What are the Differences Between US and Canadian Schools?

Written By Sally Forsyth

Thinking of studying in Canada? Canada is a huge country with friendly people, lots of space for outdoor activities in all seasons and some great cities with loads of different activities to enjoy!  The Canadian school system is pretty similar to the US school system, although there are some differences. There are in fact many similarities between the Canadian educational system and the British school system which may account for the differences from US high schools.

Canadian schools follow a provincial curriculum and students often take unique provincial exams depending on the province where the school is situated. However, many schools offer A.P courses just like US schools. If you study at a Canadian high school you are generally not required to take the SAT exams for university entrance, unlike  US universities. In many schools, students are required to wear uniforms which is less common in the U.S.

The terminology is often different as well which is partially due to the close links between Canada and Great Britain. For example, in Canada, extracurricular activities are called co-curricular activities. Junior HIgh is referred to as Middle School and Canadian schools do not use terms like Sophomore, Junior and Senior they just say Grades 9, Grade 10 and so on. There are many top Canadian secondary schools for international students where you may consider applying to study abroad! Let's have a closer look at some of these top schools which might be the high school you are looking for.

Kelowna Christian School

Kelowna Christian School is situated in Kelowna, a city in the eastern part of the province of  British Columbia, about a four-hour drive from Vancouver. The city is in the Okanagan Valley, on the shore of beautiful Okanagan Lake, surrounded by parks, pine forests, orchards, and mountains.  Kelowna is a great place to live if you like hiking, water sports and easy access to skiing in the mountains during the wintertime.

Kelowna Christian School is quite a large school with over 750 students. The good news is that the school provides their own host families for international students and also offers an English Language Support Program to help students advance in English language proficiency,

Kelowna Christian School considers itself to be one of the strongest academy schools in the province. Although it does not offer AP classes, it does prepare students to excel in the provincial exams set by the province of British Columbia. It also believes in teaching students about the importance of service to the local community and beyond. Students volunteer with local organizations as well as offering the opportunity to travel internationally to serve communities abroad. Co-curricular activities are also really important at Kelowna Christian School. There is a wide range of music and drama activities as well as a variety of athletic options to choose from.

Rothesay  Netherwood School

Rothesay Netherwood School is located in the town of Rothesay next to the city of St John, in the province of New Brunswick on the eastern  Atlantic seaboard of Canada. Rothesay Netherwood School offers day and boarding options for students. It has an impressive campus with fully equipped facilities including a performing arts center and a memorial arena. It is a relatively small school with less than 300 students which follows the New Brunswick provincial curriculum, but also offers the prestigious International Baccalaureate DIploma program in grades 11 and 12. The IB DIploma program is accepted in universities all over the world and is excellent preparation for university courses.

The school welcomes international students from around the world and has a very diverse student body. At present, there are more than 15 countries represented within the school population. There is an ESL program for students to support them in their English language learning as they progress throughout the curriculum. International students have the option of boarding on the school campus or staying with local host families organized by the school.

The school has a vibrant Arts program including visual arts and design, theater and music, Plus the school has its own Festival of the Arts designed to promote the arts in the local community. It places a high emphasis on sports and athletics and every student is expected to participate in physical activity for at least one hour a day. All students must get involved in co-curricular activities and there is a wide variety of choices depending on the time of year. Examples of co-curricular activities are badminton and yoga. rugby, rowing, and hockey. There are also lots of clubs such as debate club, model united nations club and peer leadership club.

Halifax Christian School

Halifax Christian School is situated in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Atlantic eastern seaboard, It is a small school of about 100 students and the campus is about a 30-minute drive from Halifax International Airport.

The high school has a strong curriculum to prepare students for university and also offers a wide variety of AP courses. Students can also take online courses through Atlantic Education online. In the wintertime, students can choose skiing or snowboarding as their co-curricular option and there are many choices of different sports during other seasons as well. The school provides its own host families for international students. If you like a small town family environment then this may be the perfect school for you.

Great Lakes Christian High Schools

Great Lakes Christian High School is a small day and boarding school in Beamsville, Ontario. Beamsville is about one hour south of Toronto and about 30 minutes drive from Niagara Falls. The school has a spacious campus with male and female dorms on site.

Although it is a small school, there is a high ratio of about 45 percent of international students within the student body. ESL classes are available and count for credits towards their high school diploma. During the school year, there are many trips available for international students to get to know different parts of Canada. A small school has its advantages as it will be easier for international students to make friends and be part of the community.

The school offers two housing options for international students. They can either stay with a host family provided by the school or stay in the dorms on campus. The academic curriculum is rigorous and in accordance with the Ontario provincial curriculum which is great preparation for university studies in either Canada or the United States.

Metropolitan Preparatory Academy

Metropolitan Preparatory Academy is a prestigious school situated in the heart of Toronto which focuses on giving its students excellent preparation for university.The school has a dynamic ESL program to help international students engage with the academic content of the courses they choose. It also has its own homestay program with school families living close to the school, closely supervised by the Homestay Director. Metro Prep also offers a unique ESL summer program for young people who want to study at the school or who simply want to improve their English.

Metro Prep has a demanding academic curriculum and also offers AP courses in a variety of subjects. It is also has a unique creative program called SMITH: the School for music, integrated arts, theater and humanities which focuses on developing students' creativity and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. Metro Prep also has a really impressive sports and athletics program including sports like golf, badminton, ultimate frisbee and of course hockey.

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About the author

Sally Forsyth is a High school English teacher and an educational coach. She has worked in national and internatonal schools in different countries and different school systems, She is also the founder of CoachMyFuture, a coaching organization focusing on coaching teachers and educators in the educational sector.

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