International School Hunting in Seoul

education, expat living, life in korea

My son is turning 7 on November. That means he will be in first grade… in June if we are in the Philippines, last March if he started attending a Korean school, and in August if he goes to an international school.

Since we are here in Seoul, he will be attending an international school. And I have narrowed down our choices to 3: Seoul Foreign School, Yongsan International School of Seoul, and Dwight International School.

For those who are planning to send their kids to an international school here in Seoul, these schools have a common eligibility requirement as set by Korean law:

    • one or both of the student’s parents holds a foreign passport; or
    • in case both of the student’s parents are Korean nationals, the student must have resided in a foreign country for at least three years

I spent months researching on which school to send our son to. Even when I was still in the Philippines, I was already keeping in touch with the Directors for Admissions of these 3 schools. And they were all prompt with their replies and patient with my questions. But, mind you, I haven’t made up my mind until this week.

So, to help out parents who will be coming over or who are planning to send their kids to an international school here in Seoul, here are the requirements and contact details of each school I listed above:

Seoul Foreign School (email: admissions@seoulforeign.org)

  • Passport copies of parents and child
  • Copy (front and back) of Alien Certificate of Registration
  • Child is a fluent English speaker
  • Request for confidential teacher recommendation (to be passed by teacher through email)
  • SFS Admissions test
  • Writing test

Dwight International School (email: admissions@dwight.or.kr)

  • Copies of passport of parents and student
  • Proof of eligibility
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Assessment of student health form
  • Bus application (if applicable)
  • 3 color pictures
  • 1 letter of recommendation from homeroom teacher
  • Academic records for the current year plus previous 2 years
  • Most recent standardized test

Yongsan International School of Seoul (email: admissions@yisseoul.org)

  • Completed application for admission
  • Copy of passport of student and parents
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • 2 passport size pictures
  • Copy of school records
  • Copy of recent standardized results
  • Teacher recommendation form
  • Health information or physician’s examination form

For an easier comparison of rates, here is a tabular presentation for the 3 school’s 2013-2014 rates:

Items

Dwight School Seoul

Seoul Foreign School

Yongsan International School of   Seoul

Tuition 17,745,000   KRW   +6,300
USD
18,370,000   KRW +7,960   USD 17,545,000   KRW (A)+4,605,600   KRW (B)2,000   USD
Application   fee 100,000 KRW (payable at   time of application) 300 USD   (non-refundable; to be paid when application is submitted) 300,000 KRW (payable   upon interview)
Assessment   Fee 300,000   KRW (due before interview and assessment)
Registration   fee 550,000 KRW (billed   when student is admitted) 400,000 KRW (yearly   for both new and returning students)
Capital   fee (one time) 5,000,000   KRW (non-refundable) 5,000,000   KRW 5,000,000   KRW
Returning   student capital development fee 1,000,000 KRW   (non-refundable yearly fee)
Book   deposit 200,000   KRW (refundable)
Bus   Fee 2,300,000 KRW 2,500,000 KRW 2,050,000
ELL   fee (requirement to take an English proficiency exam) 2,000,000
Technology 150,000
School   Uniform 1,000,000   KRW (approximately) Not   available Not   available
School   Meals (daily) 5,000 KRW (daily)910,000 KRW (full   year)
Parents’   Association Fee 25,000   KRW (non-refundable)

Honestly, I would have really wanted my son to get into the Seoul Foreign School (SFS). My husband and I were concerned though because the Admissions Director was quite straightforward when she told me that because my son is currently not enrolled, this might work to his disadvantage. This, despite the difference in school year schedule of the Philippine school system. He has already graduated from Kindergarten. It would be impractical for us to enroll him again in a Kindergarten class so we opted to wait until the August opening. We just can’t pay 300USD for his application fee knowing that he might possibly not make it because of this particular issue or SFS might recommend that we enroll him in their Kindergarten class which finishes in June. Hmmm… impractical and the tuition fee rates are quite steep. Unlike the other 2 schools, SFS requires this 300USD payment prior to submission of the application form. The other 2 schools receive the application form and the supporting documents and the applicant will only be billed of the corresponding fee upon schedule of testing/interview.

With this monetary consideration, it would have been impractical for us to go testing for each school. Though hubby’s company is paying, we have to spend wisely as though we are the ones paying. That’s exactly the reason why hubby has his company’s confidence. We decided to focus on one school instead.

We opted for Dwight International School. It is the newest international school here in Seoul and its campus and facilities are new. It carries with it the history and qualifications of The Dwight Schools from New York, London, Canada and Beijing. And, of course, I didn’t fail to check the qualifications of its teachers and staff:-).

August will be a big event in our family. We are officially sending our Firstborn to Grade 1.

How time flies… not long ago, I was just cradling him in my arms:-)…

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