I am a U.S. citizen but I live in Pakistan, which is where I have attended school. How can I gain admission in an American high school?

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Anonymous, Noodle Intern

You may want to check out Noodle’s resources about studying in the USA as an international student, where you can read articles written by experts and questions from other people who are in a similar position to your own.

Surprisingly, enrolling in public school is not the most straightforward thing to do. Read our expert article about enrolling your child in school. The timing and process differs from district to district, not to mention state to state. The best thing to do is to confirm with the school what the district website reports. You can reach the administrative office at this phone number: (671) 642-2100

Public school districts are required to enroll students throughout the school year, but the exact school placement is up to the district to decide. This means that you may be able to enter your neighborhood school after the start of the academic year, or you may be sent to another district school for the remainder of the year. Many schools have restrictions on when you can enroll, and the main period for enrollment for students starting school in the fall is early spring.

Schools typically require a proof of age/identity, usually in the form of a birth certificate or ID card. Public schools also require proof of residence within that school district. Examples of such proof include a driver’s license, a utility bill, or a rent or mortgage statement. Public schools are required to accept students who reside in their district, regardless of the student’s immigration status. Therefore, schools cannot ask for a social security number or green card as proof of residency. While there have been instances of individual schools prohibiting children from registering, it is illegal to do so.

In addition to the documents mentioned above, children need to have records of their vaccinations and might need to be immunized against particular diseases. At certain times, schools may ask to see records from vision / dental check-ups. Again, ask the school about its requirements. Also, it will help to speed up the enrollment process if your documents are all in English.

As for the academic requirements, this will vary from school to school, but it’s important to gain English proficiency to succeed in the classroom. (But you’re not alone — 10 percent of public students are English Langauge Learners, or ELLs, too!) Schools are required to provide English as a Second Language instruction to ELLs, which may take the form of bilingual classes, separate, small-group instruction, or other solutions, depending on the needs of enrolled students and each school’s resources.When it comes time to take standardized tests or apply for college, you should take the TOEFL, to show whomever is evaluating your credentials that English is not your first language.

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