Not every high school student is college-bound. Even so, many homeschool families maintain transcripts, pursue testing, build a portfolio, and build each year’s curriculum to allow for the possibility of college. But, there are also aspects of transition from homeschool to college that stretch beyond basic academics.
Here are a few ways you can help prepare your high schooler for college.
Teach Your Student to Take Notes
One of the most profound changes your child will experience when attending college is the format through which information is communicated. He will have to learn to take notes on verbal lectures and pull information from dry textbooks. If you are not a part of a co-op or enrichment program where your student has to take notes on verbal lectures, encourage note-taking in church or find conferences of interest to attend.
Meanwhile, encourage him to visit the library and find an academic book on a topic of interest, then ask him to find what he thinks are the most important points in the book. Teach him to find the balance between too many notes and not enough.
practice with assignments
Does your student know how to format a paper? Create a cover page? Turn in assignments that do not assume the teacher knows her well? Make it a habit to look at your student’s assignments from the perspective of a teacher rather than a parent. Point out ways a traditional school teacher or college professor would look at a paper, project, or assignment and begin to shape work in this direction.
explore a classroom
Most homeschool students make a smooth transition from the home education setting to a classroom setting. But, if you are concerned about your student making the adjustment, find ways to expose her to classroom settings. Join a co-op or enrichment program. Sign up for dual enrollment opportunities through a local junior college. Attend lectures and conferences together.
encourage a mentor outside the family
Nothing can replace building a good relationship with your teen. But, it is also very helpful for him to develop relationships with adults outside the family, especially while he is still at home and has your guidance to help him discern when those relationships are healthy and when they are not. This will help him to confidently interact with professors and have discernment about relationships at church and in the workplace.
Whether it is a job, social obligations, or extracurricular activities, there will always be a need to find balance between academic diligence and the rest of life. During the high school years, encourage your student to be involved beyond academics. Then, walk him through how to decide how much to be involved in and how to balance that with school responsibilities.
establish planning and organizational skills
For some, planning and organization come naturally. Others have to work at it. Although we can navigate certain aspects of life without being natural planners, college is a time when everyone can benefit from an organized and well-managed schedule. For her sophomore or junior year, pick one elective course that has a syllabus like what she might expect in college. Then encourage her to use her High School Planner to lay out an assignment schedule so she can keep up with her own due dates and learn to break down projects into manageable tasks. As she progresses through high school, help her learn how to keep track of all of her school and life scheduling.
Be intentional early, but know you are never too late. If your child is just starting high school, spend ninth grade getting used to the high school setting, then start implementing aspects of college prep in tenth grade. If he is wrapping up his senior year, though, don’t feel overwhelmed. Just be communicative. Talk through the differences between high school and college, and spend time focusing on the changes that will be the most challenging for him.