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The Challenges and Opportunities of Being a High School Immigrant

High school teacher for immigrants outdoors with a group of teenagers

High school is challenging. From navigating the social aspects to thriving academically, high school students face tremendous pressure–and this pressure is even greater for those students who come from other countries. 

However, with these challenges come opportunities. At Virguez Law, we know firsthand what it is like to be an immigrant. Here’s a look into The Challenges and Opportunities of Being a High School Immigrant.

Let’s first take a look at the challenges high school immigrants face.

1.Language Barrier

High school for immigrants can be challenging when there is a language barrier. This language affects the ability of students to communicate with peers, teachers, and coaches. Academics in the U.S. are geared toward English-speaking students. While the number of bilingual teachers is increasing, classroom efficiency decreases if these teachers have to teach in two languages.

Immigrant families often cannot help their children with school assignments because of the language barrier. But, more so, the language barrier among high school immigrants can make them feel isolated, hopeless, and even depressed.

2. Cultural Differences

The teen years can be a struggle for all youth. There’s a desire to fit in with peers. Social media presents an unrealistic image of people’s lives. Not only do high school immigrants feel the typical pressures of teenage years, they are also faced with the added stress of being culturally different.

Fitting in with the cultural “norms” can be difficult for high school immigrants who often go home to their own strong culture. Unfortunately, immigrant high school students with a solid cultural background can be the target of bullying and struggle with rejection.

3. Immigration Stress

Immigration stress is defined as “the psychological effects or strain to immigration relation challenges that people encounter as they adapt to life in a new country.” High school for immigrants comes with stressors exacerbated by what they may face at home, such as parental job challenges, poverty, housing, and other factors. 

But high school for immigrants isn’t all bad. Immigrant students have tremendous educational opportunities that lead to higher-paying jobs, and reaching the “American Dream.” Here are a few benefits of being an immigrant in high school.

4. High Aspirations

Many immigrant families come to the United States with dreams of a better life. The desire to succeed means that high school immigrants have high aspirations, which translate to a strong work ethic, positive attitudes in school, grit, and perseverance. This drive can lead high school immigrants to outperform their native-born peers and build a better path for themselves.

5. More Culturally Diverse

As we become a global society, learning and understanding other cultures is imperative. High school for immigrants lets teens become fully immersed in American culture. This helps them to adapt quickly and broaden their horizons. And while it may be challenging during the high school years, immigrants who attend high school in another country turn into adults who can use their multi-cultural background in jobs and social settings and even help their own families assimilate.

6. Grants & More Money For College

Unlike loans that need to be paid back, there are scholarships available specifically for high school immigrants. High school seniors who are immigrants can apply for grants that help them with the cost of college without adding extra debt that can make it hard to afford to start a life after college graduation. 

There are many types of grants for immigrants based on academic performance, social clubs, sports, and other interests. Some grants high school immigrants can apply for include the Science Matters Scholarship, the Financial Literacy Scholarship, and the Dream U.S. Scholarship, among others.

At Virguez Law, we understand the challenges and opportunities immigrants face in high school and beyond because we are immigrants ourselves. We speak your language and are happy to talk to you about your immigration matters. Call our offices at 678-300-0000 and schedule a consultation. 

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