Preparing for College

Frequent High School Changes

Question: My son began his high school career at a large, all-male parochial school. He did well academically but transferred to our local public school for several reasons (sports, social, etc.) His grades are excellent. He is now considering transferring to a third high school (small, private, college-prep) to be in a more challenging academic environment. How will college admissions look upon three high schools in four years?

Typically, a student changes high schools frequently because his family is itinerant, and the changes are necessitated by relocation. In such cases, admission officials tend to give credit to candidates who have coped with the stresses and struggles of repeated transfer.

In your son’s case, however, if they notice that these frequent school changes don’t go hand in hand with address changes, it might raise a flag. That is, they may wonder if your son is chronically unhappy or has had trouble fitting in.

Since this doesn’t sound like your son's situation at all, you need to be sure that a supplemental letter from you or his college counselor (or both) explains that his frosh and sophomore moves were due to his search for a more challenging academic environment or for a more expansive choice of extracurricular opportunities and not because no one would chat with him in the locker room or sit next to him in the cafeteria.

If your son is enthusiastic about trying the third school, we see no compelling reason why he shouldn’t do it, but, without sounding like you “doth protest too much,” you might want to be sure that admission officials are alerted to the reasons behind his decision when the times comes.