What are Chavagnes qualifications worth to me?

This advice is intended primarily for older boys who are either nearing completion of their High School studies, or who have already completed High School. Chavagnes is a realistic and attractive alternative to studying in the USA for AP tests, or for older teenage boys who are looking for a way of completing their High School studies overseas with our equivalent of a High School Diploma. Attendance at Chavagnes, in fact, offers a number of distinctive advantages for boys in these categories.

Firstly, a little information by way of introduction to the British school and examination system (Chavagnes awards UK-validated qualifications from University of Cambridge International Exams and AQA exams).

US students can complete high school at age 17 before being admitted to university, whereas UK students generally complete GCSEs at age 16, then complete A-levels at age 18 before being admitted to university. Although there are no official equivalencies between the US and UK education systems, most UK and US educators agree that a US high school diploma (without AP courses) can be roughly compared to five GCSE passes at grade C and above. A US high school diploma with AP courses can be roughly compared to GCSEs plus A-levels.

So, for example, a British student holding GCSEs when he or she enters the US may be academically more advanced than US students of the same age. US students experiencing the British system for the first time at 15-18 years of age may find it more demanding than they had expected. However, by concentrating on a smaller number of subjects, there ought to be no difficulty. Pupils who have been studying at top level private schools in the US may be at a much higher level than ones from the public school system and may find our level about the same as what they know back home. Some of our American students have also noted that the mathematics program demanded by the GCSE qualification is very different what they experienced at home:  By taking a more integrated approach (as opposed to the more rigid separation of different topics in maths, such as separate courses in algebra and geometry), students were able to both review material they had already covered and explore new ideas without sacrificing extra time to multiple maths courses.

Because the academic level of a US High School Diploma achieved without AP coursework can be as much as 2 or 3 years behind the British A-level standard, most UK universities will not accept American-educated students holding a high school diploma without any additional honors, such as AP test results or SAT subject tests. UK universities and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) recognise AP exams as equivalent to A-levels. If a US student has taken A-level exams and obtained reasonable grades, then university entrance in the UK is not a problem.

Depending on your educational achievements to date when you come to Chavagnes, if you are in the 16-19 age range (or a clever 15-year-old!) then you can expect to leave us after one or two years with either your 5 GCSE exams at grade C or above (equivalent of a High School Diploma) and/or a selection of AS and A-level qualifications. AS exams, in case you are wondering, are qualifications awarded for the successful study of about half of the syllabus for an A-level.

If you return to the States with 2-4 A-levels with reasonable grades, you may find that you are issued credit and dispensed from some or even the majority of courses for the first year of university. This depends, of course, on your choice of university and your choice of subjects.

What will you study?

If you have already obtained you High School Diploma, then we would enrol you for a course of study in at least 3 separate A-level subjects. Some of these subjects can be completed in one year, but most take two years. However, it is possible to take half courses leading to AS-level examinations. Typically, then, an American student attending Chavagnes and already having completed his High School Diploma, could take a whole A-level in Religious Studies, perhaps another in English Language if his written English is good, plus 2 or 3 other subjects at AS-level only (for example, Mathematics, History, French, Literature, etc). A portfolio of 2 A-levels plus 1, 2 or 3 AS-levels would be sufficient for entrance to a UK university, and would set you in very good stead for entrance to a US university. We can also arrange for you to take SATs here in Europe. If you make your application to Chavagnes in plenty of time, we can plan carefully so as to make the best out of your stay in terms of academic progress and examination success.

If you have not yet obtained your High School Diploma, then the priority at Chavagnes would be to help you through at least 5 GCSE subjects, including Mathematics.  Depending on your existing academic level, this can usually be done in 1 academic year.

Subjects studied at Chavagnes include: History, English Literature, English Language, Music, French, German, Spanish, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Religious Studies, Latin and Philosophy. Your personal study plan will be drawn up from this list of available subjects according to what seems the best approach for you in order to gain maximum fulfilment and examination success from your course of study. If you have an ear for languages, then that is something we can really help you to exploit, here in the heart of Europe.

Great preparation for university

Chavagnes students over the last few years have succeed in obtaining places, and scholarships, to such prestigious institutions as Oxford University, the American Business School of Paris and Thomas Aquinas College in the USA.

Chavagnes enjoys good relations with the Admissions departments of several UK and French universities and can help you put together a successful application should you wish to move on to university level studies in Europe after your course at Chavagnes. We can also help you with your US university application and already enjoy good relations with a number of Catholic university-level institutions in the USA and understand their requirements.

In summary, then, British qualifications are highly regarded in the USA and Canada. They stand you in good stead for university admissions both in Europe and in North America. So one or two years at Chavagnes could really make a positive difference to your educational future.

A special Study Abroad Program has been launched for September 2009, aimed specifically at US students. Check out : Catholic Study Abroad Programs for Boys


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