Considerations for TCK transitioning from international school to higher education:
Transition to higher education can be a particularly problematic time for TCK as transitioning to higher education often means returning to a country and culture they may never have lived in, often without the consistent support of their family unit. This is also an identified period of adaptive stress as a result of the transition to adulthood and greater independence.
- High mobility and diverse cultural experiences are two variables that contribute to the struggles TCK face during periods of transition. Cultural displacement and loss of perceived identity are manifestations of these variables that were documented in existing research (Houston, 2017).
- Documented struggles include, difficulty establishing a sense of belonging, building friendships, TCK feel as if they don’t fit in anywhere, can become depressed, transfer institutions multiple times, or drop out of their institution (Pollack & Van Reken, 2009).
- Despite the documented need, few university retention programs exist to support this population (Morales, 2015).
Recent findings of research surveying TCK who had recently transitioned to university in the U.S. found:
- Transition programming at international schools was lacking or insufficient
- Loneliness was prevalent among first year TCK
- Culture shock and not having a peer group that can relate to their unique lifestyle circumstances is problematic
- TCK surveyed perceived connection to other TCK as the most helpful support. If this didn’t exist international student group support was also helpful
How can parents support their transitioning senior?
- Advocate at your child’s high school for greater transition support programming considering the transition cycle and recommended embedded programing elements
- Speak with your child about their experience as a TCK, the Venn diagram of the TCK experience is a helpful tool in exploring the relationship between parent culture, host culture, and TCK culture
- Consider higher education institutions with an international student presence
- Connection with other TCK transitioning to higher education through groups, such as, the Foreign Service Youth Program and the online group, Foreign Service College Bound
This summary was completed by Stephanie Sexton, education consultant and founder of GoingPlacesEd.org. For more information on transition support programming creation and implementation for schools and supports for children and families, email at: firstname.lastname@example.org