Myth #1: Moving a teenager will be too upsetting for them to handle.
Many teens move successfully every year. It’s important to remember that each situation is unique. While the disruption to friendships can feel more severe for teens than for younger children, some teens welcome a fresh start. Even for the many teens who find the move to be very challenging and upsetting at first, parents who listen and involve them in the decision making process as well as encourage them to express and process their feelings can help shorten the adjustment time. And there are many benefits to moving that will help them going forward: learning to adapt and adjust, experiencing new places and opportunities, and practicing having a positive mindset can be helpful skills and shaping experiences for teens. It is important though to keep an eye out if your teen is struggling and to seek out a counselor if they are experiencing depression or could benefit from further coaching in adapting to change.
Myth #2: It will hurt your teen’s transcripts and college admission to move while in high school.
While any sort of disruption in academics leading up to college applications presents challenges, preparation allows for a move that will not affect college admission potential. Organize each school’s information as well as the grading scales and course loads. Once your teen begins to fill out college applications, in as concise a manner as possible, provide relevant information to allow the admissions team to understand each school in its own context. Don’t rely on them to figure it out on their own, provide both sets of transcripts along with the background on how each school’s gpa scale is set up and any other differing requirements or information. We’ve spoken with college admissions counselors and they all reiterated that a move in high school should not affect an applicant’s chances of acceptance. What will have a negative impact for moving teens is a confusing and unexplained set of dual transcripts. Take the time to lay things out in a clear manner for the admissions team and your teen will be on even ground with his or her non-relocating peers.
Myth #3: The school will correctly and fairly transfer over your teen’s transcripts—let them handle it.
Your involvement in the transfer process is critical and taking a hands-off approach is one of the most common mistakes parents of teens make. A hastily done transfer process can be very discouraging for teens and can also negatively affect college admissions. Organize each school’s requirements to see how the grading scales and course loads align. Be actively involved in the transfer process to ensure a fair and accurate transfer of classes and grades. Compromises will need to be made for classes that do not have an exact match in the new school, but your involvement will show your teens that their previous hard work and efforts are not forgotten. Once enrolled, work with your teen to identify gaps early on and address them via additional study or tutoring so your teen can catch up on any topics necessary. Touch base with your teen and their teachers a few weeks in to see how placement has gone and if any adjustments need to be made.
Myth #4: If you move while your teen is in high school, they should stay behind.
Consider all aspects of having a teen in their senior year stay behind. Involve them during the decision-making process and factor in college decisions and your family’s circumstances. There are good reasons to consider allowing your teen to remain behind to finish their senior year, and there are equally good reasons to have your teen accompany your family to your new location. Work with your teen to weigh the benefits and challenges as well as to map out all necessary potential logistics (where would they stay, how would they get around, who pays for various bills, what are the ground rules regarding curfew, etc.). After a thoughtful discussion you and your teen will have a better feel for what may make the most sense for your current situation. While a senior year move may be disruptive socially, some teens find that it is nice to ultimately make friends in the new area so that when they are home from college in the summers they have friends nearby to see.
Myth #5: If your teen becomes sullen or difficult, you should be worried.
Throughout the move, while you should certainly be mindful of indications of depression, remember that grieving the loss of their old life is natural and each will process this in their own way. Often times being difficult is how teens respond to a situation that is uncomfortable and out of their control. Listen to understand where you can help and where you can give them control. Whether it is having them join you in the house hunt, helping to select their school, picking or decorating their new room, or weighing in on timing and their needs, involving teens is critical. Allow them to have their voice heard and to process in their own way. That being said, if you believe that your teen is struggling and would benefit from counseling, do not hesitate to seek out professional help. Moving is an adventure but is also jarring, and teens may benefit from talking with someone who can equip them with healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with change.
For more information on moving with teens, check out The Essential Moving Guide For Families and The Essential Moving Guided Journal For Teens.