Episode 54: Preparing for College Academically

Overview: Preparing for college as homeschoolers may seem daunting. With these suggestions from a veteran homeschool mom your teen will be ready! (Text may include referral links.)

I've sent four kids off to college based on the courses listed on their homeschool transcript. Two graduated — one of those went on to get her Master's degree, and the other is studying for CPA exams right now. One of the kids decided college wasn't for her; not because of grades but because of inclination. She came home and decided to work full time instead (and is now out on her own). The fourth will graduate junior college with his associates degree soon. We're pleased with these results!

We didn't do anything super-duper magical to get them ready. Preparing for college academically entails a few common-sense tasks that will help grow your teen to handle the independence of college courses and the level of the work. You might discover it's easier than you think.

As always, don't listen to the voices saying you have to do all. the. things. Wait for the third item I mention for more understanding about that. :-)


Preparing for college as homeschoolers may seem daunting. With these suggestions from a veteran homeschool mom your teen will be ready!

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This episode is sponsored by SchoolhouseTeachers.com

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a one-stop source with over 450 high quality, self-paced, online homeschooling courses that YOU can customize to fit YOUR CHILD. Focusing on faith, knowledge, hope, and the future, SchoolhouseTeachers.com provides support and encouragement to their community through an engaging Facebook group, members-only webinars, free print magazines, and a chat option for course-related or general homeschooling questions.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com member, Michelle says, “I love all of the many choices of classes as well as the offerings available through SchoolhouseTeachers such as the tutorial videos. That has been a huge blessing for me keeping my sanity trying to remember how to do the math! Also, I am so grateful for the record keeping features with attendance and setting up a transcript for my high school student. Many inspiring and encouraging articles in your magazine as well. I appreciate most of all the encouragement and guidance to help make our homeschooling years successful because the thought of my child going into the public school system these days because of what they are being taught is very scary. Our family is so grateful and thankful that SchoolhouseTeachers was created to help us and so many other families through this journey.”

Members receive access to complete full-year curriculum downloads, electives, self-paced video lessons, streaming educational videos including Drive Thru History® and The Torchlighters® series, recordkeeping materials, and more.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Every grade. Every subject. Every student.

Episode 54: Preparing for College Academically

Related Resources:

How to KNOW what your teen needs to get into college

How to plan core courses

Episode 39: How to Start Homeschooling High School Part 3 – Credits, Core Courses, & Electives

When you fear your homeschooled teen is behind

Mr D Math

How to Teach the most valuable skill your child will ever need

Teaching Teens to Plan: 7 Essential Steps

7Sisters MLA and other guides

Episode 52: How to Prepare Your Homeschooled Teen for College Writing

College Preparation for the Homeschooled Teen: How to be SURE You're Doing Enough

Should Your Teen Go to College? (how to tell if it's a good fit)

Episode 55: How to Prepare for College Socially/Emotionally

Episode 64: Dual Enrollment for Homeschoolers – is it right for YOU?


0 (0s):
You are listening to episode 54 of the, It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast. So why not do that during the high school years when they are in a safe place to fail. And also it's not costing an arm and a leg, right? Because you're spending tens of thousands of dollars for them to go to that college. We don't want them to mess up there. We want them to mess up, if they're going to mess up, we want them to do it in the home environment where we can guide them in how to improve if they have mess-ups.

2 (43s):
Welcome to another episode of, It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people. So you can confidently competently and even contentedly provide the high school education that best fits your teen and your family and live to tell about it. I'm your host Ann Karako from annieandeverything.com. Hi everyone. I want you to imagine that you've just received a big box from Amazon. You ordered a gizmo and it has just arrived and you have to put this gizmo together.

0 (1m 22s):
But in order to do that first, you have to make sure that you have all the parts. You get the manual out, it lists all the parts for you. You spread them all out. You make sure you have everything you need. You go get the tools from the drawer, the junk drawer in the kitchen that you're also going to need. And then you can proceed to put that thing together. Well, today we're going to talk about the college gizmo, getting ready for your kid to go to college, and what that entails. I'm going to help you make sure you have all the parts that you need. I'm going to give you some advice about putting them together.

0 (2m 2s):
Lots of homeschooled parents are wanting to prepare their kids for college. Even if they're not certain, whether their kid will actually go to college. It's one of those things where we want to make sure they're ready if that's what they decide to do. My phone keeps dinging at me, sorry about that. We want to get them ready for college if that's what they decide to do, it's not a big deal if they decide not to, but if they want to go to college, we don't want them to be caught, unprepared, and most homeschool parents do feel that way. So today we're going to talk about preparing for college academically. In my next podcast episode, we'll talk about preparing for college socially and emotionally, which also is a thing I don't think we should ignore.

0 (2m 43s):
But let's jump into preparing for college academically. So if you followed me for any length of time, you know what I'm going to say first. I'm going to say you have to check college requirements. I do have a blog post, I will list it in the show notes. It's called how to know what your teen needs to get into college. And it discusses how you can check what college requirements are. When I say college requirements, I mean the required courses that each college specifies that a kid must have taken in high school in order to be able to apply to that college and potentially be accepted.

0 (3m 27s):
They're probably not going to accept kids who do not have those requirements as part of their high school coursework. So that's one of the first things you do when you start homeschooling high school is you check a few colleges. It doesn't have to be ones that you absolutely think your teen is going to go to. What teen at the end of ninth at the end of eighth grade knows what college they're going to go to? You're just going to pick a few kind of random ones, really have various levels, maybe higher tier, maybe middle tier, maybe private, maybe public, maybe state, maybe community college, whatever, and take a look at varying types of requirements so that you can get an overall idea.

0 (4m 7s):
And that blog post presents a download that has a form in it. And also if you do my Cure, the Fear of Homeschooling High School book, if you buy that, it walks you through that entire process. There's that phone again? Let me just turn that on Do Not Disturb. Okay. Do Not Disturb is now on. So that's the first thing to do to get your kid ready for college academically. The first thing to do is check those college requirements and make sure that you are fitting them into your teen's homeschool plan over the four years of high school. It's not only that those courses need to be kind of checked, the content is not the only important part.

0 (4m 49s):
As your kid takes these courses they will be learning how to learn. So, when you proceed through math in an orderly fashion, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, or if you flip Algebra II and Geometry, that's your preference. But when you proceed through that sequence, your kid is not just learning the content of those courses, he is learning how to learn. How to figure out this subject called math. The same thing is true when you go through the normal kind of ordinary kind of traditional science sequence, I do have a blog post entitled, How to Plan for Core Courses. I'll link to that in the show notes as well, history sequences, or just history courses, language arts courses.

0 (5m 34s):
These are the types of things that colleges will require. They're going to focus on core courses when they list their requirements. They aren't going to mention PE or electives when they're listing to you their requirements. As your kid progresses through those, they're not just learning content. And if you're like me, you don't really remember the content of what you learned in high school anyway. But it was a training ground for you to learn how to learn, how to study, how to take tests. And this is important preparation for your kid going to college and these types of courses are what going to provide that type of preparation.

0 (6m 17s):
So do make sure that you check college requirements and fit those courses into your plan for your teen's high school.

3 (6m 25s):
Secondly, it is important when you're talking about preparing your kid for college, to have your kid do high school level courses in high school. Now, there may be one subject area where your kid is not ready for high school courses yet. Math is one of the biggies there, right? My kid can't figure out Algebra I, he's going into 11th grade, I know that's the first high school level course of math; does that mean he won't be able to get into college? Not necessarily. In general, though, I'll speak to y'all about that issue in a minute. But in general, if your kid is capable of high school level work, that's what they should be doing in high school.

3 (7m 7s):
So don't in the name of trying to keep them with the seventh-grader, don't have them doing seventh-grade work, make sure your high school kid is doing high school level work.

0 (7m 14s):
If they are capable of it, this is the work that will prepare them for college-level work. Now backtrack, if you're in that situation where your kid isn't just ready, in maybe just one subject for high school level work, don't despair. That is okay. You have options. In math, in particular, your kid could make up that deficit, maybe start at a community college for a year and get those required math courses under their belt there at the community college before they transfer to another college that requires them from the get-go. Or maybe your kid does do Algebra I junior year and then Geometry senior year, or maybe they can take Geometry and Algebra II simultaneously over senior year.

0 (8m 1s):
There are all sorts of ways to adapt to that situation where one subject is one that your kid struggles with. If your kid is struggling with high school level work across the board, maybe they've got a learning challenge or maybe they just have trouble processing or writing. These are things that would make me want to say that it might be wise to consider finding another path for them than college. Kids can still graduate without high school level work. They can graduate from high school, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're a good fit for college.

0 (8m 42s):
So I believe if I'm remembering correctly, the blog post that I'm working on this month is; How to Tell Whether Your Kid is Going to be a Good Fit for College. So be on the lookout for that. In general, though, if your kid is headed to college or you want to prepare your kid for college in case that's what they decide, do you make sure they're doing high school level curriculum during the high school years. Just a quick interruption here to let you know that this episode is sponsored by SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Imagine a world where you have unlimited access to what you need to teach your kids yourself on your own terms at home.

0 (9m 29s):
SchoolhouseTeachers.com the quintessential homeschooling solution provides a high-quality Christian education supplying the necessary tools for successful home education to over 9,000 other Christian families around the world. Join these families and create a strong faith-based foundation for all your children. As you homeschool using the learning style that works for your family SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a one-stop source with over 450 high-quality self-paced online homeschooling courses that you can customize to fit your child. Focusing on faith, knowledge, hope, and the future. SchoolhouseTeachers.com provides support and encouragement to their community through an engaging Facebook group, members-only webinars, free print magazines, and a chat option, for course-related or general homeschooling questions.

0 (10m 16s):
SchoolhouseTeachers.com member Michelle says, I love all of the many choices of classes, as well as the offerings available through schoolhouse teachers, such as the tutorial videos. That has been a huge blessing for me, keeping my sanity, trying to remember how to do the math. Also, I am so grateful for the record-keeping features with attendance and setting up a transcript for my high school student. I appreciate most of all, the encouragement and guidance to help make our homeschooling years successful. Our family is so grateful and thankful that Schoolhouse Teachers was created to help us and so many other families through this journey. Members receive access to complete full-year curriculum downloads, electives, self pays, video lessons, streaming educational videos, including Drive-Thru History and the Torch Lighter series, record-keeping materials, and more.

0 (11m 3s):
SchoolhouseTeachers.com, every grade, every subject, every student. Okay. The third consideration here; a lot of people want to do dual enrollment classes as a means of preparing their kid for college work or for preparing their kid to succeed in college when they get there. And I can understand the theory behind that. If dual enrollment is something that your kid is interested in doing, and if it fits in well with your family; it's not causing you too much stress in the budget, and it's not causing you too much stress as far as making it happen.

0 (11m 48s):
And also if your kid is ready to take the initiative on those dual enrollment courses, as in mom's not going to be the helicopter, and mom's not going to be the one talking to the professor, the kid's going to be doing everything in regards to those courses, then dual enrollment might be a good option for you. However, my kids never had dual enrollment. I should probably explain what dual enrollment is for those people who have not heard of it before. I don't want to intimidate anybody from the get-go. So dual enrollment is when your kid takes college-level courses in high school, and they get credit in both places. So they get college-level credit and they get high school level credit towards their high school graduation requirements.

0 (12m 28s):
I've noticed this as a big deal in public schools now, way more than it ever used to be. Dual enrollment was never a thing when I was going to high school. I was in some of the top-tier classes and it just was never a thing, but it is a thing now. And even for kids who aren't necessarily suited for it in the public high school, in my humble opinion. Be that as it may, it's also apparently a pretty big thing among homeschoolers. It gets talked about a lot. A lot of people think it's a must-do. So as always, I'm here to tell you it's not a must-do. Only do it if it fits your teen's goals and your goals and all those other considerations that I've already talked about, and there will be a blog post on the way about that coming soon.

0 (13m 17s):
But it's not necessary to do college-level courses in high school. It's only necessary if your kid is getting ready for college to do high school level courses in high school. The college-level courses are going to be college-level courses, and most kids are not ready for that yet in high school. And if your kid gets a bad grade on a dual enrollment course, you are stuck putting that bad grade on their high school transcript. I used to think differently, so if you've heard me say something different than this, realize that I have changed my position. Colleges do expect you to fully disclose all the courses that your kid has taken at another institution.

0 (13m 58s):
We're not talking about a co-op or an online high school class, but when they're going either to a public school to take courses in-person or a couple of them, or they're taking courses at a private school, or they're taking dual enrollment courses at a college institution online or not, or in person; colleges, college, the four-year college that they apply to for after graduation, they expect full disclosure about every course that was taken at an official institution during high school. Even if there was a bad grade associated with that course, they may or may not ask for a transcript from the institution that the other courses were taken, but they expect that you will put those courses on your high school transcript and that those grades, no matter what they are, will be listed there and figured into the GPA.

0 (14m 49s):
So please do realize that most kids are not ready for college-level courses in high school. And you don't want to set your kid up for that situation where now they've got a bad grade on their high school transcript, which could affect the ability to be admitted to college. So I want you to weigh dual enrollment very carefully and realize that it is absolutely not necessary. I mean, yes, it's true. If your kid gets an A in a dual enrollment class, then they have probably proved that they are capable of college-level work, that they are prepared for college-level work. But unless you're pretty certain your kid's going to get an A, I would not risk sending your kid into that situation to find out, not worth it.

0 (15m 36s):
High school level classes are fine. And even high school level classes without A's. My kids had B's even C's on their transcript and they still all got into college and did mostly fine. The one kid who has been in college during this whole COVID mess, he has struggled just a little bit, but he's still passing and that's all we're asking for. So I think he's still got a B GPA. And we're not asking for 4.0's from our kids in college, we're just not. We're expecting them to do as best as they can and this whole situation has created such a big mess for a lot of college students.

0 (16m 16s):
I'm sure many college students are not doing well through this time. Nuff said about that. The point being dual enrollment classes are not necessary for high school. They're an option if they fit your family, great. If they don't, please do not worry about it. Please do not think that they are a must-do. They are not, take a deep breath, tell yourself dual enrollment is not necessary. It's not. Now a lot of times people are taking dual enrollment, partly for the outside accountability. They want their kid to learn how to be accountable to somebody other than mom. And that's a great idea, but you can do that in plenty of other ways.

0 (16m 58s):
You can join a co-op or you can take online classes. A lot of kids take Mr. D's math. I'll put a link in the show notes for Mr. D's math. A lot of kids take that for that outside accountability or other online courses. There are so many to choose from. So do be aware that dual enrollment is not the only way to get outside accountability for your teen. And again, it's not necessary. And it's often quite an expense. There are states where it's free, but there are plenty of states, including my own where it's not.

3 (17m 30s):
And last, okay. I take it back, not last. What number am I on? Am I on four? I'm going to say I'm on number four. Let's see. 1, 2, 3. Yes. I'm on number four. So number four is that you want during the high school years to work your kid towards independence in their learning process. This is another way to get them ready for college academically, guide them towards doing independent learning. I always suggest that by junior or senior year at the latest, your kid is learning every single thing by themselves.

0 (18m 15s):
They are grading their daily work by themselves, they're reading the lessons, they're doing the daily work, they're grading the daily work, they're studying for the tests; you come in when they've got questions. You also come into grade things that show learning. Such as a chapter test or a project or a paper that's where you come in. After they have already learned and studied and put forth something that shows what they've learned. You grade those things. They're meanwhile, grading and checking all their daily work and learning from that. That's always just practice that shouldn't receive a grade per se, that gets averaged into their course grade, it's practice.

0 (18m 55s):
It's not fair to grade somebody on when they're practicing. So when I say they're grading their daily work, I mean, they're just checking it. They're checking the answers, making sure they got everything correct, and that they understand everything and figuring out when they didn't. And that is all should be, okay; I use that word should very carefully. I'm going to say, please aim for that. By the time they're a junior or a senior at the latest, and here's why, because that's what they will be doing in college. When they go to college, that college professor is not going to remind them about when things are due. They're not going to give them a second chance on that paper that they messed up on. He's not going to look out at the classroom and think, oh, this person looks like they're confused let me find out if they know what they're doing.

0 (19m 39s):
No, the kid is going to be, have to have the responsibility to raise their hand when they have a question. Visit the professor during office hours if they don't understand stuff, make sure they're following the syllabus, make sure they get things turned in on time. It will all be on the kid. So why not do that during the high school years when they are in a safe place to fail. And also it's not costing an arm and a leg, right? Because you're spending tens of thousands of dollars for them to go to that college. We don't want them to mess up there. We want them to mess up, f they're going to mess up; we want them to do it in the home environment where we can guide them in how to improve if they have messed up and it's a safe place to fail.

0 (20m 26s):
So definitely encourage them, work with them, guide them towards independence in the area of actually learning their coursework. Also, guide them towards independence in the area of time management, organization, planning out their day, their schoolwork. Are they gonna use spiral notebooks or are they gonna use a big old binder? All of those things tie in here to independence. Figuring out their learning style; do they do better in the evening, in the morning? Do they do better visually or audio? Do they do better listening than seeing? Are they a kinesthetic learner?

0 (21m 7s):
Meaning it's really helpful for them to be walking around the room while they memorize something. All of these things are things that it's helpful to figure out during the high school years. And you want to encourage them to explore those things so that they can be independent about them when they get to college. So they know by the time they get to college, how they work best, or they know how to figure out any tweaks to that system, give them the chance to experiment. Now, remember that, like when it comes to learning styles and organization, they are very likely not going to be like you. Maybe some of your kids are, but not all of them. Be prepared for them to want to be completely different than the way you do it.

0 (21m 50s):
And don't force your way on them. The high school years are a time when they can explore their own way of doing things and find what is best for them. So this is a way to get them prepared for college academics, is to give them the opportunity to explore these things without you putting your own structure on them. And again, it is a safe place to fail, right? If you allow them to stay up till 2:00 AM, because they're saying that that's when they work best and then they're not turning things in or they're doing poorly, then you're like, okay, we now know that 2:00 AM is not good for you. You need more sleep than that or you need to work better in the morning, or we need to try something different.

0 (22m 32s):
That's when you come in to help guide them. But do let them have the opportunity to Explore. There are some skills, I'm going to call this number five. There are some skills involved in college work that it's going to be helpful for them to already have under their belt. Study skills, right? Do they know how to take notes? Do they know how to study for tests? Do they know how to memorize? It would be helpful if they had those things under their belts in their high school years. So guide them towards those things. Computer skills, do they know how to work a word processing program?

0 (23m 16s):
Do they know how to work with files storing and organizing them? Do they know how to do internet research? All of these things they will use in college. Spreadsheets, I'm thinking are somewhat optional. I think they're a super helpful skill to know, but if your kid doesn't know spreadsheets, it's not the end of the world when it comes to college. It really depends on what their major is going to be. And also under the skills area; communication. Can they communicate orally? Can they communicate in written form well?

0 (23m 57s):
And underneath that written form, just a quickie and a story really. I didn't know that MLA format was a thing with my older kids. That was another thing that was never a thing when I was in school. I certainly don't remember it let's put it that way. So I didn't even know it existed. And I sent my older girls off to school without ever having studied it or been exposed to it. And one of my daughters, it went completely over her head as to even what the professor meant by it. And she turned in a paper without the correct format, and she did not get a good grade on the paper. So this is just a very specific thing. As far as written skills, writing skills go expose your kids to MLA format or APA format or Chicago style, or whatever you're most familiar with.

0 (24m 38s):
And if you're not, Seven Sisters has guides for all of those formats. So I'll put links for those or one link to send you to the right page on their website. That might be a way to help them be exposed to those. So these are the skills off the top of my head that I'm thinking of right now that would prepare a kid for college academics. Again, that would be study skills, such as note-taking, memorization, reading for comprehension, computer skills, such as word processing, internet research, organizing files, and communication skills, both verbal and written. I really want to place a huge emphasis on language arts, writing, and verbal skills.

0 (25m 22s):
When your kid can read something and understand it well and communicate it well, then they can do anything else in this world. The kid who can do the math, higher, higher, higher, highest levels of math, but can't communicate. He's a one-trick pony. But the kid who understands how to communicate and how to understand the written word, that kid can go anywhere and do anything because they can learn anything and process it and analyze it and communicate about it.

0 (26m 3s):
So I want to emphasize over all subjects in high school, I would emphasize language arts. Or it would be my recommendation to emphasize language arts most heavily. For me, that meant some grammar even in the high school years, but also just helping your kids develop those skills as best as possible. I've got blog posts about writing and how to make that better for your kid and even podcast episodes. So browse and see what you can find that would help you there. We've been talking for a little while now so let's wrap this up.

0 (26m 45s):
Remember what we've been doing is laying out the parts of the gizmo called college coursework, college academics. And we've been making sure that we have all the parts needed for your kid to put them together and be successful at the college gizmo if you will. I'm probably pushing that analogy too far. But what did we talk about first? We talked about checking college requirements and making sure that any courses that are required by the colleges for admittance are part of your kid's high school coursework. We talked about choosing a curriculum that is at least high school level. We also talked about dual enrollment as an option, but not a necessity.

0 (27m 29s):
We talked about working towards independence, not only in learning but also with time management and organization and figuring out their learning style. We talked about skills that would be super helpful to have such as study skills, computer skills, and communication skills. So all of these areas are going to help prepare your child academically for college. I would be remiss though if I did not encourage you at this point. It sounds like a lot, doesn't it? I hope you're not feeling intimidated. Please remember that you can do all of these things your way. There is no one right way to do these things.

0 (28m 10s):
And also it's a process. These things do not happen overnight. You have four years to get your kid ready for college. You do not have to rush the process and they will change so much in that four years. And some of this, to be honest with you will just happen kind of naturally. It's not like you have to have a supervisory effort behind every single thing I've mentioned. Some of these things they will just begin to do on their own for themselves. So be patient with the process, with yourself, with your teen, and make the relationship always the most important thing.

0 (28m 50s):
Really when it comes down to it preparing your kid for college, the most important thing and we'll talk more about this next week, is going to be your relationship with them. And that can help on so many levels and even the academic level because you're going to be able to help guide them. Then when they get to college, they may call and ask for help with a particular course or they don't understand something. When you've got that good relationship, you're going to be able to guide them through the process of getting the help that they need. You're going to be able to understand them well enough to understand if they're over their head or if they just need a little nudge in the right direction and that's going to be extremely valuable for them. So don't

2 (29m 31s):
take that part lightly at all. And don't be intimidated by all these things I've mentioned today. There are things to think about and things to incorporate as you can, but again, in your way that best suits your family, your teen, and even you homeschool mom. It has to work for you, or it's not going to work for anybody. So remember it may not always be easy to homeschool high school, but it doesn't have to be that hard. So stop by next time when we talk about How to Prepare for College Emotionally and Socially, see you then.

It's Not That Hard to Homeschool

2 thoughts on “Episode 54: Preparing for College Academically”

  1. Inspiring to know that I can get my kiddo through high school without completing all of the usual courses. He’s autistic and definitely not college bound and the thought of getting him through homeschool high school is challenging enough for this tired mama.

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