Canadian boarding schools have a lot going for them. Great value, location in a foreign but friendly neighboring country, English speaking, fine academics, all kinds of sporting activities besides hockey and skiing and much more.
Most American families thinking about boarding school tend to stick to schools located within the United States. But, depending on your circumstances and inclinations, you might want to think about Canadian boarding schools. Here are five reasons why.
1. The foreign factor
Canada is not the U.S. It is a sovereign nation with a multi-ethnic population of just over 33 million. Most of the population resides along the U.S.-Canadian border. The three principal cities are Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. Each has its own particular characteristics and attributes which you can discover as you explore their websites.
Canada is close to the United States. Most major Canadian cities are short flights from most American cities. So you don't have to fret about getting there quickly if something happens to your child. You do need to have proper identification both to enter Canada and, perhaps more importantly, to return home to the United States.
Canadians and Americans share much in common. The shops and restaurants are similar to what you would find stateside. While you will encounter a lot of French in French-speaking Quebec, the rest of the country uses English. The climate is northern with a short summer, fall and spring and a long cold winter. Vancouver and Halifax, being on the water, have much more temperate weather though it can get pretty cold there too.
2. A different twist to your child's college application
Think about it. Your child's application to a competitive college is sitting there along with 100 virtually identical applications. Same SAT scores, same excellent grades on the transcript, a great essay and glowing recommendations. But your kid's has a difference. She went to a Canadian private school. Most college admissions consultants will tell you that having a hook is always a good thing. Going to a Canadian boarding school might just be that hook.
3. The cost
Canadian boarding schools cost about $40,000 on average for tuition and room and board. That's Canadian dollars which currently are on par with the U.S. dollar.
4. The hockey and skiing
If my kid were crazy about fashion, I'd probably send him to school in Savannah so he could hang around SCAD students 24/7. If she were aspiring to a professional hockey career, I'd make tracks to a Canadian boarding school. Literally any Canadian boarding school. Same thing with skiing. Schools like BCS andStanstead in the Eastern Townships south of Montreal on the Vermont border have amazing access to great skiing for five months of the year. While there are not hockey rinks on every street corner, there sure are a lot of hockey rinks both indoors and outdoors so your child can get lots of practice.
5. The Academics
You are probably thinking that Canadians have a totally different curriculum from American schools. Well, they don't. Canadian schools prepare their students for AP exams in their senior year just like most American schools do. Many offer IB curricula as well. The standard of teaching is every bit as high as you'll find in U.S. boarding schools.
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Parents considering schools should read New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Much of what he says applies in the private K-12 world.
Readers send dozens of questions via Facebook, Twitter and email. What do they ask? Readers want to know which is the best school in a particular country or region. A close second is figuring out how to pay for a private school education. Here are some readers' questions with my answers.
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