding schools in the United States, I was working with amazing college counseling departments. But they had this depth of knowledge with U.S.Universities, but when you have a student say, "I'm thinking of applying to this university outside of the U.S.," sometimes they have familiarity with them and they can work with them, and other times they're like, "This is outside of my area of knowledge."

And so we can provide support but we may not have the same degree of expertise that we would if you're looking at one of the universities in the United States. The difference between that depth of knowledge in the United States versus for example here, is we have that same depth of knowledge. But we also have this breadth of knowledge because our College Counseling Office has had to do that same degree of personalized attention and working with universities not only throughout the United States, but also throughout the United Kingdom and through other universities in Canada, and Europe, and elsewhere.

So we have this greater flexibility with students who do want to study abroad in other countries and other places. What we find is—going back to the question of American students studying abroad in American schools, a little over a third of our students, both day and boarding are Americans. So either their family has relocated because of a job to near London or they're in a boarding program. And so a lot of times, you think that these American students would then do the AP program and then go back to a U.S. University. And some of them do, and that's the best path for them. And other students they get here, they think that's their path. And then they realize, "Wow, actually, I want the IB." Or they stick with the IB either way, but then they realize, "I want to go to a UK university."

Because they've seen some opportunities here that may not be available to them in another location. So there is by it's kind of expanding their horizons and seeing the differences, we are at least allowing them to open the door a little bit more to find a university that would be a good fit. There's about four or 5000 universities in the United States. But then if we double or triple that, and we talk about universities around the world, then it increases the likelihood that you're going to find something that's going to be a great opportunity for you. So that's one question that a lot of families ask is, "Where do your graduates go to university? What's the curriculum? And how can you help me help my child get to where they need to go?" Another question, a lot of times is can parents be involved?

And because we're an American International School, what we find is the vast majority of our day families are actually expats as well. We've been having about 20 some odd percent of our families that are British passport holders. But we also have families from outside of the U.S. and the UK—56 other countries. So it's a very diverse population. And they're coming from all over the world. Once again, their companies relocated them to London for several years, and then they move on. But we have this very diverse population. And so when you get into these expat communities, you find that they're very community oriented. And so there's this amazing onboarding program for families where they feel welcome, even as they're going through the application and registration process.

Whereas a lot of times we hear from families when they have attended just the national school, wherever they're at—if they're in some other country, a lot of times, they're ostracized because they aren't necessarily part of that group that's lived there all their life. And they know all the culture and what's expected of them. So by coming to an international school they feel more welcomed, they feel like they're part of a community because they've been there, they've experienced it. And so they're more likely to welcome others who are going through the same process. Here's what you need to do when you move here. Whether it's the changing of the electrical system, and different plugs to how to open up a bank account, how to get a mobile phone, all of those things that you don't think about until you actually have a process, these families have been through that multiple times.

And so they're very welcoming. Very happy to help. And it can make or break a family's experience in their move. And so a lot of families are very aware of that and say, "Okay, what is the community like? Are the parents willing to then be involved in the school? Or is it more of a standoffish experience?" We're always trying to be as welcoming as possible. Other questions would be related to teachers. Are the teachers American? Or how many of them are American? Or at least English is their native language? We are not always looking for everyone to be English as their native language because a lot of times with international schools, we want to have some diversity there. So families feel like it reflects the population of the students as well. But they also want to make sure that the students are going to be able to understand and have that common American style of teaching happening in the school.

Daren Worcester: Do you find you have to do any myth busting when families are looking to go to an international or American school?

Joshua Clark: Families who are familiar with the American boarding school model think that that's going to carry over in other countries and that doesn't happen. For example, in the United Kingdom, the UK has the strictest what they call safeguarding laws in the world. So basically, the laws that are around protecting children. So the level of certifications and training and background checks and paperwork and everything that we need to do in the United Kingdom to ensure that our children are always safe, is much much more involved to a higher degree than you would find in other countries, including the United States. And that's fantastic. But that also means that the UK has also said that they're going to... They don't allow that what we call the triple threat model.

In the United States, you'd have in many boarding schools, a teacher who is also a coach, who also works in the boarding house. And so they're also taking care of the kids in the evenings, they're coaching them in the afternoon and teaching class during the day. UK has said, "We aren't going to allow that." Instead, they have a professional boarding faculty who then work with the students in the evenings. They have their own processes. And they're solely focused on making sure that not only are the students safe, but they're also being taken care of and that concept of wellness or the safeguarding is there as well. So then that allows the faculty to focus on just two rather than three of those areas to then increase or improve their craft of teaching, or to make sure that they still have a lot of time on the coaching side. And even here in the UK, not all teachers are coaching because of the number of clubs and activities that we have. There's some flexibility there as well.

So that's one of the, I think the myths that families have is that idea. I think another one would be families would be in a position, or students would be in a position where they're handicapping their college prospects by studying abroad. And I hopefully, in the previous conversation, it's been to a certain extent different. You think that by going outside of the United States, even if you're still in a school, following the American curriculum, that is not going to be the same as. But what we find many, many times is the rigor is not only equivalent, but our students are getting into the same as if not many cases, more selective universities or universities that other people would think would be more desirable because of the location they came from. So in many cases, it could be a strategic advantage. Where sometimes families think, "I've got this tried and trued method of go to this school, do your courses, get this diploma, and everyone else is doing it, so this is the path to follow." And that tends to be the case. But if you also... By looking at studying abroad, it can in many cases improve those chances rather than be decrease them.

Daren Worcester: Excellent, I'm glad you explained that, because I would have just assumed that they were similar type boarding experiences. Wherever families are coming from in the world, do you have any advice for them on sending students abroad and things that they should think about that they may not be considering?

Joshua Clark: Yeah. I do think for students coming from... I'll separate it into students coming from the United States and then students coming from outside the United States that are going to study abroad. Students coming from outside the United States, in many cases they're coming from a curriculum where they are going to be doing a lot more testing that is going to determine what their next step is. And so sometimes we'll be taking a test as early as seventh, eighth or ninth grade. And then another test around the 11th, or 12th, grade 13, depending on what system they're in. How they do, how they perform on that test can determine what their next school is. And kind of the degree of reputation that it has for even what university they go to.

Or what type of university they can go to. And a lot of times the curriculum they're coming from is very much based on rote memorization. So a lot of your years are spent memorizing for tests and memorizing for exams. So when I talk to families who are coming out of these systems, then I talk about them coming to an American school, I talk about the difference and how you need to put aside what you think your child should be doing to be good at school or to be successful in school. Because we've redefined what success means in the American educational system. While there still is, there's always going to be a level of memorization that would be prior to learning. There are other ways that we then teach and we help students learn.

So it's not just learning how to learn. It's not just that developmental approach. But it's also helping them to develop critical thinking skills. It's learning through discussion, having more classrooms in circle rather than in rows. All of those things can be a big difference. And so helping parents to step back and recognize that they are changing the rules of the game. And they need to not necessarily put the same pressures or the same expectation on their child would be very, very helpful. At the end of the day, their child would be just as, if not more successful by going in this different directions. Usually, they're looking at changing educational systems, because they don't feel that that educational system is a good fit for their child.

It's not working for them. So to a certain extent, they need to accept the fact that if it's not working, let's try something new. And don't bring the baggage with you in this new educational curriculum. If we're talking about students coming from the United States, what I would say is, it's a wonderful opportunity to expand our horizons. And so the ability to meet this as an opportunity, and to learn from others is a fantastic opportunity for them to then grow and develop and it will not only help them with their university, but their career. And what we love is that students that come from the UnitedStates, here, they are ready.

They're primed for this adventure and they absorb everything that they can and embrace it. What we find is the more they do that the more successful they are. Because they can roll with things that are different because even the differences between the United States and the UK, even though they are very close, there are differences. There's differences in culture and language and everything that's... You can come here and feel like this isn't home, this isn't what I'm used to on Maple Drive in Anytown USA, and so that difference makes me uncomfortable. And that's true. There are differences, but that's the whole part of going through culture shock. And once you get through that, what you then find is there is a world of opportunity that then enhances who you are as an individual that you can then bring back home and then you can take it with you for the rest of your life.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. Josh, this has been fantastic. Thank you very much for your time today. Really appreciate it.

Joshua Clark: Sure. Happy to help. Thank you.

Daren Worcester: And for everyone listening, thank you for joining this #admissionchat. Please look for another episode soon. And for more insight into the private school application process, visit Admission.org and check out our Admission Academy live webinar series. Thank you, take care everyone.

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