A Practical Guide to Aiming High in High School
- Thursday, April 17, 2008
In my last column, I discussed how important it is for our homeschooled teens to discover their real passions and then to set long-term goals centered on those very interests. Exciting goals are bound to motivate our students throughout their high school years to deeper study and greater accomplishments. Some of the aspirations I suggested were ambitious: studying at the US Air Force Academy and becoming an astronaut, competing in the Olympics, working in Third World countries, writing and illustrating children’s books, building a dream home, medical research, and more. However, finding a passion and writing down long-range plans are only the beginning steps of the high school journey.
How will our homeschooled high school students actually achieve their lofty dreams? What can they do over the four years of high school that will lead them consistently to their desired destinations?
The answer is: plenty!
The key for students to remember is to focus most of their work and play on their main goals. The majority of what our students do should in some way relate back to their stated interests.
If your son is consumed with learning all there is to know about marine animals, the evidence should pile up over the years. He should not find himself in November of his senior year, struggling to write an essay for his college applications describing his real interest in marine biology when his transcript shows a fascination with foreign language and descriptive linguistics instead. College admissions officials will have no problem seeing the truth even if your son doesn’t yet realize his quandary.
To help us visualize what a four-year plan leading to the accomplishment of high goals might look like, I will talk about three fictional students: (1) a girl interested in music performance, (2) a boy interested in designing and building homes, and (3) a student interested in starting a catering business. Though these careers might be in no way similar to what your own children are considering for their lives, you should be able to take this information and personalize it to suit your teens’ particular leanings.
Plan Academic Studies
Most high school students cover the same basic subject areas, though these subjects are often learned through varying methods and to varying degrees. This exposure provides a well-rounded education. However, it is in the elective subjects that the students’ passions should come forcibly into play. I have listed below some academic topics that would build great foundations for our three fictional students.
The subjects I list are certainly not mandatory. They are only suggestions that would work well for each of these interest areas. Most of these topics can be learned through continued independent study at home, some can be studied in a homeschool class or with a private tutor, and all of them are currently offered at our own local community college.
Some parents are not aware of the offerings of two-year colleges. With the recent modifications to the Advanced Placement Program that now make it difficult for homeschoolers to participate, it is reassuring to know that four-year schools look more highly on excellent grades earned in CC classes than on superb AP scores. In addition, CC classes can also provide a homeschooled student with the objective recommendation letters the college application process requires.
No matter what method you and your students choose to study their elective topics, remember to let the students lead the way. They must understand what needs to be learned and commit to doing so with enthusiasm. These should be the studies that fascinate and energize them!
Music Performance – Music Appreciation; Music History; Advanced Music Theory; Italian; Composer & Style Studies; Composing; Conducting; German.
Carpentry/Contracting – Geometry; Word Processing/Power Point; Spanish; Advanced Algebra; Three-Dimensional Drawing; Computer-Aided Drafting; Leadership in Business; Residential Electrical.
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