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Keeping That Summer High

Language Magazine offers a brief guide to North American high schools and related summer programs for international students

Studying at a U.S. or Canadian high school is a great way for students to improve their chances of winning a place at a top-tier university, but it does require some planning, so here is a quick summary of the key points:

Visas: To study at a U.S. high school, international students need an F-1 visa (see for more information) if they intend to stay for more than one year. Those coming for a one-year exchange program, sponsored by the Department of State, need a J-1 visa.

On an F-1 visa, students can receive a full secondary education, earning diplomas, if appropriate, at U.S. public and private high schools. Tuition costs at public schools are lower, but students on F-1 visas can only study at public schools for one year.
In Canada, minor children who want to study for six months or more must apply for a study permit before they enter the country. This includes minor children who come with parents who have had a study or work permit approved overseas.

The age of majority is determined by each province or territory—18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, and 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and the Yukon.

The parents or legal guardians must prove the minor child will have the care and support they need during their stay in Canada. Minor children under the age of 17 must either come with their parent or legal guardian or have a custodian in Canada. A custodian is optional for minors 17 years of age and older, but an officer can request one on a case-by-case basis. For a program of six months or less, a study permit is not necessary in Canada.

Consider different types of schools: Don’t choose a school just because it is recommended by a friend or has a great reputation. Try to find a school that best matches the individual student, their character, and their goals. International student exchange organizations should endeavor to find the right school, or parents can research by themselves, but expert input is invaluable.

The school’s support mechanisms for English language learners, their experience in making international students feel welcome, and the suitability of housing options are
key factors.

Get help with the high school application process: International students need to apply for admission to U.S. high schools, but many of the forms are complicated. International parents often encounter language and cultural issues while applying, so enlist the help of a verified agent or ask the school for assistance.

Verify agencies and consultants: Using an agency can help a great deal with the whole process, but there are plenty of unscrupulous agents who charge excessive fees and offer little expertise.

Be wary of agencies that can’t provide references from past clients or U.S. schools or that guarantee admission to a school for a special fee. The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel ( maintains a list of approved organizations, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website has an online searchable database of schools (

Selection of Schools in the U.S.
Southwestern Academy
Southwestern Academy is a co-ed boarding and day school offering grades 6–12. Founded in 1924, it has become a school rich in culture and diversity, catering to the educational needs of domestic and international students. The close-knit community of faculty and staff makes every student feel like part of a family. They have two unique campuses—the original campus in San Marino, California, and a satellite campus in Rimrock, Arizona. Small class settings allow students to receive the attention they require while maximizing their abilities to develop. Academic programs on both campuses include college preparatory courses, ESL (English as a second language), and postgraduate curriculums. Extracurricular activities include different sports, music, and visual/media arts along with many other clubs suited for a variety of interests.

The Summer Adventures program offers students a platform that uniquely combines classroom education with fun, exciting, and exceptional activities, allowing students to enjoy their summer while exploring new opportunities in and out of the classroom.

Annie Wright
Founded in 1884, Annie Wright Schools offer single-gender education with day and boarding options for grades 9–12 in their separate Upper School for Girls and Upper School for Boys. While academic classes are separated by gender, boys and girls have opportunities for intersection, including arts activities and social events. Annie Wright Schools are in the beautiful North End neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington.
The historic campus includes an indoor pool, two gyms, science and technology labs, art and music studios, theater, outdoor gardens, play areas, athletic fields, and open spaces. Coming in fall 2019 is a third gym with a larger pool and a new academic building to house the growing Upper School for Boys.

They offer rich, thoughtful, and internationally recognized programs that welcome students from around the world. Academic programs challenge students to reach their full intellectual potential, preparing students extraordinarily well for college and beyond. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, Annie Wright nurtures inquiry, empathy, and a global perspective.

Buffalo Seminary
Among the oldest girls’ schools in the U.S., SEM has designed a culture of independence, achievement, scholarship, creativity, and leadership only for girls since 1851. Its oldest tradition is forward thinking.

While many schools and camps for girls were founded in a faith, SEM was founded as mission-driven and independent. At its core is the Academic and Social Honor Code—emphasizing character and scholarship.

The power of SEM is the expectation that students and campers will be intellectually curious, meet challenges with preparation and optimism, and question and revisit the answers until they are satisfied. All of this is accomplished with the support of extraordinarily accomplished faculty and staff committed to the education of girls.

On a unique urban campus, students/campers from around the world and the
region live in historic homes centered around a private courtyard. Both the camp and school programs utilize all that beautiful Buffalo has to offer: museums and restaurants, theater, gorgeous parks, and the waterfront.

Summer at SEM sleepaway camp is for girls ages eleven to 14, July 7–20, 2019. Campers select from a menu of activities including traditional camp experiences like arts and crafts, cooking, and theatre, but also day trips to Niagara Falls, Shakespeare in the Park (only New York City’s is larger), sailing on Lake Erie, crew, squash, fashion lab, robotics, and VR coding. English language learning (ELL) support is offered.

Florida Prep
Located in Melbourne, Florida, Florida Prep has been a premier boarding academy for nearly 60 years. The school offers a challenging academic program to boys and girls in grades 5–12 that allows students the opportunity to be highly successful in the classroom and well prepared for college and life.

Innovative courses and partnerships with local companies equip students with real-world skills and the tools, moral compass, and strengths necessary to succeed at all levels.

The high school population attends classes on a college-style daily schedule, affording the opportunity to invite adjunct professors from local colleges to teach specialized classes and for students to dual enroll at nearby Florida Tech or Eastern Florida State College.

International students are immersed in the English language from the moment they set foot on campus, sharing a dorm room with a native English speaker and attending mainstream classes, all while continuing to build their language skills through formal ESL instruction. Students indicate this approach works well and language skills are learned quickly. For students not yet ready to commit 100% to boarding school, Florida Prep also offers a four-week ESOL program, July 8–August 2, 2019, that follows a similar immersion process.

The American Hebrew Academy
The American Hebrew Academy is an international Jewish college-prep boarding school that inspires intellectually curious teenagers from 31 states and 38 countries to pursue excellence in a one-of-a-kind academic environment. The diverse culture, customs, and values of Judaism challenge academy students of all backgrounds to maximize their full academic, personal, and spiritual potentials, which serve as the foundation for lifelong learning, community service, and global engagement.

Experiential learning, competitive athletics, creative arts, travel around the world, and leadership development are at the core of the academy’s holistic curriculum. Named to Newsweek’s Private Schools of Distinction and Niche’s top private high schools list, the American Hebrew Academy boasts an internationally acclaimed faculty and staff, state-of-the-art facilities, and a 100-acre lakefront campus in Greensboro, North Carolina. Graduates are regularly admitted to prestigious colleges and universities and go on to positions of leadership in business, medicine, law, finance, and social service.

Selection of Schools in Canada
Golden Hills
Golden Hills is an innovative and award-winning school division, offering an exciting and exceptional educational experience. They are committed to academic excellence, and their outstanding teachers motivate students to make the best and most rewarding choices for student success.

Students immerse themselves in the life and culture of an Alberta high school student, have fun, and create lasting memories and friendships. Many of the schools are among the best in Alberta, offering welcoming environments and communities that are so safe students can walk to school.

They have one of the smaller student–teacher ratios in the province of Alberta, and their Alberta Education curriculum is ranked among the highest in the world. They offer numerous school and community activities, which are fun and comfortable ways to strengthen English skills. Golden Hills is the only Canadian public school division that offers both dormitory and homestay options.

Caring on-site staff manage the dormitories and provide 24-hour supervision and support. Students can also experience life in a Canadian home.

Homestay families are trusted and experienced in caring for international students and make them feel like they are part of the family.

Bronte College
Bronte College is a private International Baccalaureate (IB) World and Advanced Placement (AP) day and boarding school offering grades 9–12, English as a second language (ESL), and a summer camp program each July. The holistic learning environment encourages students to be well-rounded and to participate in activities such as sports, arts, and humanitarian projects. The summer camp program offers a unique opportunity for students between the ages of twelve and 17 to experience a boarding school environment and participate in English or math and science classes while exploring many sites of interest around Canada.

Bronte’s campus is composed of a single ten-story building, which hosts academic facilities, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and a primarily single-roomed student residence. The campus is equipped with 24-hour security and has restricted access.

Bronte is centrally located in Mississauga, Ontario, only a 20-minute drive to downtown Toronto and just minutes away from shopping malls and medical facilities that are easily accessible by walking or public transportation. Bronte College attracts both Canadian and international students from more than 35 countries around the world.

Summer Camps
Canoe Island French Camp
At Canoe Island French Camp, students can find a little bit of France in the San Juan Islands at this NW Washington sleepover summer camp, one of the country’s premier French camps. Campers, ages nine to 16, take part in a unique mix of French language and culture through artistic and outdoor activities. Canoe Island French Camp is not just a language experience; campers gain increased independence, self-awareness, new friends, and the ability to enjoy new experiences (and food). Beginning French speakers are welcome and comfortable with the mix of French and English. Half of the counselors come from France.

With only 50 campers in a session and four to five campers per tipi, everyone gets acquainted quickly. Tipimates are arranged by age, French language class by ability, and the campers choose morning and afternoon activities themselves: kayaking, sailing, swimming, art, archery, theater, sports, rock climbing, snorkeling, and cooking.

Evenings are dedicated to camp-wide activities—campfires on the beach, treasure hunts, theater in the Longhouse, mysteries, and games.

Garrison Forest School
Summer at Garrison Forest School is located on a beautiful 110-acre gated country
campus in Owings Mills, Maryland. With over 100 offerings (half day, full day, weekend, and residential), there are plenty of opportunities for children to follow their dreams and explore their passions. Students are invited to “the Forest” to BE artsy, BE curious, BE sporty, BE horsey, BE prepared, and BE brave and spend the night. Summer at Garrison Forest truly has something for everyone ages three and up.

Residential programs include the Baltimore International Piano Festival, Young People’s Summer Stock Performing Arts Camp, Coerver Coaching Soccer Overnight Camp, UK Elite Soccer Residential Camp, and their signature program, the GFS Equestrian Experience, a residential riding and polo program.

Garrison Forest School is an independent, private, all-girls’ K–12 day school, co-ed preschool, and all-girls’ national and international boarding school for grades 8–12.

Summer Discovery
Summer Discovery has collaborative partnerships with 14 prestigious universities in the U.S., the UK, and Singapore. Family operated for 53 years, Summer Discovery is the premiere precollege program for high school and middle school students seeking an authentic university experience. Students live on campus in the university residence hall, eat in the dining hall, and take college classes taught by university instructors. Summer Discovery offers more than 300 courses in business, leadership, entrepreneurship, STEM, and more.

After class, students participate in organized, supervised activities and excursions, led by the experienced Summer Discovery staff. Resident counselors are 21 years and older and are responsible for groups of ten students.

High school students are given freedom to explore the campus and nearby town, with excellent supervision and safety. Middle school students are always attended by resident counselors in groups of eight children.

Summer Discovery students come from 44 states and more than 70 countries, offering a complete university experience in a multicultural environment, with a full calendar of exciting activities and excursions all included in the price of tuition.

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