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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

How to Homeschool in High School

June 2006 ~ I just finished reading two new e-books: Homeschooling the High Schooler: From Transcripts to Graduation, compiled by Nancy Carter for The Old Schoolhouse; and Get a Jump Start on College, by Janice Campbell.

Homeschooling the High Schooler is a compilation of advice from selected homeschool authors, parents, and graduates as they discuss preparing students for college and for life. Get a Jump Start on College is a how-to guide in which a homeschool mom shares her firsthand experience with college enrollment. She describes how to earn college credit independently through exams, portfolios, and classes.

Homeschooling the High Schooler and Get a Jump Start on College both contain lots of practical information and encouraging inspiration for anyone with teenagers. These two books go together well, and are essential references for any family with high school students. I could have really used these books a few years ago because my oldest son has already turned 16. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s too late to incorporate into his education some of the lessons that I’ve learned.

I’ve printed out each of these resources to place in a three-ring binder for immediate use as well as future reference. Judging by the number of sentences and paragraphs I’ve highlighted, I will be referring back to them again and again! Quite a few additional resources are mentioned throughout the various chapters, too, so the next thing I do will be looking up the books and websites that were recommended.

On this page, you can read my review of Get a Jump Start on College. Please read my review of Homeschooling the High Schooler by clicking here. One more must-have resource to add to this set of high school e-books is Janice Campbell’s Transcripts Made Easy. It contains everything you need to know about recordkeeping and transcripts for your high school student in one compact, easy-to-use book. Transcripts Made Easy can be ordered here.

Get a Jump Start on College, by Janice Campbell

Did you know that during the Medieval Era, young people used to enter the university between the ages of 14-16?

Despite the dumbing down of modern education, many students really are capable of much more than is expected of them. Although most of today’s students pursue a far less rigorous course of study than did medieval students, some are completely ready in their mid teens to undertake the challenge of college-level learning. So why take a class that only provides a high school credit when the student can work just a little bit harder and receive college credit at the same time? By getting the basic college core classes out of the way while still in high school, the student can then jump right into the higher-level classes in the specific subject areas he or she is really interested in.

Janice Campbell’s Get a Jump Start on College is a 54-page how-to guide for teenagers who want to get a head start on their college degrees while still in high school. In these days of educational choice, there are several good alternatives to the traditional route of going to school for twelve years and then heading off to college. It’s especially nice to know that non-traditional ways of earning college credit can save thousands of dollars!

I think this handbook is most useful for homeschool students who understand that a good education means more than just getting a high school diploma. Since many homeschoolers are ahead of their grade level anyway, it is clear that they are intellectually ready to do college work even though they may not yet be emotionally mature enough to be set loose on campus. This doesn’t mean they have to be held back, however, because “Doing at least a few college classes at home allows parents to continue their nurturing and mentoring roles well into the teen years.”

In Get a Jump Start on College, Janice Campbell describes her personal experience and that of her sons in obtaining college credit. She compares the cost of 30 credit hours at a community college, public college, private college, and shows how much money is saved by testing out of introductory classes. She covers basic degree requirements and the number of credit hours required to earn different degrees. She tells how to transfer credits. She shows how taking CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams and other tests save time, and also gives ideas for what to do with that extra time. Imagine spending three hours in a testing center and emerging with twelve credits! That’s what she did!

I especially like the section that explains about “clustering” the subjects you are studying so that you get maximum benefit from your study time. Certain subjects naturally go together so that if you study one, you already have the basic foundation down for the next one. For example, when studying American History you already have a head start on the concepts and ideas in American Government or American Literature, so you may as well go ahead and earn credit in those also. “Once you start making the connections between subjects and ideas,” Campbell says, “it will make your entire study process simpler.” That makes sense and does seem like the best way to study. The book contains a chart of suggested subject clusters, which makes it easy.

The author points out that if you want to earn credit for a subject, be sure it is a subject taught at the college level. “A student who has learned American history, for example, at the high-school level can probably provide a rough chronology of major events and the people who participated in them (or maybe not!). Once he or she understands the same material at the college-level, the student will know not just the chronological outline, but also many of the details that paint an interesting and memorable picture. More importantly, he or she will also understand the underlying causes of events and be able to apply that understanding to analysis and interpretation of current events.”

In addition to testing, another alternative means of obtaining college credit is the building of a portfolio. Not all colleges accept portfolios for credit, and those that do usually have very specific submission guidelines, but Campbell does give examples of some basic items to include in a portfolio. It looks like creating a portfolio can be fun, but it’s also a lot of work with all of the documentation you have to provide.

Many college classes can be taken online or through distance learning programs. This allows for flexibility in scheduling, and is an effective method of learning for students with initiative who are self-starters and who prefer to work at their own pace. They have to be disciplined enough, however, to keep on track so that they will be able to complete the course within the required time period. In some of these courses you attend audio or video lectures, or participate in message board or forum discussions. You may communicate with your professor via e-mail or an online message board system.

There are some courses (such as lab science) for which specialized equipment is needed, and perhaps a few subjects which may be more easily learned with an instructor in a traditional classroom setting. These can be taken at a local community college campus. Community colleges generally welcome high school students, homeschoolers, and other part-time and non-traditional students. Credits earned at the community college can be transferred to a four-year university.

If you plan on earning college credits through non-traditional means and then transferring them to a traditional university, you will want to seek out colleges ahead of time that accept non-traditional transcripts. There are a lot of things to think about when considering which college to attend. The College Comparison Worksheet included in this book makes it easy for you to summarize and compare the information you receive from the various colleges on admissions requirements, tuition costs, etc. Get a Jump Start on College also provides reproducible worksheets to help you plan your degree program and track your own progress. The author even provides information on applying for financial aid.

Some high school students know exactly what they want to major in at college, while others aren’t so sure. As the author points out, the nice thing is: “You don’t have to choose your major before you start earning credit, though— just begin with basic core classes. As you work through the basics, you’ll learn more about what interests you, and what might be the best field for you to pursue. If you are undecided about your major, try taking a class in each of the disciplines you are considering. It may help you decide, and you will be earning credit that can be applied toward your degree.”

In Get a Jump Start on College, the author also talks about the importance of reading great literature and the benefits of lifelong learning. She even has a chapter on specific skills the student will need to succeed in college. These include: essay and report writing, online research, personal organization, time management, and test-taking skills. Be sure to see “The Jump Start Checklist” at the back of the book, and the annotated list of Recommended Resources for further study.

Janice Campbell, the author of Get a Jump Start on College, is a lifelong learner who has enjoyed homeschooling since the late 1980’s. Two of her sons graduated early from college, and two are still homeschooling through high school. Her website at offers additional information, inspiration, resources, a list of colleges that accept nontraditional credits, a free GPA calculator, and a free e-newsletter.

If you need help making transcripts, be sure to get Janice’s other e-book, Transcripts Made Easy. As Janice says, "If paperwork is not your favorite hobby, you need this book!" By the way, Transcripts Made Easy is the only transcript resource that comes with free e-mail support from the author! It is available both as an instantly downloadable e-book, or as a print book. Click here for more information, or to place an order!


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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