The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost.
Maya Frost has written a rather astonishing (to me, at least) how-to book. While her focus is ostensibly on how living and studying overseas is a powerful alternative to the standard US educational path, it is also much more.
The Frost family, Maya, Tom and four daughters, were living in Portland, OR when they decided — with three daughters in high school — to move to Mexico. In addition to moving the family overseas, each of the girls spent their junior year of high school in a foreign exchange program in another country, independently of the family.
The family was fortunate that both parents were able to handle their work virtually, so finances were not an issue. In fact, Frost explained that living overseas helped them save substantial amounts toward the girls’ college educations.
The result of all this internationalization, according to Frost, is students who graduated from college earlier than their peers, with substantially lower costs, no debt, and opportunities galore.
Under the heading, “Top Ten Reasons to Read This Book,” she begins:
“This is not your typical college-prep handbook. In fact, The New Global Student is more like the anti-college prep handbook.
“Instead, this eye-popping how-to guide offers tips, ticks, and only-if-you’ve been there secrets to show frazzled parents and students how to completely avoid the traditional hypercompetitive path to that golden university diploma and surge ahead with flaming enthusiasm and red-hot qualifications for life (and work) in the global economy.”
Quoting a variety of educational and other experts, and with testimonies from global students, including her own children, Frost cogently and wittily describes how diverging from the beaten path can help students (and their families) in some expected and unexpected ways.
Frost is a strong advocate for a junior-year abroad. Junior year of high school, that is. Frost writes:
“I’ve had three tearful goodbyes with my daughters when they went abroad during high school . . . and I can assure you that the sadness and worry you feel as a parent will be completely overridden by the thrill of seeing your child become utterly transformed into a young adult with a heap of remarkable skills that he or she could never have gained by staying home with you.”
Frost discusses the typical US “4×4” educational system of four years of high school followed by four years of college, and then gives examples of students who have followed different paths. One of them even managed to parlay her international experience into getting into Wellesley College without graduating from high school!
“Emily Montgomery spent a year in Hungary on an AFS exchange, and after she returned to Texas, she figured out how to get into Wellesley without actually graduating from high school or even taking the GED!”
You can read more about Emily and the other students featured in the book on Frost’s blog.
Even more powerful than the message of possibility for students, however, is Frost’s clear exposition of the reasons why taking the leap to move yourself into another country and another culture at any age is a positive and growth-promoting adventure. Frost challenges the idea that choosing a popular path ensures happiness, or that “stuff” is evidence of happiness.
Finally, Frost provides a “snappy comeback cheat sheet” of responses to those well-meaning family members and friends who just don’t understand. She tells us that “the hardest part of taking the big leap is not the leap itself but dealing with those who warn you about slipping into a dark and terrifying crevasse.” She advises readers to “respond with sass and snark. . . . Wait, did I say that? I meant humor and grace.”
Whether you have children or not, if you have ever toyed for five minutes with the idea of living in another country, you should read this book. If nothing else, it will show you where your life at home could be improved by straying from the beaten path.
Come to think of it, didn’t Robert Frost write a poem about that years ago?