Over the High School and Through the Home ... It's Off to College We Go!

Stop! Read on only if (a) you currently, or someday will, have a homeschool high schooler; (b) you want your high schooler to have a college education but have plaguing thoughts that you can't guide your child through high school and into college; (c) you believe the maze of transcripts, applications, and assorted forms needed for high school and college will require you to hire a professional "worker-of-paper"; (d) contemplating the staggering cost of a four-year college induces within you strange physical symptoms such as loss of breath; or (e) any or all of the above.

If this describes you, take courage. Studies show that "Homeschoolers are academically, emotionally, and socially prepared to succeed in college" (Homeschooling on the Threshold: A Survey of Research at the Dawn of the New Millennium (1999), p.17, Brian D. Ray, Ph.D, quoting Irene M. Pure (1997). A nationwide survey of admissions personnel's knowledge, attitudes and experiences with homeschooled applicants. Doctoral disertation, University of Georgia, Athens.) and that "several colleges think so well of the home educated that they have been actively recruiting them for several years." (Ray 1999, p. 17.)

That's heartening, you say, but where is the path that will successfully lead my child from home to the campus gateway? Uncharted courses can appear daunting, but there is a roadway that will take you and your high schooler through choosing the best college, a marketable degree, and a fitting career path. So, put on your walking shoes and let's go!

Making Choices
The first step is actually to begin at the end and proceed backwards. It is easier to map a course when you know the destination. Help your high schooler choose a career or, if he is not yet ready to make that weighty decision, help point him in a life direction. God has a perfect plan for your young adult, and that plan includes a life work. You, as that child's parent, are the best person to guide him in choosing his career or path. We have been a student of our child since his birth, observing his gifts, talents, and passions.

At age 3 my son Micah was intrigued with the drainage system in our neighborhood park. When he was older, I provided him with plenty of building toys and books about how things worked. Now, at age 18, he is pursuing a college degree in engineering. You can help your young adult discern his life's work by observing his talents, discussing his interests, and providing varied curricular and extracurricular opportunities.

A tangible step in helping your young adult choose a career path is to take advantage of personality profile and career counseling resources. One such resource is www.collegeboard.myroad.com. It provides high schoolers with individualized personality profiles, career options, and appropriate college majors. Seek to provide your future collegiate with opportunities to interview, shadow, or apprentice in his field of interest. By tenth grade Micah had narrowed his career choices to engineering and dentistry. He interviewed several engineers and spent a day shadowing our family dentist, and he was able to choose the career that most intrigued him.

Discuss with your child the practical considerations of his career choice. How many hours will he be required to work each week? Could he support a family on the salary? How much travel would be involved? What about the job forecast? Are there any religious or moral issues to consider? An important step in choosing a career is to seek the counsel of others who know and love your child. Most importantly, seek the Lord's direction through prayer. Once you and your high schooler have taken the first step of choosing a career or direction, you are ready to choose a college major.

What major area of study will best prepare him for his chosen field and make him marketable to future employers? My daughter Grace is currently a high school senior and enjoys art. She is researching careers in art and is considering a degree in graphic design. This major would allow her to earn a marketable degree while using her artistic abilities.