As children approach high school age families begin to seriously consider options for college. For the approximately 1.5 million families who choose to homeschool, college readiness is often a concern that leads to families deciding to enroll students in a public or private high school.
The need for college readiness does not take away homeschooling as an option for high school students. There are many options available, both online and in person, for high school homeschoolers to prepare for the academic and self-management aspects of higher education.
School at Home
In many states students can take free high school credit classes online at home. Some states offer public school online, either through their own program or via a company like K12 or Connections Academy. This allows students to attend full-time to earn a high school diploma or, depending on the state, take classes a la carte. Students in states that don’t provide online courses tuition free can self pay tuition to enroll full or part time.
While the part time options don’t usually qualify the student for a high school diploma, they do provide verifiable proof of course completion and grades. Plus, taking even a few online courses provides an opportunity for students to gain experience with:
- Working with a variety of teachers
- Pacing themselves and manage their time
- Learning in an online environment (which most college students will do at some point)
- Even interacting with other students through real-time, online seminars
While MOOCs (which we’ll talk about shortly) are a great way to learn, lack of teacher grading and feedback make them less effective for proving proficiency with college level work. Most states provide an opportunity for high school students to earn both high school and college credits by taking college classes prior to graduation. Cost varies by state, from completely student funded to completely funded by the state or school district. Most commonly, classes are offered in high schools, on college campuses, and online, but this too varies by state and school district. The Education Commission of the States provides state specific information here.
Dual Enrollment is an excellent way to earn college credit at a reduced cost while gaining experience and deciding on a future major. Students can take a couple classes to get a feel for college and their chosen field of study, complete prerequisites and core classes so they enter college as a sophomore, or even earn enough credits to finish high school with an Associate Degree.
Massive Open Online Courses
Known as MOOCs, these courses (available on sites like www.edx.org, www.coursera.org and www.khanacademy.org) eprovide free and low cost classes in a huge variety of subjects. While these courses generally don’t provide credits, they can be used on a homeschool transcript as proof of subject area learning, as well as to show experience with college level material.
Pre-college Summer Programs
Dual Enrollment provides college level work, but not the experience of living away from home on a college campus. This is where a pre-college summer program is invaluable.High school students gain experience with the life skills required for life on a college campus, while trying out classes in a potential major.
- Learning about living with a roommate and sharing a bathroom
- Eating in the dining hall
- Getting to class on time
- Identifying your strengths
- Creating a plan for success
In addition to life skills, pre-college programs provide guidance on college applications, scholarships and financial aid, choosing a college and major, and much more. Read more about how pre-college programs help with College and Career Readiness here.
Internships and volunteering
Working in the community as a volunteer or intern is a great way for homeschooled students to learn more about a career of interest and what a job in the field entails, while networking with professionals that can become mentors. Internships can often be found in the local community by visiting businesses and talking to owners and managers about what the student is able to offer. Learn more about internships here.
Volunteer work shows colleges a commitment to services, while teaching children about how they can help their community, and at times factors in to financial aid and scholarships. Ranging from weekly commitments to one time experiences, there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities for teens.
There are many options that allow students to continue homeschool through high school and still graduate well equipped for college. Let us know if you have any more helpful tips for homeschool high school students to ensure they are prepared for college!