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Starting high school?

nmfnmf 4 replies1 threads New Member
edited January 2005 in Home Schooling and College
I'm not quite sure where to put this, so I'll just put it here. I have been unschooled my entire life and would be a freshmen in high school. I was thinking of starting high school as a sophomore next year, but was wondering if having only three years of high school would limit my choices to good colleges. And if there was anything I could do about it. Thank you for reading this.
edited January 2005
9 replies
Post edited by nmf on
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Replies to: Starting high school?

  • reasonabledadreasonabledad 847 replies38 threads Member
    More and more colleges are creating or adapting an admissions policy for homeschoolers. Nevertheless, you are almost certainly better off if you can show a college many of the things they see from public school applicants. So four years of high school is better than three, although exactly what this means is a bit more difficult to say. Can you give a little more information, such as:
    1. What you like to learn
    2. What kind of colleges can you see yourself attending today (it changes over time, but where are you now)?
    3. Is there something you would like to study at college?

    Basically, it is helpful to know if you are leaning in a particular direction (math, science, art, music, business) yet. If not (and that's OK), then you should look at a couple of college websites (perhaps you should start with your state university). Many colleges have advice for homeschoolers about taking four years of English, three of lab science, etc. It's important to plan how you could demonstrate this kind of learning in 2.5 years, when you will be applying.
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  • angrodangrod 119 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Well, I know some places (MIT at least) doesn't even really consider your freshman year in high school, so depending on where you apply you should be fine. But just for encouragement, homeschooling in high school is where you can really set yourself apart from the rest, and I encourage you too finish up your high school at home. However, it is your decision, and I of course don't know all your reasons. :)

    Happy holidays everyone!
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  • texas137texas137 2086 replies57 threads Senior Member
    there is no need to call yourself any grade at all. But you need to figure out how you are going to accumulate a reasonable amount of "stuff" btwn now and when you will be applying to college, which could be as little as 2 years from now if you want to start college in 2007. By "stuff", I mean objective information that colleges can use to put you in context and compare you to their admissions pool. That might mean some combination of standardized test scores, or community college grades, or distance learning courses with grades, or elaborate record keeping and a portfolio of you work. But you have to decide what "stuff" you are going to use to present yourself, and make sure you have enough of it. This is going to depend somewhat on the type of schools you plan to apply to. A small LAC may be willing to plow through a 50 page portfolio that includes every book you've ever read, but many colleges won't be. If you plan to apply to more numbers-driven colleges, you will need to make sure you have enough numbers for them to look at. That means test scores, and grades (NOT parent-generated grades). Also think about rec letters. Plan early to put yourself into situations where adults outside your family get to know you well enough to potentially write letters.
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  • writebrainedwritebrained 8 replies1 threads New Member
    I don't see any reason why it should matter. After all, it's not like you'll have had only three years of education - you'll just have had only three years of being in a school. Is there any way you can demonstrate to the high school what you did at home freshman year? They might be willing to give you credits for your homeschool work, or perhaps could put a note on your transcript saying what you did while you were homeschooled. They at least have to indicate on your records somewhere that you transferred to the school after being homeschooled. If the colleges you apply to see that, they probably won't question why you only have records for three years of high school.
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  • texas137texas137 2086 replies57 threads Senior Member
    I just realized that I totally misread the original post. I thought the OP was going to continue homeschooling for high school, but wanted to "skip" freshman year.

    So, ahem... In terms of college apps, this situation will be exactly the same as attending high school A for freshman year, then transferring to high school B for sophomore year. You submit a transcript from each one when you apply to colleges, which in the case of the homeschooling year, will follow the general idea I wrote above.

    Where you are much more likely to have problems is with the high school, They are much more likely than colleges to balk at a non-traditional presentation of what you did freshman year, and may want you to take a bunch of courses that you feel you have already covered. Sometimes this goes smoothly, but often it doesn't. Try to figure out early how you high school is going to treat you. If they basically want you to spend a year taking "their" freshman stuff, you might need to look at other schools or rethink your plan.
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  • reasonabledadreasonabledad 847 replies38 threads Member
    Catching up on this thread, I realize that I also mis-read the OP in the same way as Texas137. Sorry about that! Texas and the others have given you good advice. One additional thought is that if the school will allow you to take some "placement" tests and then to get into the sophomore classes, be sure to ask for some time to study and get as much material as possible that is relevent to each test from the school. In one case I know of, a homeschooler returned to public school and took the placement tests cold, without preparation. This did not work out well, because the placement test was actually the final exam from each of the classes that were to be skipped.

    Good luck! Tell us how it comes out.
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  • nmfnmf 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks everyone! For the advice and forewarnings. I really appreciate it. I feel a lot better. :)
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  • steveruleworldsteveruleworld 43 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Well, I know some places (MIT at least) doesn't even really consider your freshman year in high school, so depending on where you apply you should be fine. But just for encouragement, homeschooling in high school is where you can really set yourself apart from the rest, and I encourage you too finish up your high school at home. However, it is your decision, and I of course don't know all your reasons
    As a person who went from homeschooling straight into high school, i have to disagree with what you said here about continuing home schooling through high school. During high school, tho i may not have advanced as quickly as i would have had i been home schooled, i did develop a variety of intrapersonal skills and learned how to deal with my peers in a learning environment. I learned how to adapt to the varying teaching styles of my teachers. I also had some of my best experieces at my high school. After my first semester in college i can say that this skills i developed definately helped my meet new people and do very well in my classes.
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  • natnat 7 replies0 threads New Member
    There are reasons why you have "unschooled" up to this point. If those reasons have been fulfilled, and you now clearly want the full high school experience for its own sake, go for it. But if school is still not your thing, you have every bit as good a chance, if not better, to get into the school of your dreams as an unschooler.

    Unschooling means your parents don't boss you around too much, but it shouldn't mean you can't participate in classes or take advantage of more structured opportunities if you choose to. Unschooling, as I understand it, is about freedom, which should include the freedom to do what you need to do if you want to attend college.

    Start looking at college websites and getting an idea of where you'd like to apply. Don't set your sites too low. Many of the best schools offer blind admissions (they don't look at how much money you have), and are commited to financing everyone they accept.

    Begin looking at college applications (available through college websites) so you know what will be expected of you. Work on your essay writing skills, as your application essays will be extremely important.

    If you're interested in a particular college, take up contact with them as soon as possible. Visit the school and talk with their admissions counselors. Let them know you're interested in applying, and you need to know what they require from homeschoolers. Find out if they offer any summer programs for high schoolers in fields that interest you. (Again, don't let price keep you from applying - many programs offer financial aid.) If you know without a doubt that a particular school is the one for you, consider applying ED (early decision). These applications commonly need to be submitted in November of the preceding year, so keep an eye on deadlines.

    As an "unschooler" you should consider doing some things that will give the admissions people tools they commonly use to compare students.

    Get an early start on SAT prep. As an unschooler, you have the advantage of time. You can focus directly on test prep and do practice tests. (If you are anti-testing, find out which schools will admitt without tests, but you might reconsider your position. This might be the time to get over any testing aversions you have.)

    Look into the AP testing program. You can take AP tests without taking AP classes if you prepare on your own. Not only will completed AP tests look great on your application, they can give you a leg up on your college load.

    Go ahead and take a few classes at your local high school (AP classes might be just the thing) or community college. Also look at respected high school distance programs like http://nebraskahs.unl.edu/ , and take a few of their classes.

    Look for other things available to you in your community. Take the time to build educational relationships with adults who will be willing to write letters of recommendation for you.

    Most un/homeschoolers I know are already involved with their communities, but some aren't. If you're not a joiner, get over it. Get involved and take a leadership role in a community organization (hiking, recycling, theater - you name it) that involves a group of people, so you can demonstrate that you are socially adjusted and not too sheltered. EC's (extracurriculars) are a big factor in college applications, and as an unschooler, you have the chance to blast everyone else out of the water. But don't do it just for the admissions process - do it for yourself.

    Find a volunteer position that you enjoy. It can be at the local hospital, animal shelter, or some place else. You don't need to let it take over your life - just a few hours a week will do.

    Start working on your transcript as soon as possible. It would probably be a good idea to package it into semesters, or at least into years. You can wait until closer to application time to pull this together, but it will be much easier if you just start now. Include all the obvious things like classes you take outside the home, including grades if they were assigned. (If not graded, ask your instructor for grades, if possible.) Then include all the other less obvious things you do to educate yourself. Do you spend fifteen hours a week reading? Include that as literature credits. Do you spend hours looking at films, and know vast amounts about the film industry? There's a media course. Do you fix everyone's computers, or help with family bookkeeping? That's all stuff they teach people in high school. None of this needs to be graded, but you deserve credit for it, so take it.

    These things will help the admissions counselors compare you with other high school students. They have a tough job, so anything you can do make their job easier, while demonstrating what an exceptional person you are, will work for you.

    There are several books out for homeshoolers about getting into college, so do some research. In addition, I'd recommend reading "The Gatekeepers", by Jacques Steinberg to get an idea of who you're dealing with when you submit college applications.

    A homeschooler close to me just got into a top school. I think she would have accomplished this whether she'd attended school or not. Never the less, the admissions people have to look at homeschool applications in a different light, and this can be a terrific advantage.
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