International students are welcome at boarding schools in the United States. Los estudiantes internacionales son bienvenidos en las escuelas secundarias residenciales en los Estados Unidos. Les étudiants internationaux sont les bienvenus dans les lycées résidentiels aux États-Unis. Internationale Schüler sind an Residential High Schools in den Vereinigten Staaten willkommen. Welcome! Welcome!
International students have always been welcome at American boarding schools. One of the reasons for that is the global view most American boarding schools have of the world outside the United States. While xenophobia and populism tend to get the headlines, the truth is that most American boarding schools reflect a fascination with and curiosity about other countries and cultures. So, when a teenager from Taipei travels halfway around the world to study at an American boarding school, her new classmates notice. But, more importantly, they welcome their new friend with open arms, hearts, and minds.
How many international students attend American boarding schools? Approximately 50,000 students, according to the Institute of International Education® (IIE), an organization founded in 1919.
Why study in the U.S.A.?
You can study at boarding schools in many other countries besides the United States. However, when you examine the depth and breadth of the academic curricula in American schools, especially in the areas of STEM and robotics, you realize what good value an American boarding school education offers. Studying in the U.S.A. makes the adjustment from high school to college much easier. You will know the culture and will have become fluent in our customs and ways of doing things. Logistically, American schools are easily accessible from most major cities abroad, which offers peace of mind for parents living thousands of miles away.
Safety is another consideration. You will find most boarding schools in rural settings, as opposed to being in urban locations. School campuses have controlled access and robust security protocols. 24/7 supervision of students is the norm. It doesn't matter how wealthy you are or how important your family is; your son cannot simply leave campus without permission. Put another way, American boarding schools take security seriously.
Where should you study? You have several hundred boarding schools from which to choose. Use the powerful search engine here on Boarding School Review to refine your search for schools. For example, if you want to explore schools in the Northeastern states, set the filters to give you just those schools located in New England. Now, don't be put off because your search results include schools in several states. The New England region comprises the states of Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. The area has dozens of boarding schools for you to review.
The Admissions Process
The first step in the rather lengthy process of attending an American boarding school is to apply and get accepted by a SEVP-approved boarding school. SEVP means Student and Exchange Visitor Program which is part of the U.S. Government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement department, commonly known as ICE. Once you have been accepted, the school will issue you a Form I-20. This document will permit you to apply to the American Embassy or Consulate in your country to obtain your F-1 student visa. While the wait times for tourist visa appointments are very lengthy, wait times for F-1 visa appointments are usually only a few days. 5 Tips For International Students explains the process.
English as a Second Language
You need strong English oral and written language skills to be accepted at an American school. English is spoken in the classrooms, on the playing fields, dining halls, and dormitories. Consequently, most boarding schools will require you to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to prove your fluency in both written and oral communications. I strongly recommend that you invest some time preparing for it.
When should you start the application process?
I have always recommended starting the application process as soon as possible. In any case, you will need at least eighteen months to complete all aspects of the process. Identifying two or three schools that meet your needs and requirements can take four to six months. Preparing for TOEFL and the standardized admissions test requires two or three months. After being accepted, the visa process will take another two or three months. The entire process tends to be unpredictable. Depending on conditions in your country, testing facilities and access to an American consulate can be problematic.
Travel to and from the United States
If your daughter has never traveled far from home, arrange to travel with her to her new school. Security at airports everywhere is tight. Health and safety protocols add another often confusing and arcane layer to traveling. All of this can be challenging for a young person. Take time to review videos such as this one with her so that she knows what to expect when she arrives at an airport.
Arrival in the United States includes passing through immigration. The Immigration halls at major American airports are large and confusing. Teach your daughter to read the signs and to stay alert. Teach her to put away her smartphone and earbuds and focus on where she is going. She should have a laptop or similar case with a shoulder strap. It should contain all of her essential documents tucked neatly in a plastic sleeve for ease of access. The first time she enters the United States with an F-1 visa, the Immigration officer can ask her many questions and reserves the right to refuse entry. Do some role-playing with her so that she doesn't get flustered or panic. Teach her to be respectful, speak clearly, look people in the eye when speaking, and be polite. Dressing conservatively also helps make a good impression. The following video gives you an idea of what to expect when you speak with the Immigration officer at the airport.
Finally, arrange for her to have two credit cards. One card should have a limit of $2500. The other can be linked to your American Express account. In any case, you will be able to track her spending and respond to any emergency situations that arise. Safe travels!
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