Sterling Academy Blog

Education Options for American Expatriate Students

Posted by Sterling Staff on Apr 13, 2015 8:04:00 AM

Thousands of American families live outside the borders of the United States. Parents who serve in the military or the US Foreign Service and are stationed overseas may elect to take their family with them to new posts, or you may work for a private company with offices or projects in other countries. Some families simply choose to live somewhere else, permanently or for an extended period of time.

Few things are more educational than travel. Just the fact of everyday living in a foreign country can teach American expatriate students things they could never learn at home – a new language, a new culture, often a different approach to solving problems. But they still need a formal education.

What is best for your child?

Should you enroll your student in the local school? Should you look for an international school where they can attend with children of other expatriates from around the world? Will your child fit in with these students? Are you likely to move (again) -- to another country or back to the US? Every student has different needs and goals for learning, and not every child is equally adaptable.

Foreign schools may not offer instruction in English. For some students, that isn’t so much a problem as a new challenge, whereas for others, trying to keep up in a new language may be overwhelming. These schools may not be accredited, at least in a way that equates well enough to facilitate transferring credits back to a US school.

Aside from the scope of the curriculum, foreign teaching methods don’t necessarily mirror what we’re used to in the US. You may find a much greater emphasis on memorization of facts, dates, etc., or more activities we consider “busy work” such as copying lessons. Americans are notoriously “independent-minded” and our schools tend to reflect that by empowering students to ask questions and think for themselves, but in some cultures that is not overtly encouraged.

Online school offers a full-time alternatives that provides consistency of education no matter where you go or how often you have to relocate. It also provides a measure of consistency for kids whose lives are frequently disrupted by moving. Everything else may change, but at least they won’t have to change schools, with all the difficulties that can bring, both academically and socially.

Filling the curriculum gaps.

Online schools are always “open.” Students can enroll at any time and work at their own pace. That gives your entire family maximum flexibility to schedule study time around travel or other activities, and it supports students who need more time to master a particular subject or who want to speed through material that comes easily to them.

expat options

The entire curriculum and approach to learning is based on enabling students to master topics and concepts before moving on. Students can schedule appointments with teachers for one-on-one assistance, so each individual receives all the attention they want or need to succeed. Gifted students can take honors or Advanced Placement classes that stretch their minds and boost the quality of college applications. And every student has access to a tremendous array of electives.

Schools in other countries, even top-notch international schools, are unlikely to offer the same comprehensive range of courses available by attending online school. By taking online classes part-time, students can easily fill gaps or augment what they’re learning, reaping the benefits of both alternatives. 

As an expat, you know it can be challenging to raise a family in a foreign country. You celebrate the differences, but you want to ensure your child gets a superior education. Online school through Sterling Academy enables students to “go with the flow” and earn a diploma from an accredited American high school.

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Topics: online high school, expat students

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