Beyond the Transcript: Checklist for High School
As more homeschoolers continue into high school, parents can readily find resources to help them determine credits, create a high school plan, build a transcript, and prepare a portfolio. But, there are some automatics for traditionally schooled students that may fall through the cracks in a homeschool setting, simply because there is no natural flow of information to the homeschooler.
As you and your student process through the high school years and prepare for whatever is coming next, here is a non-transcript checklist to consider.
Testing & Financial Aid
Traditional schools help students know when and how to take tests such as the ACT, SAT, PSAT, or aptitude tests as well as how to pursue some scholarships or get a head start on college classes. But, homeschoolers have to figure it all out on their own. Here are some quick tidbits to help you determine which tests are right for your student:
ACT or PSAT
What: The ACT and SAT are the most widely accepted entry evaluations for colleges and universities. Eleventh grade is the ideal time for these tests because most skills have been covered by that time, but a low-pressure sophomore year practice run could be helpful for students who are not accustomed to test taking.
How: Visit collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/home or actstudent.org and keep an eye on testing dates and locations so you can find the ideal situation for your student.
What: This test is not considered a college admissions test and is not required. However, when taken in October of your student’s junior year, the PSAT provides an automatic entrance into National Merit Scholarship competitions.
How: Registration for this test is only conducted through local high schools. Call a local school or your school district office to learn how to register in your area. Call in April or May of your student’s sophomore year to determine when the school begins building the registration list, then call back at the appropriate time to officially sign up.
Aptitude Tests (i.e. ASVAB)
What: Many high schools offer aptitude tests to help students find a direction or interest that will help when choosing a college or major. Fortunately for homeschoolers, colleges often also offer these tests for free on their websites.
How: Check out aptitude-test.com for free resources. If the military is a possibility for your student, consider talking to a recruiter about registering for the ASVAB.
AP & CLEP Tests
What: AP courses allow students to take a high school course, finishing with a test that, depending on college preferences, can result in college credit. CLEP tests are available in a variety of subjects and offer students the opportunity to “test out” of classes in college while earning college credit.
How: Homeschoolers can choose to take AP level courses on their own or in conjunction with the local high school. Testing is conducted through the school system, so If the course is taken at home, contact the high school early in the school year to ensure that a test is available for your student.
Visit clep.collegeboard.org to learn more about scheduling CLEP tests. Be sure to also check with your college of choice to see what CLEP tests are accepted.
Financial Aid, Scholarships, & Competitions
What: A high school counselor will provide families with forms and due dates, as well as reminders, for financial aid applications for college.
How: Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shop for homeschoolers to find deadlines, forms, or even a list of what you need to look for! Fortunately, colleges are often more than happy to help walk you through the process, especially if you start talking to them early. Also, be sure to visit fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm to find your state’s federal student aid deadline information and explore resources such as Scholly to get connected with other scholarship opportunities.
College Credit in High School
What: High schools often offer advanced courses taught by teachers with a master’s degree that can, through partnership with a local college or university, be taken for college credit. Home school students can also take advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit in high school under a college’s early enrollment program. Other schools offer dual enrollment options where students earn high school and college credits at the same time.
How: Opportunities vary by region and school. Check with both local institutions and your college of choice for more information.
Whether a student intends to progress to college or directly into the job market, traditional schools often have a wide variety of resources available to help their students explore options and make decisions. Homeschoolers are a little more limited in their connections and even ideas about what options are available. But, there are some ways that homeschoolers can expose their high schoolers to a variety of experiences that will help them make career decisions.
College Recruiters & Career Day
What: High schools frequently allow college or business representatives to visit and speak to students who are interested in their school or occupation. Because the representative will have the opportunity to speak to a large number of students, they are willing to travel to the high school. Recruiters also may attend high school sports events to recruit athletes.
How: Homeschoolers will need to have representatives meet with them one-on-one, gather enough homeschoolers together for the representative to travel, or talk to a school district official about participating with a local high school.
Resume and Job Interview Practice
What: Many high schools have classes or extracurricular options that offer teach students how to create a resume and offer them the opportunity to practice interview skills.
How: Resources abound online that will help you teach your student how to create a resume. Once your student has successfully assembled a resume, ask a friend or family member to interview your student as if he were applying for a job at her place of work.
What: Like college representatives, military recruiters take advantage of the large audience offered by a high school to raise awareness of the pros of military life.
How: If your child is interested in the military, contact a local recruiting office to talk to a recruiter one on one and learn about the options available.
What: Some high schools have relationships with local businesses that allow students to do job shadowing in the profession they are interested in. This allows a student to be more sure of his interest in an occupation before applying to college.
How: Homeschooled students have to be a little more creative when seeking shadowing opportunities, but sometimes simply taking initiative is all that is needed! Ask fellow church members, relatives, and family friends to provide references or help make connections.
Letters of Recommendation
What: In a traditional high school setting, a student has access to several teachers and other adults who are able to write letters of recommendation for college, scholarships, and jobs.
How: A homeschool student frequently has an automatic community of trusted adults for these letters, such as a pastor, coach, youth leader, or volunteer supervisor. By actively involving your student in activities and volunteer situations, you help her build relationships that she can fall back on when recommendations are needed
Here are a couple of other considerations for your high schooler.
What: We joke about our “learning to drive” experiences, but many schools actually offer driver’s ed. Not only do students learn to drive under a professional instructor, but they can also earn a half credit in the process.
How: Homeschool students don’t have to miss out. Check out driversed.com for course options or contact your state’s police department to find out about one-day defensive driving classes.
What: Because of the vast resource of information and connection available to school officials and teachers, it is often easy for teachers to set up community service opportunities as a class project.
How: In most regions, an abundance of community service projects are available for homeschoolers to become involved in. Visit a local homeless shelter, talk to a church about participating in outreach projects, become CPR certified and volunteer with organizations such as MOPS or TeenMOPS, or talk to hospitals about volunteer opportunities. Secular and faith-based scouting organizations also offer avenues for completing community service.
It never hurts to build relationships with local teachers or school officials who can help you as a parent keep tabs on information you need to help your student process through high school well. It can seem overwhelming at times to have to keep it straight on your own, but don’t forget the wealth of opportunities your student has access to just by being homeschooled! You might find that your community provides all the help you could possibly need to enjoy and succeed in the high school journey.