A co-educational, non-sectarian, independent school serving grades PreK through 8th since 1982

International Students

Almaden Country School is pleased to welcome young men and women from around the globe to study in the dynamic, exciting learning environment of Silicon Valley. ACS prepares international students to be confident, creative, well-rounded and academically-prepared for the rigorous American high schools and colleges to which they apply.

Our Process

Almaden Country School is authorized by the US Government to issue I-20 visas. I-20s are issued after a student has been accepted and enrolled for admission. We admit international students in grades 6-8, and issue I-20s for potential students to obtain their F-1 visas. (We may also admit students in grades K-5 who have an exceptionally strong family support network in San Jose.) We work with selected partner agencies for recruitment of international applicants and for homestay placement in San Jose.

A list of our approved partner agencies that can assist you during the admission process will be coming soon.

Generally we do not admit students who are not registered with one of our partner agencies. If you can provide evidence that your child will be living with an immediate family member for the entire duration of his or her studies at ACS, and in other respects you can show that your child has an outstanding support network in San Jose, we may waive the agency requirement.

Very Important: Almaden Country School does not provide housing, transportation, medical insurance, or formal English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for international students. Any of our partner agencies may be able to assist with these needs. International students who apply must be proficient in reading and writing English (please see below).

Admission Requirements

ACS requires a high level of English proficiency as measured by a TOEFL Junior test score and performance in a personal/webcam interview during the admission process. ACS will provide limited ESL support to international students; this service is included in the international tuition fee (please see International Student Coordinator, below).

International Admission Criteria:

  • English proficiency test score: Applicants for grades 6-8 must score at least 845 on the TOEFL Jr., or 5.0 minimum on the iTEP SLATE. Students also need to be able to listen and speak with us comfortably during a 30-minute interview (in person or via webcam).
  • Official original transcript (photocopies are not accepted) with translation in English showing grades for current year and prior two years; these records must be sealed and stamped
  • Math teacher recommendation (digital photographs of current math book and student math work is strongly recommended)
  • English teacher recommendation
  • Additional teacher recommendation
  • Writing sample, handwritten
  • International Student Questionnaire - to be provided upon completion of application materials and enrollment fee
  • Affidavit of Support completed by parent, guardian, or clergy – to be provided upon completion of application materials and enrollment fee
  • Passport photocopy
  • Financial Disclosure Form, filled out by the parent or guardian
  • Bank statement in English (identification must match Affidavit of Support)
  • $350 application fee
  • Skype interview with ACS faculty and administrators, after all written documentation has been received

After all application materials have been submitted and received initial approval, we schedule an interview. If the student is not able to meet with us onsite at ACS, the interview can be completed via webcam. The guardian or host family is also interviewed. Final admissions decisions are made by the ACS Admissions Committee if the application is received before the Priority Consideration deadline.

Once a student’s application is complete, the ACS Admissions Committee will assess the entire file and determine whether to accept the student.

Upon admission to Almaden Country School, applicants must submit complete immunization records that are translated in English, and agree to adhere to California State statutes requiring that all students be immunized.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who are the Admissions staff?

Mary Jo Heindel
Director of Admissions
+1 (408) 997-0424 x295

Amber White
Advancement Associate
+1 (408) 997-0424 x289

For assistance during summer months:
Jennifer Glasser
Assistant Head of School
+1 (408) 997-0424 x222

What high schools do ACS international students attend?

Our international student graduates can matriculate to any of more than 25 rigorous private, public, and parochial high schools within 45 minutes of the Almaden Country School campus, and some choose to attend schools located farther down the coast or closer to San Francisco. Two of the high schools our graduates attend (York in Monterey and Georgiana Bruce Kirby in Santa Cruz) extend priority enrollment status to our international graduates; this special arrangement makes admission to these two schools very likely for ACS graduates who demonstrated strong academic ability and excellent citizenship in our middle school.

Does ACS have an ESL program?

ACS does not provide English as a Second Language classes for our international students. Because our international students are combined with American students in all of our challenging classes, each student we accept must possess strong English skills. Successful applicants demonstrate this knowledge through a score of 75 or better on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), a score of at least 845 on the TOEFL Jr., or an iTEP SLATE minimum score of 5.0. Students also need to be able to listen and speak with us comfortably during the 30-minute interview (in person or via webcam).

What additional support do international students receive at ACS? (What does the International Student Coordinator do?)

While Almaden Country School does not offer ESL classes, we do provide an International Student Coordinator (ISC) dedicated to the welfare of our international students, and this teacher is ESL-trained and certified. The ISC meets with international students individually and in groups for four periods per week, reviewing their questions about their studies and schoolwork and helping them address any academic or social difficulties they may be having in class or in their extracurricular activities.

The ISC also helps our international students acculturate to life at Almaden Country School, in California, and in the United States. The ISC also serves as a liaison to the international students’ homestay families, their parents, and their teachers, maintaining communication about the students’ progress, needs, and concerns so that every international student thrives during their time at Almaden Country School.

At what grade levels can international students apply to ACS?

We recommend entering our school in grade 6 or 7. We do not accept students in grade 8 who are new to the United States. Students with outstanding family support and who will live full-time with immediate family while attending ACS are welcome to apply to grades K-5.

Do you take new international students in the spring semester (i.e. students who begin at ACS in early January)?

Generally, we require that international students begin at the start of an academic year, entering for our fall trimester (beginning the first week in September). Occasionally, we do accept an international student for the spring semester if the student has been in the U.S. school system for at least one year, has earned strong grades, and demonstrates excellent written and spoken English skills.

When is the application due?

The early date to return completed applications, along with the application fee, is March 1 for Priority Consideration. Applications received after this date will be reviewed after the Priority Consideration applicants have been evaluated and placed.

What can I do to increase my chance of acceptance into Almaden Country School’s International Student Program?

Students have the highest likelihood of acceptance if they apply before the Priority Consideration deadline in March and can demonstrate the following: A high level of skill when speaking and writing in English; outstanding grades in their current school; excellent teacher recommendations; and involvement in programs that they will continue to pursue once accepted to Almaden Country School (such as music, dance, theater, sports, clubs, etc.). We value well-rounded students and find they tend to fit in better here, since ACS has a whole-child philosophy rather than focusing only on academic achievement.

What is required to get an F-1 visa necessary to attend ACS?

International students must obtain an F-1 visa from their local US Embassy to attend school in the United States for more than one year. In order to obtain an F-1 visa, an international student must first apply and be accepted to attend a SEVIS-approved school, such as Almaden Country School. After the student has been accepted by ACS and his or her family returns the Enrollment Contract and fee to us, we issue an I-20 form in the student’s name, and send it via certified mail courier to the student in his or her home country. The student then takes this form to the local U.S. Embassy and requests an F-1 visa.

How do I get an application?

Go to to our Admissions page to apply. Applications open in November each year.

Does Almaden Country School board students or find homestay families?

ACS does not board international students or directly place students in homestays. For information on our partner agencies that assist with homestay placements, please contact our Admissions Office.

What are the requirements for guardians and host families?

Guardians and host families are screened and registered by professional homestay agencies that most of our international families enlist to place their children in safe, wholesome homes close to ACS. The international student’s guardian should have a Limited Power of Attorney form signed and on file with us so that we can share information related to the student’s academic standing and personal wellness, as needed. The Limited Power of Attorney form should be written to provide the guardian with legal authority to make decisions about the student’s health, education and general welfare.

What is it like to live in San Jose?

Our students love living in San Jose! As the capitol of Silicon Valley, San Jose is at the center of the tech world, featuring access to companies such as eBay, PayPal, Google, Netflix, Apple, Facebook, and more. Many of our students enjoy our popular after school-sports programs (volleyball, basketball, flag football, track and field), along with skateboarding, surfing, biking, hiking, and gaming, among other activities. San Jose boasts many attractive amenities, including a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, universities, professional and college sports, theater, access to world-class hiking, skiing, cycling and running, camping, fishing, golfing, and more. From San Jose, the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk and beaches are less than an hour’s drive, with all the attractions of San Francisco just an hour to the north. The South Bay Area has some of the nicest weather in the entire world, with daytime temperatures ranging from 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) in the summer to 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius) in the winter. There is very little humidity in our region and not much rain; while students enjoy playing in the snow up in the mountains a few hours away, there is no snow in San Jose.

Is there transportation to Almaden Country School?

Guardians and homestay families provide transportation to and from ACS. At this time ACS does not provide additional shuttles or buses to and from campus.

What is the tuition for International Students?

Please consult the Tuition and Fees page of our website to view current International Student tuition rates.

Is financial aid available for international students?

We are sorry, but at this time financial aid is not available for students attending ACS from other countries.

Do students need health insurance to attend ACS?

Yes, all international students must have health insurance to attend our school. Any of the approved partner agencies we use can assist with obtaining a health insurance policy. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Who should I contact for more information about the ACS International Student Program?

We are so pleased that you wish to learn more about Almaden Country School! We love and care for every international student in our program, and want to answer all your questions. Please contact us:

Mary Jo Heindel
Director of Admissions
+1 (408) 997-0424 x295

Amber White
Advancement Associate
+1 (408) 997-0424 x289

For assistance during summer months:
Jennifer Glasser
Assistant Head of School
+1 (408) 997-0424 x222

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