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School Fairs: What to Expect

prep_fair_image_web Our PREP Boarding School Fair is fast approaching and you might be wondering what to expect and how to prepare. This might be your first fair or your first step into the world of international boarding schools. Now that you have registered, have October 15 marked on your calendar and know where you’re going, you can think about how to get the most out of the opportunity to meet over 20 schools in one location. With so many options - summer programs or a full year, different countries, diverse educational philosophies - the best way to get ready is to start thinking about a few key aspects of your child’s education. There are few basic questions that can help you focus in on schools that are a good fit for your child: Which country would you like them to go to? This will affect language options, travel opportunities, time zone for staying connected and communicating, cost of travel and exchange rate. Will you travel to visit and will your child return home for major holidays? This will affect how often you visit, ease of travel for your child to travel alone and again overall cost. What type of school do you want for your child? There are many different categories of schools. Do you want a school with an IB or AP or GCSE academic program? Should it be co-ed or all girls or all boys? Catholic or non-denominational? Have STEM programs or liberal arts? Would a large or small school be the best fit? What special talents, skills or needs does your child have? Consider athletic teams, fine arts programs and clubs. Think about new opportunities and experiences your child would like to try or academic support they may require. These discussions will better equip you to have meaningful and focused conversations with the admissions representatives that you will meet. If you don’t have answers to all of these questions, don’t worry! The admissions representatives you will meet at the fair can help you figure out what kind of boarding school experience is the right fit. We look forward to seeing you on October 15!

PREP Boarding School Fair

Thursday, October 15, 2015 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, JW Marriott Polanco Mexico City, Mexico FULL DETAILS
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Lessons Learned

After two months in Mexico I have learned a few things. I have learned to speak a little Spanish, enough that I can go to the market, greet the shopkeeper, ask for what I need and even ask for help. I know a few people by name and enjoy exchanging small pleasantries - so long as we stay in the present tense! I have learned that things don’t always go as planned. Once, I was unable to use credit or debit for a bus ticket and a stranger bought one for me on the simple condition that I help someone else in need when I can. But the most important thing I have learned is “you don’t know what you don’t know” and that is ok. At every turn there is someone who does know and you just need to ask for their help. It turns out that the same lesson that I have learned is the purpose for my being here. Finding the right boarding school for your child is an overwhelming and challenging adventure and in order to find the right fit you will need to ask a lot of questions. Some questions are simple and some are more complex; the most common questions I have been asked have to do with school breaks and campus visits, because parents want to be able to see their children. It might surprise you to hear this, but a major factor in how easy it is for families to stay connected is location. Where your child’s school is will determine what time zone they are in and when you can SKYPE, text and chat with them. You may want to see the school musical livestreaming on the website or connect the moment a soccer game ends to get the final score. Having the opportunity to connect in real time will make everyone feel more connected. Also, you should consider the ease of travel. When the Christmas holiday comes along and your child returns home, perhaps flying alone for the first time, it will be important that it is not stressful and not too long. You might want to think about an opportunity for your family to visit your child at boarding school. Perhaps a visit to the campus for a day before the Spring Break and head to Whistler for a ski holiday? Or maybe a family vacation to Toronto, see a play, a hockey game and a day at your child’s boarding school when the break is over? I like to suggest that you get out a map, a good old fashioned paper map and put it on the kitchen table. Look at the flights from your town or city to the schools you are considering. Look at costs of flights, connections and time zones. It is a great project to not only research the school but the opportunities for exploration, travel and adventure in the area. It is fun to include younger siblings in this exploration so that they have a better understanding of where their brothers and sisters will be and get them excited about the opportunity to visit. Think about how often you will reasonably visit and how many times your child will return home throughout the year. This will help you narrow down the choices and select a school that is not only a great fit for your child but also one that will allow you to stay connected, visit the campus and have your child travel home for the holidays with ease. So I will keep practicing my Spanish, watching for that person that needs a little help and you keep asking questions. Include the whole family, put that map on the table and enjoy the journey. Boarding School is an incredible opportunity for your children but it is not just their journey. The whole family can be involved and build relationships not only with house parents, faculty and staff of the school but the families of the many friends that your child will make with fellow boarders from around the world.
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New Country, New Company, Same Passion

balcony_san_miguel As of November 6, I  have left Canada behind and started a new adventure living and working in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. After many years of working at independent schools, I’ve decided to make a change and launched my own company. While I’ll miss the energy and enthusiasm of working on an international boarding school campus, I’m excited to unite the work I love with a culture and community of people that has welcomed me with open arms. When I decided to start my own company, I thought about both my personal talents and the most memorable experiences of my working life. Thinking back to my travels on behalf of Admissions for schools like SMUS, I realized that not only had I greatly enjoyed my time in Mexico and the amazing parents and students I met there, but that those families faced unique challenges that I could help with. As an Admissions representative, I looked for students who would be a great fit for my school (and vice versa) but could only talk about one school. With so many options for schools, as well as study visas, travel, etc, I realized Mexican families could benefit from a neutral party to help them assess all their options. Based in San Miguel de Allende, I will represent a select group of top boarding schools to families in Mexico seeking quality education and safety for their children. As an Admissions Professional it is my responsibility to know the boarding schools that I represent, so I can share the traditions, culture and unique attributes of each school. I have spent time on campuses, met faculty and staff, chatted with students in dorm rooms and cheered on sports teams. Now I will have the opportunity to further my understanding of the schools and programs available in Mexico. As I travel around the country I will be visiting local schools, athletic clubs, dance studios and youth orchestras. If you are interested in meeting up with me, take a look at my travel schedule or contact me. This blog will be a place for me to share the latest educational news and the unique features of the schools I visit, but it is my hope that you will also share. Share your personal experience with boarding school, stories from the great schools that your children attend in Mexico and make suggestions of schools and programs that you recommend I include on my travels.
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