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semester in a foreign high school


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We may have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad within the next year or two.  If we do this, it would be either during the second semester of oldest DS's 9th grade year or the first semester of his 10th grade year.

If DS enrolls in a public or private school in the foreign country for that semester, I then have to send that transcript to colleges, correct?  I am trying to figure out how we might manage this.  It seems pretty clear to me that the best educational option for all the kids would be to just go to school for that semester, simply for the immersive cultural/language experience -- which would be incredible.   And I think we could keep oldest DS on track academically by putting in extra time on math and science during the summer and the semester during which we'd be home.  But I can't imagine that the kids are going to get particularly good grades, given that they will be going to school in a foreign language (which they all speak/read but not fluently).  I don't care at all about the grades for the younger kids, but I am concerned about having to include a bunch of potentially mediocre grades for DS on what is otherwise going to be a homeschool transcript.  

Does anyone have any experience with this sort of scenario?  I would love some advice or thoughts on what to consider.

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You may want to check with your local school board. In our county grades from foreign schools are not accepted as credit. It is a real hassle for public school kids that use the Rotary Scholarships to study abroad for a year. They struggle to get all the credits they need for graduation in three years. As the public schools do not accept the credits, the foreign transcripts are not sent to colleges. The foreign school experience is only documented as an extracurricular activity.

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Friends of ours were TDY in the USA for one school year. Their DD attended public schools in the state they were living in, temporarily. The younger one did not want to repeat the grade she'd been in in the USA and that went well for her after they returned. The older one was in high school that year in the USA. She is repeating that grade here now.

IMO it would be better to take a "gap semester" or something and not include any transcript or grade report from the school in the foreign country. That could be very messy, for a U.S. High School student.

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Thanks for the replies.  I would be reluctant to have DS plan to repeat a grade unless we have no other options.  Registering as homeschoolers, doing all of our school work over the one semester+summer, and then just treating the whole semester abroad as an extracurricular is a very interesting idea, though.  I had not thought of that.

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I’m going to be abroad for a semester but I’m choosing not to put my dS in the foreign high schools. If I have 5 reasons he’s not in the local public, I found 6 he won’t be in the foreign public. The foreign privates likely won’t have him for a semester anyway, even if I wanted to enroll him, because they have exam results they need to publish and are protective of test scores. We will continue our US based curriculum and classes and just align with where we will be (history and art and language).  I’m putting DD in a semi-private elementary though 😉 

Edited by madteaparty
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I wonder if you could simply make his classes as a pass/ fail as opposed to part of his gpa.  In the dark ages, when I was in college, that was how my college handled classes taken overseas during an exchange.

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11 hours ago, mumto2 said:

I wonder if you could simply make his classes as a pass/ fail as opposed to part of his gpa.  In the dark ages, when I was in college, that was how my college handled classes taken overseas during an exchange.

 

That would definitely make the most sense if it's all on a homeschool transcript, but I think I'd have to send the original transcript from that high school, too.  Does anyone know if that is correct?

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So you think when high school students go on study abroad, those grades are factored into high school GPAs as if they were taken in the United States?  I would not assume that personally.  I don't KNOW, but -- whether you send the transcript or not, I think what matters is how it is perceived by the colleges.  

You could send a foreign transcript with mediocre grades, and maybe that comes across favorably to colleges, if they are looking for -- a student who has study abroad experience in a foreign language.

I don't know -- but I am wondering, because I do think it's a pretty big assumption to make to assume a college would view a foreign transcript unfavorably.  

I wonder if there is any way to find that out?  

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I have been thinking less about how public schools handle this and more about what my son's homeschool transcript might look like -- mostly classes done at home with mom grades, a bunch of test scores, maybe a couple of outside courses with grades from someone other than me, and then -- if we do this -- a transcript from a foreign high school of one semester's worth of grades.

You are probably correct that it matters most about how colleges would perceive this, and I just have no idea.   Given that he will be otherwise homeschooled for high school, and that we don't plan to do much in the way of dual enrollment, I am just really hesitant to set him up for a situation where he gets a whole bunch of grades from someone other than me and they are likely not to be particularly good.

Edited by JennyD
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We live and homeschool overseas, but I don't have any experience with integrating public school grades in a foreign country into a homeschool transcript. But if you are planning on only being in that foreign country for only a few months, I think it would be really doable to make up the credits of the one semester in other school years and summers, especially since it would be quite early in his high school. You could do only core classes in the half-year that you are at home, and it would be easier to squeeze them into a shorter school year. Then you could do some electives over the summers. And then, as others have said, you wouldn't need to include the foreign school's grades on the transcript at all.

Another thing to consider, though, is the value of the public school experience as compared with the value from exploring the new country free of a school schedule. Just something to think about.

 

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My dd is planning to do a 2 month summer exchange program to a South American country that will be in school during her time there. I wasn't planning on providing a transcript from that school. The circumstances are a bit different in that she won't complete a whole semester (although grades are usually for a whole year anyway in the country she's most interested in). 

Do you know how your target country handles grades? Do they depend on end of year exams? Are they just projected grades until the exams are taken? Do the grades matter much for their own students or does everything ride on a final test like the Bac or Abitur? 

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4 hours ago, mazakaal said:

We live and homeschool overseas, but I don't have any experience with integrating public school grades in a foreign country into a homeschool transcript. But if you are planning on only being in that foreign country for only a few months, I think it would be really doable to make up the credits of the one semester in other school years and summers, especially since it would be quite early in his high school. You could do only core classes in the half-year that you are at home, and it would be easier to squeeze them into a shorter school year. Then you could do some electives over the summers. And then, as others have said, you wouldn't need to include the foreign school's grades on the transcript at all.

Another thing to consider, though, is the value of the public school experience as compared with the value from exploring the new country free of a school schedule. Just something to think about.

 

 

Thanks for the encouragement.  Thinking about it more, just making up the credits elsewhere and dedicating that whole semester to the experience probably makes the most sense.  We have thought about the benefits of not being tied to the school schedule, but in this particular country I think that sending the kids to school -- especially the younger ones -- is going to be key to the whole family's experience. 

2 hours ago, chiguirre said:

 

Do you know how your target country handles grades? Do they depend on end of year exams? Are they just projected grades until the exams are taken? Do the grades matter much for their own students or does everything ride on a final test like the Bac or Abitur? 

 

Those are interesting questions!  I do not know very much about how grades work in this country, other than that they are always numerical and there is indeed a set of exams at the end of high school.  I can definitely find out more about this, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've no experience with this situation; however, this is what I might have done:

During your son's semester at home (and potentially his summer), organize his schedule so that he can obtain at least four academic credits. I'd likely focus on English, math, science, and history (perhaps of the country or world region he'll be visiting).

Enroll him in school in the foreign country for his semester abroad.

On his transcript, label that semester as something (XX language immersion, for example). In your course description, state what he did.

"Son engaged in a XX language immersion semester. He enrolled in School Name from date to date. Took the following classes: A, B, C, D, and E. [Give translations] Also participated in the following extra- curricular activities {  }, attended the following performances {  }, and visited the following historic sites {  }. Documentation available upon request. Parent assigned grade of X. Parent assigned credit of Y."

I'd likely assign one to two credits for the semester. Keep a folder with returned assignments and school grades/documents so that you can provide a sampling if requested.

Regards,

Kareni

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1 hour ago, Kareni said:

I've no experience with this situation; however, this is what I might have done:

During your son's semester at home (and potentially his summer), organize his schedule so that he can obtain at least four academic credits. I'd likely focus on English, math, science, and history (perhaps of the country or world region he'll be visiting).

Enroll him in school in the foreign country for his semester abroad.

On his transcript, label that semester as something (XX language immersion, for example). In your course description, state what he did.

"Son engaged in a XX language immersion semester. He enrolled in School Name from date to date. Took the following classes: A, B, C, D, and E. [Give translations] Also participated in the following extra- curricular activities {  }, attended the following performances {  }, and visited the following historic sites {  }. Documentation available upon request. Parent assigned grade of X. Parent assigned credit of Y."

I'd likely assign one to two credits for the semester. Keep a folder with returned assignments and school grades/documents so that you can provide a sampling if requested.

Regards,

Kareni

 

This is great advice, thanks!

Amazingly, it is looking increasingly likely that this adventure will come to pass, although nothing is definite yet.  Tentative plan is to be gone for six months (!).  

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1 hour ago, JennyD said:

This is great advice, thanks!

Amazingly, it is looking increasingly likely that this adventure will come to pass, although nothing is definite yet.  Tentative plan is to be gone for six months (!).

You're quite welcome, JennyD.

It sounds like a wonderful opportunity; I hope it will come to pass.

Regards,

Kareni

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Yeah. I would do core work spread into other semesters and count "History:Country B" and "Language Country B" as electives and "tour country B" as extracurricular. Then spend the time you're there immersively exploring. When I was an exchange student, while we did spend time in school we actually spent more time exploring the country- visiting historic places and touring factories and even grocery shopping and ordering in restaurants and navigating a busy city - those are the parts that stuck with me. 

We took our kids to the UK for about a month (just 1)... at home that semester they both studied British History and British Literature. We did no "school" while we were there but every visit and tour found its way into our field trip list .... Sherwood Forest and Stratford Upon Avon are pretty great British Literature field trips. Castles, cathedrals, Hadrians Wall.... pretty amazing for British History. 

It was an amazing experience. The end of the semester they studied Geology was spent wandering around all the geologic hot spots of Utah and down to the Grand Canyon.

They'd tell you this is what homeschooling is about and all the other stuff is secondary. 

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I like the suggestions of Kareni and others in this thread.   If he enrolls in a school abroad,  I don't believe the foreign school transcript (if they are willing to provide one) should be included  on the Final Transcript for this student.  I do believe, strongly, that mention of the time abroad should be included in the information sent on or with applications to universities.  I believe they will see that time abroad as "a plus" for that student.  Possibly one credit for the time spent abroad in the Language/Foreign Living learning experience. 

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When I did a year abroad in 1997/1998, the school counselors just sort of morphed things together into 7 classes and approximated the grades. It was pretty hand-wavy. For example, "You took Bio 4 hours per week and Chem 2 hours per week? Let's call that bio-chem!" "Development of Socialism in Europe? Let's call that European History." Then they rounded up my grades because of the harsh grading system of where I was. I think I would have felt guilty submitting the transcript had I written it, but it felt OK because the school admin did it, not me. But my school director from abroad wrote a college recommendation for me, which I think made clear to people that I had excelled at the school.

While I see value in traveling through a foreign country, you won't get the language exposure needed to become proficient (if that is a goal) without lots of hours immersed in it. Of course, if you're going to Japan and your kid has no interest in Japanese, that isn't an issue. But if your child has taken four years of Spanish and you're going to Spain, it would be so sad to go to the country and not get the chance to be immersed. 

(We're in a foreign country right now and the homeschoolers aren't learning the language because they can't get the exposure they need. Families who are here long term enroll their kids in school because it is too hard to learn the language otherwise.)

Emily

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26 minutes ago, EmilyGF said:

 

While I see value in traveling through a foreign country, you won't get the language exposure needed to become proficient (if that is a goal) without lots of hours immersed in it. Of course, if you're going to Japan and your kid has no interest in Japanese, that isn't an issue. But if your child has taken four years of Spanish and you're going to Spain, it would be so sad to go to the country and not get the chance to be immersed. 

 

 

Yeah, this is how we feel, too.  My kids have been learning this language for years and it has been a huge priority in our homeschool.  It is going to be a little tricky to get them set up in schools that work for them (esp for my middle son) but I really believe that immersion is the way to go if we can make it happen. 

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13 hours ago, Kareni said:

I've no experience with this situation; however, this is what I might have done:

During your son's semester at home (and potentially his summer), organize his schedule so that he can obtain at least four academic credits. I'd likely focus on English, math, science, and history (perhaps of the country or world region he'll be visiting).

Enroll him in school in the foreign country for his semester abroad.

On his transcript, label that semester as something (XX language immersion, for example). In your course description, state what he did.

"Son engaged in a XX language immersion semester. He enrolled in School Name from date to date. Took the following classes: A, B, C, D, and E. [Give translations] Also participated in the following extra- curricular activities {  }, attended the following performances {  }, and visited the following historic sites {  }. Documentation available upon request. Parent assigned grade of X. Parent assigned credit of Y."

I'd likely assign one to two credits for the semester. Keep a folder with returned assignments and school grades/documents so that you can provide a sampling if requested.

Regards,

Kareni

This is a brilliant solution and also what I would personally have done had I chosen to put DS in school. As it is I won’t even put immersion on his transcript bc it’s very easy to live where we will live and not be immersed 😉 his transcript will look just as if we were in the states, but the field trips are cooler 😂

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Several of my siblings were in foreign schools (various languages, we moved a lot) through part of high school; I would send in the foreign school transcript with an explanation; none of them had super high grades in those schools but all were accepted at good colleges and some at elite colleges. 

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