Overview: Do this simple thing to know what it takes for a homeschooled teen to get into college. Ease your fears about homeschooling high school now!
Many of the articles I read about homeschooling high school are very daunting. They make it appear that if my child hasn’t read a specific list of 500 books or volunteered for umpteen service organizations or learned how to write a 20-page research paper, then he will never even graduate from high school, much less get into college.
I get SO FRUSTRATED with this type of blather, because I know it does not have to be that way. Homeschooling high school does not have to be difficult or scary. It can be easy, pleasing – even fun. No wonder so many homeschooling families put their kids into public or private school once they hit ninth grade. If I believed even half of those articles, I would, too. The truth is that preparing for college is not rocket science.
Wouldn’t you love to know that there is one simple thing you can do that will help you see exactly what is necessary for your teen to be accepted to college? So you won’t have to listen to all those people telling you to do this, that, or the other thing — and you won’t need to be afraid that you will ruin your kid’s life.
This is actually an easy one, y’all. There is no magical formula. We don’t need a huge list of must-do’s, the thought of which bows us down with dread, wondering how we will ever accomplish it. We can get the information we need about high school curriculum requirements for college acceptance by completing a very easy exercise that can be done for the most part online.
The best way to know what colleges expect is to just look it up.
Almost every college/university has an online catalog these days. And inside that online catalog, usually at the beginning, is a section on admissions — specifically on admissions requirements. And there is where it will say how many credits of high school English the college requires, how many credits of math, of history, etc. It will even sometimes list specific courses that the admissions department would like to see the applicant to have taken in high school, like American History or British Literature.
It is neither difficult nor time-consuming to pick several colleges and look this information up on their websites. You might want to check out the local community college, and then maybe a state school, a couple private colleges, your own alma mater, even an Ivy League, if that’s where your child might be headed. The idea is to get a cross-section of colleges and universities that your child might be interested in attending.
What does it take to get into college?
Let me give you a quick spoiler alert of what you’ll find out — although you should still complete the exercise, because doing it FOR YOURSELF is what will chase those fears away and give you the confidence that you can handle this high school thing. But here’s what you will learn: Guess what? They all have different requirements.
Let me repeat that: each and every college/university has its own requirements for what it expects to see from its applicants. There are no state laws about this, because every school draws students from many different states of the union. Schools know that a child from one state may have been required to have so many credits of history in high school, but a child from another state may not have been required to have that many. So the colleges determine their own requirements, which may or may not match those of the state they are in.
This is very freeing!! Once you understand that requirements vary by college, then you begin to realize that there is no one right way to do high school at home. You discover how flexible a high school curriculum can be — and then the task becomes a whole lot easier.
Related: Episode 54 – Preparing for College Academically
Most 8th-grade and younger students do not know where they want to go to college, so right now this is just a data-gathering exercise. If you DO happen to know that your child WILL be going to XYZ College, then by all means look up those requirements and plan that child’s high school curriculum to meet them.
But if your child is still unsure of their college/career goals (and most are at this point), you can still get an idea of what will generally be required by most colleges and what your child needs to do to meet those requirements. You can use this information to make an overall plan of classes that will fulfill the requirements for most places.
Another interesting thing to notice, too, is that many colleges do not require a minimum number of credits even close to what the states require for high school graduation. This can also be very relieving. Frankly, I don’t know why we even care about state public school requirements for high school graduation. I mean, they’re fine to use as a reference or starting point, but it seems to me that when planning high school we tend to forget one of the great perks of homeschooling — the fact that we are in charge. We can decide how many credits our child needs to graduate and what courses he is required to take. We don’t have to follow what the public school does in any regard, much less this one. Let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be. (Obviously, we do need to follow the homeschool laws in our state, but these are usually much different from public school requirements.)
Related: All about Homeschool Science Labs for High School
I believe doing this little bit of research will ease much of the fear about homeschooling high school. When we know what colleges expect, we can plan to achieve that. It is not something we need to go into blind. Colleges do not have some magical hidden process by which they decide on the fitness of their applicants. It’s all there in black and white. Take a look for yourself!
All of this information — and lots more — can also be found in my book called Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Handbook for Research & Planning.
The book starts with this very important piece of research and then takes you one step at a time through everything you need to know to plan a course of study for your high schooler. You’ll be confident that you haven’t missed anything and that your teen will be equipped to fulfill their goals! It’s available both as a printable ebook and as a paperback on Amazon. You can read more about it here: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School.
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30 thoughts on “How to KNOW What Your Teen NEEDS to Get Into College”
Thank you. My girls are starting high school in the fall and this is helpful as I am trying to plan out curriculum. They are going on different paths(one wants to be a nurse, the other a hairdresser) so being told it is okay to tailor their plans to their futures instead of just “everyone takes these” is important.
Oh good, Helen, I’m glad you were reassured! Yep, our children can be SO different from one another. I think we parents, if we went to public school, are so used to the group mindset that it can seem wrong to allow our homeschooled kids to be non-conformists about their coursework. But it is actually more desirable to meet their individual needs, in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you come back again; I’m working on a post on the “Second Easy Step…” to publish next week. :-)
Helen, you might check into local community colleges for cosmetology or cosmetology management programs. My hairdresser was homeschooled her entire life and did a ton of dual enrollment classes her last 2 years of high school so that she graduated with an entire associates degree in Cosmetology Management at the same time she graduated from high school. She then went to an 18-month program at an Aveda institute, and she is licensed now. It was a great use of her high school time.
This was our first year of homeschool – 8th grade. (((Aaah!))) We made it!! And he LOVED it as much as I did. Everything you wrote about was what I was already thinking. I’m figuring all this out without any real guidance except from scouring the Internet and those few I’ve connected with on Instagram. I’m so glad to know that I’m facing the right direction. Thank you!!
Yay, Dee, you go, girl! You’ve got this!! :-)
Coming to these realizations is like throwing weights off my shoulders!! Thank you for the info!!
Oh yay!! I’m glad to have been an encouragement to you, Angie! Thanks for stopping by!! :-)
You helped me get past my mental block. I did not know how to proceed at all. Now I feel so much better!
Yay! It always makes me happy to know I have helped someone! Thanks for letting me know!! And be encouraged, Jeana — you can do this! :-)
Love, love, love this post! I’m going to print and laminate it and read it every time I start to doubt what I’m doing. :-)
Aw, thanks, Jenny!! I think I can honestly say that’s the first time anyone has said they wanted to laminate a post! :-) :-) I’m honored!! And no doubting allowed! You’ve got this thing!! :-)
Thank you again! I’ve read through this whole series and now I’m coming back through with the intent of searching our colleges and see what they require. This has been so helpful.
Great!! If you’d like forms to fill out and much more detailed information about every step of the process, check out my NEW (as of yesterday) ebook! Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School — How to Be Sure You’re Not Missing Anything :-)
Great info – thank you!
You’re welcome! :-)
I’ve graduated two so far. I agree with you on looking up colleges early on to see what they want then work out a 4 yr plan that can be flexible. Our basic rule of thumb was 4 of each of the major subjects, PE, Art or Music, Computer and at our house Bible.
Kids chose what specific classes they wanted for each subject i.e. Science didn’t have to be the same as their public school friends. Mine chose Astronomy and Anatomy instead of Physics etc.. Let them have some ownership and begin to discover their interests. It will help when making college decisions so they don’t change majors all the time. They know what they want and are gifted at doing. It’s different for everyone but if your kid is interested in it, he will invest in it.
“…if your kid is interested in it, he will invest in it.” SO TRUE!! My one caution would be that some colleges specify certain courses, and they may require that Physics course whether your kid is interested in it or not. But beyond that, the sky’s the limit! Great words, JJ; thanks for sharing!! :-)
My Granddaughter is starting 9th grade, she wants to be a nurse. what would be the best subjects for her to take through High school?
Anatomy and physiology courses, nutrition … Check out Master Books perhaps.
I think colleges may have special requirements for something like a nursing program, so I would look those up specifically. Other than that, whatever you think would be helpful — anatomy & physiology would be a great one. Even Latin! :-) But I don’t think you need to feel like you have to stuff her high school full of “nursing” type courses. Just as much as will help her feel more comfortable when she gets to college, without overwhelming her in high school. :-)
So helpful and encouraging!
Thanks, Stacie! :-)
I am a retired teacher who is seeing more and more students struggling at school with anxiety issues, parents struggling with truancy issues and much more. I have always had problems with the high school requirements. Overkill in classes and busy work for instance. Also taking the individuality out of children’s lives. I am interested in teaching, with an assistant up to ten students. I would like for each to bring their own laptop in and log on to their classes, using myself and assistant as a monitor and reinforcer as needed. Thank you so much for all the great information you have shared. I am also a published author and love writing.
Yes, often the public high school requirements are so silly, aren’t they? Thanks for your input!
Thank you so much for this info, its lifted a truckload of my back!
My son is going to enlist in the military. I spoke to a recruiter and all I need to provide is a high school diploma. Where do I get that diploma?
I ordered ours from HSLDA. They will engrave them with all of the student’s info — they are really nice!
Thanks so much. Love your confidence!
Thanks for stopping by, Andrea! :-)
My child is struggling with Algebra. She is brilliant and does wonderful work across the board with her classes, but she totally locks up when we try to do Algebra. She is a junior and I’m co center about what to put on her high school transcript. I looked up requirements for the local community college and I do t see specific class requirements. If she doesn’t have four years of math on her transcript is this going to be a problem getting into college? Do colleges have a remedial algebra to take before the student is ready for “college algebra?”
Hi Dara, Many colleges only ask for 3 credits of math, and if the community college isn’t showing any math requirement, it might be because they don’t have one. They often only expect the student to be a certain age, and that is literally it. YES, there are often remedial classes that can be taken even during freshman year of college to get your kid caught up if need be. Have you seen my article/video about when your high schooler is “behind”? I think it might reassure you some more: https://www.notthathardtohomeschool.com/homeschool-high-school-student-behind/. HUGS!