Nicolas Abouchedid, Concordia Class of 2017 May 3 2020

Boarding School Myths: The Case for International School

Any student that has read or watched the Harry Potter series fantasizes about attending boarding school at some point throughout their pre-teen life. 

The most enticing prospects usually include living with friends, experiencing something new, and of course, learning magic. 

As soon as the impossible nature of magic is exposed, all the other appeals of life away from home seem worthless. That is, until high school rolls around. 

During the closing years of middle school, students are re-introduced to the possibility of boarding school by their parents, teachers, or by fellow students. 

This time however, things are different. 

Becoming a wizard is replaced by the prospect of receiving a “better education”. 

Living with friends is not quite as relevant as getting into a prestigious university.

Students crave a school experience that they can boast about for the rest of their lives. 

If those are the things you hope to attain, Concordia International School may be the best choice.

It's true that your child's school experience will differ between a boarding school and an international school. To help you make the most informed high school decision, we will compare boarding schools and Concordia International School using these guidelines: college entrance exam scores, University matriculation, and the student school experience.


College Entrance Exam Scores

How well does Concordia Shanghai measure up to big-name U.S. boarding schools?

For students considering a move away from Concordia Shanghai, a common misconception is that receiving an education at a big-name boarding school equates to receiving a better education. 

However, a glance at a few statistics demonstrates why that claim is simply not true. 

For starters, let’s take a look at Concordia students’ performance on the SAT. 

The graduating class of 2019 absolutely conquered math and writing portions of the infamous college entrance exam with an average score of 1423. 

With that achievement, Concordia retained its position as one of the highest scoring international schools in the world. 


Concordia’s SAT results also directly rival the most prestigious boarding schools in the United States like Phillips Exeter Academy, which had average SAT math and writing scores of 1402. 

However, due to its emphasis on general skills rather than content, the SAT is not a thorough depiction of the education at a school. In order to get a fuller sense of academic quality, other factors must be taken into consideration.

One of those factors is student performance in the Advanced Placement program, which provides college-level courses and assessments. 

When compared to the best international schools in Asia, Concordia’s AP scores are simply exceptional. And when measured against American prep-schools, our 94% AP passing rate (3+) is among the best, ahead of Philips Exeter Academy and Middlesex School. 

Despite Concordia’s clear academic competence, many students (and parents) will see no value in it if it isn’t recognized at the collegiate level. After all, one of high school’s overarching goals is to prepare students for life at university.


University Matriculation

How do Concordia students’ college opportunities compare to those of students in world-famous boarding schools?

This particular question cannot be answered without first addressing two matters: a school’s age and the size of its graduating class. 

Most renowned boarding schools have existed for hundreds of years. For instance, Phillips Academy Andover and Phillips Exeter Academy were both founded in the 18th Century. In other words, both of those schools were established before the United States of America was. 

Concordia, on the other hand, was founded 20 years ago. 

With roughly 220+ years of networking and reputation-building in hand, older schools have a clear advantage when it comes to finding a spot for their students in the most competitive universities.  

Regarding school size and yearly graduates, most prominent boarding schools simply dwarf Concordia. 

Phillips Academy Andover, for example, graduated over 330 students last year, while Concordia only graduated 90 students. Thus, in order to properly compare college acceptance, it is only fair to look at Concordia’s 300 most recent graduates as well. 

When doing that, the list of Concordia college acceptances is quite illustrious, including names such as: Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, MIT, Stanford, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Cal Tech, Dartmouth, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Carnegie Mellon. (Not bad, huh?) 

With centuries of networking, reputation-building, and development, boarding schools’ college admittances do not outright trump Concordia’s matriculation achievements when the number of students is adequately adjusted.


Concordia School Experience

When comparing the boarding school experience with the Concordia school experience, you'll notice that your child will receive a holistic education which means that we invest in and tend to every part of each student: spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually.

AP high school_chemistry

While our students' exam numbers are impressive (as you would expect from a top international school) those are just the outcomes; what makes Concordia special is our holistic approach to education that addresses the whole child within an incredible community founded on shared values. 

Student success at Concordia is built upon our ability to offer best-in-class curriculum that is responsive to the needs of our students and not mandated from external sources such as IB or College Board. Our passionate and talented teachers create and deliver authentic learning experiences and programs that engage students and impact their lives forever. 

So, let’s take a look at where we stand. 

  • Impressive SAT scores? Check.
  • World-leading AP performance? Check.
  • Remarkable college acceptances? Check. 

It is clear, Concordia students are as competent as any in the world, at least by the time they graduate. But where did they start out?

Concordia Shanghai teachers help their students achieve success throughout their high school careers.

During the application process to many high schools around the world, applicants are required to take the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT).

The average 9th Grade applicant at Concordia scores somewhere around the 60th percentile of all test takers worldwide. Whereas, freshmen applicants to boarding schools like Phillips Andover and Taft School score, on average, in the 80th to 90th percentile. 

Clearly, entering applicants at boarding schools are more academically capable than first-year Concordia high school students. 


But, seeing as Concordia students statistically match their prep-school counterparts by the time they exit high school, what does that say about Concordia’s education? 

In truth, it says a lot. 

It says that Concordia’s teachers are nothing short of amazing. It shows that our facilities are wonderfully suited for learning. It showcases the ambition that drives Concordia’s student body. Essentially, it proves that Concordia provides an education that not only matches any other, but one that is in fact second to none.

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