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In our previous post, we discussed the differences between private and public schools. Today, we are focusing on private schools, which offer a diverse range of educational programs and approaches to teaching. In the U.S., however, there are several distinct types of private schools. Here is an overview of the major categories.

  1. Traditional Independent Schools

Traditional independent schools are governed by a Board of Trustees. These schools are not affiliated with any particular religious group and are free to develop their own policies and curriculum. Independent schools often have small class sizes and offer challenging academic programs and cocurricular activities.

2. Religious Schools

These types of private schools are affiliated with a particular religion and teach corresponding doctrine and core academic subjects. Families often choose a religious school because it aligns with their family values. Many religious schools have developed a reputation for academic excellence and attract students for that reason, apart from religious affiliation. When funded by a local church, such a school is referred to as a parochial school. 

3. Boarding Schools

Boarding schools are institutions where students live in home-like settings and attend school on the same campus. Students are housed in dormitories and dorm parents supervise them, living either in the dorms or in separate houses. These schools offer a comprehensive educational program, including academic classes, athletics, and cultural activities. 

Boarding schools seek to provide students with a nurturing and supportive environment to learn to live independently. This experience can make the transition to college smoother.

4. Montessori Schools

Montessori schools follow the educational philosophy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Most only serve elementary and middle school students, focus on individualized learning, emphasize self-directed activities, and highlight collaborative play. Montessori schools often have mixed-age classrooms and a curriculum that emphasizes practical life skills, cultural studies, and creativity.

5. Waldorf Schools

Waldorf schools follow the educational philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf schools focus on holistic education, emphasizing creativity, hands-on learning, and the integration of art and music into the curriculum. Waldorf schools rely upon their strong community to emphasize cooperation and social responsibility.

6. Special Education Schools

Many parents whose children have special needs prefer to enroll them in private special education schools. In these institutions, students receive more personalized attention from educators and experts who have extensive knowledge of the necessary adjustments, treatments, or therapies these children require

The primary responsibility of teachers in special education schools is to evaluate each student’s abilities and learning needs and determine the most effective approach to accommodate them. They often create Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and collaborate with parents and school staff to monitor and track the progress of each child.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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This achievement is a testament to you and your child’s hard work and dedication, and you take pride in their success. However, their acceptance to a U.S. high school is only the beginning. 

As a parent, your role is to ensure your child has a smooth transition to their new school. In this blog post, we provide strategies you can use to help them thrive in their new environment.

Do Some Research

After celebrating your child’s success, it’s time to prepare for their move abroad. Research travel plans, like flights and transportation, as well as currency exchange.

Get familiar with the high school campus and the local community. Locate nearby medical facilities where your child can seek care. Review the school’s student handbook to understand policies, rules, and guidelines. Communicate with the school about the housing options that are available—such as host family arrangements—and any preparatory steps you should take.

Obtain Necessary Documentation

Your child will need a passport, visa, and any other supporting documents, such as an acceptance letter from the school. The school’s admission team will provide a list of necessary items as well as support with the process.

 Click here for a full list of documents required in the visa approval process. You’ll also need to obtain health insurance and vaccination records for your child before their departure.

Prepare Emotionally

Saying goodbye to your child is never easy, but it helps to stay positive and support their decision to study abroad. Before they leave, spend quality time with them and have open, honest conversations about your expectations and concerns. 

Keep in touch with your child through regular phone calls, video calls, and text messages. They will experience homesickness and culture shock in their first few weeks abroad, and consistent communication with you can be a comfort during these times. Encourage them to seek out the resources the school provides. 

Remember that high school is a momentous time in your child’s life, so stay involved, be supportive, and celebrate their success!


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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If you’re considering sending your child to the United States for college or university, you’re looking for the best options and helpful guidance. Have you thought about sending them abroad to first study in high school?

Here are some advantages of starting your child’s studies abroad in high school.

Cocurricular Activities

High schools in the U.S. offer a range of activities outside school, including sports, music programs, and clubs. These can help international students develop leadership skills and socialize with other students. Participating in these activities can also help students find their passions and explore their interests, which could lead to a college major or career path.

College Readiness

High schools in the U.S. provide academic and cocurricular programs designed to prepare students for college. International students have access to a variety of academic programs, career development opportunities, and college preparation resources offered by the school they are attending. Through these resources, students get help with college applications, essays, and scholarships. They learn the importance of academic integrity, time management, and research skills, which are all critical to their success in college.

Partnering with guidance counselors—either through their school or through another organization—is another way students can prepare for college.

Improved Language Skills

Your child will be immersed in the English language and use it in various contexts, which helps them increase their proficiency. These language skills make it easier to adapt and excel in a college setting.

Many high schools also offer English as a Second Language to assist nonnative English speakers. Students may also have access to English language tutors who can work one-on-one with them.

Independence

Last, attending high school in the U.S. helps international students develop independence. They must learn to navigate their way around campus, manage their time, and take responsibility for their academic success. These skills are invaluable when they transition to college, where they will have to be even more self-sufficient.

Attending high school in the U.S. provides international students an excellent foundation for college. They will arrive at college with greater confidence in their language skills, social skills, academic abilities, and cultural competence—all essential skills necessary for success.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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Finding the right school for your child can be a daunting task, especially in a country that’s not your own. The United States offers various K–12 school options, including public and private schools. In this post, we explore and discuss the differences between the two.

Funding

Public schools receive money from the government, which means they are typically free or have low tuition fees. 

Generally, private schools do not receive government funding and instead rely on tuition fees and donations from individuals and organizations. Several factors contribute to a private school’s tuition cost, including quality of instruction, breadth of programs, and facilities. Many private schools offer financial aid and scholarships. Always check with the school’s Admission Office for support options. 

Location

Most public schools serve students within a neighborhood boundary, and students must be within the zoning district of the public school. Private schools are not location-dependent—students and families come from a wider radius.

Admission

Private schools have an application process that can include a tour, application, academic assessment, and interview. Admission can be selective with specific criteria based on educational philosophy, diversity, student conduct, or academic goals. 

Public schools educate all students regardless of academic profile, religious affiliation, or developmental level.

Curriculum

Public schools follow a state-mandated curriculum designed to meet the educational standards of the state. 

Private schools do not have a required curriculum and therefore can cater to specific academic interests and may have specialized programs that are not offered in public schools. Private schools may also prioritize cocurricular activities, languages, and other aspects of education that public schools cannot accommodate. They also have the freedom to integrate intellectual, philosophical, and religious programming into the curriculum beyond state regulations. 

Special Programming

Special programming can impact overall student success and should be considered when evaluating private versus public schooling. Public schools have a responsibility to teach all students benchmark curriculum—often leaving less interpretation for specialized learning. Depending on the district and available funding, they most likely will offer programs for children with learning differences—whether academic or developmental. 

Private schools will most often have specialized programs that vary depending on the area of focus, such as religious instruction, concentration in the arts or other skills, or a military program. 

School and Class Size

Public schools have an average class size of 24 students and a student-to-teacher ratio of 16 to one. Private schools tend to have a smaller average class size of 18 students and a student-to-teacher ratio of 12 to one. 

When inquiring at a school, be sure to ask these questions.

  • How many children will the classroom teacher be responsible for? 
  • What is the overall student-to-teacher ratio? 
  • What amount of individualized attention does each student receive? 

Many parents choose a school for their child’s learning style and family values. Be sure to research your options. This helps you select the best learning environment for your child’s needs and ensures their future is bright.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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Most U.S. schools provide a “spring break,” which is typically one to two weeks off from school in March or April. During this time, students enjoy a well-deserved break from the classroom, and international students are no exception. 

If your child is staying close to campus for spring break, here are some ways they can make the most of their time off. 

Explore the Local Area

Living in a new country can be overwhelming at times, but there’s no better way to get to know an area than by exploring it. Students can spend a day or two during spring break visiting local sites and learning more about their city or town. Many cities offer free walking tours or discounted student tickets to local attractions. A change of scenery—and getting outside for fresh air—can be just what students need after months of studying.

Catch Up—or Work Ahead—on Assignments

While it may not be the most exciting option, spring break can also be a good time for students to catch up on any missed assignments or get ahead on upcoming projects. By taking care of schoolwork during the break, they can enjoy the rest of the semester without the stress of looming deadlines.

Connect With Friends and Family Back Home 

A flexible schedule during the day provides a wonderful opportunity for international students to connect with friends and family in their home country. Catch up and spend some quality time over a video or phone call.

Prepare for College

If your child is a high school junior or senior and thinking about attending college in the U.S., spring break is an opportune time to research options, explore scholarships, and, if possible, schedule a virtual tour at a university or college they’re interested in. Creating an application timeline is especially helpful—noting necessary test dates and deadlines for applications and scholarships can alleviate some stress that comes with admission season.

If you have any questions or concerns about your student, be sure to contact the International Student Program Coordinator at their school.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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The winter season in the United States is full of celebrations. There are numerous holidays and traditions observed by Americans, many of which will be recognized at your child’s school. 

Here’s what children studying abroad can expect with some of this seasons’ traditions.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. The day is intended to be spent with family and usually features an afternoon meal of traditional foods, often featuring turkey as the main dish. 

The holiday’s purpose is to express gratitude. While the tradition of sitting down to share a meal is based on a myth about the country’s founding, most Americans focus less on the history and more on the spirit of the day. Many people watch American football games with their family or volunteer their time to help the less fortunate.

Christmas

Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and takes place on December 25. Many non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts with family members and friends, decorating a Christmas tree, and listening to Christmas music. 

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated over the course of eight nights. Known as the “festival of lights,” it occurs in late November or December. The holiday celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. In the households of people celebrating Hanukkah, you’ll find a menorah, an eight-branched candelabra that symbolizes the holiday.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural tradition celebrated from December 26 to January 1. The purpose of the holiday is to honor family, community, and African culture. Families might wear African kente cloth, participate in musical performances, and sit for karamu, a feast featuring foods from across the African continent. 

New Year’s Day

New Year’s is a holiday with two distinct parts: New Year’s Eve on December 31 and New Year’s Day on January 1. On New Year’s Eve, people often host parties that culminate with a countdown of the last seconds of the year. People will often make resolutions about things they hope to accomplish in the coming year. Cities and towns often hold fireworks displays that take place in the first few minutes of the new year.

On New Year’s Day, cities and towns host grand parades to bring in the new year. Families will gather to spend the holiday with one another, sometimes watching college football championship games.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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Making friends as an international student can be intimidating. Parents are often the first to hear when their child is homesick, lonely, or stressed. It isn’t easy to make new, lasting friendships in a foreign country and parents can feel helpless on the other end of the phone. 

Here are some tips for you to share with your child as you support them through this new challenge. 

Eliminate Language Barriers

Making friends when there is a language barrier is challenging. International students may be tempted to surround themselves with only those who speak their native language because it’s easy and comfortable. 

Talk to your child about the amazing and unique opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. Remind them that they could miss out on valuable friendships if they base their inner circle on language alone. 

Encourage your child to speak the language of their host-country as much as possible. The more they can speak the language, listen to it, read it—and even sing songs they have learned—the better they will communicate. 

Language need not be a barrier to creating great relationships and the right friend will help your child master their second language. Students can be creative in the ways they communicate and ask questions, too. They can use pictures, hand signals, or videos to ask questions if they don’t know the word. And they can (and should) share their native language with their new friends, too. 

Be Vulnerable

International students will need to get comfortable with being vulnerable to make the best relationships. You can help them do this by nurturing their confidence and self-love. Remind them what makes them a great friend, student, and person and help them understand that fear will only hold them back. Encourage your child to take risks by embracing the foreign culture and learning as much as they can about it. 

Suggest they start a conversation with one new person each day. Students can prepare a list of introductory questions (such as do you have any pets; where were you born; how many siblings do you have) and use it to spark conversations with new people. Challenge them to ask their teachers about their own educational backgrounds and experiences, too. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but it’s all part of the international student experience. 

Add Humor

Humor is a powerful tool. Not only can it kill fear and negative self-talk, but it can and does bring people together. Laughter is not dependent on language or culture so encourage your child to grab their phone and watch some funny videos with their new friends. If someone mentions a language mishap to your child, encourage your child to take it lightly and laugh it off together. It’s bound to happen and in every failure there is a lesson. 

Remember (Almost) Everything Is Temporary

Your child’s time studying abroad will come to an end sooner than you both think. Fear, discomfort, and anxiety are temporary; eventually they dissipate and fade into the past. Your child may be filled with many overwhelming emotions as they try to forge new, meaningful friendships, but it’s certainly worth the discomfort and risk— the one thing from their time abroad that just may last a lifetime is a great friendship.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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Private schools in the United States typically have a health center (also known as an infirmary) on campus. These, however, aren’t necessarily staffed with doctors or specialists at all times. If a student requires medical attention off-campus or when they’re not at school, there are several options to consider. Here’s what you need to know about health care centers in the U.S. 

Remote Appointments (TeleMD)

ISM’s International Scholar Protection provides coverage through our partner, GeoBlue. GeoBlue offers remote telehealth visits through their GlobalMD smartphone app for a variety of health conditions. This service is best used for guidance about conditions such as allergies, cold and flu, insect bites, rashes, sinusitis, and minor ailments requiring prescriptions. Students can quickly schedule a remote appointment through the app. 

Providers are available 24 hours a day. Telehealth appointments offer students the treatment and guidance of a physician in the comfort of their own dorm room, and are free to use.

In-Office Doctor’s Visits 

Ear aches, colds, stomach aches, sore throats, fever, and routine physicals (anything non-emergency or preventive) are best scheduled in a doctor’s office. Their hours vary, and appointments are typically required and scheduled days or weeks in advance. A primary care physician will discuss your medical history and often have access to previous medical records. 

Retail or Convenient Care Clinics

When your child is dealing with a minor medical ailment, such as an infection or a sore throat, they can visit a nurse practitioner at a retail clinic. These clinics are often found in pharmacies, such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid. Appointments are not required and they are often available during evenings and weekends. Patients can lessen the wait times by signing up online or calling ahead. These clinics do not have physicians on staff, cannot treat medical emergencies, perform x-rays, or provide stitches. They can however, perform flu, strep, and covid tests, and prescribe antibiotics for infections. 

Urgent Care Centers

For non-life threatening but urgent conditions such as cuts that require stitches, or sprains and strains that require x-rays, a trip to the nearest urgent care center is best. These centers have nurses, physicians, and medical assistants on staff and can provide diagnostic testing and x-rays, but not surgical procedures. Urgent-care centers are less expensive than a trip to the emergency room (ER). 

Hospital Emergency Rooms 

Most hospitals have emergency rooms for life-threatening or disabling conditions, such as heart and respiratory problems, heavy bleeding that won’t stop, and sudden severe pain. Emergency rooms have a full medical staff, including specialists, and are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

Appointments are not required and patients are often treated according to the severity of their condition. If students are not entirely sure if a trip to the ER is necessary, they can connect with a medical provider through telehealth for a pre-screening.  

Before heading to the ER for an emergency, patients should be prepared with a list of current medications, and their own and family medical history. Families can prepare for the worst case scenario by helping students understand that emergency rooms can be crowded and intimidating, but it’s best to remain calm and patient until you are seen by a medical provider. If you’re not sure whether your situation is an emergency, dial 911 and let the operator determine if you need emergency help.


All of these medical centers will request proof of insurance (an insurance ID card) at the time of your visit. 

When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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For many international students, the road to an American university begins with attending high school in the U.S. But impressive grades and a stellar list of activities often aren’t enough to gain admission to the country’s best colleges. To better prepare for college, international students and their families should enlist the help of counselors.

When seeking college guidance, you can choose to work with a counselor within your child’s school or look to a counselor or placement consultant from a different organization. Either option will provide helpful advice and resources. Here are a few reasons why you should partner with a counselor when preparing for college.

Counselors help your child navigate the often-confusing college application process.

SAT or ACT? Early Action or Early Decision? Sometimes, the college application process can feel like an overwhelming amount of deadlines, buzzwords, and requirements. Counselors are experts who can help families and students register for standardized tests, compile portfolios, request letters of recommendation, and ensure applications are submitted on time.

Counselors are skilled at finding relevant scholarships and financial aid.

It’s no secret college has never been more expensive. What often goes unreported, though, are the many cost-saving opportunities available, especially for international students. International families often know a great deal about the top-rated U.S. colleges, but less about the other excellent options. Because of this, families sometimes miss out on those schools’ scholarships and programs geared toward helping international students. 

A counselor can make students aware of these other colleges and universities. By working with a counselor, students and their families will better understand their options and enter the admission process with a better sense of the market.

Counselors can connect students with cocurricular opportunities.

The best colleges aren’t only interested in grades and scores. Competitive schools are looking for students who add value to their campus—they want interesting people. For high school students, that means involvement in their school and a demonstrated commitment to activities outside the classroom. 

School-based counselors are familiar with their school’s culture and know the many cocurricular opportunities that are available. They can point students toward clubs and activities suited to their unique interests. More importantly, participating in cocurriculars and passion projects enables students to get the most from their school community and experience. Counselors are responsible for a crucial component of a student’s application: the main recommendation.

Students might ask their favorite teachers for glowing recommendations, but colleges ask counselors to write about their students. Counselors are limited in that they can only write recommendations based on the interactions they’ve had with each student. With that in mind, encourage your student to develop a relationship with their assigned counselor early in their junior and senior years. The more counselors know about their students, the more their recommendations are authentic.

Outside consultants and counselors are not on campus every day, but they’re just as invested in student success. The college process is a long one, so it’s best to rely on their professional help. The sooner students can connect with counselors, the better prepared they’ll be for college and beyond.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care, no matter where they are in the U.S.

Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.

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Summer is just around the corner. This time of year, many parents start preparing their children for a season full of activities. If your family is traveling abroad for the summer or your international student will attend a summer camp in the United States, there are a few things you can do to ensure a safe, enjoyable adventure. 

Here’s what to keep in mind when making your summer plans.

Assess the Options

There are many summer camps for international students. Explore full summer camps as well as themed camps where you can enroll your child for a shorter period, perhaps a week or two. Get a good understanding of what they want to do and the planning needed to make it happen—especially if the student is traveling alone.

When comparing your options, pay attention to the paperwork. Review the camp schedules, programming, deadlines, and any other requirements—including medical exams. It’s hard to get appointments with doctors currently, so be sure to book yours now.

International students will likely have even more paperwork and requirements, so go through those documents to ensure they are completed on time—and you’ve gotten any medical or visa appointments out of the way ahead of time. Purchase accident insurance or look into monthly coverage options.

Know the Policies

Whether you’re sending your child to the local recreation center for swim lessons or they’re on their way for a week at sleepaway camp, be sure you know the rules and policies of the host organization. This is especially true since many changed during, or because of, the pandemic. It’s even more necessary if your child is leaving your home country to attend camp in the U.S.

Explore Travel

Some parents travel with their child to ensure they safely arrive at a summer camp. Make sure you are aware of all the U.S. travel and camp or program requirements if you choose to do this. For example, if you escort your child and plan to stay overnight to ensure your child is settled, make sure you know where you’re staying (at a hotel), how you will get there, or if there are quarantine requirements.

Gather Supplies

Once you have finalized your itinerary, prioritize what you need. You can grab sunblock before a summer trip to see family, but you’ll need more time to get the right bathing suit or goggles. And when you travel to a foreign country, be sure you have compatible electronic adaptors; your children may need special electronics that are compatible in the U.S. to stay in touch or use translation tools—staying connected is integral for a child far from home. 

If you’re unsure, ask the camp to provide a list of things your student may need. If your child is attending a day camp, this means having a bag ready to go each day with all the essentials, such as sunblock, sunglasses, and a bagged lunch. Don’t forget to notify the necessary camp staff if your child has medication.

Plan for the Unexpected

It can be challenging for international students traveling to the U.S. for a summer camp to navigate getting to the right place. There may be breaks between camp weeks when you’ll need to ensure your child has adequate care. Talk to the camp or activity staff to ensure they meet all needs (getting to and from the airport, and having a place to stay if the activity is canceled for the day) ahead of time.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if your child is going to a summer program designed exclusively for international students. The camp staff has experience coordinating travel and accommodations for children traveling abroad, and can be a great resource for you.


When your child is studying in a foreign country, their health and safety are priorities. Let ISM’s International Scholar Protection give you peace of mind knowing your child has access to high-quality health care (offered by the Blue Cross Blue Shield® PPO network) no matter where they are in the U.S.
Contact insurance@isminc.com for more information.