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Choosing the Right Academic Pathway for Youth

27 DEC 2021

Alphabet Soup: Crafting the Program for You

by Gala Radinovic

Living in a global era of information has its perks – from communicating with people across the globe to having the world as your child’s oyster for their university if you put them on the correct path early enough. But what is the correct path, that is the question? One of the biggest frustrations parents experience in these times is deciding not what they want for their children – but which path to take for them to get there and school curriculums play a part in this. Whether it is AP, IB, GCSE followed by A-levels, or choosing the correct stream (arts vs science) to focus upon, at times it can feel like a very muddled alphabet soup. 

If you’re finding yourself at these crossroads, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Where is your child now?
  2. Where do you want your child to be in university?

Please bear in mind that you may not have a crystal-clear answer to question #2 either, but something such as “studying at an elite school in the USA” or “continuing the family law firm” is definitely a great place to start. Of course, the more general “happy and successful” (which I believe every parent ultimately wants) also applies. 

Now that you’ve assessed where your child is now and where you want them to go, it is time to connect the dots. Think about Google Maps when you type in your destination and confirm your location – you normally get a couple of options and need to select what’s best for your scenario. So what options are there? The first is to consider what is available locally – be it a public school or an international school in your community. If you are unhappy with the selections there, it is also a good idea to consider boarding schools, home schooling, online schools such as CGA (Crimson Global Academy), or even a hybrid such as taking some courses online to supplement what is locally available. Please factor in your child’s individual personality here, as not everybody thrives in a rigid boarding school and not everyone has the maturity in their early teen years to live far away from home. Additionally, maybe living far from home is not practical if you want them to take over the family business as they will not be able to see first-hand how the daily lives of those currently running it go! This is the perfect time to rule out which options you are willing to consider and which ones you will not. 

At the same time, a good idea is to run a similar analysis of which curriculums are offered and do some match-matching. The easy answer is to choose a curriculum that serves as a bridge between where you child currently stands as a student and the curriculum which they will be engaging in during their university studies. For example, if your child attends a local school in Singapore but you want them to study mathematics at Stanford in the United States of American, the logical bridge is to select a school with the American Curriculum with the most advanced academics possible, which are AP classes. However, if your country is particularly strong in a certain area (such as Singapore is in mathematics), a hybrid would not be a bad option. And if you are unhappy with the American curriculum offerings near you, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program is always a good neutral answer to fall back to as the external assessments are standardized on an international scale and the rigors will prepare your child for college coursework. Simply put, try to align the curriculums of where you are now to where you want to be as best as possible as far as your available resources go. Keep in mind that the American schools favor AP or IB, the British schools favor A-levels and IB, etc. IB is your “one size fits all” but the nature of the program is incredibly demanding compared to others available internationally. Speaking to an academic advisor or strategist before making the final decision is always a good idea here. 

Another challenge faced by parents is deciding which stream to put their child in – should they go for the promises of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), or explore the arts and humanities? Or should they keep an open mind and do a little bit of everything? As with the curriculum advice, consider what is available and what suits your child. For example, in my home country of Croatia, paths from age 13 are incredibly specific – you can spend most of your high school focusing solely on mathematics if this is what you choose. While this may give you an advance in majoring in mathematics in university followed by being an easier hire once you graduate as you are highly specialized, the downside is if you decide mathematics are not your future and you want to study something completely different, such as fashion design and theatre, then you are in an undesirable spot as you lack the experience. As you can clearly see, making such a choice is a double-edged sword and depends on the character of your child. Speaking from personal experience, I harbored an equal love of both STEM and the arts as a young teen and decided to stay overseas with my family in Dubai rather than go to Croatia and specialize. This was the best choice for me as I had no clue what I wanted to study or where, so I picked the most challenging well-rounded academics I could get my hands on to open as many doors as possible one day. By doing the IB program, I was able to do both mathematics and art at a higher level and be the first in my high school’s history to get into an Ivy League University, realizing my passion was in communications – a subject not even offered in Dubai schools at that time! 

Overall, look at the curriculum which you have chosen as appropriate to meet your child’s future goals as well as the type of delivery (boarding school, public school, etc). Provided that the travel, tuition fees, etc align with your family’s particular situation, your next step would be to contact the school and find out more. As always, you are more than welcome to discuss such scenarios with your team here at Crimson – we are more than happy to help you and your family make the choice that’s right for you! 

Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger, 

Gala

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