Your twelve-year old dashes through your backyard sprinkler, giggling with a friend. She's still so young -- no need to think about colleges and jobs, right?

Well, you'd be surprised. Students with college and career ambitions need to start early -- particularly with the right courses and activities throughout the high school years. Here is what the College Board recommends for your child who wishes to go to a college or university:

  • Four years of English, including literature, writing/composition, and speech
  • Four years of math, including algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry and/or calculus
  • Four years of science, including biology, chemistry and/or physics
  • Four years of social studies, including U.S. history, U.S. government, economics, world history or geography
  • Four years of a foreign language
  • Some knowledge of computer science
  • Some advanced placement or independent study work
  • Standardized tests
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports and arts
  • Volunteer or work experience

That's a lot to cover! To make sure your child's homeschool education is rigorous and well-rounded, it's best to get advice from school counselors, college admission officers, or other education and career professionals before your child begins high school, and preferably as early as seventh grade.

For more information check out:
"How to Select Your Courses"
http://www.collegeboard.com/article/0,3868,2-7-0-33,00.html

If you're worried that your child's high school work will not be recognized by colleges, universities, employers, and the military, you may want to consider partnering with an accredited distance education provider. Credits from these programs are widely recognized and readily transferable. Some distance learning providers even offer recordkeeping, letters of recommendation, and expert guidance for homeschooling families.

There are other benefits that distance learning high school providers can give you. When you research these programs, look for academic benefits such as accreditation, certified teachers, and a variety of courses. Time management benefits should include the ability to work at your own pace, and flexible enrollment. For economic benefits, make sure the program includes any supplemental materials you may need and payment plans or financial aid. Finally, make sure the program supports the family values you already have in place, such as encouraging independent learning skills and respecting your child's unique interests, pace, and learning style.

Homeschooled high school students impress college admission officers and professional employers for many reasons:

  1. Most know how to budget their time.
  2. Most have demonstrated an ability to work independently
  3. Most can fit extracurricular activities and volunteer work into their homeschooling schedule.

"At first I worried about how being homeschooled would affect me getting accepted into a prestigious university," says Richard Cruz, a homeschooler from Texas. "Now the only dilemma I face is whether to attend Dartmouth, Yale, Rice, Notre Dame, Duke, or Stanford."

Of course, many homeschoolers choose alternatives to college, moving on to careers in the military, education, business, and the arts. Caroline Cox, for example, chose homeschooling so that she could "take education into her own hands" as she pursued a career as a professional dancer.

Whether your child is an athlete or an entrepreneur, reaching a goal takes planning and persistence. You can help your child get his or her feet wet by visiting colleges, exploring job sites, and contacting potential mentors during the preteen years.

Don't wait! Know your child's interests and needs and plan ahead. A well-rounded education that expresses your child's productive high school experience will lead to excellence in whatever path he or she chooses.

----------------------------

Don't miss the Homeschooling How-To Marathon 2005 presented by Homeschool.com July 25th - August 4th featuring LIVE tele-conferences with your favorite homeschooling authors and speakers. http://www.homeschool.com/registration/

This article originally published on www.Homeschool.com. Copyright, 2005 Reprinted with Permission.