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Help! Should my D start homeschooling?

hoveringmomhoveringmom Registered User Posts: 383 Member
edited November 2009 in Home Schooling and College
I've written in another post about my S but I wanted to open up this thread as this is a sort of bigger issue for me. My D is a very bright honors student in a very high-pressure top-rated public school. She's in 11th grade, is president of the GSA, sings in the honors choir, and is taking all honors/AP classes. This school is filled with high achieving students who want to get to the 'best' colleges, and do.

Sounds great. But it isn't. Like so many 'top' high schools (I feel), this school sort of fills its classes with ultimately meaningless busy work just so that they have a way to grade students. A hard working reasonably bright kid does very well; the problem is my D is very bright (IQ 160 if that means anything) and needs to feel that what she is learning has meaning and purpose and that she's actually learning. So for her it's sort of pressure cooker for ultimately nothing except a race to get good grades, not for the love of learning. The message is if you fill in the correct dots and 'polish all the handles on the big brass door' you get an A. I won't go into more detail here as it would take up space--I hope you get what I'm talking about.

My younger S (14) acts professionally and is probably going to homeschool (I was helped a great deal in another thread). This suddenly started a discussion with my D who is a junior now. She BADLY wants to be homeschooled. It's not social; she has many friends. It's also not even academic in that she's not technically underchallenged--the school is top rated and has a zillion AP classes. It's the whole factory mindless life of high school. She HATES doing drudge work just to do drudge work. Honestly, she does her homework (meaningless) often until midnight or later. She wants to learn. SHe's stressed out for no purpose she feels.

My question is do you think she could start homeschooling at this late stage? She doesn't want ot go to college early. She wants to go at the time she 'ought' to go. She just wants to really learn and get out of the high school rat race, which increasingly seems to be training our young people to be unthinking workhorses--

How do you think homeschooling NOW will impact her college admission? She got an 800 on her SAT ENglish, which she took last year as practice. I'm pretty confident she'll get high official SAT scores, as she's good at math too. She's a lovely young woman and a driven woman and I want to see her light shine. But I'm worried how this will look to colleges. We do live very close to Philadelphia so are blessed with numerous college opportunities. Our only impediment ( a big one) is cost, as we are not well off. I'm a single working mom of five kids. But I'm thinking of contacting individual departments or professors at colleges and maybe they'll let her sit in on classes for no cost on an individual basis? She could take one or two courses and then just read read read (her love), and find her way.

What do you think? Is this doable? I'm especially interested in those of you who have sucessfully done this.
Post edited by hoveringmom on

Replies to: Help! Should my D start homeschooling?

  • danasdanas Registered User Posts: 1,781 Senior Member
    Colleges are institutions, so I'm thinking that even if a professor were open to a non-paying young person sitting in, the school likely wouldn't allow it.
    However, something like this might be able to be worked out on a "stealth" basis. I read about one young man who quit high school to home school, but missed his art teacher and his school's art facilities- the only worthwhile aspect of the place, to him. He volunteered to assist his old art teacher, and spent as many hours a day as he wanted in the art room. He had a plastic volunteer pass and could travel the school's hallways at will. I understand that he has since become a successful computer game designer.
    A city the size of Philadelphia has a plethora of museums to volunteer at. I don't mean as a docent or working in the gift shop. I keep citing the same example, but my daughter worked at the Field Museum (natural history) here in Chicago in the mammal department working on fresh specimens and tagging the collections according to a new scientific classification system. She was working side by side with research scientists who would suggest readings, instruct her as they worked, and take her through the collections. She was there as a volunteer and wasn't paid, but on the other hand there was no cost other than bus fare. In her experience, scientists liked the help if you were useful and conscientious, and they enjoyed mentoring her. Colleges and university professors have access to university and graduate level work-study people and may be less interested in a sixteen year old volunteer, but it might be worth exploring. I would try museums first.
    We never had money to work with re: home schooling. My son spent his four years at college as a Pell Grant recipient. We are above that income level now with my college daughter but never expect to approach a six figure income. Yet we have never felt the lack of opportunities out there for home schooling with little money. Public transportation and public library overdue fines have been the only major expense.
    My 14 year old daughter would be living at the Field Museum now, except they require their volunteers to be 16.
  • WartsandallWartsandall Registered User Posts: 14,151 Senior Member
    I was in a similar situation. I went to a pretty competitive high school but I wasn't too content with it. I had gone there the first two years, but a combination of the immense amount of students and busy work (I live in California so we have about 30 people+ per class due to budget cuts) ultimately led to my switching to an online school. With the help of someone on this website I switched to Keystone, and it has to be one of the best decisions I have made. The site enables me to take AP classes, while still having time to do other activities. I receive more individualized attention, and I actually get to sleep without having ever to stay up all night doing homework. It's not too late, I am a junior and I just made the switch as well. While I was originally hesitant at first, I'm glad I made the decision.
  • 'rentof2'rentof2 Registered User Posts: 4,327 Senior Member
    I totally understand your daughter's reasons for wanting to get out of high school and support it 100%. I hated high school. My son was never a regular student at the local public high school, but he took selected classes there as a homeschooler to meet college app requirements, and like I said in your other thread filled in the good stuff with home study and classes at the local college. He didn't exactly hate the high school, but it academically it didn't contribute much of anything to his life.

    My daughter did much more of her academic work independently (home study), but used the high school for other things like orchestra, speech & debate team, etc. The only academic classes she did there were biology and chemistry for the labs. She only did two years of part-timing it at the high school though because it just wasn’t a scene she connected with. (I do think she managed the two years because she was mostly doing my “extra-curricular” type things. I’m sure if she’d taken more academic classes there she wouldn’t have lasted two weeks.) She’s a smart kid and not much of a hoop-jumper by nature. So it wasn’t like she hated her high school experience exactly as that there was little there to excite her. She’d studied on her own all the “core subject” areas up to and beyond normal high school levels and had taken 5 SAT subject tests. At 16 she decided just to go ahead and start college full-time. Since that was too young to leave home and live in a dorm (in my opinion) she did the first year at the local state u. and lived at home and then transferred to the honors college at the flagship state u. She’s very happy there now and enjoying her classes.

    Now, how all this might pertain to you daughter…..

    Both my kids were homeschooled from the ground up, and the transcripts and activities resumes that generated for college admissions were naturally kind of goofy and unusual. My kids called them their “Frankentranscripts” --- a little from here, a little from there. Also, while my son went to a selective private, my daughter (in spite of having even higher “stats” than my son) was not drawn to that idea, kind of repulsed by it actually. She’s in the flagship state u’s honors college now, but got there based on her high test scores and the grades from her freshman college year of classes she took while still living at home.

    Your daughter will have a traditional high school transcript through… not sure… first semester of junior year? If highly ranked private colleges are her aim, I’d only make sure that you have a clear plan (doesn’t have to be locked in stone, can certainly morph as you go along) for her remaining time at home. And probably something that follows her deep interests or passions. You’ll want her college apps to show that she left high school to do something even better, not just to get out of high school. When you start homeschooling early in a child’s life, you have time to putter and meander around areas of interest and you know pretty much where that leads them by the teenage years. Starting homeschooling as late as you are, you’ll want to try to hook into that quickly so as to present an application that looks like your daughter left school to do something she couldn’t do while in school – same thing danas has said.

    Colleges really don’t give a rat’s patootie about high school diplomas. And of course, they accept virtually all students before they even have one. Even regular students, while they submit a final transcript to their colleges at the end of high school, they do that to confirm they’ve finished their classes satisfactorily. They do not send a copy of their diploma, and if in fact they don’t even end up graduating because they’re missing a PE credit or something, the high school may care, but the college doesn’t -- probably wouldn’t even have any way of knowing. Both my kids went to college without high school diplomas.

    So, in my opinion, your job would be to work with you daughter to outline a plan of what to do with the remaining time before college. As much as possible could be stuff out-in-the-world that’s actually substantial – like the volunteering danas mentioned that is academic but also unique and interesting – would be very good. We don’t live in an area where there many are opportunities like that, but it sounds like you do.

    Cost is something that is always an issue. For us homeschooling always veered between free or cheap on one hand, and expensive on the other. A library card is all you need on one level, but we also spent a great deal of money (by our standards, anyway) on books, trips, outside classes and resources. We are a family of pretty modest means (both my kids are Pell recipients), but we spent money we really couldn’t afford to allow the kids to pursue learning in the ways they wanted to. It was just a priority thing, but it was at times really difficult – just finished paying off the credit card this year. However, it was totally worth it… and more. You’ll need to explore with your daughter what opportunities might be available. You may find that money isn’t an issue at all depending on what they are. Having that time flexibility because of not being in school is almost like a miracle, because most of the interesting things that go in the world happen during the hours that kids are locked in school.

    What I would avoid with your daughter, because of the late start of homeschooling, is the appearance of leaving school with nothing else compelling filling in that new found freedom of time and energy. Otherwise, I’d look into her maybe cutting back to just a few classes on campus and taking other classes either online, at a local college, self-studying them (followed up with SAT subjects tests), or something along those lines that would still fill out her transcript but not so much physically at the high school. (By “her transcript” I don’t mean things that will go on her official high school transcript – I’m talking about her own homeschool transcript that would of course be submitted to colleges along with all her other application materials.)

    Wow… sorry this is so long!
  • mildredmildred Registered User Posts: 686 Member

    I have a side line doing a fair amount of tutoring.

    The home school students who I tutor (except for the more religious types, I live in the Bible Belt) are doing work out of a couple of schools and the one which is not regional is...

    BYU (Brigham Young University Online High School Diploma Program)

    I know for sure that BYU would work with your child and if I could go back in time I would have loved to have earned my high school diploma that way. Their classes are a trifle bit over $100.00 and their Independent Studies University level classes are a trifle bit over $500.00.

    BYU Independent Study - Distance Education Courses - Online Learning

    LSU no longer has an online high school diploma option any more (and they are super regional), but they do have wonderful Independent Studies University level classes for $262.00 a class. A class. Not per credit hour, one three credit class. They offer (only online) certificates, even. A nice liberal arts certificate coupled with some SAT Subject Tests wold look neat to most any University ad com.

    Louisiana State University

    MSU is super regional, but don't laugh. If the school or the homeschool mommy in question approves it, your child could be a dual enrollee through their online program for $199.00 a class. That's $199.00 a class, once again, no typo. My message board slang non withstanding.

    Independent Study - Academic Outreach & Continuing Education - Mississippi State University
  • hoveringmomhoveringmom Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    Wow, thank you--you've given me a great deal to think of. My head is in a whirl! Your points about her having a purpose in leaving school (not a negative fleeing-away, but a positive going-toward), is my main concern. As I mentioned, my younger son acts professionally (stage) and so there is a clear compelling reason he is being homeschooled; indeed he knows two fellow child actors who are tutored at home. Only both of them are rich and can afford whatever they want/need. That is, if they want to take a course at U Penn, they write their $2400 check, and there they go. Sigh. So I'm really grateful that you were able to give solutions not based on money--we too are Pell Grantees.

    THe problem with my D is that she doesn't have any clear compelling reason other than she's SO sick of the rat race. She reads a great deal and she too acts, but not professionally. She could audition for community theatre shows, but it's very difficult for a 17 year old girl to get parts--they just want 18, or 12.

    I love the volunteering idea. Philly has a lot of museums and we live 15 minutes away and she could take the train. Again, a problem is that she's not all that interested in science or art. But then again, she could become interested. Better than doing a group project Power Point yet AGAIN....

    Any more thoughts? Many thanks for your time.
  • hoveringmomhoveringmom Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    Oh--one more thing. I'm not denigrating the online options at all, but do you know how reputable these are? That is, do colleges take these seriously? I don't mean this in an insulting way, more in a practical way.
  • mildredmildred Registered User Posts: 686 Member

    I know for sure that the online high school diploma and/or dual enrollment programs as well as University level independent studies courses I mentioned are legit and that they only offer formally proctored testing. They are legit because they are affiliated with an accredited and years old University of higher learning.

    A great many folks over where I live in Memphis are doing homeschooling or seriously contemplating private school and whatnot because the public school system here leaves a lot to be desired. For as long as I have had my sideline of tutoring within the academic areas I can legitimately tutor, I have had a very fair amount of homeschool seniors earn admission to some very fair schools and I have had a few who have had parents fall on hard times who were able to gain admittance to the local community college as second semester freshman because they mixed and matched University level coursework with high school level course work as well as SAT (and AP) subject tests.

    The more Christian based folks have stayed within that same scene (if you will). And, that is just not relevant.

    I was just trying to be nice and put a few lower costs options out there. Trust me, the whole world of academia has changed because of the recession. I had a young(er) pal at my University who was told by her parents that she could have to formally withdraw at the end of her freshman year, because the monies her parents invested to pay for her schooling was gone because of some poor stock choices or something. This gal is now learning to be an LPN at a very fair priced technology center (affiliated with the local Community College) and is going to save her money to go back to University on her own dime. If, and I hate to say this, but...if she had a parent who explored other options while she was still in high school... like how some of the homeschool parents on this board seem to do then she would have had some room at my University because maybe she would have had some SAT subject tests under her belt or something.
  • GeekMom63GeekMom63 Registered User Posts: 1,957 Senior Member
    I agree with 'rentof2. If your daughter can find something to go TO, whether acting as a research flunky for a university professor or something else "academically valuable", where she is doing something she couldn't do with a full load of AP classes, it should be good. Better than good - think of the common app essay! "What I learned in my year of unschooling" - something different, an opportunity to show off her self-reliance and initiative, etc.

    My son has been homeschooled since fifth grade, and we have no reason to believe that he couldn't get into any school in the country (except for the lottery-based nature of many of them).
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,587 Senior Member
    I generally agree with 'rentof2, geekmom and danas. Our own experience was different but also relatively successful. Our son asked us to be homeschooled at the end of freshman year. He said, "These people are wasting my time" because he got the intellectual pace was way too slow. But, unlike some of the other kids represented here, he is pretty dyslexic and processes slowly and needed to work on reading and writing. My wife was wary of homeschooling (I travel a lot and could teach art or art history and nothing else). We negotiated a partial homeschooling program for the rest of HS. We replaced English with courses focused on expository writing (and some creative writing) but deemphasized the reading of literature (we like literature but writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting needed to be the focus). He took a course at Harvard Summer School. We replaced math with grad students that we hired to work with him once a week (though he took the BC Calculus course at the HS because the teacher is a gifted instructor and the first rule of studenthood is never pass up a great instructor). He worked independently in between his weekly meetings. We did not think he would get a diploma from his HS, but the administrators overrode the English department chairman to give him credit for some of his independent courses and the math department gave him credit for courses if he took their final exams, so in the end he got a HS diploma, but we had to show both HS and homeschool courses in his college apps. Partial homeschooling might be an option for you if full homeschooling is either a) too daunting for you; or b) if you couldn't figure out a way to frame what she would be doing in a positive light.
  • hoveringmomhoveringmom Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    Well, my D's dad is VERY VERY against homeschooling for both my S & D. His decision doesn't stem from the kids' needs, but from ideological needs (his own). His logic goes like this: School is where kids are supposed to be; therefore our kids need to be there. Whether it is the best option for them is not relevant to him. We're divorced and the kids live full time with me, but he has joint legal with me. I'm not sure I have the strength for a legal battle, nor do I think it's in the kids' interest. I'm pretty upset about the whole thing but am trying to think of practical solutions that will be a compromise for us.

    Unfortunately (fortunately?) our area hasn't been hit by the low funding thing too much. It's a very high achieving district that offers a great deal both academically and EC's. Because of this, I think, there is no precedent for partial homeschooling and indeed the homeschooling movement in high school is not very strong here, unless you're Christian, which we're not.

    It's just SUCH a meaningless rat race! I honestly think we are unconsciously training out children to be good corporate drudge workers. Years ago it was factory workers, but now I think it's higher level workers who won't blink at working 60 hours a week or more, who are taught to conform, to do mindless work at the boss's bidding just because he says so, who are rewarded for being prompt and doing the drudge work to the boss's liking, and who cope with the stress by having no other life outside of work - making the work their life - and also, sadly, by popping pills etc..

    This is just me being sad and bitter about this. Wish me luck. I'm talking to teh guidance counselor tomorrow to see what options there are. I anticipate a lot of hoop jumping.
  • applicannotapplicannot Registered User Posts: 4,366 Senior Member
    At the beginning of my junior year - much earlier than this, but my junior year no less - I left my public high school for the same reasons. It wasn't competitive, which made it worse - the busy work was stupid AND ridiculously easy. I use Keystone National High School. I love the program. It's fully accredited and offers a diploma program. It's about $3000 a year. I work at a part-time job making minimum wage and can easily cover the full cost by myself. With a part-time job, there's no reason your daughter couldn't pay the fee entirely by herself if necessary. It's cheaper than the other programs, but in my opinion just as good or better. The only downfall I can find is that the tests aren't proctored, they are open book. And if you think open book means easy, try taking one!
  • danasdanas Registered User Posts: 1,781 Senior Member
    There is a book you should be able to access at your library or online called "Real Lives, Teenagers Who Don't Go To School" by Grace Llewellyn. It may be over ten years old by now. It is actually 10 or 12 autobiographical sketches written by teenagers. One young woman was from the Philadelphia area, and someone I met when she was a young adult. She attended and graduated from Penn. I would say that home schooling influenced her much more than Penn. The book is an incredible argument for freedom. If it scares you or your daughter more than inspires you, then stay away from home schooling. There is a girl in there named Brosnan who is an inspiration to me to this day. My urban kids thought she was too rural for them. I hope they would get past that re-reading her entry today.
    There is no reason why your daughter's outside school involvement should be "up her line". In my daughter's case, she was a well read, humanities oriented ballet dancer. Taking apart bobcats, a Siberian Tiger, bats, etc. proved to be an unexpected pleasure. The image of a trained ballet dancer up to her armpits in mammal guts did not turn off Princeton, at least judging by her admissions result. As far as I know, it may have provided the missing piece.
  • danasdanas Registered User Posts: 1,781 Senior Member
    My first home schooler, a son, was asking to home school for quite a while.
    Then there was a death in the family, out-of-state. He missed almost a week of school.
    Now he was given zeros for missing homework assignments. He could not get this straightened out with most teachers because of a class schedule purposefully designed to give a student the minimum time necessary to proceed to the next class. I attempted to contact six teachers by phone to get this explained. A few zeros makes your "A" student a "C" student pretty quick. Of course I always wanted to be involved with my kids' education, but not exactly in this way. I capitulated to my son on this and freed him. I have capitulated to my kids ever since. There are just some things they are way ahead of me on.
  • hoveringmomhoveringmom Registered User Posts: 383 Member
    Dana, your kids sound very similar to mine. Only I didn't capitulate to my older two because of the divorce their dad and I were going through--I regret it now.

    And my kids have the same experience of school being simultaneously too easy and too stressful. Too easy in that the thinking is not that sophisticated and at a relatively low level, even in AP courses. Too stressful in that there is a TON of pointless busy work and grades are, as Dana noted, extremely random and often have nothing or little to do with content, and far more to do with conformity and parroting.

    So the update: my older D is transferring to another high school, still excellent, but less insane than her current school (I taught there, and know the politics). We'll see how she does. This was the compromise. My ex wouldn't budge on her homeschooling and I simply cannot see taking him to court over this, although chances are the judge would side with my D's desires since she's 17; still, he might not, and my younger children might be adversely affected, since I would have no way of knowing what the judge would think of me wanting to homeschool; many people here think of homeschooling parents as religious quacks who are derelict in their parenting duty. Also of course there's the expense and stress of the legal stuff. So the compromise. I hope my D is all right.

    My 14 year old S is being homeschooled right now, though. For my ex, the professional acting - as with Dana's D's dancing - really helped give him a 'reason' to homeschool. I don't believe you need a reason other than that, as many posters here have said, so many schools are mindless, bureaucratic prisons of drudgery.

    Thanks for all your thoughts. Oh, we'll check out Keystone. One of the wealthy people I tutor uses the Stanford Gifted program, but it's way too expensive. I also found out that our local community college offers two classes a semester at very low cost ($100/course) for high school students and homeschooled students. So we're checking that out too. My S could take math classes there!
  • GeekMom63GeekMom63 Registered User Posts: 1,957 Senior Member
    Yeah! Do the highschool/college thing! A lot of people are very happy with that.
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