Alternate Paths - Public High School is stupid

<p>My son is completely underwhelmed at his public high school - he is a freshman and is already looking at options to get out. We are all in agreement that the school is underwhelming - no National Merit anything - pretty low SAT averages - nothing appealing to him in terms of sports - we moved away from his nationally ranked swim club - this school has no swim team. We are considering allowing him to finish his sophomore year at this school, taking his GED completing two years worth of coursework at the community college. From there he would transfer into a college or university. </p>

<p>We are looking at a UC Cal State School/ a Parsons or a RSDI type of technical arts school. </p>

<p>He has always been a motivated, overachieving student - I think four years at this high school would kill that - </p>

<p>We have considered the private schools in our area - one is a Catholic College Prep and the other is non-denominational and way too expensive. </p>

<p>Am I reasonable in considering this option? What could an underperforming public high school have to offer a motivated, performing student? Would he be better off in a community college environment getting actual college credit rather than AP credits? </p>

<p>Anyone have any thoughts</p>

<p>In California there is an alternative to the GED. At 16 one can take the HS Equivalency exam which I've been told is more respected than the GED. If you have an opportunity to look at 'Distance Learning' on Google you will fnd that there are many opportunities to challenge. If he can start taking one or two classes at the community college now, it will give him a resource. My daughter has had several friends that go to HS for the course work they enjoy and the community college for the rest. She elected to stay at the high school due to the strong performing arts program, but regularly takes classes at the CC.<br>
One friend took the HS equivalency, did 2 yrs at the CC, then entered Cal State San Marcos. So it is doable.</p>

<p>I have done a lot of research on this for my daughter and I just wanted to mention a couple of things. They can't take the GED until they're 18. Also, the difference between the GED and the CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) is that the GED is nationally-recognized and the CHSPE is only recognized in the state of California. I know that you said he plans on going to the CC first and then on to a UC or Cal Poly school and so he would be fine if you decided to take this route (the CHSPE). However, in the event he changes his mind and wanted to take the CHSPE and go directly to an out-of-state 4-year institution, he wouldn't be able to do this. </p>

<p>My daughter is a senior and decided to go to an accredited alternative high school this year where she only goes in once a week to meet with her teachers and take tests and does all the work at home. She didn't like the social aspects of high school and has been extremely unhappy for a couple of years at her school. This decision really put me through the wringer as she is a good student and I saw this year as the "home stretch" if you know what I mean. She is taking the same courses at the alternative high school as she was taking at her regular high school except for Calculus which she will take at the CC in January. She is definitely happier, has applied to 7 colleges (accepted at 2 out of state so far) and it seems to be working out. Just thought I'd mention another alternative that would not limit his options like the CHSPE might.</p>

<p>One other option, especially since your son is motivated, is homeschooling. There are numerous online courses or correspondence courses from universities he could take if you don't have a lot of time to spend with him. Homeschooling a high schooler may seem a daunting task, but since he's bright, it should be all the easier.</p>

<p>Your son is what, 14? Most states have a minimum age of 17 or 18 for GED. Here's what I suggest - make him a homeschooler. "Homeschooling" has nothing to do with "school at home". You don't have to teach him anything yourself. It just means that you are released from the confines of the school's curriculum to design something that actually meets his needs. You can draw on all kinds of resources. He can take CC courses while you continue to call him a high schooler. He can also self study for AP exams; or take distance learning high school, AP or college courses. Then when he's old enough to actually leave home, have him apply to 4 year colleges as a freshman. He will have a lot more options for colleges that will meet his needs during the years he is 18-22 than he would have if you made him an official college student at age 14. (edit - I apparently crossed posts with Kilimanjaro. Great minds think alike!)</p>

<p>Another thing to consider is the age problems. At our CC, you have to be 16 to enter, no exceptions.... and trust me, I tried every excuse.</p>

<p>Some colleges outside of California will honor CHSPE, but it is a hassle. There are many distance learning programs where you can earn your HS diploma. The biggest problem with this process can be the socialization. If your son is involved in other activities that provide him with ample opportunities to be with other students his age, this is a viable option. As I mentioned, many of my daughter's friends have done a mix of hs, cc and distance learning. One is now at BYU and one at UCSF. It can work. Alternative hs is also a blessing to many students and provides socialization opportunities. I'm so glad that you recognize the problem and are seeking out solutions. Many students fall through the cracks because the parents don't realize that there are alternatives.</p>

<p>Each CC is different, so check. It doesn't have to be a CC, some colleges will allow students to take classes through extension programs. Check it out. There are great on-line education programs, too.</p>

<p>One of my daughter's closest friends felt the same way your son does about her high school. She is now in a special community college program (in Calif.) for high school students. She is technically a junior in high school but is a freshman at this community college - will receive both her high school diploma and Associate's in two years. She is really enjoying the program - she has always been very mature for her age and was dying of boredom at the local high school. Again, this is a specific program offered by the cc (Grossmont CC) for high school students. I think it is called something like high school academy.</p>

<p>On the other hand, my children do attend a private catholic high school and they have been very happy and challenged by the course work there. So, visit and consider all options. In my opinion, while there are some very good public high schools in Calif., many leave much to be desired. Unfortunately, the kids who seem to suffer the most at these schools are often the ones who are the brightest and most motivated. (My daughter has another friend who was one of the brightest kids in middle school - after two years at the local high school, he became so bored, he dropped out and is now attending an alternative high school similiar to that described above while working).</p>

<p>Can you move to a better district? We did this several years ago and it has worked out well.</p>

<p>Also, your son has only be at this school a couple of months. Is he in the right courses? Has he joined any academic or service clubs? Is there a local swim team?</p>

<p>We live in the DC area - MD side - we just bought a house we all like for a half million - we could go to northern VA and live in a more expensive and crappier house - (it took us over a year to find and agree on this house - believe it or not schools were a major factor in our consideration) moving in the next couple of years would be a not good financial move. </p>

<p>As far as extracurriculars go - my son's interests are toward the academic - Latin Club, Debate Team, Chess Club - none of which are active at his school. </p>

<p>The California model sounds very workable - but I don't think our school district works on that model.</p>

<p>So the reason I started this thread was to solicit information:</p>

<p>If my son wants to attend a competitive college or university (no ivy league aspirations) - UC Santa Barbara/UCLA/Cal Poly- how would a premature break from high school be assessed by the admission board?</p>

<p>As a 17 year old applicant with community college credits - would he be considered a transfer student -or could he forego his hours and get classified as a freshman? </p>

<p>Does anyone have a compelling argument as to the disadvantage of truncating high school? </p>


<p>From everything I have read, he would be considered a transfer student if he has more than 30 credits. While the school may not have Latin Club, Debate Team, Chess Club, the community where you live may have some. The most compelling argument against truncating high school is the maturity one gains by dealing with an adverse situation and learning how to deal with the system. Check out charter schools or magnet schools in the area. You don't have to live in the district for most of these programs.</p>

<p>An applicant with CC credits will generally be classified as a freshman or transfer based on their status when they enrolled in those courses. You keep your options open by hanging on to your classification as a high school student by dual-enrolling rather than registering as a regular CC student. If you register as a regular CC student, your age or willingness to forego the credits will not automatically mean you can later apply to a 4-year college as a freshman. Talk to your local CC about their dual-enrollment policies and try to go that route if you possibly can.</p>

<p>I don't know how things work out in MD, but here is what we are doing with our son:
He is graduating early (after junior year); as well, since 9th grade, he has been taking a couple of college classes each semester. While his high school classes have not been very demanding until this year, the college classes keep him happy. Since he is not enrolled full-time, he is maintaining his high school status. He is also able to do ECs through his school (though this is somewhat limited by the college classes). </p>

<p>If you envisage your child going out-of-state for college, I strongly recommend that he take APs as college courses are often not recognized by universities while APs are portable. </p>

<p>Hope this helps.</p>

<p>Lozuna, I don't understand when you say there are only two private schools in your area. I live in your area and there are quite a few private schools around. But perhaps we're defining "area" differently. But kids here tend to travel to get to high schools; some in P.G. County travel to Georgetown and the farther reaches of Montgomery County. Kids in Virginia also travel to private schools in Montgomery County. Some have school buses and some have car pools. He might also have other public school options. Eleanor Roosevelt, for example, is supposed to be a good public high school, and takes kids from outside its geographical district if they can pass the pertinent tests. So maybe your son's options are wider than you think.</p>

<p>Have you tried talking to the teachers, school administrators, parents group at the school? The average SAT scores at my kids’ high school are low, but that doesn't make the school "stupid.” Average SAT scores are a reflection of the socioeconomic status of the enrolled students. Find out if there are some other bright and motivated students there and talk to their parents about their experiences. Get involved in the parents group and advocate for more academic challenge in the curriculum. If your son is that motivated, then he has an opportunity to breathe some life into the inactive clubs by taking on a leadership role. Maybe he can start a new club himself. My experience is that the quality of public schools is often a reflection of how involved parents are in the schools. Parents have even been known to get schools to add new sports or AP classes, but it takes work and commitment.</p>

<p>I don't have any advice regarding your son's school. </p>

<p>But I wonder if you have looked at the tuitions of those Ca schools for an out of state student. Also UCLA is highly competitive for even Ca students. I think at Cal Poly you would find very few students from outside Ca.</p>

<p>Adding to Mom60's question - You might want to read up on UC admissions requirements: <a href=""&gt;;/a> Mom60 is right: it is extremely difficult for out of state students to get into the UC schools --- generally, anything out of the ordinary is going to be a strike against them. Of course, there are thousands of other schools out there where an alternate path will not be a problem. ;)</p>

<p>There is an email address on that site that you can send questions to -- I have found them helpful in the past.</p>

<p>A lot can change btwn now and when your son is ready to apply to colleges. I think the most important thing is to keep as many options open for him as possible.</p>

<p>We homeschooled our high school d. It has worked out well but was challenging. Actually we home schooled since she was 4. </p>

<p>By the time she was in 10th grade she passed up both my wife and I in math and science so we started using online courses and the local community college. Had to get special age exemptions and fought for them every semester. We found out that the community college was really not very challenging so by the second semester of 11th grade she commuted 50 miles one way to the university. </p>

<p>She has done well, but I won't say it was easy. If your son is self-motivated he can do very well at home. Explore the different online courses and community college courses available. </p>

<p>In order to get into colleges we are finding that they want more SAT II tests than other students are required to have. Some require 6 SAT IIs to help them evaluate a home schooled student. </p>

<p>We have 3 more children coming up and are evaluating how to best ready them for college. We enrolled the 14 year old in the local public school. She is a freshman but went into mostly sophomore classes. I woudn't say they are challenging, so we may bring her back home next year.</p>

<p>So...I'm not sure I like the GED idea. I think a combination of online courses and community college courses may be the best route to go at first. If he is bright and self motivated he can go far at home.</p>