by Lauren Tsai | Co-Editor-In-Chief

When senior Morgan May found out her family was moving to San Antonio from Austin, she had an important decision to make.

“When my mom asked me, I was given a choice to stay or go,” she said. May chose to move with her family although she had to leave her dad and friends behind. She admits that the adjustment was not easy at first.

“I was really optimistic about it, but getting used to a new school, new teachers, and new people is nerve-wracking. The first week, I hated it; I wanted to go back and I was miserable.”

However, May recognizes that she is more fortunate than other seniors who have had to move; she was able to keep her credits and her friends are still relatively close by.

“Overall, it’s not too bad.”

One of the challenges she faces is the college application process. For her, moving has complicated some aspects of the process, especially the teacher recommendation requirement.

“That part, I have no idea at this point. I had some teachers picked out but I don’t know the teachers here that well.”

Transferring schools senior year has unforeseen consequences on the college application process, and May’s concerns are common to others who have moved during their final year of high school.

AP Biology teacher Oscar Velasquez recognizes the difficulties new students might encounter when asking for recommendations from their current teachers.

“If they’re a brand new student coming into this school…it definitely puts them at a disadvantage.”

Many teachers need time to get to know a student based on grades, study habits, and personality.

“I usually have to have a student for a whole semester for me to evaluate the type of student he is. If I don’t know them for at least a semester, I usually tell them that I just don’t know them too much as a person to write them a positive recommendation,” he said. “Usually the ones who ask me for recommendations are students I know really well.”

If a student’s current teacher is unable to write a letter, some schools allow the student to ask former teachers for recommendations.

“I usually advise them to contact their high school and teachers they’ve had in previous years.”

In fact, a former student of Velasquez’s who moved recently has asked him to write her a recommendation. She emailed him and sent him a resume with her GPA, classes, and volunteer hours. Since the college she is applying to has an online application option, Velasquez will write the letter in a word document and upload it to the website.

Johnson supports most online applications for Texas schools but there may be difficulties with online applications for private schools. In this case, Counselor Kathryn Hancock suggests collecting teacher emails and giving teachers envelopes to mail letters. For better communication, Hancock advises students to stay organized. She also recommends keeping updated records of achievements, service hours, and extracurricular involvement.

“That new counselor won’t know you. They’re going to ask for a resume. It becomes important to have an accurate resume.”

Using the same approach, students should ask their previous counselor for a recommendation as well.

“That would be advisable simply because the old one know you. It’s a little more work when you move. You have to continue to maintain ties with the people you leave behind.”

There are other obstacles in addition to the recommendation requirement. Though transcripts will be transferred, some schools require students to fulfill additional credits.

“Some of the problems seniors encounter are the graduation requirements,” Hancock said.

Sometimes, curriculum is less strenuous at other schools.

“With ranking and GPA, they’re at a great disadvantage moving senior year,” she said.

However, colleges are understanding of relocation conditions and students can use their  moving experience as an advantage.

“If you can meet that hardship or overcome it…in the long run, it can work pretty good. If you meet the challenge, it becomes an asset,” Hancock said.

She reminds students to keep an optimistic view on change and the future.

“Whatever situation you’re in right now, it’s going to change. Bloom where you are planted.”

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About The Author

Lauren Tsai is a junior at Johnson and enjoys being active in the community. Her interests include volunteering, playing piano, and competing in UIL. She had the privilege of serving on the SA Express-News Teen Team in 2009-2010 and participates in biochemistry research at the UT Health Science Center.

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