Why Does Attending An International School Give You An Advantage Over Other Students?

If you and your family live overseas, or indeed you are a native in a non-British territory, you will no doubt have explored the advantages of attending an international school teaching the British curriculum compared to a local school. Most students who attend an international school find it a rewarding and enriching experience. For local students, they get the opportunity to be taught in the English language, something that will open opportunities at some of the world’s top universities as well as within the workplace.

As one of the leading international schools in Hong Kong, we have a mix of students from around the world and a healthy proportion of local students. Of course, our primary role is to develop individuals academically and prepare them for later life, building their self-confidence and independence. Attending an international school presents opportunities that aren’t available elsewhere. This gives them a colossal advantage over students who have studied at local school and even those attending the UK.

Gaining a global perspective

Having a global outlook is essential in a modern business environment, so having a broader understanding from a young age a considerable advantage. Attending an international school will allow students to witness first-hand different cultures and ways of life. Understanding that the world is far bigger than merely the UK, for example, will give students the awareness and confidence to expand their thoughts and ambitions.

We have noted that local students also appreciate that while Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, there are far more opportunities beyond its borders. As students’ day-to-day lives involve mixing with people from other countries, often whose parents work for multinational organisations, they tend to gain a worldwide outlook rather than just focusing on their own country.

Education with a global focus

 Although it is not always conscious, lessons within an international school will take on a global focus. Classes often involve discussing international topics, and for many international curriculums, it is a requirement. With greater exposure both in and out of the classroom, students are often more rounded and are comfortable talking about world events with their peers. Being continually surrounded by people from different backgrounds and discussing news from other countries is worlds apart from what students generally discuss in local schools.

Extracurricular activities at an international school frequently involve trips overseas where they once again can experience a different way of life. It is hugely advantageous when they come to apply for university or a job, and including the experiences on their CV will make them stand out from other students.  

Becoming more broad-minded and tolerant

Students who attend local schools can often become blinkered, almost to the stage of becoming narrow-minded if they don’t get the opportunity to mix with people from different countries, cultures and religious backgrounds. At an international school, mixing with different groups becomes the “norm”, and what pupils of other schools may view as being strange or unusual is accepted without question. It helps students become more broad-minded and tolerant, which is needed in all aspects of our lives.

Most students quickly make friends with people from diverse backgrounds and typically have a genuine interest in others’ beliefs and cultures. It is actively encouraged at international schools to a far greater extent than in local schools where the emphasis is on the local culture and often a single religion. Students rarely get the opportunity to mix with or talk about other cultures outside of international schools.

Make friends for life

One of the downsides of attending an international school is that many of their friends and peers will move onto pastures new during their time at the school. However, friendships that are formed at international schools tend to be lifelong and often more robust than they would be in local schools. The consensus is that everyone understands each other’s situation, and the need to “stick together” is far greater.

As students come from different countries and background, there is no “home advantage”, so everyone feels equal. It helps to form a community spirit with any perceived differences being forgotten about. Having friends from all four corners of the globe is something special and can rarely be achieved within a local school. Often friends become business associates in later life, forging long and successful futures together.

Opportunities for personal development

Students at international schools, especially boarders, need to become more independent as they are taken out of their comfort zones. Although this can be challenging at first, particularly for younger pupils, it is something that they quickly adapt to, and the greater independence fosters greater self-confidence. It is a situation that students in local schools will never experience as it can’t be replicated, and indeed, promoting self-confidence and independence is a role that international schools do admirably.

Living in another country will broaden anyone’s horizons, which is the same for students and their parents. Although most of our school leavers go onto university in the UK, many continue their studies in Hong Kong or other parts of Asia and, of course, the rest of the world. In the UK, very few students would ever consider attending a university abroad for anything more than a semester. Again, this is an opportunity that gives students a considerable advantage over their counterparts elsewhere.

Overall experience

Finally, being a student at an international school presents far more opportunities both academically and personally. Most international schools are far better facilities and as such a better learning environment than in local schools. Generally, the schools organise more extracurricular activities in the world of sports and the arts, which facilitates opportunities for students who excel in these areas to thrive.

The key word associated with any international school is “opportunities”, and it is a word we have frequently used, quite deliberately, in this article. The opportunities that international schools give students are second to none, and it sets them up for their futures in whatever area they wish to pursue.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.