A boarding school for an international student?

Location/Person:
• Gender: Female
• Ethnicity: Caucasian
• Country: Finland
• Native language: Finnish
• Current School: All the schools are public in Finland. D is in a selective accelerated math and science program, on the 8th grade
• Grade Applying For: 10th grade in the fall of 2020. D wants to graduate from Finnish 9-year primary school in the summer of 2020.
• Age: 14
• Financial Aid/Full Pay: Full pay.

Stats:
• GPA: 9.91 out of 10.00 (5 is a passing mark, 9 is an honors mark)
• Rank: School doesn’t rank, but probably in top 3 out of 150
• Standardized tests: we don’t do these in Finland
• SSAT: Not available in Finland, but possible to do in London, UK (1000 miles from Helsinki airport)
• SAT: This can be done in Finland, but especially reading/writing tests are hard for an 8th grader who isn’t a native English speaker.

• TOEFL: I hope D will score 80 points out of 120. She has studied English for 6 years now and the mark is 10 out of 10. Attended a 3-week language school in the US last summer and will attend a similar one in Canada next summer.
• Studies also Swedish and German as foreign languages.

Recommendations:
• Recommendations are not a part of the culture in Finland, but surely the teachers can send what’s needed. D gets very positive feedback from teachers.
• Math teacher is very impressed by D. The recommendation will be enthusiastic.
• English teacher will give a good/excellent recommendation
• Guidance counselor / principal will give a good/excellent recommendation.

Awards
• State champion in math competion for 7th graders (there are no nationals for 7th graders).
• National finalist (top 20) in 9th graders’ math competition as a 7th grader.
• National finalist (top 20) in 9th graders’ math competition as an 8th grader. The final will be in January 2019.

Interviews:
• There are no interviews when we apply to schools in Finland. It’s obviously hard to make an impression in English. D has a year to practice interviews, but will not be on the same level as the best US students.

Sports:
• 8 years of gymnastics, 20-23 hours per week + competitions and training camps
o 2016: national champion in level E (A is the lowest level)
o 2 years in pre-national team training group
o Had to give up gymnastics because of overuse injuries
• After gymnastics 1 year of competitive cheerleading (8 hours per week).

Other Extracurriculars
• Coaching little gymnasts once a week
• Studying to be a gymnastics judge (must be 15 years old before actually judging in competitions)
• Girl scouts
• German club in school.

D’s idea is to study in a US boarding school for a year. After that we’ll re-evaluate and D maybe continues until graduation or comes back to Finland and starts the secondary education here. In Finland she will be admitted to any senior high, because GPA (and maybe a math test for some programs) is all that matters.

Long term goal is to graduate from a college in the US or UK.

The most important thing in a boarding school is to learn English in an ESL or ELL program. I think mainstream English classes are too difficult to start with, but after the first semester D will be fine in standard English classes.

We’d also like the school to have a strong math and computer science programs. A math team would be great.

An outdoor adventure program instead of (ball) sports would be optimal.

An ideal boarding school would have a high percentage of boarders, be non-denominational and not be in a very hot location like Florida or Arizona. Also a town or a city near the school would be nice.

What do you recommend, where should my D apply to and why? Thanks in advance.

The months your child would be in boarding school are not the hot months in either of these states, but those first few weeks in early September can be brutally hot/humid in New England. Most of the kids in New England boarding schools would LOVE to be in either of these states from late November through at least March. Being from Finland, though, your child will not be shocked by NE winters like our AZ kid was/is. OTOH, there are only two or three boarding schools in AZ and none are particularly competitive, but it’s hard to beat the Sonoran desert for beauty and outdoor programs in the winter.

Keep in mind it is very hard to get top grades in boarding schools. I don’t know if this will impact her when transferring back to Finland, if she decides to do that.

Most boarding schools are in the Northeast of the US (MA, CT, NJ, NH) so I would start there.

My D will be admitted to a senior high school in Finland and get a deferment for a year before starting in a boarding school in the US. So there won’t be a problem if she decides to come back after a year abroad.

I’m quite sure D won’t be shocked by NE winters after living here in the western outskirts of Siberia :wink:

The Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana is part of the Sacred Heart Network of Schools-- there are 200 Worldwide 22 in the US and 12 in England so when it’s time for her to apply to college she’ll benefit from the name recognition.

There’s advanced Math and Robotics classes, a robust ESL program, tons of outdoor activities and a cheer program. She sounds perfect for ASH.

put in an inquiry! https://sshcoteau.org/academy/admissions/admissions-inquiry/

@FinnMom …I would recommend that you look at some of the all-girls schools in NE such as Emma Willard, Miss Porters, Ethel Walker. I know that both Emma Willard and Miss Porters has excellent dance programs that may be of interest to your daughter (a former gymnast). These schools have girls from all over the world. They also offer many study abroad opportunities. Both Emma & Miss Porters offers computer sciences. I believe Miss Porters now has a coding requirement. I know Emma has an ESL program.

Have you looked into ASSIST (assistscholars dot org, since we can’t use links)? S’s school, a day & boarding school in NY State, hosts a handful of kids through ASSIST each year. Most are tenth graders.

Most boarding schools will want to see you expecting to stay through graduation so I would definitely recommend thinking about it this way.

George School in PA might be an option with ELL support and an IB program (which many international students like as it can help them return home for college.) Great math (just finished 20th in US in national competition ) and robotics. It is Quaker, and that makes it very welcoming. But yes, it’s a religious affiliation.

No gymnastics - and while there are clubs nearby, you would have to do this on your own and it would be hard. They have cheerleading as a sport (uniquely American activity!) Which could be s fit for a gymnast. And a super strong performing arts program should dance appeal.

Take a look.

@FinnMom, you may want to start with a search on www.boardingschoolreview.com that includes criteria important to you: ESL program, area of the country, etc. Once you get a list of schools that fit these criteria, you can narrow it down even further by academic rigor, teams/clubs, etc. I hope this helps! FWIW, our BS had a Finnish student who graduated last summer. Toivon tämän auttavan! :slight_smile:

@HarrietMWelsch I looked into the ASSIST program and it looks really great. Thanks for the tip!

@FinnMom, good luck with it! It’s a great experience for the ASSIST kids and the host kids, too.

Also: Many boarding schools have summer programs, which might be interesting, too.

I’d also recommend that you consider boarding schools which offer the IB program. New Hampton, Cheshire, EF Academy (which has campuses around the world), George School, St. Timothy’s (all girls as Gardenstategal mentioned), and don’t forget Ridley in Canada.

The IB program translates well to international schools in case she changes her mind about college in the US or UK.

Consider if you want a more competitive environment or a friendly one. There are many fine schools, and she would get a good education and have a great time.

Also: Given she only wants to attend for one year, you might consider United World Colleges, which is a two-year program for the last two years of high school or the final year plus a post-grad year. There are campuses around the world and they pick top students from each country, but the language of instruction is English.