01 May, 2013

More change on the way

On Monday I went to a Transitions presentation at school. Our eldest is about to transition out of middle school and into high school!

Trouble is, he's doing it in an American school. I got hit with so much terminology! I'm thankful that my husband is a high school teacher and so I'm vaguely familiar with some of these terms. It doesn't mean that it is necessarily easy to get my brain around it all. The biggest difficulty I had was with the academic stuff, especially the "big picture" information we were given about preparing for higher education. Americans do it quite differently!

Here are some terms, just to start with (copied from the school's handbook):

AP Classes

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are available for students to in the high school. More information is available in the high school handbook.


Grade Point Average (GPA): see high school handbook entry on Grading for more information.


The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is administered in high school to help students prepare for the SAT.


The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a test that is widely required for admission to western colleges and universities. CAJ is a registered SAT testing center as a convenience for our students and families. CAJ's Guidance Office has information about preparing for the SAT test. The registrar can answer questions about registering for the test.

GPA isn't a new concept, we encountered it at university. But having it in high school is. Along with a 4-point grading system!

My husband teaches AP courses, so that isn't such a new concept either. AP courses are first semester-level college courses taken in high school. They are assessed by a single year-end exam.

SAT is a bit like a Queensland Core Skills test, except that you do the test in 10th or 11th grades and can do it as many times as you like. It isn't used in relation to the school's results and you get the number it generates.

And there were others that aren't mentioned on the school website like:

Transcript—this sounds like a Senior Certificate, a document with all the subjects (which they call "courses") you did in high school and the grades you got for them. No idea what else it may contain.
Diploma—graduation certificate?
AST—I think this is another type of SAT
Sophomore—I've got this one down now, it means 10th grader.
Junior—this means 11th grader.
Freshman—I don't think they used this one, but it means 9th grader.
Co-corricular—American for extra curricular activities
College essay—thankfully this is something we won't have to worry about, being Australians (no, we're not planning to send our kids to expensive American colleges). It is part of their application to the colleges of their choices.
TOEFL—phew: again something we won't have to worry about. This is an English proficiency test.

This one will be one of our biggest challenges, with a 12 month home assignment planned during our son's 10th grade year:

Credit—I think this is like what we had at university. I had to dig deeper on the website to find details. Students receive one credit for each one semester "course" they do. They need 48 credits to graduate.

The website says they need this breakdown:
  • 4 credits Bible (one credit for each year enrolled at CAJ):
  • 8 credits English:
  • 1 credit Fine arts:
  • 4 credits Foreign language:
  • 4 credits Mathematics:
  • 4 credits PE/health:
  • 4 credits Science:
  • 6 credits Social Studies (World History I, US History, Japanese Culture, Global Issues)
  • Elective credits to add to a total of 48 credits
I'm guessing we'll have to negotiate between the two schools on this one.

And that is not even considering the fun we'll have trying to apply to Australian universities.

A brief foray onto my alma mater's website tells me this:

For students in the US high school system your admission will be assessed based on a combination of your high school diploma results and the results of one of the following - SAT, SAT II, or ACT tests. For more specific entry requirements please contact a UQ Student Advisor (by filling in our online enquiry form at: www.uq.edu.au/international/enquiry or by email: study@uq.edu.au ) and include your diploma and test results.

I'm thinking it might be a little late to be making this enquiry after they've already graduated and therefore have a diploma and test results!

And that is not even considering that our kids will be considered Australian citizens, so not actually international students, though their entry into the system will be via their US high school diploma (all of this assumes we'll still be in Japan, of course, but Lord willing, we will).

Grrr. Have you had enough? 

Writing it down has helped me process it a little more, but I'm sure that the next four years will be a learning process! We have friends here who are currently working through this process with their daughters. Even though they are South Australian and we'll be looking at different universities, we're looking forward to benefitting from their experience!


KarenKTeachCamb said...

I do not envy you this challenge! I'm familiar with some of that language from my years at Logos, but I'm glad I'm not trying to navigate entry into Australian universities from it. I'm guessing you'll also be taking advantage of Uni open days, etc during your Home Assignment. Then you have the whole issue of when to start Uni, giving his graduation will be in June. Does he start in January/February when the majority of high school graduates start or do you look for a uni that does mid-year intakes so he doesn't have to hang around waiting for a whole semester. Fun days ahead, but I'm sure you'll work it out, because God will lead both you and him.

Wendy said...

Yes, Karen, there's all of that! One thing we've seen other southern hemisphere kids do is work for a semester while they wait for the start of the university year. English is a valuable skill for a young person in Japan and Japan pays pretty well too.