Transferring schools as a teenager can be taxing. However, making the transition as smooth as possible will aid your success academically, socially and emotionally. Adapting to a new environment (whether it is a desired move or not) while also having all the correct paperwork in place can seem overwhelming. Prepare for the transition with a thorough knowledge of what you may need administratively as well as emotionally.

Why a School Transfer Is Necessary

Sometimes, teens may feel that a transfer isn’t the best idea. It uproots them from a known environment and puts them into a world of unknowns. They may be rooted in sports, student council or other school organizations that give them support as well as a sense of confidence. There are three main reasons to transfer schools:

  • A move to another state heralded by a parent’s move

  • More opportunities for the student to excel and prepare for the adult world at a school with better academics, sports or focused college-career classes

  • A need to remove the student from a negative situation at the school where he is currently enrolled

Questions About Transferring Schools

If a move isn’t the main reason for transferring high schools, then you may want to ask a few important questions before pulling up stakes and attending a new school.

  • What are some good reasons to transfer schools?

  • What is the best age to move a child?

  • Can you transfer schools in 11th grade?

If a teenager has more to lose than gain, then it may be more useful to stay in place to finish out 11th and 12th grade as a top student or athlete in the school.

How to Transfer High Schools

Public or private, a high school tends to require the same type of information when accepting a student into the school. Have the following important documents in place before you transfer so that you are prepared as much as possible:

  • Application for transfer

  • Proof of residency – This should be a utility bill, lease or mortgage for the new address or current address if you are moving within the same district

  • Record of immunizations

  • Birth certificate

  • Emergency contact forms

The parent and student should also be prepared to show the following if applicable:

  • Proof of guardianship or custody

  • Former school records

  • IEP records

  • Teacher recommendations

Charter and Private School Transfers

A private or charter school may have a different application process and deadline than a public school district. Be prepared with a student portfolio that has the following:

  • Transcripts of the student's most recent grades

  • Any test scores that the student has completed in or out of school

  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches or community service organizations with whom the student worked

  • Employer recommendations about work ethic or character if the student was employed

  • Any awards the student has won in her area of interest in the last few years

If you are new to a district, you may need to complete an enrollment application with the school district to assist them with charter schools you are eligible to attend.

Tips on Filling out Transfer Documents

If you have preprinted address labels, you may want to use these to fill out the many forms quickly. Simply slap on the address label where your address is required. It’s easy for the administrator to read and makes filling out the same information over and over again a little less tedious.

Birth certificates can get lost, particularly if the student has moved a lot or is in the process of a move when transferring to a new school. Contact the new school for guidance because they may allow other documentation in place of a missing birth certificate. VitalChek is a good resource to quickly obtain a student’s legal birth certificate.

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About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.