Many of the posts I read about homeschooling high school are very daunting. They make it appear that if my child hasn’t read all these 500 books or volunteered for umpteen service organizations or learned how to write a 20-page research paper, that he will never graduate from high school or be accepted to college. I get so frustrated reading this type of post, because I know it does not have to be that way. Homeschooling high school does not have to be difficult or scary. It can be easy, pleasing – even fun. No wonder so many homeschooling families put their kids into public or private school once they hit ninth grade. If I believed even half of those posts, I would, too.
I get that the thought of homeschooling high school can be scary. For the first time in our homeschool career, we are thinking of having lessons in our home that go deeper than our own knowledge and/or ability. We are afraid we will not have the necessary expertise to handle the subject matter that our child will be dealing with. We are afraid we will mess up the planning process, and our child will not have enough credits to graduate. We are afraid our child won’t get into college because we didn’t give him the right courses. We wonder if our child will be sufficiently prepared to succeed in college after he has somehow been miraculously accepted.
I can’t help with all of those fears right now, although I hope to do so on this blog eventually. But the fear of planning the proper course work to get into college is a simple one to put to rest, so let’s address that one today. This is an easy one, y’all. There is no magical formula. We don’t need a huge list of must-do’s, the thought of which bows us down with dread, wondering how we will ever accomplish it. We can get the information we need about high school curriculum requirements for college acceptance by completing a very easy exercise that can be done for the most part online.
The best way to know what colleges expect is to just look it up. This is the very easy first step in planning your child’s high school curriculum. Almost every college/university has an online catalog these days. And inside that online catalog, usually at the beginning, is a section on admissions — specifically on admissions requirements. And there is where it will say how many credits of high school English the college requires, how many credits of math, of history, etc. It will even sometimes list specific courses that the admissions department would like to see the applicant to have taken in high school, like American History or British Literature. (This information is often NOT found in the general admissions section of a college website; it is usually only in the catalog.)
It is neither difficult nor time-consuming to pick several colleges and look this information up on their websites. You might want to check out the local community college, and then maybe a state school, a couple private colleges, your own alma mater, even an Ivy League, if that’s where your child might be headed. The idea is to get a cross-section of colleges and universities that your child might be interested in attending. If you’re the organized type, you can make a chart depicting which colleges require which credits and classes. And what you will learn is that they all have different requirements.
Let me repeat that: each and every college/university has its own requirements for what it expects to see from its applicants. There are no state laws about this, because every school draws students from many different states of the union. Schools know that a child from one state may have been required to have so many credits of history in high school, but a child from another state may not have been required to have that many. So the colleges determine their own requirements, which may or may not match those of the state they are in.
This is very freeing!! Once you understand that requirements vary by college, then you begin to realize that there is no one right way to do this high school thing. You discover how flexible a high school curriculum can be — and then the task becomes a whole lot easier.
Most 8th-grade and younger students do not know where they want to go to college, so right now this is just a data-gathering exercise. If you do happen to know that your child WILL be going to XYZ College, then by all means look up those requirements and plan that child’s high school curriculum to meet them.
But if your child is still unsure of their college/career goals (and most are at this point), you can still get an idea of what will generally be required by most colleges and what your child needs to do to meet those requirements. You can use this information to make an overall plan of classes that will fulfill the requirements for most places.
Another interesting thing to notice, too, is that many colleges do not require a minimum number of credits even close to what the states require for high school graduation. This can also be very relieving. Frankly, I don’t know why we even care about state requirements for high school graduation. I mean, they’re fine to use as a reference or starting point, but it seems to me that when planning high school we tend to forget one of the great perks of homeschooling — the fact that we are in charge. We can decide how many credits our child needs to graduate and what courses he is required to take. We don’t have to follow what the public school does in any regard, much less this one. Let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be. (Obviously, we do need to follow the homeschool laws in our state, but these are usually much different from public school requirements.)
I believe doing this little bit of research will ease some of the fear about homeschooling high school. When we know what colleges expect, we can plan to achieve that. It is not something we need to go into blind. Colleges do not have some magical hidden process by which they decide on the fitness of their applicants. It’s all there in black and white, written in their catalogs.
Does this knowledge help as you consider homeschooling high school? Let me know what you’re thinking. 🙂
If this post has been helpful for you, you might want to see the next step for planning your high school curriculum. Click here: The Easy 2nd Step for High School Curriculum Planning.
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