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Moving to America

(19 Posts)
laura13denton13 Thu 16-Jul-15 01:58:41

I currently live in the UK, near Oxford. My daughter and son both live with me, their dad has recently relocated to south lake in Texas. America after living in Dubai for 7 years. He has moved there with his new wife and 1 year old son. My daughter has just returned from visiting them for three weeks and upon arriving home asked me "Could I move to live with dad in America".

I feel like this would be a great opportunity for her as she has wanted to live with her father for a while now. I would miss her but feel as if her needs must come before mine and her happiness is my priority.

My only concerns are with the education aspect of the move. Before visiting her dad she spent finished year 10 - the first year of her GCSEs. She already has one in science (A*) but takes 10 more in various other subjects in year 11 which she starts in September '15. I do not know about the America education system and am looking for advice as to whether this would be a wise move? She would most probably move between October and February due to needing time to organise things. But I am wondering if it would be best to wait until July when she finishes year 11 and her GCSEs. She was then planning to go onto 6th form at her current school but if she moved to America would continue with the America school system instead.

I am also thinking about after she finishes school in America, would she be able to return for university in the UK? And if so would she be able to apply with results she got from America?

I really appreciate any thoughts on this topic and she would like a decision from me rather quickly. I do know that the school she would attend in America is extremely good for the local area. Please have a look and let me know. The school she would attend would be Carroll High School in southlake Texas

Canyouforgiveher Thu 16-Jul-15 02:12:34

Is your dd around age 15 now?

So I don't live in Texas I live in Massachusetts and it is very different in some ways but the high school system is pretty similar the country over (with madly different standards).

High School is 4 years - grades 9, 10, 11, 12. She would most likely be finishing grade 9 if she was in the US.

She would have to complete all the credits for high school to graduate - including math, science, language social studies, volunteer work etc. So she couldn't specialist in 3 subjects as I think A levels would be like but would have to do a variety of stuff

They tend to teach in bands (probably more like the UK system than the Irish system I am used to) so in grade 9 do biology, algebra I or II and the language, english, arts elective. In grade 10 do physics, algebra 11 or geometry, language etc.

Then there are AP (college level) courses and honors courses - depending on whether she would qualify for them.

Public schools vary wildly depending on location. They are often huge. While this is a gross generalisation, the quality of curriculum in Texas would bother me - this is a state which could teach about the civil war without emphasising that it was primarily fought about slavery (states rights is the mantra).

How she would get back into the UK system I don't know.

Oh and football (as in america football) will be the be all and end all of everything in that school - in every school in Texas (another generalisation although even in MA schools that have football teams, it is all about the football jocks).

honestly it could be the best thing she did or it could be horrendous. I definitely wouldn't have her start mid year (which OCt-Feb would imply). She should start when the school year starts (which could be as early as August in Texas).

Only you and she and her dad can decide but I would be really really wary of sending a UK teen into a big public high school anywhere in the US and definitely in Texas and thinking it would all be grand. I would really worry about integration/friends/social stuff/understanding the way the lessons are taught (mostly continual assessment so you cannot skip homework and hope to get an A in the final test - if you do that you will fail).

An alternative would be to have her spend summers with her dad doing summer camps etc.?

laura13denton13 Thu 16-Jul-15 02:48:51

Yes she is currently 15, she will be 16 in October '15.
She is very active and commuted to all her studies whilst also being extremely commited to sports which she has shown through her current school. She is 'gifted and talented' in around 4 subjects and her school reports are usually impeccable. Despite this her social skills are also excellent and I feel she would easily be able to make a new peer group.
Her current school is large with around 2000 people which is larger than most schools in the UK. Due to this I feel the size of a school wouldn't effect her too much.
Her father and I would be willing to send her to a private school if we felt she would benefit from it but from speaking to people that live near by her father feels this school would be appropriate.
I don't really know the school system in America, as you said it would be better to join at the beginning of an academic year would you suggest she finishes her GCSEs in the UK and the move to the U.S. In June 2016?

laura13denton13 Thu 16-Jul-15 02:50:42

She feels as if she would prefer to spend time with her father 'how usually families do, including the mundane school runs each day and things like that' rather than just summers I think. In the end it is my decision and I just want to find out what is best for her

AlpacaMyBags Thu 16-Jul-15 03:08:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlpacaMyBags Thu 16-Jul-15 03:10:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

laura13denton13 Thu 16-Jul-15 03:39:10

From the replies so far I seem to feel that it would be best for her to wait at least until after her GCSEs.
I think the international baccalaureate seems like a good idea if she were to leave after her GCSEs. Also the idea of being an international student in a college, we don't mind about money and would be willing to pay whatever due to mine and her fathers current jobs.
I think at the moment her father is assuming she would be on the same visa as her brother who lives there currently, as for what visa that is - I am not sure.
I feel this is going to be a long process and will try and keep it updated so I can have as much advice given to me as possible.
Just thinking, her current school do IGCSEs which are just international GCSEs. I know that when her dad wanted her to live in dubai with him when he first moved there they offered IGCSEs there and was wondering if any schools around that Dallas/fortworth area do these also?

Canyouforgiveher Thu 16-Jul-15 03:48:34

Alpaca makes a good point about her visa status. Unless she is already a US citizen, you should check this out.

Honestly, I think it could be fine and interesting (although - and I may be prejudiced here- I honestly don't think 3 years in public school in texas will be educationally overwhelmingly interesting) and certainly from a cultural point of view it will be very different. Again, it is not the kind of different educational experience I would want for my 15 year old (I have one).

She could have an amazing experience and come back to the UK for college and do great

or she could fall in love with the whole place (honestly I am finding this hard to imagine) and go to college in the US in which case you have said goodbye to her living in the same country as you.

Or she could have a fairly crappy time and mediocre teaching and her sports might not be recognised etc and you will have to pick up the pieces a year later.

I wonder if the main driver here is that she wants to live with her dad before she grows up and leaves "home" if so then I think that might be the key issue-and so worth taking this risk of Texas high school.

If you do let her go, contact the school in advance. Send her transcripts well in advance and ask how they will allocate her to classes etc. Push hard for APs and honors. Go over and meet her guidance counselor asap. And have her start at the beginning of the school year with everyone else.

Canyouforgiveher Thu 16-Jul-15 03:50:37

If you don't mind spending the 60K a year college costs here then I think you should also explore private schools that do IB in the Southlake Texas area before making a decision.

Canyouforgiveher Thu 16-Jul-15 03:51:05

meant to add - good luck with your decision.

Eastpoint Thu 16-Jul-15 04:05:54

One of my friends was faced with the option of moving her yr11 daughter back to the U.S. (She's American, her husband isn't) and she felt that the middle of high school would be too difficult a time to move. If you wait until your daughter has finished GCSEs she would be moving as she entered her Junior year and she'd go straight into SATs/ACTs. She'd also have all the changes which living with a different parent to deal with, so new location, new parenting, new educational system & new friends all at a time when she needs to work hard to fulfil her potential.

Decorhate Thu 16-Jul-15 06:43:14

I would definitely try to wait until she has finished her GCSEs next year. That keeps her options open. If she went now or in the next few months & it didn't work out, it would cause huge difficulties fitting back into the UK system.

I also suspect that living there fulltime might not be as exciting as a three week holiday (am also curious how you managed to swing that in term time!)

GladToBeDone Thu 16-Jul-15 08:21:18

I agree with the posts above about moving to the US after completing GCSEs and, if your DD is strong academically, making sure that her school in Texas has a lot of AP and honors courses (otherwise, she could be quite bored as strong UK schools cover materials at an earlier age than counterparts in the US).

The one wrinkle is that, given the US system of allocating children in grades (based on Jan - Dec birthdates), your daughter would actually be one year ahead (ie she would be considered a "junior" for the 2015-2016 academic year). But US schools are generally flexible about this so you and her US high school can discuss which grade would be most appropriate for your DD.

I share Canyouforgiveher's view that the emphasis on sports - and (American) football in Texas - is unlike anything you will find in the UK. If your DD is into sports (particularly American football and basketball), it could be fun for her (not only attending games but going to pep rallies, homecoming, etc). However, on balance I think the sports obsession at US high schools is more harmful than beneficial.

Regarding university, I think you do have options. If she would like to return to the UK for university, perhaps she could spend one year in the US as a "gap" year - going to the US after completing her GCSEs and returning a year later to start her A levels. If she decides she would like to remain in the US for university, spending her junior and senior years there would help ease her transition (I think high school graduation requirements could be adjusted to take into account that your DD will be in the US system for two rather than four years so that shouldn't be a huge hurdle).

Good luck.

PosterEh Thu 16-Jul-15 08:32:57

I'd be very careful about this if she wants to go to uni in the UK. If she isn't a UK resident for the 3years proceeding her course she may not be counted as a home/EU student and will face much higher fees, no access to loans and be prohibited from taking certain courses where NHS bursaries apply.

GinandJag Thu 16-Jul-15 14:20:05

Finish her GCSEs - she is so close, and it would be a shame to leave the British education system with next to nothing.

A standard American high school diploma is broadly equivalent to GCSEs. She would need to take AP courses (college level) to be able to go into first year of a British university. You'd need to check with the school district the she'd be able to do this.

Living in the USA is not the same as being on holiday there.

There would be a fair bit of forward planning for her to get her dependent visa (H4 presumably).

Luna9 Fri 17-Jul-15 19:50:26

What are the reasons for her wanting to go to the USA? Is it only to be with her father? Is his new wife happy with it? she has only been with her dad on holidays and she is only young and probably has not idea or what living permanently with them will be; everything is perfect during holidays as they don't see each other very often plus she really has not grown up with her dad. I will be very careful to send my 15 year old daughter that far; maybe she can try when she is older and finish her secondary school or have a trial for a few months after GCSE and see what it is like.

WhattodowithMum Fri 17-Jul-15 20:36:51

Let me make sure I've got this right. Southlake Texas is near Denton Texas, North of Dallas, right? So big cars, big houses, really moderate cost of living. I am sure it looked like something out of a film to a 15 year old!

Would she go to Carroll Senior High?
Check out this independent review:

Or would she go to Grapevine High?
independent review:

The reviews give a comprehensive breakdown of the academics, social and racial mix, ranking within state and country, etc.

If you like the look of the actual school she would get, dependent on where your ex lives, then you have to consider the implications. If she goes, she probably has to see it through and graduate from a US high school. It's so very different from British A levels. US high school remains generalist to the end and kids then go onto 4 years of college where the first 2 years are still generalist. In the UK, kids focus in on 3 subjects at A levels and then go on to 3 years of university.

If you daughter has lived in Texas for several years, legally, and graduated from a TX high school then she could go "in state" to a Texas state university. The University of TX is a very good school and going in state is a bargain. (I think it is USD 8,000 tuition per year at the moment.)

However, it might be hard to get a first job in the UK with a TX Bachelors degree. People here have heard of Harvard and a few others, the rest some of which are very, very good just don't register.

Personally, I wouldn't send her.

Lotsofplans Fri 17-Jul-15 22:52:03

My family moved to America for my dads work for a year when I was 18 and my brothers were 16 and 12. I went to college, my brothers went to high school and junior high school.

We found that because the British educational system is different, they were both a year ahead academically, so they were put into classes with kids a year older than them. (Apart from French which they were both way behind in!) My older brother graduated from High School.

Overall it was a good experience, but we were only there for a year. We then came back and they returned to their schools and the 17 year old did his A levels.

HereIAm20 Tue 21-Jul-15 20:54:46

As above i moved after O levels and was put straight into grade 12 as our education system here was more advanced- i had been at a girls' grammar school. I did their highest level French and was still way ahead. I moved back to Uk and really eish I hsd done A levels!

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