Have you started the college conversation at your house yet? It can be an exciting time, but as a homeschool mom, you may be feeling stress, confusion or complete anxiety! There are thousands of schools to choose from, and although academic requirements vary from school to school, colleges are becoming more homeschool friendly each year. The earlier you begin preparing, the better equipped you will be to design a high school plan tailored to your teens goals.
So how do you begin to find the right match for your student in an ocean of choices? Start the first of many conversations with your teen:
- Do they need and want to attend a traditional four year college? There are many alternative and non-traditional college programs available (see a few examples here).
- What’s their learning style? If you can identify the type of classroom experience that will work best for your student, you can narrow down the types of colleges that will best serve their needs. Some homeschool students will enjoy listening to a lecture with 200 other students, while some will be much happier in a discussion based class of 10 or 12. If your student has a clear preference of class size, this can help narrow down your search significantly.
- What are their location preferences? Near, far or far, far away? The possibilities are endless. Your student could study abroad, or live at home and commute to a local university.
- What is their ideal social environment? Each school is unique and can attract similar types or students, such as athletic and active, intellectual or creative. Where will your teen feel at home? It is essential to schedule a campus visit before applying to a school to get a authentic feel for what the student body is like.
- Are they looking for a traditional college curriculum, or a flexible, open or design your own program? Not all colleges have the same core requirements for incoming freshman. Some schools will require two years of core courses, while others will let students immediately dive in to their interests.
- Discuss finances. It’s easy to fall in love with an expensive private school with beautiful dorms and excellent food, but is it worth going into debt? If your teen wants to attend a school that will require them to take out loans to attend, clarify how that could potentially effect their life after graduation. Know your financial constraints before you begin looking, but be sure to estimate financial aid possibilities.
- What are their goals? While you may find the financial piece of this puzzle the most stressful, it’s likely that your student finds choosing a specific path or goal most stressful. If they don’t know what course of study they wish to pursue, it’s okay. Did you know what you wanted to do with your life at 16? And did that plan later change? Don’t pressure them to figure it all out, but do steer them towards a college or university that offers a wide range of options if they aren’t sure what they want to study.
Once you can identify a few of the important features your teen is looking for in a college, you can begin to search for schools that meet academic and social needs. Look at the school’s admissions pages, and check for special requirements for homeschooled students, as many will post their policies for admitting homeschoolers. By exploring the school’s admission requirements, you can begin to build a high school plan for your student that will effectively help them meet their goals.
Have any advice to add? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!