By Kristen Chase.Of all the questions I get about my own homeschool experience, everyone always wants to know what I did for high school. These days, there are way more options for homeschooling highschoolers than my mom had back in the very early 90s, most of which include some sort of high school diploma.
That was not the case for me, however, and not wanting me to have to get a GED, my mom was determined to figure out another option.
I still was never able to get a high school diploma. And I don’t have a GED.
But I did earn a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Music, and was about half way to a Ph.D. when I decided to take a college professor position.
So here’s what she did:1. Homeschool Curriculum
My curriculum consisted of the typical high school level subjects, picked by her through research – Saxon Math, Wordly Wise, and a bunch of other names you’d probably recognize if you saw them.
Admittedly, I did not have advanced Math (like Calculus) or advanced Science (like Chemistry), but given my interest in the Arts and my desire to go into an arts-related field, it was never a detriment. Although, I actually picked an arts college degree program (Music Therapy) that required a strong science background, with Biology and Anatomy & Physiology course requirements.
However, not having those in my high school curriculum never affected my performance in those courses.
I’d never say that courses like Calculus or Chemistry are useless by any means. It really does depend.
2. Extra Curricular Activities
It was clear that my talent and interest was in the arts, and I spent most of my days (up to six hours on some) taking ballet classes and practicing violin. I was a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and a small semi-professional dance company as well.
And at the time, I was heavily involved in a homeschool group and our church youth group, with weekly meetings, Sunday Bible study, and a bunch of mission opportunities, weekend trips, and opportunities to meet other kids.
3. Early Admission Community College
I started taking classes at my local community college at 15 – just one night class a semester – and built up about 18 credits by the time I was ready to apply for a four year college. This was probably the best decision my mom ever made because it got me acclimated to college course work (which I loved) and it allowed me to transfer in to my four year college a semester ahead.
When I decided on a degree program, I applied to two schools, a private college and a public university. Not surprisingly, the private college was much more accommodating of my situation (because they could be), and between my college credits and my strong musical background, they admitted me with absolutely no hassle. In fact, I was the first homeschool student ever admitted.
However, if we had to do anything differently given the opportunity, here’s what we would have done:1. The SATs
I did not have good SAT preparation worked into my curriculum. And while I scored well enough to get me into college, I would strongly recommend making sure your high schoolers are well prepared for the SAT (or ACT – depending on which is more popular in your area).
2. Transfer vs. Freshman
Because I had those 18 credits, I was admitted as a transfer student, which meant I never attended the Freshman Orientation over the summer and I was stuck with an upper class person as a roommate. Both made the transition to a four year college away from home pretty tough. Had we known better, my parents would have just sent me to Orientation and asked that I be treated as freshman with extra credits rather than a transfer student.
3. Three vs. Four years
I went away to college at 17 and finished right before my 20th birthday due to my transfer credits and heavy summer class load. And while it was great to finish in three years instead of four, part of me wishes that I had taken a little more time to enjoy my college experience. I held huge class loads along with 4 jobs every semester. My summers were packed with classes. But I do think that the college years are special – educationally and socially – and if I had to do it over, I would have taken a little more time and graduated with my class. I was fortunate to have nearly a full scholarship, however, so the financial aspect did not factor into my decision.
I realize that the technicalities of homeschooling a high schooler have gotten easier since I “graduated” in 1992. But I always like to share my story to show that it is possible to be a successful and happy homeschooled high schooler.