Homeschooling the College-Bound Student
There are many reasons for homeschooling a student – some of the most commonly stated are…
- to provide individualized instruction to meet a students’ needs;
- to include religious or other important values that are not offered elsewhere; or
- to allow a student to work at their own pace.
The focus for this last group is often on students that are struggling; however homeschoolers cover a wide spectrum and many of them are actually progressing faster than they could in a traditional school setting.
These students may even be one or more grades ahead of their age-based traditional school counterparts. Many are moving toward graduating early and entering college young or beginning college while still taking high school courses.
Such situations require preparation, research, and organization to complete successfully, but determined parents and students have multiple choices including:
- setting up programs and fulfilling requirements on their own, or
- finding a program that handles the requirements while still allowing parents to track their students’ progress.
So what are the available options and how do parents and students get started?
Families must first determine the path they would like to pursue – dual enrollment or accelerated learning?
Dual enrollment allows students to take college credit courses while still in high school. This gives students the advantage of completing some of their basic and core courses before entering college, which then allows them to graduate college earlier or take additional specialized courses. Families interested in this path need to check with the college of their choice for the regulations and requirements.
Accelerated learning gives students the opportunity to complete the required coursework earlier than through a traditional high school setting, allowing them to complete their high school requirements at an earlier age.
Most student who are planning to graduate earlier do both of the above — accelerated learning AND dual enrollment.
While these options do provide students and their families some great advantages in terms of college tuition and course load, the path to completion can be complicated with paperwork and the subject matter oftentimes becomes difficult for parents to provide.
A solution for many of these students is to utilize a third party to provide the materials and track progress. Keystone National High School views itself as a “partner in education” and gives college-bound students access to online and correspondence resources for success in both high school and college.
Keystone offers a strong high school curriculum, which includes Core Courses such as Math, English, Science and Social Studies, Foreign Language Courses, and more than 20 Electives; as well as Advanced Placement and Honors Courses, which allows students to gain advanced standing or credit through colleges and universities and gives them a deeper understanding of certain subjects.
AP Courses are college level courses taken as part of a high school program. AP courses offer advanced students the opportunity to take courses with more challenging college-level content. Keystone National High School offers Advanced Placement courses in 17 subjects, including English, History, Economics, Mathematics, and Science.
Students who complete AP courses are eligible to take the AP exams, administered each May by the College Board. These exams are scored on a scale of 1-5. Students scoring between a 3 and 5 may qualify for college credit at most colleges and universities.
AP courses are available to junior or senior high school students who have successfully completed advanced courses in core subjects (including successful completion of an Honors course) and are college-bound.
Honors courses require more intensive study than regular courses, which is an important step in the preparation for higher education. The Keystone Honors courses are designed with a variety of enriched activities that give students the opportunity to expand their critical thinking skills and written communication ability, also important traits to have when entering college.
Colleges love to see applicants that have taken Advanced Placement (AP) and honors classes as it distinguishes that those students are hard-workers, committed to higher education and able to manage their time.
In the Keystone program students can sign up for the complete program, enroll for their Junior or Senior year (even mid-year) or they can supplement their own program by signing up for particular classes, like the Honors or AP classes.
Both Honors and AP classes offer students opportunities to enhance their learning and learn valuable skills during their transition from high school to college student. By using a structured program the students can develop their abilities in a supportive environment.
The good news about programs such as Keystone’s is that working independently doesn’t mean isolation. Families not only have choices about which courses to take and when to study, they also can choose their level of community connection.
For example, the Keystone community allows students to connect with teachers and other students whenever they wish and for parents to connect with teachers and other parents through virtual classrooms, two-way chats, Community Forums, the student newspaper, a community newsletter, face-to-face community gatherings and more. These connections give families the chance to ask questions, to support one another, and to help their children to succeed in their quest of higher education.
By providing college-bound students with resources, support, and advanced options such as honors and AP classes, families can ensure that their child’s needs are not only met but that they are challenged, skilled, and prepared for their future.
Keystone National High School is an accredited independent study high school, serving students in all 50 states and around the world and offers its courses both online and by traditional correspondence. Keystone is accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools, the Distance Education and Training Council, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Call 1-800-255-4937 or log on to www.keystonehighschool.com for more information.