How to Transfer Mid-Year to an Online High School
Written by Ellen R.
OK. You Tried Your School’s Covid-19 Option, But it is Time for a New School
Transferring schools can be disruptive and stressful. Are you wondering:
- How will it affect your child’s transcript and Grade Point Average?
- Will it affect your child’s graduation requirements?
- How will colleges view your child’s academic records?
- Will your child’s graduation be delayed?
Then this guide is for you. You will learn about the steps you can take to make the transfer go as smoothly as possible.
Reasons to Transfer Schools
There are several reasons students transfer to a new high school. Below are a few of the most common reasons:
#1. Parents are moving to a new location. Whether you are moving cross-country, or across town, often times you will be moving out of your current school district and will need to enroll in a new school. Ideally, parents opt to move in the summer so that their child can begin school on time with the rest of the students. However, this is not always an option, and parents need to be prepared for the move and a adjusting to a new school mid-year.
#2. You have found a school that suits you better and choose to transfer. With so many school choices available, you may have found one that specializes in your child’s area of interests, such as theater or athletics. Or perhaps you have found a school with rigorous college-prep courses and a good reputation for college admissions.
#3. Probably the most common reason for transferring schools is dissatisfaction with your current school. Many students thrive in a traditional school setting. But, if your child is struggling, it might be time to consider an alternative education solution.
- Teen social drama and bullying are among the top reasons students choose to transfer to a new high school.
- Many accelerated students feel unchallenged in a setting where the pace of learning is set by the school district. They become bored, disengaged and unmotivated.
- Or, other times students feel they have been pushed ahead in a subject before they are ready. As a result, students may be failing their courses and need a fresh start.
Signs that your teen is not happy in school can range from difficulty getting up in the morning, consumed with social media, unwillingness to complete homework, to complaints of stomach aches or headaches. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
If you find yourself looking to transfer schools, for whatever reason, you will need to gather several documents to apply to your new school. Public schools and private schools require different school records, but they will all require a transcript and/or current report card, so start here.
1. Transcript – unofficial and official transcripts.
The unofficial transcript may be easy to obtain if your current school allows access to your child’s records online. Simply select and print the transcript to bring to your new school. If you don’t have online access, most schools will provide you with a copy if you request it in person. The unofficial transcript will only be used to assess what courses your child will need to take at your new school. Your new school will still request an official transcript in order to transfer any earned high school credits to the new school.
The official transcript is a complete representation of your child’s high school academic record. It must be signed by a school official and is usually sent in a sealed envelope. Many schools today accept official transcripts electronically as long as they are signed by a school official and have the school seal. This authenticates the record.
If your child has not earned any high school credits at the time you will be transferring, you should be prepared to provide a current report card showing current courses, grades earned and attendance and disciplinary record.
2. What are your most important reasons for changing schools?
Three cheers to the Internet. Parents have lots of school choices today, and that can be overwhelming. Do some careful research and narrow down your choices.
Start by talking to your child. Ask them what do they like about their current school, and what don’t they like. Then, listen carefully.
“I don’t like to take the bus.”
“School lunch is awful.”
“The other students are just mean.”
“I can’t do math at 8:17 in the morning. I am barely awake!”
These may be good clues that your child would be well suited in a learning environment with more flexibility in their school schedule. For example, many private online schools give students the flexibility to “go to school” on their own schedule that works for them and their family.
“School is so boring.”
“I don’t have time to do anything I like to do.”
These may be signs that your child is unchallenged and bored. Finding a school with a flexible schedule can allow your child to pursue their interests. There is a lot of down or unproductive time in traditional schools. Think of the minutes wasted walking to their next class when the bell rings. Or the lost time while the teacher settles the class down and takes attendance. Most online schools do not take 6 – 7 hours a day like traditional schools. This leaves your child a lot more time to pursue the things they love.
Is your child a dancer? Painter? Musician? Athlete? Do they work? Volunteer? All these are possible in a flexible online learning environment.
Once you and your child have focused on why changing schools is a good plan, you can conduct research to find the right school. Mom – don’t do all the research. I know, you want your child to be happy, but don’t do all the work here. Engage your child in this research. After all – this is their education.
Sit down together and make a list of criteria that are important in your new school. For example:
Accredited by reputable accreditor
college prep and honors courses
career readiness courses
year-round – school is always open
good reputation and college acceptances
tuition-free public school
private school with reasonable tuition
Once you agree on the most important criteria, you are ready to conduct research. Empower your child to search for the criteria most important to them. It’s OK, mom. This is as important to your child as it is to you. Set a goal to complete your research. Give yourself a time-line and a deadline to meet and discuss your findings.
3. Researching Step 1- Read verified reviews
It is important to read verified parents’ and students’ reviews of the school. This is your best bet for getting the real picture. It is also helpful to read objective reviews from outside sources as well. Here are a few sites that can help you with your research.
Best Online High Schools – Consumer Affairs reviews.
Top 10 Online Schools – Homseschool Base
Best Choice Schools – Top Online High Schools
Researching Step 2 – Visit the school’s website.
Here are several key points to consider when looking at a change in schools:
- Is the website easy to navigate?
- Can you easily understand the mission of the school?
- Does the mission of the school align with your family’s goals?
- Will there be the support that your child needs if they are struggling emotionally or academically?
- What about parent support?
- Do parents have access to their child’s schoolwork?
- Can parents check on their child’s academic progress at any time?
- Can parents talk with administrators of the school when there are concerns?
Something to consider is that bigger is not always better. A school that boasts having a million students may not be the best choice for the the personal attention you want your child to receive.
4. Contact the new school you are considering
Now that you have narrowed down your choices it is time to contact the top 4-5 schools that made your list. This is vital to help your child transition to the new school. Your child is unique, with unique skills and needs. It is important that you have the confidence that your child’s placement in courses is appropriate and in their best interests to meet their goal of graduation. Seriously – this step is vital. There are many school choices out there for your teen. You want to be sure that your new school will provide a personal graduation plan that suits them well.
Does someone answer the phone when you call, or do you get lost in the voice mail options? Are they interested in your reasons for transferring, or are they more focused on just helping you complete the application? You can learn a lot about the type of attention your child will receive by calling the school. If a human being doesn’t answer the phone, you may not be satisfied with the personal attention the school gives their students.
5. Request a Transcript Evaluation
OK. So you have further narrowed your choices. You think you have found 2-3 schools that meet your goals, and they were responsive to your phone call. All is looking up. Before you enroll in a new school it is a good idea to request a transcript evaluation. This step will tell you which earned credits will transfer, and what courses your child will be required to complete to graduate. These two factors can be a make or break decision on a new school.
Check the school’s website for a link to upload your child’s transcript (or report card). If you are looking at private education, there may be a nominal fee for an evaluation. But this is important information that can help you avoid choosing a school that is not a good fit for your child.
6. Compare your findings
Now that you have done your research, compare your findings. A Pro’s and Con’s list will be helpful in making your decision on the best school choice for your child. Don’t be surprised if your list differs from your child’s. Just be prepared to listen and then make the decision that you can both agree on.
Whitmore School, accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED), offers four Diploma Programs for students wishing to enroll full-time to earn their high school diploma. Additionally, students looking to get back on track to graduate on time can enroll in individual courses. Students enroll and begin any time, work at their own pace, and may take up to 12 months to complete their courses.
Written by: Ellen Ray, Principal, and parent of Alina, 2009 Whitmore School Graduate
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