High school in Canada vs. Europe

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2014
High school in Canada vs. Europe
Wed, 02-05-2014 - 1:07am

Hi all! I am new, but have a question and am not sure where to go to get it answered so I am hoping you all can help me! My family has an opportunity to possibly relocate to Europe from Canada. We have two places in mind somewhere just outside of London or a place in Amsterdam. Our daughter is 14 and in grade 8 here in Canada. How would it work if we were to relocate her to Europe. I know the adjustment might be hard and we are prepared for that, just looking for a little insight about the school systems in each of those areas and what a day at school would be like for a child her age in one of those areas.

Thank you for any insight you can provide! :)


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Wed, 02-05-2014 - 9:36am

Hi and welcome to the board! I'm in the US and don't have any personal experience with the European school systems. We did have German exchange students from the same town in Germany stay with us on two separate occasions. It's been a few years ago but if I remember correctly they went through grade 13 (although I think they start school at age 4 there so they still finish high school at about age 18). It seems - at least in their school - that once they are high school age - 14 or so - they kind of proceed based on whether they plan to conitnue on to university, technical school, or directly into the work force. Kind of different 'tracks'. I think if they're not planning on going to university they often leave school at age 16 or so. As I said, though, it's been a few years and the boys we hosted were from a small town in Germany - different parts of Europe may have different education systems. Hopefully someone here will be able to give you some more btdt information.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Wed, 02-05-2014 - 1:40pm

We turned down an opportunity to relocate to London a few years ago, but we did go through the process of applying to private day schools there. If you're only going to be there for a short while (a few years, say), you may want to look into a private international school. The ones we liked had IB programs, which you also have in Canada. If your kids started an IB program in England or Amsterdam, they'd be able to complete their diplomas when they returned to Canada with no disruption to their education.

An IB diploma also helps when applying to universities anywhere in the world.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Wed, 02-05-2014 - 9:19pm

Welcome to our corner of the village.

WOW, what a wonderful opportunity and experience for you, hubby, and your daughter.  Your daughter will pick up that continental accent that we all find so cool—like my personal favorites Pierce Broslin and Julie Ormond. Add to that the opportunity for her to visit and see France, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, etcetera.  WOW!!!!

I have no experience in this area. However, with the cost of long distance phone calls to Europe being close to zero via Skype, I would suggest finding the correct time in those cities to call the guidance counselors at schools in those countries. They should be able to answer lots of questions for you.  Unlike most Americans, who only speak English, I have been told that the vast majority of Europeans speak more than one language and most speak English.  Therefore, even the school counselors in Amsterdam should be able to give you valuable information in English.

If you’re thinking about a private school that caters to English speakers, they should be very helpful with information.  They may even be able to give you phone numbers of the parents of some of their American and Canadian students.

Showing my ignorance here as a native Texan, where proper English is considered a foreign language, Amsterdam public schools might be a little difficult, unless your daughter is a language whiz kid.

Your daughter should be able to return to American or Canadian collages, so long as she takes the required mix of classes (math, science, language, etcetera). With collages always looking to fill their student body with a diversity of life experiences, a few years in Europe should really standout on her application forms. 

Please do come back from time to time to let us know how things are working out. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Thu, 02-13-2014 - 12:12am

Kimmy,  a few years of school in Europe will not make her stand out for entrance to a Canadian university.  Unlike American universities, our universities do not look to fill their student body with diversity of life experiences. Please remember Canada is a different country; with a different educational system. Our universities (well those that matter) are all public.

 Entrance is based  on Grade 12 marks and class standing,with marks adjusted for high school program (by a few universities). (The universities only see grade 11 and grade 12 marks; that's it.)   Personal information forms  required by a very few universities (such as McGill, Queen's,U of T, Waterloo)  are  typical used for border-line students, if that.  And those PI forms tend to be program-specific. (My kids' university PI form was very simple and it is one of our "Ivy League" schools with the highest entrance requirements in the country.)

It is very simple here. The student has to meet the entrance requirements for the program he/she is applying for.  The university sets the entrance average based on the number of students applying and the number of places.  Those who have averages over the entrance average get conditional offers. After the deadline for early acceptance, the universities may send out conditional acceptances to border-line students but that depends on the university.

The universities reserve a certain number of places for foreign students and calculate an equivalent average. But, since all our universities are public, Canadian students come first. The girl is a Canadian citizen so her acceptance will be based on acceptance requirements for either British or Dutch students but she will pay Canadian fees and be treated as a Canadian.

The end result, a student with very high marks will get acceptances to every university he/she applies to, irregardlless of their extra-curiculums or life experience.   Having spent time in Europe will not factor in at all, except that the university might have to calculate an equivalent average and, depending on the country and university program, the student might find first year university a challenge.

I vote for Amsterdam. The Dutch people love Canadians and many speak English;it is taught in school. The country has a very good educational system (they do stream in highschool (gr.9).  I would also suggest going to an International school, especially if the plan is live there only temporary,