Registration is the process of making sure the students select their classes, get to walk around the building, and have a locker and school bus assigned to them. This is also the time that you will likely find out what grade level your host student will be considered. Many schools have a system where they enroll all students in one specific grade level or they enroll them by their age so they are in classes with their peers. This school policy is likely based on a myriad of factors outside of AFS-USA control and should be accepted by the host student and host family.
Additionally, many of our AFS students are coming from countries with a highly structured national curriculum and, therefore, they have likely never had the opportunity to choose their classes, nor take elective classes.
To help you prepare your host student for this new situation, here are some suggestions to make this process go smoothly when you meet with a school counselor or registrar to build your host student’s schedule.
- Ask the school in what grade level the student will be enrolled, if they have any required classes for the exchange students, and if there are any classes that are off-limits for exchange students.
- Send your host student the link from the school website with the school’s course catalog and ask them to make some selections before they arrive. You might consider having a video chat with your host student to talk about what options are available and help them understand what those courses are as many of them are likely quite new.
- Ask your host student to find out what requirements they have related to school. For example, will they need an official transcript? Do they need a certificate of attendance? Will they need an apostille* on their transcript? Share this with the school counselor at the time of enrollment so everyone can plan ahead.
- Ask your host student to share with you what they have been working on in math class because that will help determine what math class they should take as the U.S. system functions differently than most countries.
- Ask the school their policy regarding exchange students receiving a diploma and/or walking through the graduation ceremony. AFS students are NOT guaranteed a diploma or participation in a graduation ceremony. We value our relationship with schools and therefore respect their policies. We ask that you and your host student do the same.
As every school does things differently, we can’t predict the exact process you will go through, but the more prepared you and the host student are, the more smoothly things will go.
*An apostille is stamp/seal that certifies a document so the document can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty. You can find more information on your state’s Secretary of State website.
Enrolling in an English Learner Class/Program
AFS participants have all taken an English Language assessment as a part of their application to participate in their exchange program. At the same time, schools are obligated to assess the abilities of new students whose home language is not English once they are at school. Some schools encourage participation in the local English Learner program and others are quite upset if an exchange student requires English language services throughout their time at school. Please talk to the school counselor at the time of registration regarding the school’s policies for exchange students in the English Learner program. If there is a significant limit to your host student’s English abilities, please reach out to your liaison and local AFS volunteers for assistance.