Frequently Asked Questions

Additional information for international students

How old do I have to be to study in Buffalo Trail Public Schools?

In Alberta, most high school students are between 14 and 18 years old. Students must be less than 20 years old as of September 1 of the school year to study in an Alberta high school.

We accept students from grade 7 to grade 12.

Please contact Buffalo Trail Public Schools for more information.

What courses can I take?

As an international student you will have three different types of classes:

1. Required classes

To graduate, all students must study the following subjects:

                    • English or French language arts
                    • Mathematics
                    • Sciences
                    • Social studies
                    • Physical education
                    • Career and Life Management (CALM).

2. Optional classes

The availability of optional classes varies from school to school. Optional courses may include the following:

                    • Second languages
                    • Fine arts
                    • Music
                    • Health
                    • Foods
                    • Yoga
                    • Personal and social skills training
                    • Vocational training
                    • Computer and technology studies

3. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes

Students who require English language support are generally enrolled in ESL classes, which helps students adjust to english as well as to the cultural values, customs and social expectations that they will encounter while in Alberta. ESL programs vary from school to school and from authority to authority.

Do I get to choose my classes or are they chosen for me?

School administrators and the International Student Program will help you in making the best personal and educational choices. They will work with you to arrange your class schedule when you arrive at your school.

To determine which classes would be most appropriate, school administrators consider:

                    • your interests
                    • previous school records
                    • your age
                    • English language proficiency

Will I receive credit for courses taken in my home country?

School administrators and the International Student Program will examine your transcripts. They will identify which courses can be credited in Alberta.

Do international students take the same classes as Canadian students?

Yes. Most of your classes, except for English as a Second Language (ESL), will be with Canadian students. Even in regular classes, teachers understand that you may be an English language learner.

How can I receive an Alberta High School diploma?

To get a basic High School diploma in Alberta you must accumulate 100 credits including the following:

  • English Language Arts – 30 Level (English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2)
  • Social Studies – 30 Level (Social Studies 30-1 or 30-2)
  • Mathematics – 20 Level (Mathematics 20-1, Mathematics 20-2 or Mathematics 20-3)
  • Science – 20 Level (Science 20, Science 24, Biology 20, Chemistry 20 or Physics 20)
  • Physical Education 10
  • Career and Life Management
  • 10 credits in any combination from:
      • Career and Technology Studies (CTS) courses
      • Fine Arts courses
      • Second Languages courses
      • Physical Education 20 and/or 30
      • Knowledge and Employability courses
      • Registered Apprenticeship Program courses
      • locally developed/acquired and authorized courses in CTS, fine arts, second languages or Knowledge and Employability occupational courses
  • 10 credits in any 30-level course (in addition to a 30-level English Language Arts and a 30-level social studies course as specified above)
      • 30-level locally developed/acquired and authorized courses
      • Advanced level (3000 series) in Career and Technology Studies courses
      • 30-level Work Experience courses
      • 30-level Knowledge and Employability courses
      • 30-level Registered Apprenticeship Program courses
      • 30-level Green Certificate Specialization courses
      • Special Projects 30

For further details, please refer to Graduation requirements, credentials and credits.

How long does it take to get an Alberta High School diploma?

It depends on a variety of things, including your level of English when you arrive in Alberta and courses you took in your home country.

In most cases, if you require English as a Second Language (ESL) support, it could take you longer to get the Alberta High School diploma than for a Canadian-born student. Many students take at least four years.

Will an Alberta High School diploma help me get into a good university?

The Alberta High School diploma is a symbol of a high quality education. If you have an Alberta diploma and maintain a good academic standing, you will be able to apply to most post-secondary institutions in Canada and the United States.

If you receive 75% or higher in English 30-1, you will not be required to write the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam to enter Canadian post-secondary institutions.

What do I bring?

Start with any official documents you might need at the border, or when you arrive at your school to begin your studies. It's also important to plan for Alberta's weather.

Alberta has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter:

                    • Spring can be wet, with some warm days
                    • Summer is very hot with temperatures reaching 30°C
                    • Fall can be windy and chilly
                    • Winter is cold with temperatures reaching -30°C

If you are arriving in fall or winter, you might want to bring the following items:

                    • sweater
                    • hat (in Canada, we call it a tuque)
                    • warm coat
                    • warm boots
                    • scarf
                    • mittens or insulated gloves

If you need to buy any clothing items, it is best to wait until you arrive in Canada.

If I already graduated from high school in my home country, can I apply to study in an Alberta high school?

School authorities may accept a student who graduated from high school in his or her home country, and who is still less than 20 years old.

Please contact Buffalo Trail Public Schools for more information.

Do you have an orientation week?

We do not have a week long orientation but we do have several orientation days prior to beginning each semester of school. Students arrive several days before the start of school to complete paper work, get to know one another and undergo English As Second Language (ESL) testing.

What day do you prefer the students to arrive?

  • Students should arrive 5 days prior to the start of school.

How much is an extra night?

  • $25.00 per night 3 meals included.

When do the students have vacations?

  • Students have 2 weeks at Christmas and 10 days at Easter in addition to several long weekends throughout the year.

Can they travel by themselves to different cities on vacation?

  • No, not unless we have specific written permission from the parents and travel is supported by the host family and the International Student Program.

Do you have “custodian program” how much would it cost?

  • Yes in order to set up guardianship the cost is usually about $25 to $50 in order to get the papers notarized that are required by the Embassy in order to issue the study visa.

Does the school arrange any trips or activities?

  • International Students usually have a trip to Banff, Edmonton and Calgary over the course of the school year. In addition there are other trips…such as ski trip open to the entire student body. In addition, there is an international club that organizes student activities.

Do we have to pay the rent directly to the host family or to the school?

  • You pay Buffalo Trail Public Schools through your FlyWire account and the school board makes payment to the host families.

Do you have French Immersion ?

  • Not at this time.

Do you assist in the revalidation process?

  • Yes we can send the documents to the Mexican, Colombian or Brazilian Embassy for revalidation.

Is there any cost for revalidation?

  • The cost is usually around $125.00 which is charged by the Embassy and the lawyer to notarize the documents. The fee includes shipping to the student by courier.

If students are unhappy with their homestay what happens??

  • We have a counsellor in each school who looks after international students. If problems arise they let us know at International Services. We try to work out the difficulties together. If after intervention the student is unhappy we will try to move the student to a new family.

Do international students take regular classes with Canadians? How is the timetable organized?

  • Yes, students take 4 to 5 - 80 minute classes a day. ( one or two of these classes will be ESL-depending on the level of the student. The other classes will be Canadian students. All students in Middle school and High School have individual timetables. Each class that you have will be with a different group of students.

How far are you from Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Jasper?

  • Calgary 417.8 kms
  • Edmonton 206.4 kms
  • Banff 645.3 kms
  • Jasper 572.9 kms

Is pick up at the airport included?

  • Yes at the Edmonton International Airports when you arrive and depart.

How should I bring money to Canada??

You can bring money in several formats:

                1. Travelers' Cheques
                2. Bank transfer to your newly opened bank account in Canada
                3. Use a bank card
                4. Visa travel money.

How do I get to and from school?

  • Buffalo Trail Public Schools provides free transportation for International Students to attend school from their Host Family's home.

Can I bring my own computer?

  • Many host families have a computer that can be shared by members of the family. There are many school computers for use, about one computer for every 3 students in Buffalo Trail Public Schools. If you decide to bring your own computer please keep in mind that it is to be used in common household areas of your host family. Students are not permitted to use their personal computer in their bedroom.

How much luggage can I bring?

  • Here is a link to the rules for Air Canada but you should check with your own airlines as rules vary a great deal.

How old do you have to be to be an International Student?

  • Most international students in our program are aged 13-18 Grades 7-12. The majority live with homestay families. We have younger international students in our program but they must live with a parent or relative in order to be accepted into the program.

What is the weather like in Canada and how do I prepare myself?

  • The seasons in Canada are:
        • Fall or Autumn - September 21 to December 20
            • In BTPS, the temperature range is from -15 to +20 degrees celsius (C). September is almost as warm as the summer but October through to December can often require winter clothing. Buy high-quality winter coats with hoods, long pants, sweaters and waterproof boots or shoes for your family.
        • Winter - December 21 to March 20
          • The temperature range is -25° to +3° C. Snow falls and stays on the ground most of the time. January and February are the coldest months of the year and can be bitterly cold. It can be so cold outside that it is dangerous to go out with any skin exposed. Get thermal underwear tops and bottoms and wool socks for your family. Windproof hats, thick mittens, scarves and warm, waterproof boots are essential.
      • Spring - March 21 to June 20
          • The temperature range is -6° to +21° C and there is a lot of rain during this period. In March and April, you will need to wear sweaters and windproof and rainproof jackets and rainproof shoes. In May and June it gets warm enough to go outside without a coat on.
      • Summer - June 21 to September 20
        • The temperature range is 11° to 30° C. Summer is sometimes very hot while at other times it is wet and windy. Your family should have shorts and T-shirts but also sweaters and long pants. To find out the weather for the day, listen to any radio station or look at the front page of any newspaper. Another resource is Environment Canada's website . The weather report gives the temperature in degrees Celsius and information on the amount of rain, snow and sun that we will have.
  • Another way to decide what to wear is to look outside and see what most people walking by are wearing. However, it is always better to put on extra layers of clothing if you are not sure of how many you will need. Then you can take one or two layers off if you get too hot during the day. It is especially important, if you have children, that they are warmly dressed for school as part of the day is spent outdoors.
  • If you are not used to Northern Climates, talk to the staff about other ways to prepare yourself so that it is not such a shock. Despite the cold, there are a lot of fun activities you can do in the winter if you are warmly dressed.

How can I reduce Culture Shock?

  • Feelings of anxiety from being immersed in a new culture is called CULTURE SHOCK. Although Canadians come from a very wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the environment is bound to be different than the one you are used to, and many things will be done differently and can cause confusion.
  • Most of your experiences in Canada are going to be pleasant ones. However, if you have a disagreeable experience, please talk it over with someone of your cultural background who has been in BTPS for a while, or discuss it with one of the International Student Program staff. Through discussion with others, feelings of anxiety or anger can be diffused and made easier to cope with.
  • Another way to help you understand and manage the differences in culture and values is to learn about the history and culture of the community. Participate in activities that include Canadians and International students and their family members. This will lead to friendships that will enable you to cope with culture shock.

Here are some ways offered by the Buffalo Trail Public Schools International Student Program staff to learn more about Canada and Canadians.

  • Orientation Program Buffalo Trail Public Schools
  • Bus trips to Calgary, Edmonton and Banff
  • Holiday Dinners and Activities
  • Skating and Winter Activities

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact us at BTPS International Student Program email: