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 get into college.
I get SO FRUSTRATED seeing 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.
Wouldn’t you love to know that there is one simple thing you can do that will help you see exactly what is necessary for your teen to be accepted to college? So you won’t have to listen to all those people telling you to do this, that, or the other thing — and you won’t need to be afraid that you will ruin your kid’s life.
This is actually 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.
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.
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.
What does it take to get into college?
Let me give you a quick spoiler alert of what you’ll find out — although you should still complete the exercise (did you click to download the form yet?), because doing it FOR YOURSELF is what will chase those fears away and give you the confidence that you can handle this high school thing. But here’s what you will learn: Guess what? 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 high school at home. 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 much 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. Take a look for yourself!
And if you need help finding the information, or if you’d like to learn more about what to do with it once you’ve got it, you might be interested in my ebook called Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School. In it there is a screencast where I show you exactly how to find the admissions requirements on college websites. I also take you step-by-step through the process of creating a course of study for your high schooler. You’ll be confident that you haven’t missed anything and that your teen will be equipped to fulfill their goals!
Don’t you feel better already? 🙂
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