Fearless High School!
Homeschooling Your High Schooler…Fearlessly!
by Virginia Vagt
Seriously? Can we really recommend homeschooling students for high school knowing that the college admission process is waiting at the other end?
Yes, and for many reasons!
Home-directed high school is more doable than it sounds — not to mention tremendously fun, full of social opportunities, and filled with advantages. Fearless High School is the idea that you and your student can decide the best combination of educational opportunities available. In this day and age there are tons. Our family combined courses from two local colleges, co-op courses, tutorial courses, self-directed work, math team, 4-H, and local museum and arboretum courses. The result? A rich blend of learning opportunities, many different teachers, a variety of teaching styles, and a good preparation for college. Dual enrollment and distance learning create more of these opportunities every day.
More about the “how” and “why” of Fearless High School:
a. Motivation! Is college a true “dream” for most teens or a cloud that looms ahead of them? Even we parents may not be “dreaming” about our student’s college prospects as much as worrying about them. Hence, a lot of glaring parental worry about grades and test scores. But when college is not their own dream, neither is “getting good grades.” When we start with nurturing their dreams and what they love to do, the motivation to achieve is more likely to follow. You and your student can create a standout plan, find a set of activities for your student’s enthusiasms and abilities, and in the process gain a competitive edge.
b. Limit the parent worries! If your student attends a public or private high school would you be worry-free about whether they’ll “get into college?” On the other hand, if your student finds unique experiences, takes unusual and great classes, handles huge volunteer challenges such as helping a food pantry stay open, then your student’s college acceptance may become more likely than through the traditional stretch of high school.
c. Which brings up classes! At a public or private high school, your student has less control and fewer options about classes, about which standardized tests your school offers, and whether or not they can take honors or AP classes. With home-directed education, you can step up and enrich the courses that matter most.
d. Which brings up tests! What if your student’s mind is strong in reasoning, and less strong in subject matter? That could mean your student might be better off taking the SAT than the ACT. What if your local high school only offers the ACT? If you go to that school, then that’s the test you’d take. But homeschoolers find out that it’s possible to take many different tests — as long as you find out where they’re offered and register ahead of time. Tracking down the information takes time, but generally you have more choice about tests, and about when to take them, by looking into it yourself.
e. Extra-curriculars. At a public or private high school your student is limited by a fixed number of opportunities. Will they win the class president election, be chosen as editor of the high school paper, star in the play, or win a place on the team? Maybe none of these. But outside of school there’s a world with more going on — math teams, church orchestras, local orchestras, homeschool bands and teams, volunteering at hospitals, animal shelters and food pantries, performing in community theater, and working at living history museums, just to name a few.
f. Evidence of college acceptance. The Common Application, used by many colleges and universities, now includes a homeschool packet for homeschooled applicants.
This article reports that Stanford University looks for students with “intellectual vitality.” They believe they often find it among homeschooled applicants.
Take your own first step. Think about your student’s dreams. Help them find and schedule a course that fits perfectly. After one out-of-the-ordinary course, try another. Before you know it, you’ll create your own Fearless High School!
Virginia Vagt is a writer, speaker, editor and 13-year veteran homeschooling mom. Click here to read selections from Vagt’s Be Encouraged column or, for additional resources, visit HomeFieldAdvantage.org.