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Am I more likely to get into University if I study at an International School?

Parents naturally want to see their children excel academically. Not only does this help ensure they will get into a good university, but it also forms a sound basis for whatever future career they choose to pursue. 

This is why many will carefully consider what type of school they should enrol their child in in their formative years, especially for primary and secondary level learning. International schools have become a top choice for many parents, as they feel they may have a positive impact on their child’s ability to get into a good university. So the question is, does attending an international school improve the chances of getting into university? 

To answer this question, it is more relevant to look at what universities consider when making an admissions decision and how these factors relate to attending an international school. 

Academic Performance

Academic grades have always been a key factor when it comes to university admission. Given that at  university level, students are pretty much left to manage their own studies, these institutions want those being admitted to demonstrate that they can keep up with the advanced academic rigour. With no parents or teachers looking over their shoulders, they need to show they can work independently. 

Academic performance is a good way to judge how seriously a student takes their studies. It is also an indicator of their aptitude. For instance, anyone going into a science program is expected to have taken up some science courses and performed well. Depending on the course the student is applying for, they may be required to have undertaken learning and testing in particular subjects. The grading system of intentional schools is also more easily adaptable for universities that take international students. 

Academic performance is typically judged based on grades achieved during secondary school leaving qualifications and earlier academic transcripts. Top international schools invest heavily in ensuring their students perform well academically and can compete with other students all around the world. To ensure this, they recruit teachers with good qualifications and teaching prowess. They also provide whatever facilities are needed to support learning, including libraries and laboratories. Their smaller classroom sizes are typically smaller which ensures that students get adequate attention and feedback from teachers to enhance their understanding of material.

Language Proficiency

Many universities require applicants from outside their country to prove their language proficiency. Most universities, particularly in the west, utilise English as their language of instruction and if the educational program the student takes at secondary level does not match up to their standards, the student may be required to take other forms of English proficiency testing. 

International schools use globally recognised educational programs like Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and GCSE. These programs use English for instruction and passing these exams means you will not need to take other forms of English Proficiency testing.  This gives international school students better chances as they will have spent many years of learning in an English setting and can better understand and respond to the university application process. Their communication skills will be superior. 

A big part of language proficiency is written communication. This is another factor that universities carefully consider through responses in application forms and submitted essays. A student who is able to express themselves fluently in writing will be able to make a good impression. Some universities also require oral interviews. In these situations, your child should be able to easily understand the questions that are being asked and respond fluently to them.  This will give these universities the confidence that you will be a good addition to their student community. 

Knowledge and Commitment To Subject

This is another a big factor that university admissions boards will consider. When students apply for certain courses, universities want to know what exactly drew them to this subject and how they demonstrate their commitment to it. For instance, with arts, the university may want to know how well the student performed in related subjects and what other activities they have engaged in to better their skills. 

This can then lead into what activities beyond the classroom they have focused on, like in volunteerism and co-curricular activities. Universities may also be interested in what kinds of competitions they have entered in and other academic qualifications that would contribute towards this career path. 

International schools make it a point to provide students with ample opportunities to pursue whatever career path they want. From facilities like labs, music rooms, playing fields and libraries to sports clubs, leadership and mentorship programs and educational excursions, students are heavily supported in trying to find their own niche and nurture their talents. The range of subjects offered by intentional schools also tends to be broader than what the local curriculum allows. This can better equip international school students to pursue more unique courses that are outside the experience of other students. 

Multicultural Exposure

Although multicultural exposure is not an especially important or assessed factor, it can help with gaining admission. In international schools, students have to learn how to interact and build relationships with classmates from diverse backgrounds. This helps make them more discerning, independent-minded, and mature. These are all traits that make such students worthy additions to most universities. 

These students can adapt easily to a changing environment and are open to new interactions.  Their confidence can often come through clearly when being interviewed and when providing personal statements that justify why they should be selected. 

This exposure also makes intentional school students more willing to explore their options by applying to a wider variety of schools across the world. Most local students stick to local universities, while international school students tend to be more ambitious and open-minded to looking further afield. It also helps that many universities consider it ideal to ensure a certain percentage of their student body is made up of foreign students to add to the multiculturalism of their campuses. 


Getting into a good university is often a key stepping stone towards building the career you want. And the school you attend will in some way influence your ability to secure this next step. International schools do offer some perks that make it easier for students to get into good universities. The academic support, multicultural exposure, and co-curricular activities all help contribute towards making them well-rounded and appealing candidates for university admission. While even local schools do churn out excellent candidates, there is often a slight edge that international school students gain from the more nurturing environment they get to learn in.