Do you feel anxious as you look into the eyes of the homeschool-through-high-school giant? If so, you’re not alone. The idea of homeschooling through high school is intimidating, especially if your child plans to attend college. In my Facebook groups for homeschooling families, many are seeking encouragement for homeschooling through high school. I know how you feel, because when our eldest approached the important high school years, I worried whether I could teach him well enough to prepare him for his future. I hope to help you conquer this looming giant and convince you that yes, you can do it!
Homeschool Graduates in College
Perhaps the first step in taking on this giant, is believing that it’s worthwhile. Many parents question whether homeschooled kids can get into college. Well, the short answer is yes. But not only are homeschool graduates entering colleges, they’re excelling and raising the bar.
I interviewed some professors to see how homeschool graduates faired at the college level. I hoped the feedback would be encouraging, but braced myself in case it wasn’t. I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful things the professors had to say. That post is by far my most popular, so take a moment to read “Homeschool Graduates in College ~ From the Professors’ Perspective.”
The strength of homeschooling is that it fosters independence in, and a love for, learning. Parents need not worry about fitting everything in because it’s not humanly possible – no school is able to do that. But where public school stifles creativity and individuality, homeschooling nurtures it. If homeschool graduates choose to continue their education by attending college, they approach it with maturity and focus.
Pray About It
Don’t forget to pray for God’s guidance in choosing the next step for your child. He may have other plans for them, but if He leads you to homeschool through high school, go with confidence knowing that He is there with you. You may not feel qualified to guide your children through high school, but He most certainly is. Having planned a purpose for their lives before they were even conceived, He’s more than qualified to be their Guidance Counselor.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;…” Jeremiah 1:5a, New International Version
Make a Plan
Something that helped me was to look up my state’s graduation requirements. Somehow, looking at that list of “four English credits, four Math credits,” and so on, made me think, “I can do this!” So, I recommend that to you. Pull up your state’s graduation requirements online and write them down. For example, try searching “(state’s) high school graduation requirements.”
Once you’ve done that, draft a schedule of your child’s high school years and when each credit will be earned.
The next step is to look up the colleges that your student is interested in attending. Look at their admission requirements and take them into account when making your plan.
Should your student’s goal differ, such as to enlist in the military or enroll in a technical school, then look up their requirements. Whatever the goal is, research requirements and plan to meet, if not exceed, them.
On the subject of college, I recommend College Without Compromise by Scott and Kris Wightman. In their book, written especially for homeschoolers, the Wightmans discuss whether college is the best option for your family, and if so, different ways to go about earning a degree while saving time and money. It’s definitely worth its small price.
Ways and Means
Do your knees wobble when you think about teaching algebra? Do you lose sleep over the prospect of teaching biology? When it comes to fulfilling your student’s high school requirements, you don’t have to teach it all, you have options.
There are curriculums that allow students to work independently. You can join a homeschool co-op or hire a private instructor.
Check your local community college’s dual-enrollment (or “concurrent”) program. Admission requirements can vary. The advantage to this program is that the student earns college credit at the same time they’re fulfilling high school requirements. They gain experience in meeting deadlines and learning under different teaching styles. By the time they graduate high school, they will have a head start towards earning a college degree.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to teach all the subjects, there are other resources.
Beginning with 9th grade you should keep detailed records. You might maintain them on a computer, but if you do, be sure to print them out in case something happens to it. I tried to do that each time I updated them.
I kept a running list for each child. Each school year, I started with what curriculum we were using, then added outside classes and activities. I even kept track of any field trips, special events, awards, achievements, volunteering, work experience, etc. Besides retaining information for their transcript, these records may be useful when applying for scholarships and awards.
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) offers a full range of services for homeschooling through high school. Their three high school consultants can help with things like making a four-year plan, transcript review and GPA calculation.
You Did It! (Graduation)
When your student nears graduation, you can order a high-quality diploma and announcements online. Some homeschool co-ops, homeschool conventions, and state support groups offer graduation ceremonies, so check around for those opportunities. Another option is to plan your own celebration and make it as unique as your homeschool. You can plan whatever suits your family’s needs.
GEDs (General Educational Development) are not recommended by HSLDA because of the stigma that is attached to them. If a homeschool student completes the high school requirements, they are fully entitled to a diploma.
Although it may seem overwhelming, homeschooling through high school is achievable. There is plenty of help and encouragement for families as they navigate this season. The benefit of doing so is retaining control over the influences your teen experiences during those important years, and making a plan that sets them up for success in life as a whole. Hopefully, the homeschool-through-high-school giant has been reduced to a more manageable size and you are feeling more confident to tackle him. You can do it!
Homeschool Graduates in College ~ From the Professors’ Perspective
9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling – a step-by-step guide to get started homeschooling quickly and stress-free.
This is so good, and informative, Michelle! I know this is such an obstacle to people who might otherwise home school. Once you take that step, however, it really comes quite naturally. As an added bonus, I loved the debates and discussions that arose out of the more thought provoking material!
Great comment! That’s true. As our kids learn and begin to think increasingly for themselves, we get to be a part of that and watch it develop. Thank you for your comment!
You’re right that it really is not hard; a diligent, reasonably intelligent adult can help to guide an adolescent through any homeschool high school endeavor…and we know our kids better than anyone else and love them more than anyone else ever could. It just takes a commitment to learn as we go and to being a mentor/facilitator for our kids. I do, though, disagree – strongly! – with your suggestion to look up state graduation requirements. No, no, no. We are NOT under the authority of government school graduation requirements no matter what future plans our kids have, and it’s not responsible to suggest other homeschoolers consider government schools to be that authority over us. INSTEAD, simply follow the state HOMESCHOOL law, whatever it is, and if one is seeking specific guidelines, go to COLLEGE websites for admissions information. Doing so insures you actually meet a college’s real admissions requirements – just because public schools require something doesn’t mean it’s necessary or preferred by colleges – and also (even more importantly) continuously reminds us that the government schools are NOT EVER supposed to be the measure for those of us not using them.
I really appreciate your input. I really had not thought of it that way, especially back then. That was what helped me feel like I could continue through high school. I keep reading articles about how ill-prepared public school graduates are, so your advice should definitely be considered.
Our local homeschool association doesn’t have many families who are homeschooling high school unfortunately, but we did have a guest speaker recently from another community who shared with us about homeschooling high school. It was very encouraging! We still have a few years to go before we get there, but I think it’s going to take a while to figure out all the options.
It’s good to start thinking about it early. Yes, the lack of role models can be a problem for smaller homeschool communities. It’s harder to take on that challenge when you aren’t seeing others doing it successfully. It is doable, though, and I love hearing stories of homeschool graduates and what they’re accomplishing. Thank you for commenting!
Great Article 🙂 Very encouraging and helpful 🙂 🙂
Thank you, Meredith!
Many useful, practical points here!
I spent a few nights lying awake, anxious about whether our girls would be able to do well at college. They both attended Bible school, and did well.
We did have them both take the GED, because the Bible colleges they attended insisted on an “official” diploma, not a home school diploma with transcripts. So, it certainly is important to check out the requirements of the schools they are interested in well in advance. I hope that is changing.
Thank you, Lee Ann! Requirements change often. I think mostly for the better, thankfully.
That’s crazy, Lee Ann. Parent-generated diplomas ARE official – because homeschooling is completely legal in every state. I would not have my child take a GED; I’d fight to have the perfectly viable parent-generated diploma accepted. That said and without knowing when this happened to you, things are changing. I have one daughter planning to go to a Bible school and the admissions process is super-easy. Another daughter is planning on a professional nanny school and when I called recently to inquire about procedures, the director said, “We LOVE homeschoolers! We wish ALL our students had been homeschooled!” 😉
That’s great to hear! I think things have changed positively for homeschoolers in recent years. We have HSLDA to thank for much of that.