Education in Lake Chapala

The Basics of Education in Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala has often been regarded as one of Mexico’s largest retirement communities for expats.

This leads plenty of people to ignore the fact that it’s also an incredible destination for younger individuals.

Although the area can be somewhat quiet and laid back at times; it also possesses a series of advantages that a lot of folks can really appreciate.

One of these advantages is, surprisingly, education – a topic that not many people seem to talk about.

Although I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject – I think that I’m qualified enough to voice my opinion on what it’s like to study in Lake Chapala.

I say qualified because I received all of my education -with the exception of university- in the areas of Ajijic, Chapala, and Jocotepec.

I also want to mention that even though this may not be a hugely-interesting subject to some – I believe that a lot of people will find it useful.

Who might these people be? Well… those with younger children or grandchildren -in the family- that plan on calling lakeside, home.

If you’re one of these people, I can only hope that this article gives you all the information, required to make an informed move to the area.

Let’s get started.

Basic Education

I think we all know that a good education can help set and shape the foundation of an kid’s intellect.

Choosing the right educational institution will definitely play a huge role in how well the child develops his/her abilities .

This, of course, as long as the student is willing to learn.

So, how does one go about choosing the best school in Lake Chapala, for basic education?

Although I can’t answer that -because I would probably be giving you a biased opinion- here’s what you should probably be looking for.

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is if you want your kid/kids to attend a public or private school.

As far as basic education (kindergarten through junior high) goes, there isn’t much difference between what’s actually taught in a classroom – public or private.

I say this, because all schools have to follow a series of guidelines established by the SEP; a government entity that all schools -private and public- respond to.

The main difference between private and public here, is how the information is transmitted and taught.

Private schools will typically have bigger classrooms with a reduced number of students – while public schools will offer the opposite.

Does this affect the quality of the education? If you ask me, not always.

Although public schools are generally a lot more crowded and not as nice as private schools – this aspect has little to do with the quality of the education, itself.

Take this with a grain of salt though, because there are some public schools out there that probably aren’t that good.

Where private schools really shine though, is in their English teaching and extracurricular activities.

A lot of locals actually choose to enroll their kids in private schools; because they want them to learn English, pick up a sport, learn how to act, or play an instrument.

Higher Education

When it comes to higher education (high school and university), there aren’t many choices to pick from.

I say this, because there are only a handful of high schools (lakeside) and no universities, whatsoever.

Before we go into the University/College dilemma, let’s take a good look at high school education in the area.

When it comes to High School, there are a few choices.

In the way of private schools, some of the same institutions that teach Elementary and Junior High, also offer a High School education.

As far as public high schools are concerned, there are two choices; one is located in Chapala, the second in Jocotepec.

These high schools both belong to the University of Guadalajara (UDG).

The interesting thing here is that they are both very different from each other.

Although they are both good, my personal preference -and where I underwent my high school studies- was at the one located in Chapala.

The Preparatoria Regional de Chapala is truly a remarkable institution that has a lot to offer.

Although I’ve always been somewhat of a nerd, the amazing teachers challenged me and gave me the necessary preparation to join any University that I wanted.

This is not to say that private schools are not good, but I wouldn’t think twice about recommending the Prepa Chapala to anyone; it’s really that good.

As far as College education goes, it’s a tricky subject.

The first thing you have to know is that there isn’t a single University/College in the Lake Chapala area.

Those who want to study an undergraduate, master’s degree, or doctorate have to do so in Guadalajara.

This presents a challenge for several reasons.

First off, Guadalajara is located approximately 45-60 minutes from the Lake Chapala area.

Whether students choose to rent or drive in every day, it presents a challenge.

If they drive in, they will spent a considerable amount of money on gas, and possibly a good amount of time, because of traffic.

Renting is also an issue because it can be tricky to find a decent rental that won’t break the bank.

Some students have been known to rent a house in groups and split the rent.

The issue here is that when someone leaves, the cost of rent per person will go up – until someone else takes that person’s place.

It’s also important to mention that there is an abundance of private universities, while there’s only one public institution.

Private universities are very expensive -still nowhere near as costly as the US or Canada- and will generally offer scholarships.

With that being said, some of these aren’t very good and can prove to be a bad investment

Those that don’t wish to study in a private school end up going to the only public university in the area – the University of Guadalajara.

The university -also known as UDG- is home to a series of centers distributed along the state of Jalisco.

Each center specializes in a specific area and houses thousands of students.

Tuition costs are very low and greatly depend on the student’s personal contribution.

Each semester, the student is required to pay a small fee (approximately $1,500 pesos), alongside a personal, voluntary contribution.

Generally speaking, the level of education at the UDG can be hit and miss.

I say hit and miss because the University easily overs over 50 careers; some of them are very good, others not so much.

Final Thoughts

Lakeside may be a relatively-small area, but it definitely has a lot to offer when it comes to education.

There are plenty of public and private schools located all over – some that are better than others.

If education is a priority, when considering moving to the area, I highly encourage that you take the time to research the different schools.

As far as higher education goes, Guadalajara is the closest option, for those that like in the Lake Chapala area.

I know that for some it -studying in Guadalajara- may seem a bit complicated, but it’s doable.

I used to drive back and forth to Guadalajara every day, and had no issue with it.

It kept the costs down -it was cheaper to drive than rent at the time- and I love to drive.

I want to finish the article by inviting you to send any questions my way.

I know that I probably missed a thing or two in this write-up, so please don’t hesitate to send your questions over.

I will be more than happy answer answer any and every single one them.

Roderick E. Collins
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