The Advantages Of Raising Kids Overseas
“It is that awful time of year that every parent of a high school senior dreads,” writes Correspondent Anna Hosbein, “the college application deadline, when kids fill out college applications that sum up the total of what they have done for their first 18 years of life. And parents generally feel anxious.
“This is the second time that we are doing going through this process. In our case, there is a twist. We are helping our second son prepare his college applications from Cochabamba, Bolivia. Does that make the process more or less stressful, you might wonder. In fact, we’re feeling pretty good.
“Our first son is a junior at Stanford University, and Elahdio, our second son, is considering his options. Growing up overseas, speaking at least two languages well, and having unparalleled life experiences has given our children an edge in the very competitive college application process.
“My sons took different schooling paths. We sent Eduardo to the local American school from kindergarten through senior year. In general, we found this school good. More than half the staff is American or European, teaching at a prep-school level. The costs are roughly US$200 to US$350 per month, depending on the grade. This is on the low end for an international school, but most international schools are reasonably priced compared with the cost of a comparable education in the United States or Europe.
“My second son hated the American school when he was little. He felt like a little fish in a big pond and asked for a change. We homeschooled him for a year and then sent him to a local Bolivian Montessori school. He loved it. He became Mr. Bolivia. Today he knows every national song, can dance every national dance, and has a wonderful group of Bolivian friends. For this great experience, we paid the sum of US$50 to US$70 per month.
“Elahdio switched to the American School for high school, as we were thinking he might apply to college in the United States. We also could no longer stand that our kids never shared summer vacation. The American school vacation is during U.S. (Northern Hemisphere) summer, while the South American annual break is during Southern Hemisphere summer (November through January).
“Elahdio lost a half-year, as he finished 8th grade in November at his Bolivian school but had to continue in the 8th grade until May in the American school. This worked out well, though, in the end, as it helped with his transition from schooling in Spanish to English.
“When the college applications process loomed on the horizon for us the first time around, I began making inquiries. One college counselor told me, ‘Your children are going to have a real advantage over other kids. Because they have U.S. citizenship, any U.S. school they attend can get financial aid through the normal channels available to U.S. citizens but can also claim your children as foreign students based on their Bolivian citizenship.’
“Many schools have little scholarship money available for 100% international students, but they still want to claim as much diversity in their student population as possible.
“Another issue we wondered about was to do with in-state tuition options. We figured these would be off the table for us, because we don’t live in a U.S. state. We were wrong. Some states cooperate with certain countries in this regard. The University of Arkansas, Texas A and M, Northern Florida State, for example, among others, have arrangements with Bolivia.
“The important point is that, if you are thinking that moving overseas might be detrimental to your child’s university options, think again. Getting into a good college might be one of the least of the perks that living overseas could provide for your children.”