In my last post, I went over some of the ways we began preparing and thinking about high school in our oldest son's middle school years. Rob and I also prayed and talked to Nathan about his interests and abilities to see what kinds of careers he might be interested in and seek God's direction for His plan for Nathan's life (this is ongoing, of course). As Nathan will likely attend college, I did some research on our state's graduation requirements, CLEP testing and dual enrollment, and looked over some popular college's admission recommendations.
As stated in my first post, our current research for our oldest son is based on a college prep course because we are not yet sure what God has called him to do. We are not planning on locking ourselves into a rigid and traditional college prep course. We plan to remain flexible if the Lord opens up other opportunities.
Researching Graduation and College Admission Recommendations
I would like to stress here that it is important to find out your state's graduation requirements for home schools. In Michigan, home schooled students are required to complete one semester of Civics/Government - that's it. Try doing a Google search for "your state's home school graduation requirements" and "your state's graduation requirements," comparing them. It is really up to you, your student and your student's future goals as to how strictly you adhere to state public school graduation requirements if they vary from home school graduation requirements.
I downloaded Michigan's public school graduation requirements, put them in chart format by main subject area (English, Mathematics, Science, History/Social Science, Foreign Language, Fine Arts, Physical Education and Miscellaneous), and noted the number of credits needed to graduate. I will come back to this chart later.
I also bookmarked or downloaded the content expectations for each major subject, available at the Michigan Department of Education high school website. You could try doing a Google search for this information, or check your state's department of education website. I believe that most states make this information available to everyone. I may or may not use this information, but I know where to find it if I need it.
The next step for me was to compare the high school course recommendations of some major colleges with the state of Michigan's requirements. Since Nathan does not yet know exactly what career he would like to pursue, I chose to look at three popular colleges that vary in the rigidity of their admission requirements. I started at each college's "admissions" page to find this information. Many colleges offer helpful pamphlets with high school course recommendations. I added the requirements for each college to the chart I mentioned above, giving me a quick visual of what colleges look for compared to our state's graduation requirements. We will continue to look at other college's recommendations as we prayerfully narrow down Nathan's career aspirations. I just started with this last year so that I would have a basic idea of what to look for in high school curricula.
I found a series of posts by Jeannie Fulbright about CLEP testing that piqued my interest (links to these posts are below). I had heard of CLEP testing and dual enrollment, but really had not done much research about either of these options. Again, you should check your state requirements for home schoolers to see if there are any restrictions. I posted links to some helpful articles below; you can also do a Google search and find tons of information. You might want to do a general search for CLEP testing and dual enrollment and then do a search for more state-specific information.
I have read enough to know that I am interested in CLEP testing, so I went to the same three college websites that I listed in my chart and checked their CLEP policies. I found this information at the admissions sections of the college websites. I was able to download files listing the CLEP tests that each college accepts, minimum scores, and the equivalent college course. If we decide to pursue CLEP testing, I will download the latest CLEP policies from college(s) of interest, compare them and decide which ones are worth taking. We may plan some science and math courses around CLEP tests, as these scores may also be used on our student's high school transcript.
I did everything that I outlined in these first two posts over Nathan's 7th and 8th grade school years. If it seems like it took a lot of time, be assured that it did not. A few strategic searches and a few minutes putting a chart together gave me a quick overview of our state's public school graduation requirements and a few college's high school recommendations. A little searching at the same colleges' websites furnished CLEP test information, which I downloaded and bookmarked for future reference. The real work will be planning Nathan's course of study and possibly some customized courses.
Over the last month or two, I have been doing more research and reading, and we are currently in the process of preparing a course of study for Nathan's high school years. The next post will give our current progress in creating this course of study. I have been reading an invaluable book called Homeschooling: The Teen Years, by Cafi Cohen, that is helping me put high school into perspective. I was able to obtain this at my library, and I highly recommend it.
CLEP Testing and Dual Enrollment Articles
Articles by Jeannie Fulbright
Articles by The HomeScholar
Search results for CLEP at The HomeScholar's blog
College at 14: spin-off comments 2 at The Mom with Brownies - Shelly uses dual enrollment and explains it quite thoroughly here (hat tip to Kristie, who linked to this post quite a while ago - I can't find her post now)
* Update: Kristie noted in the comments that The Mom with Brownies does not do dual enrollment. However, her son did start college courses at 14, and her post would be helpful to those considering beginning college early or dual enrollment if your state allows it. Thanks for the clarification, Kristie!
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Jul. 17, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by Sawickis
I wanted to clarify that Shelly does not use dual enrollment for her son.
After doing some research of her own she found that most colleges will not accept or count dual enrollment classes as college classes. And if they do, then they don't count them as high school classes. I'm not sure if it varies state by state or not.
Andrea you've given a ton of great links for anyone getting ready for homeschooling in highschool.
Aug. 4, 2008 - Wow!
Posted by Angela
I was just going to mention Lee Binz at The HomeScholar. She did an awesome class on this very subject at the Heart of the Matter Virtual Conference. Good luck!!
Aug. 5, 2008 - You wrote my heart today
Posted by bbullard
Our oldest will be an 8th grader beginning tomorrow, and it sounds as if you and I have been flies on each other's walls. In the past two weeks, even, we got back our Iowa Basic Skills results (I test the kids every two years), and I just finished a rich and thought-provoking conference with Heart of the Matter. In fact, the Home Scholar (I forget her actual name) was one of the speakers, and I am so glad that my internet didn't go out when she spoke (I lost it the day before). She was awesome.
Anyway, one of the things she said which stuck with me was to prepare your children for college whether they plan to go or not. We have planted seeds in our children since they were preschoolers, taking them on college tours and talking about what college is like. But the other side of that is, for those who are not going to college, the education you give them now will be the last formal education they receive unless they make a different choice later; why not give them a rich learning environment with interesting living books and life challenges? I had never thought in this way before, but it made perfect sense.
Anyway, I'd love to with you more offline about some of your choices and about Homeschool Tracker. I've not used it, but I know you and another parent on HSB do, and I'm curious about whether it would be a useful tool for me in tracking the oldest's years in school. This would be our practice year before high school. Of course, Texas is a much friendlier hsing state than Michigan, but I have the exact same list of roles that you do, including a part-time job and a business to run, and I need a tool that can track without being overwhelming.
I have your email and will write you offline so as not to take up too much space here. God bless you, Andi.
Belinda @ With a Taste of Chocolate