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Getting into College: Advice for Homeschoolers

The best way for homeschoolers to prepare for college is to research the educational options and opportunities available. For some students, this process begins when they are only 12 or 13 years old. For other students, discovering what they want to do is an ongoing process, and the path unfolds as it is traveled. Homeschooling gives teens the time to explore their interests and talents to determine where they want to focus their energy. Delving into robotics, for example, may lead to an interest in electronics and a school with a focus on technology. Garment construction may lead to costuming and an art or design college. Preparing for different types of colleges requires different approaches, so it's advisable for students to have some sense of the area or areas that most interest them.

While high-school requirements are the same for homeschooled students as they are for public- or private-schooled students, how homeschoolers meet those requirements is up to the individual families. A standard high- school course of study includes:

  • Four years of language arts (English)
  • Three years of math (usually through Geometry or Algebra II)
  • Two to three years of science
  • Three to four years of social studies (History and Geography)
  • Two years of foreign language
  • Two years of electives (Music and Drama, for example)

Unlike traditionally schooled students, homeschoolers have the flexibility to fulfill their course work in nontraditional ways. Homeschooled students may satisfy their academic requirements through volunteer work, paid work, travel, and research, while also pursuing their own special interests or exploring their unique talents.

One homeschooled teen I know earned an American History credit through her volunteer hours at a nearby historical park, where a farm and buildings from the colonial period have been preserved. Costumed interpreters provide tours and facilitate activities from colonial times. The homeschooler designed and sewed her colonial costume, and became familiar with all aspects of colonial life through her frequent contact with the other interpreters.

Another teen volunteered at a nature preserve, and earned a credit in Environmental Science while working with naturalists and visiting scientists.

My daughter's love of literature led her to participate in a nationwide Shakespeare competition. To prepare for the event, she did extensive research and reading on Elizabethan times. Along the way, she met a wonderful professor (also a homeschooling mom), who guided her on an exploration of the history of the English language. This yearlong adventure earned her an English credit and also contributed towards her World History requirement. (And she was first runner-up in the competition!)

For more suggestions on how to transform your child's real-life learning experiences into high-school credits, read Homeschooling the Teen Years: Your Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13 to 18 Year Old by Cafi Cohen. You'll discover teaching methods for teens with different learning styles, learn how to utilize the best resources and technology, and find out how to foster unlimited learning on a limited budget.

There are numerous other ways for college-bound homeschooled teens to fulfill their high school requirements: distance-learning schools, pre-packaged curricula, independent-study opportunities, homeschool classes, and community colleges. You might choose to utilize any one of these options, or all of them, depending on your teen's needs, talents, and abilities.



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