As I write, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Beijing on a cool Tuesday night in October. I’ve just finished four days of meetings with digital marketing companies and then with Chinese parents I’ve come to know and love over the past several years while I was a Director of Admissions. Tomorrow, I’m off to Chengdu to meet with partners, parents, students and government agencies. Then, it’s off to Guangzhou and Shanghai for more of the same.
This is a very exciting time for International Students Preparatory Academy (ISPA)…not because of the travel and the meetings, but because we’re preparing to do something important: we’re preparing to provide incoming international students with the specific and targeted academic, social, and cultural skills they will need to transition smoothly to their new American schools and be successful from the first day of classes.
And yes, it is important. The amount of pure trust that these students and their families place in their new US schools is nothing short of staggering. Their experiences in the US simply have to go well…there can be no alternative. Think about it: these young people are 14 or 15 years old and proposing to leave their countries, their native languages, their friends, their families and their schools – everything and everyone they know and love – for four years of high school in the US. They will have to start over in every aspect of their lives while being anywhere from 2,000 to 9,000 miles away from the support systems they’ve always counted on. Many will never live at home again since, after high school in the US, they will attend college or university here in the US. In a very real way, they’re moving out on their own at 14. And all this because they trust they will be better served academically at a high school in the US than at the schools they would have attended in their home countries. It’s a massive risk for them, and a massive responsibility for the schools in the US who have chosen to accept them.
This is why ISPA’s mission is important. We propose to provide these international students with the specific skill sets (see “Academic Program” section of our website) that will allow them to be successful and happy at their new US schools from Day 1. They will be prepared to make the most of their new academic, social and cultural experiences in the US, and this means they (and their parents) will be more likely to see the return on their investment. For schools, it means that many of the historically challenging aspects of a new international student’s experience in a US school will be specifically addressed before they even arrive on campus.
We’re excited, and we hope you’ll check in on this blog from time to time to keep up with what we’re thinking and what we’re doing.
The international student experience is both challenging and exciting. Whether you are a student considering studying in America, their parent, the host family, the Head of School, an international coordinator, or even a potential classmate, there are as many opportunities for confusion as there are to learn. The ISPA is here to help bridge that gap, to ensure that this opportunity and adventure is met with the highest level of success.