Choosing an International School

Moving overseas can be exciting yet filled with many decisions. One of those key decisions is finding a school to meet your child’s needs. Take the time to make an informed decision - the quality of your child’s education will impact his or her success when transitioning from the overseas school environment back to school in the United States. Your due diligence in researching schools will make all the difference in the world for your child.

The following information is designed to help you make an informed decision when selecting a school for your child. Ask as many questions as you can and request documentation from the schools to back up any claims they have made. Here are a few important points you should take into consideration:

Your Child

  • Does the school have planned activities to assist your child as they transition to their new school? Is there a student orientation, or assigned student ambassadors or buddies?
  • What are the class sizes? (not the same as a student/teacher ratio)
  • Does the school allow parents to volunteer in the classrooms or to eat lunch with their children?
  • How does the school deal with bullying? Is there a documented/published process for dealing with bullying issues?
  • What student support services are available for individual student counseling or post‐secondary school preparation?
  • Are the students actively engaged in different learning environments?
  • How often will you receive information concerning your child’s progress?
  • Do the students seem happy at school?
  • What is the average time spent on homework?


  • Is there a particular type of curriculum used? (International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Common Core, British National)
  • Are the course offerings extensive enough to meet your child’s needs?
  • At what age are students offered an opportunity to learn foreign languages?
  • What types of school‐ wide tests are offer or required, and how do the school’s students typically perform?
  • Are there any restrictions placed on students from enrolling in advanced courses in high school?
  • If a student is struggling while on the school’s typical curriculum track, are there alternate options?
  • What type academic support is provided, and how is it addressed at the school?
  • Are there courses not offered at the school (high school level) that will need to be addressed in other ways? (e.g., U.S. specific courses such as U.S. History)


  • Are all teachers certified educators?
  • Are educators and support staff offered professional development, or ongoing continuous learning opportunities during the school year?
  • What is the average tenure of educators at the school?
  • How is the school staffed to address the educational needs for students? (e.g., special needs services, gifted and talented, and English Language Learning)
  • Does the school provide for collaboration between educator teams to address curriculum and student needs?
  • What is the overall sense of satisfaction for school staff—does there appear to be a supportive climate for the school’s staff?


  • How long will it take for your child to get to school? Is transportation provided, or arranged by the school? If not, how will your child get to school?
  • Does the school provide breakfast, and or lunch? What is your out-of-pocket cost for a meal plan at the school?
  • Are the facilities modern and well-maintained? Does the campus appear to be clean, is it a secure environment?
  • How is technology incorporated into the student learning experience? Will you child be required to provide a personal computing device? (While the NDSP cannot pay for the purchase of a computer we can cover the cost of rental/lease if it does not result in device ownership)
  • What type facilities are offered at the school? Is there a media center, auditorium, cafeteria, sports field. Are there separate facilities for primary and secondary students?

The School

  • How long has the school been in operation?
  • Is the school accredited?
  • What is the annual tuition and what does it cover? Are the total costs covered by your child’s education allowance? (Check your rate here:
  • What calendar does the school follow? Is it a northern or southern hemisphere calendar? If northern calendar schools are available, what effect would it have on your child’s ability to transition if a southern school is selected instead?
  • What policy does the school have for grade level placement? Does the school conduct placement assessments or testing? Are previous school transcripts required?
  • What type orientations are provided to new students (and parents)?
  • Are extra-curricular activities offered? If so, what activities?

Financial Points to Keep in Mind

  • The NDSP cannot pay for school lunches. If the cost of lunch/breakfast is incorporated into the school invoice, the RM team must subtract the cost of the meal(s) from the tuition payment.
  • School Uniforms are at personal expense. The cost of school uniforms can be high, so please be sure to include this in your due diligence research of schools.
  • Our program can cover the cost for day trips, but not overnight trips—whether deemed mandatory by the school, or not. (admission fees to events, and meal costs are out-of-pocket expenses) If those costs are built into the school tuition the NDSP RM team must deduct those costs from the schools tuition payment
  • We can pay technology fees for the schools, but we cannot pay for the purchase of personal computing devices. We can cover the cost of device rentals if that lease or rental does not result in ownership of the device
  • We cannot cover the cost for Scholastic Aptitude Assessment (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) fees. We CAN cover the cost of the Pre-SAT for Grades 8 – 10 only.
  • Fees for before and after-school activities are an out-of-pocket expense, as are graduation fees, yearbooks, and Parent/school organization fees.

For more information regarding allowable and non-allowable expenses, please visit our Education Allowance page.

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