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The school year at Haileybury College’s campus outside Beijing began with three People’s Liberation Army soldiers marching on a running track as the Chinese national anthem played over loudspeakers. Seven hundred students stood silently in single-file lines, their hands crossed, the international prep school’s crest emblazoned on many of their coats and T-shirts. Then they sang the school song in English before heading off to class in brick-facade buildings modeled on a British prep school.

For most Chinese students, attending a school like this remains unthinkable. But international schools from abroad are booming here thanks to growing demand from parents who are seeking different pathways for their children to attend college overseas, and who can increasingly afford more options. Top prep schools from around the world are opening campuses in the country, often charging higher fees than their flagships and catering to students who want to go to university in the West.

Attending Haileybury costs up to $28,000 a year. But Haileybury, which opened the Chinese version of its century-old Australian prep school three years ago, nearly doubled its enrollment this year and is considering opening a second campus in China. Getting into China’s best public high schools can be monumentally difficult, but regardless of whether their child has the academic chops, many parents are opting to pay for what they see as a less stressful and more enriching experience at an international school.

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