When Choosing an International School, Vote with Your Feet

best Costa Rica international schools offer well-rounded education

What do you care so deeply about that you’re willing to actually do something about it?

Schooling is likely one of those things. The best Costa Rica international schools offer more than academics: Your choice of private school reinforces how you will raise your children – how you will shape their formative years.

There’s an old maxim: “If you want to know what people really value, watch how they vote with their feet.” The core idea is that, while casting a ballot or voicing an opinion is unlikely to vastly change an individual’s trajectory, the personal decisions you make, and especially the places you choose to go, can significantly impact your life

And so, while “foot voting” traditionally refers to political freedoms, today it also extends to the cultural and lifestyle impacts of voting with one’s feet. And in your case, as a caring parent, of seeking out and eventually choosing one of the best Costa Rica international schools.

Because you’ve already voted with your feet once: You’ve either made the life-changing decision to move your family and raise your children in Costa Rica, or you’ve chosen to commit your Costa Rican children to an international education. To introduce them to new people and perspectives. To prepare them for a world beyond today. 

And now, you’re poised to cast your next “foot vote” – to choose where to educate your children. How you will shape their formative years. What you will do to prepare them for the competitive world that awaits after graduation. 

Education: More than Just Academics at the Best Costa Rica International Schools

Great parents give their children the very best opportunities in life. And, for most, this begins with education. Not just schooling, but well-rounded, whole-person education.

In Spanish, we use the verb educar to refer not only to schooling our children, but to raising them well, in every sense of the word. Educación is the opportunity to explore and grow, to develop thinking skills and build a solid knowledge base. To become someone who is confident and capable, accomplished and yet always hungry for greater learning. To cultivate the skills required for this ever-increasingly competitive world of ours. 

Likewise, the verb’s derivative adjective, educado/a, describes someone who is educated both in knowledge and in the world: As learned as they are well mannered and personable. A critical thinker. A compassionate human. The kind of person you want on your team, in your group, and at your workplace. 

International Schools: Trending Toward Global Success

international school growth up 518 percentThis transition to a well-rounded education and international schooling has accelerated for expatriate and national families in every corner of the globe.

Over the last 20+ years, international school options have expanded rapidly. A recent report from ISC Research summarizes this trend in great detail: In one generation, the number of international school students worldwide has grown over 500%, from less than 1,000,000 to nearly 6,000,000 students. The driving factor: Parents understand that a quality education is one of the best investments they can make in their children’s future.

CRIA is one of the best Costa Rica international schools, not only for our rigorous college preparatory program but for our three-pronged, individualized approach to education

  • Think: We teach our students how to learn, to help them develop the critical thinking skills that will carry them through a lifetime of success.
  • Aspire: At CRIA, we care about our students’ goals and aspirations. Instead of trying to hammer square pegs into round holes, we have designed our curriculum around a wide range of student interests, including sports, the visual and performing arts, universal values, health, bilingual language opportunities, and leadership/team participation in co-curricular activities, among others.
  • Achieve: Our student-focused program fosters a positive growth mindset rooted in hard work, perseverance, and personal responsibility. Our students – your children – truly are the future, and we work every day to make it a bright one.

Strength in Numbers: The Best Costa Rica International Schools Believe in Education Equity

water polo swimming pool at CRIAVoting with your feet resides at the heart of this education evolution: In almost every country, there is strong demand for Western-oriented, English-medium international schools. And within those schools, there are large communities of administrators, educators, and families who lobby for equity of access to quality education, for ALL students. 

The result, especially in a country like Costa Rica – located close to the United States and Canada and, thus, well-positioned for nearshore contracts and employment – is a strengthening of English-language learning throughout the private and public school systems, further leveling the playing field for even the most disadvantaged students. As another maxim goes, a rising tide lifts all boats 

And, it’s true: As this graph from the University of Winnipeg demonstrates, the English language has become a requirement in public school systems across many countries. Out of a total 195 countries worldwide, nearly 3 out of 4 countries include mandatory English language learning in their K-12 public schools. Of the remaining countries, 21% offer an option to learn English within their local curriculum.  

It is clear that humanity, as a whole, has “voted with their feet,” not only in determining that a strong command of the English language is of utmost importance, but that all students should have access to this opportunity. 

Private School Choice is Set to Grow Worldwide

A common assumption is that the 6M+ students referenced above hail from upper-class families. We’ll explore costs and affordability more in detail in our next post, but the short version is that this assumption is untrue: Not only do the top international schools pursue equality in education, but many of the best options are mid-market tuition schools that offer quality international education for a moderate price. 

In part, this is due to globalization, digital nomadism, and other factors of work and life: More and more adults are working abroad than ever before, and they’re no longer only C-level executives. These families require affordable English-language education options for their children. This, paired with strong demand from national families who seek similar opportunities for their next generation, has driven exponential growth in these mid-market, academically rigorous international schools. 

As a result, private international schools in the Western academic tradition are the flagship programs of choice in each country, including Costa Rica. The programs offer overwhelmingly English-medium curricula, with a strong emphasis on learning the mother tongue (or lingua franca) of the region where they are living. 

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that in Costa Rica, the development of quality private international schools is not only promoted, but legally protected within the Constitution? We’ll also explore this topic more in depth, in a later post, but suffice it to say that our country is a microcosm for the world: an example of a strong English-medium curriculum with a solid emphasis on Spanish, the country’s official language.

Vote with Your Feet: Choosing the Right International in Costa Rica

2019 CRIA graduation photo

Families around the world choose international schools foremost for a quality academic education, taught in the English language and in the Western tradition. They choose these schools to open doors for their children, especially to home-country, university-level academic disciplines with a strong foundation in both English and the local language.

At the best Costa Rica international schools, including at CRIA, we place a strong emphasis on equipping our students not only with English but also with academic Spanish, to help them become effective communicators in one of the fastest-growing and most widely spoken world languages. Our Spanish-language curriculum includes music, PE, swimming, art, and Costa Rican Social Studies, under the standards of the Costa Rica Ministry of Education (MEP). 

We strongly and diligently support student (and parental) aspirations for bilingualism. And we provide the rigorous college preparatory program to match. As a result, study abroad opportunities and international university education options open up, typically in the top two countries of choice: the US and the UK. As of 2019, out of 5.3 million overseas university students, over 1.1 million study in the US and nearly 497,000 in the UK.

And, in fact, the demand for international university placements is nothing short of phenomenal: By 2025, it is expected that nearly 8 million students will commit to undertaking their university studies abroad. And for every one of those 8 million students, academic English proficiency will be essential to access the most valuable programs in the humanities and sciences.

So now, the ball’s in your court: As parents, you can vote with your feet. You can create and fuel demand for the elements of education that you care most about. You can contribute to equitable education for all. And you can complement your mindful parenting with education that values and fosters your children’s abilities, interests, and aspirations.

Interested in joining the CRIA family?

It all begins with your choice of the best Costa Rica international schools. We hope you’ll consider CRIA. 

We’d love to meet your family and learn about your journey to researching private schools in Costa Rica. Learn more about the CRIA admissions process and get in touch to schedule a campus visit. We look forward to it!