High School: Begin with the End in Mind

When our kids were still young, someone gave us great advice: she told us to begin with the end in mind. Before starting high school with our older kids, we sent for admission requirements for some of the colleges they might attend. We carefully examined them and planned their four years of high school accordingly.

We are so glad we did! As new homeschoolers who were many years past our own high school experiences, we didn't remember what course of study we had in our own schooling. It was a good thing we checked!

Take foreign languages, for instance. Many selective colleges require at least two years of a foreign language. If we hadn't discovered that early, we might have had to cram two years of study into a short span!

Or how about economics? In my high school years eons ago, we didn't take economics. And we certainly didn't experience the array of electives that are possible for our kids today.

Starting with the end in mind, plan out a four-year course of study. Plan with your child, not just for him. Many homeschoolers discover that the senior year is a great time to do internships or volunteer work. As well, be sure to allow plenty of time to prepare for college entrance exams. Some families get a preparation book and incorporate a little bit of study for the ACT/SAT early in high school. Careful pre-planning will make for a productive high school experience.

At some point, high school will be over and your child will graduate. Will he consider college, military service, or some other option?  If you have planned your children's studies carefully, they will be ready for whatever they choose.

Homeschoolers have good reason to approach life after high school with confidence. In case after case, homeschool students are admitted to private schools and public universities without a hitch. Indeed, they are often welcomed because of their study skills and work ethic.

In my work with Homeschool Legal Advantage, we occasionally receive a call from a parent whose child has been denied admission to some school or program. In some cases, post-secondary school authorities will be under the mistaken impression that applicants need to have a GED to be admitted. However, the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998 (Pub. L. No. 105-244) places homeschool applicants for college admissions and financial aid on the same footing as traditionally schooled applicants.

In the past, many institutions were required to have homeschool graduates take the GED in order for the college to qualify for federal financial aid. Congress thus created an option for nontraditional graduates to demonstrate that they had the "ability to benefit" from federal financial aid (Pub. L. No. 105-244, Section 483). This option allows students who have "completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or a private school under state law" to receive financial aid (20 U.S.C. § 1091(d)(3)). The Department of Education has made it clear that homeschooled graduates are to be treated equally for purposes of admission or financial aid. While a GED is a great accomplishment for some students, a homeschool diploma represents so much more work, sweat, and commitment—and a homeschool diploma is enough!

Whenever a school is a partaker of federal funds, we sometimes have to remind that school that they would be wise to admit homeschoolers without condition. Of course, College Board test scores will certainly be another factor. Keep your students studying!

Proper planning during the high school years and a correct understanding of the law will help your students gain admission to their college of choice. Take the right steps now so they can take the right step when the time for college entrance comes!  

*This article published July 30, 2010.

Christine Field lives in Wheaton, IL, where she has raised her four mostly homeschooled children. Two have graduated; two remain in process. She is the author of many books on homeschooling and parenting ( and serves as an attorney for Homeschool Legal Advantage ( Her husband serves as Chief of Police in Wheaton, and they are new first-time grandparents!


This article was originally published in the May/Jun 2009 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Sign up now to receive a FREE sample copy! Just click here: