By Caitlin Hamstra, Ph.D.
There are many different types of schools in the United States, and with so many options, choosing the right school for you can be a difficult decision. The US has private, religious, and public schools, and they are all unique. International students are limited to attending US public schools for one year, but international students can attend private and religious schools for all four years of high school. This allows students to become fully immersed into the school and US culture.
Religious schools are private in the US, and they can be any denomination. Religious schools offer many benefits to international students. Catholic high schools—one common type of religious school—are popular options for international students, whether or not they are Catholic themselves. International students choose Catholic high schools because of their small class sizes, strong academics, and focus on the student as a whole person. Here are six benefits to studying at a Catholic High school:
1. MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE
Students who graduate from Catholic high schools are more likely to graduate from college. Therefore, if your goal is to go to a US college and graduate, a Catholic high school might be a good option for you.
2. HIGHER AVERAGE SAT SCORES
Students who attend Catholic high schools have higher average SAT scores than students who attend other types of schools. Higher SAT scores means you will be able to attend more competitive colleges or receive more scholarships.
3. HIGHER READING AND MATH SCORES
Students from Catholic schools have higher reading and math scores on standardized tests, which results in higher scores in class and on those tests. This also means that you will be more prepared for challenging collegiate course work.
4. LOWER COST THAN OTHER PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Catholic schools have an average tuition rate that is lower than other private schools, making it more affordable for everybody. This option often makes school in the US a possibility for many international students.
Catholic schools focus on serving others as part of their education for students. Students learn the value of volunteerism and compassion for others at Catholic schools, often through service hours built into the curriculum.
6. SINGLE-SEX OPTIONS
Catholic schools can be co-ed—where both boys and girls attend—or single-sex, where only boys or girls attend. Single-sex options might be good options for students who are accustomed to attending class with people of their own gender or those who believe that would help them learn better. When researching and talking to schools, think about what is the best fit for you and your learning.
Choosing a US high school is a difficult and important decision. It is important to think about what you want your experience to be like while you are in high school, as well as your goals after you graduate. Catholic high schools can provide excellent high school experiences and prepare you for success in college and beyond.
Caitlin Hamstra is the International Student Coordinator at O’Gorman High School, a Catholic school, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.