Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Deciding Whether to Homeschool High School


Homeschooling High School can be fun and rewarding, especially if you have a teenager who wants to learn. It can also be difficult and stressful. Here are a few things to consider before you take on the challenge:
  • Research your local school's policies on admitting homeschoolers later in the education process. In the state in which we live, one school may accept all a homeschool's courses as transferred credits, while another may insist on stating all students as Freshmen (first-years). In one case, the school took all of the credits that the student had some evidence for...except Physical Education! This can mean that, once the choice has been made to remove the child or homeschool high school, it can be difficult to decide to put a child into high school.
  • Consider your child's maturity level and ability to teach herself. Some young people are quite comfortable with directing their own education from age thirteen on, while others need a kick in the pants to do anything. The self-starters are easy to deal with: the less self-directed may offer more challenges. Sometimes making it clear to the child that the time has come for them to take more responsibility will change their approach to things. A bit more maturity is also a key factor!
  • Think about the resources available in your community. What could you use to add to the educational experiences? What could you use to teach the subjects that you are not proficient in? Online courses are available everywhere, community colleges often welcome younger students for a course or two, as in post-secondary classes, where they give credit for both high school and college for the same class. Maybe a grandparent or friend, or paid tutor would be able to help out.
  • Discuss your child's vision for her future with her. College? Trade school? Apprenticeship? Starting a business? Help her to see how what is available and what it will take to get her where she wants to go. Can she shadow someone to learn about a possible career? Can she try out a part-time job in a field that interests her?
  • Keep good records of his academic life...and anything remotely related. From clubs to volunteer work to courses completed, document it all. Check out various college pages on homeschooling to get an idea. For instance, the USAF Academy has a clear picture, as does Mary Baldwin College and Amherst. Keep in mind, though, that many colleges are not nearly so strict: all our local community college required was that my son be basically literate. Most colleges are very happy to help homeschoolers, though, so don't be intimidated.
  • Be sure to keep your child's desires in mind. Many homeschooled kids who start in school are not very happy with it within a short period of time, so maybe a happy medium is in order. Some public and private schools will allow a student to enroll part-time, so this option could be considered.
  • For a very bright, motivated student, consider the option of skipping high school and starting college online. Many online schools don't require a high school diploma to take courses, and all the courses don't have to be taken from one school. Here are a few very respected, fully-accredited colleges that can be good for homeschoolers:
Charter Oak State College’s motto is "Degrees Without Boundaries." Headquartered in New Britain, Connecticut, they will take homeschooled students beginning at age 16, though students may take courses from other schools earlier and transfer the credits. The cost of advisement and 12 credits per year is $3750 for one year for an out-of-state resident.

Excelsior College, formerly known as Regent’s College was founded in 1971 by the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York as an external studies degree-granting program. They also have a very useful Credit Banking service which will, for a fee, allow you to keep all your credits from various sources on one transcript, which can be useful when documenting educational experiences for employers or colleges.

Thomas Edison State College works mostly with those twenty-one and over, but they sometimes accept younger students with college credits already banked up. A non-New Jersey resident will pay about $5800 for a year of up to 36 credits, earned in many ways, and $5100 for subsequent years.
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