Education Consultant’s FAQs: An Impromptu Series
Updated: Oct 11
In their work with corporations, mobility professionals, and private clients, there are certain questions that Bennett consultants are consistently asked—questions to which they have substantive, thoughtful, and helpful answers that are specific to the region of the world at issue and the unique circumstances of the client.
In this series, we will highlight frequently asked questions and offer insight into our profession as we answer them. Whatever the challenges posed by a relocation, Bennett consultants are focused on securing the optimal school placement for all families and will navigate the journey with expertise, creativity, and kindness.
Could you send me a list of the top 10 schools in San Francisco? —In Singapore? —In Dublin?
In every urban area, there are schools that everybody seems to know. Usually, this is because they have a great "track" record. A better question is, what makes a school the "top" or the "best"? Best for whom? One child’s top 10 schools could be another's bottom 10. It is certainly possible that one or more of the schools that have a "good reputation” or are well known would offer an excellent fit for a family; if they do, we know how to support the family and advocate for them as they manage the application process. But we always begin with an understanding of the child: their strengths, their areas of interest, and any areas of challenge, as well as their goals. What educational philosophy does the family believe will be optimal?
We consider the timing and length of the relocation and how the child should be positioned to successfully repatriate or navigate a relocation to another part of the world in the near future. We inquire about language: is the child fluent in the local language? Will support be needed? Is the family maintaining their "mother tongue" language?
Once we have the full picture, we will curate a personal "top 10" list for each family based on our knowledge of the local educational landscape, and then guide and support them through the process of securing a seat in the school that offers an excellent fit for their child, a school where they will thrive.
What is the average tuition cost in Hong Kong? — London? —Paris? — Dubai?
As a global consultancy, Bennett understands what schooling costs all around the world and knows how complicated and nuanced elements of the total cost may be. Tuition is just the tip of the iceberg; the actual cost of education may well include multiple other expenses.
International schools may assess any or all these fees: application, registration, technology, capital levy, an inscription fee for first-year students, transportation, canteen, uniforms, sports kit, and the required debenture. Families should not make assumptions.
For example, in some markets, application fees are modest. In other markets, such as Singapore, application fees are very high. But some schools offer a refund if no offer is extended, while others don't. Within the context of a school search consultation, we can share fee information for the family’s target schools. In all cases, we urge families to carefully read school contracts before they sign and be certain that they fully understand the financial commitments they are making.
The timing of our relocation is uncertain. Will schools enroll new students midway through the academic year?
Each market is different, and each school is different. Some schools have rolling admissions and are set up to take new students all year. Other schools will only enroll students at the start of the academic year. Others will review openings and assess whether there may be families leaving the community, yielding open spaces at the beginning of the term or semester.
In this context, the insight and expertise of a professional education consultant are extremely valuable (we know some of the best). A good education consultant will begin by talking with the family and reviewing a student’s school records and will then speak with her school contacts to determine options. Because good education consultants typically have good relationships with schools, admissions personnel will engage and offer candid insights about potential vacancies. Much depends on the specific student as well. Schools are more inclined to take in new students off-cycle who have a good scholastic record, indicating the ability to navigate a new curriculum and the maturity to successfully integrate into a new classroom or school.
Stay tuned for more questions and their answers.
By Sara Schmidt and Annemiek Young
Sara R. Schmidt is the Director of Business Development & Client Relations, Co-Director of Private Client Services and a Senior Education Consultant for Bennett International, based in Seattle. As a member of an internationally mobile family, Sara has navigated the school search process for her own children on three continents, finding the right fit for them in public, private and international schools. She is very familiar, therefore, with the anxieties and hurdles faced by parents relocating their children around the world, and her work is informed by her own extensive experience. Sara serves as Trustee and was President of the Bellevue Schools Foundation in Bellevue, WA, and is a member of Pacific Northwest Relocation Council and Bay Area Mobility Management. She holds a B.A. Ed., Summa Cum Laude, from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and is also fluent in Spanish.
Annemiek Young, former Bennett Education Consultant, Director of Private Client Relations Emeritus, and good friend , is a regular contributor to our blog.
Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancyhas worked with hundreds of corporations across the globe, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing domestic and international school advisement & placement services - preschool through university - to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our team provides customized consulting for corporations with a range of education issues: education policy writing & benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement & planning, and remote education solutions.