Maria Borden, who has been a Foreign Service family member for 30 years and whose children have attended various schools in Taipei (American), Tokyo (American), Windhoek (international), Beijing (international), Jakarta (international), Sydney (Australian history required/IB) and the United Kingdom (IB/GCSE), as well as in the States, shared these thoughts via e-mail.
For American students intending to study at a U.S. university, overseas schools can be a mixed bag. Some reasons for this:
- Lack of a consistent curriculum.
- Teachers’ methods vary compared to American schools.
- Textbooks, especially for Math, differ from school to school.
- The focus on IB (vs. AP) can be confusing to students, particularly the way the IB system presents Math.
- American students coming from stateside schools might have trouble, especially if they enter a school as a junior or in sixth grade.
- Preparing for the SAT can be difficult if your counselor is not from the U.S.
The choice of universities presented to students (sometimes without consultation with parents) can seem a bit disjointed, especially if counselors don’t understand state residency and in-state tuition.
Having spent time in Asia, I think the American schools in Singapore, Japan and Taiwan are better than the international schools in Beijing, Jakarta or African countries.