The Important Role of Home Schooling
As the ranks of home-educated graduates continues to grow, the number of these students seeking college admission increases as well. College entrance requirements often catch families by surprise. The purpose of this memo is to help families understand and be prepared for the college admissions process. As you embark upon the journey of preparing your children for college, keep in mind the following.
Every college and university is different. We can describe what to expect generally, but you will find the application process varies from school to school as you begin your investigation. For example, a college or university might require homeschoolers to provide transcripts from parents, SAT scores, SAT II scores, ACT scores, or more than one of the above. Some schools even have their own entrance exams. Since few colleges today require homeschoolers to have a GED score, taking this test is not generally recommended. If, however, a college does request it, you may want to ask them to waive this requirement.
Designing a 4-Year High School Program
College preparation should begin when the student starts high school (around age 13). Let us look briefly at what traditional high schools do and what colleges are used to seeing on applications. Below is a typical example of courses required for graduation by most high schools for those students planning to go on to college. There are five main academic subject areas: English, Math, History/Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language. In addition to these core academic subjects, students usually add electives to supplement their high school programs. Electives require less work than academic core courses and are usually given either one-half or one-quarter credit depending on the hours that are logged. (Evaluation of credit hours is discussed later.) Although it varies somewhat from state to state, the plan looks something like this:
Typical College Prep High School 4-Year Program
Total Credits: 24-28 Credits
Note that homeschoolers are not legally required to follow this list during their high school years. This framework is provided for purposes of comparison only. As a homeschool instructor you have a lot of flexibility to assess your student’s needs and abilities and select a course of study accordingly. Most colleges that want to see a transcript, however, will be looking for one which follows these general guidelines.
If you begin homeschooling in the high school years, you may need to focus more attention on academics than students who have been homeschooling most of their lives. Because the tutorial method of homeschooling tends to allow students to cover material in less time, homeschoolers are often ready for college work before they reach 12th grade. Therefore, carefully evaluate your own student to determine how much high school education is needed and what kinds of courses will benefit him or her. Keep an eye open for courses that will benefit his or her college career.
Let us take a closer look at what a four-year plan represents in terms of hours, weeks and years of class instruction. If you plan to prepare a transcript to use for college application, it needs to be accurate and generally conform in educational content to a four-year plan.
Each one-year course represents one credit towards graduation. Public school requirements vary from state to state; although 21-23 credits may be the norm, 24 credits minimum is recommended.
If you know what college your child wants to attend you should request the college’s catalog and note its admission requirements. Keep in mind that colleges usually list the minimum high school requirements in their catalogs or on their website, while a student who is offered admission typically exceeds the stated minimums.
If at this point your child is not certain he will attend college, your high school program still needs to be well-rounded and complete since your student will not be receiving any further formal education. The questions to consider in this case are: Are they ready academically for adult life? Are they equipped should they choose to pursue a college education at some later date?
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