The idea of homeschooling your child all the way through high school can seem daunting, but it’s actually very common and not as difficult as you might think in this age of access to information and resources. If you’ve been homeschooling your child in the years leading up to high school, you might find that their learning follows a natural progression and that high school isn’t the giant change that it might seem to be from a distance.
Homeschooling parents of teens may feel concerned about high school graduation requirements and whether (or how) they might best meet those at home. There are minimum requirements that students enrolled in public schools must meet in order to graduate. Because homeschoolers are considered nonpublic schools by the state, we have the freedom to set whatever graduation requirements we want for our students, just like other private schools. This latitude is a great opportunity to personalize a student’s learning plan according to their particular areas of interest as they get closer to moving on to college or into the work force.
Like any other diploma-granting institution, once your set of requirements have been met, you may “graduate” your student. You may choose to commemorate the event by creating a diploma to give your student (there are tons of options online) and/or creating your own special day to celebrate all they (and you!) have accomplished.
Thinking about the transition from homeschool to college can be scary for many parents. Like most parents, we want our kids to have the skills they need to go on to whatever dreams they have for their adult life. Unlike most parents, homeschoolers feel an additional sense of responsibility to assure that they have provided everything their kids need to have their ducks in a row for the next stage of their education.
Homeschoolers need not worry — there is a growing body of evidence that shows homeschoolers are generally very successful in college. In fact, so much so that some colleges have even begun to court homeschoolers for the additional focus, drive, maturity, and initiative that most bring to the classroom.
Two of the best things you can do to help your teen prepare for college:
- Keep track of everything they do that is a meaningful learning experience. Most colleges are now well-versed in the world of the homeschool graduate. They have learned not to expect a homeschooler’s education record or application to look like everyone else’s. But, they do want to know what the student’s learned, who they are, and what they’ve accomplished along the way, so don’t be shy about keeping track of anything and everything that you feel has contributed to their growth in some way. (If you end up needing to create a more stereotypical version of a transcript, there are many varieties of templates to be found online.)
- Contact prospective colleges to find out what they will want to see from your homeschool applicant. If there is a school or two (or more!) that your student is particularly interested in, do some research. Call their admissions office and ask what they prefer to have from homeschool applicants. Do they want a transcript? Are there specific classes they look for an applicant to have had? Will they accept a narrative-style transcript which allows you more latitude in describing various learning experiences? These days, most college admissions offices have now had more than a few homeschool applicants come through and have developed some idea of what would be most helpful for them to see. In fact, some go so far as to have it right on their website! Here’s a very encouraging page from Princeton University aimed specifically at helping homeschool applicants!
There are some additional special considerations when it comes to homeschooling in the teen years, including driver’s education and Minnesota’s Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, which is an option for students to take college courses for free during their eleventh- and twelfth-grade years. More information about each of these can be found on their dedicated pages below.