San Jose - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great schools here, with many to choose from. Majority of Embassy children attend Country Day School, but there are at least four others with Embassy kids. We chose a smaller Costa Rican private school so our son can learn Spanish. He can also walk to school supervised, which is rare here. - Sep 2020

Lots of choice, lots of schools. Good quality, decent teachers, overall, not the worst we have seen with international schools. - Jul 2018

There are pretty good school choices, except that the largest international school (CDS) that was relatively close to the Embassy is now moving very far out into the countryside along a toll highway. Given the pain of traffic, I can't recommend any Embassy families that they choose CDS with its new site. Since expat kids in San Jose are spread out among several international schools, each school has relatively few native-English speaking students, and each school's student body comes overwhelmingly from Spanish-speaking families. - Feb 2016

Several international schools get mixed reviews. Many embassy families go to Country Day. Our smaller ones go to the nearest Montessori. They love it. We like the school but get annoyed at frequent long holidays. - Apr 2014

There is a very large selection of schools to choose from. Embassy families have chosen to spread their children out to many different schools that fit their individual needs. The big ones are: CDS (Country Day School, however this school will not accept childen with any type of learning disability), AIS (American International School), SEAS (only to grade 5 or 6), Lighthouse, Blue Valley, Tree of Life & Lincoln. Additional ones are Marian Baker, St. Jude, Washington School, and PanAm. There are others as well. SEAS & AIS are capable of working with learning delayed children. Most schools require an entrance exam. We have a senior at AIS. For the most part we have been extremely happy. They have accommodated him with extra tutoring and assistance for certain subjects. In fact, they have allowed him two extra attempts to take a final in order to pass the class and receive credit. I've had several friends state that they've had bullying issues at CDS. Depending on your housing, school commutes can be long. From Escazu to AIS, the commute is approximately 45 minutes. For Lincoln, 45-1hr. From Santa Ana the commute to AIS is 30min. CDS, Blue Valley & Lighthouse are the closet schools to the Escazu area. Please note that Blue Valley, PanAm, St. Jude & other schools operate on a Feb - Nov school schedule. CDS, AIS, Lincoln, and SEAS all operate on an American calendar Aug - June. - Jun 2013

There are 3 main International Schools. CDS, AIS & Lincoln. CDS is the closest to the Embassy and most Embassy homes so most of the Embassy kids attend CDS. AIS & Lincoln are pretty far and a long commute but their campuses are very large and beautiful. CDS has the lowest standard facilites compares to the other two schools. - Aug 2011

From intimate knowledge and personal experience, the American International School is a real mess. There are serious controversies and challenges with the board, teachers, and parents. HOWEVER, when I was there, most of the problems were confined to the high school, rather than the elementary school, and my children had a pretty good experience there, despite all the problems. If your child has special needs, they have the best special needs program in the country. My children did not have special needs, and that was part of the problem - the school tilts heavily in favor towards this population. This is positive in the sense that there is a real need to be filled, and the other schools aren't doing as good a job. Country Day School is generally the ex-pat school of choice. It has an international population with a distinctly American cultural emphasis. Many of my children's friends went there (we couldn't afford it). It is definitely the school for the wealthy expats, and super wealthy Costa Ricans and others. They have great activities. I do know kids who had problems with a teacher, etc., but I know this can happen anywhere. Lincoln and British school have a serious reputation among ex-pat kids I have talked to as being very culturally insular and biased against American and foreign kids. They also have a reputation for excellent academics. Do not consider unless your child is young enough to learn Spanish language and culture quickly and blend in, and you have enough money not to feel like an outcast. I speak Spanish fluently, but this still would have been a problem. - Jul 2008

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More