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Articles / Applying to College / Advice for 12 Grader Starting a New School Mid-Semester

Advice for 12 Grader Starting a New School Mid-Semester

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 28, 2014

Hi. So I would like to move before the semester of my school ends and continue my schooling in the town that I will be moving to. However I and my family are worried about how if I don’t finish finals here my credits won’t count down there and I won’t be able to graduate on time. Is that true?

This is a question for administrators at both your current high school and your new one. “The Dean”  has no way of knowing which credits you’ve completed and what the graduation requirements are at your current school.

However, making any sort of move in the middle of senior year can be complex, and if you can’t wait until the end of this semester, your situation will be even more so. Is there any way that you can finish at least this semester at your current school, even if it means living with a friend or neighbor for the remaining weeks?

If you can stick it out until January (or whenever your semester wraps up) your life may be a lot less complicated than it will be if you move sooner. Often, by the end of the first semester of 12th grade, students have completed all of their high school requirements. This is particularly true at high schools that are on the “Block Schedule” or on any other plan where most classes last only a semester.

But if the majority (or all) of your senior classes last for a full year, then it’s likely that there are graduation requirements that you haven’t yet fulfilled. For instance, my own son’s high school requires that every student completes a senior English class which my son (also a senior) won’t finish until May. So if you, too, must take a senior English class in order to graduate, you will have to check with the new high school to see if you can continue with a comparable English class once you transfer.

It’s also not clear to me if you expect to earn your diploma from your current school or from you new one. That’s something you need to discuss with your guidance counselor as well as with officials at the new school.  If your current school will be awarding your diploma, you need to confirm that the classes you take at your new school will satisfy any requirements that you haven’t yet met.

If you have already applied to colleges, you must also notify admission officials about your planned switch. If your second-semester classes are not the same ones you listed when you filled out your applications, this may have some impact on your college admission verdicts. In most cases, if the new classes are equally rigorous as the ones you’d planned to take at your old school, then this won’t affect your admission outcomes. But, even so, you are required to tell colleges about the classes you’ll be taking in the second semester. So be sure that you keep admission offices up to date on your transfer plans as they evolve.

While it’s not common for students to switch schools while their senior year is in progress, it DOES happen. So I am optimistic that administrations at BOTH your old and new schools will work with you to help you graduate on schedule, even if it means that you end up taking (or finishing) some of your classes online or dropping some current subjects and starting different ones in January.

But your first step is to talk to your guidance counselor about your departure date and find out how these transitions are typically handled at your school. You may want to ask your parents to sit in on this meeting to make certain that all of you understand the complexities ahead so that there won’t be any bad surprises in the spring.

Good luck!


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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