Sunday, June 20, 2010

Skip High School?

I was looking at another blog about home schooling where the author basically asked the question, "can I just use high school home schooling time to send my child to a community college to get an associates degree?" ( I started thinking about it and decided: why not skip high school?

I've heard chatter here in Utah about if you get your associates degree while in high school (concurrent enrollment, AP tests, etc) then there are special grants to pay for the rest of a bachelors. So why not approach it the other way and get the associates and just apply those credits to a high school diploma while you're at it? I know there are non-traditional ways to get a high school diploma by getting credits from other sources (GED, night school, etc). For example, a GED isn't a high school diploma, but it can count as so many credits applied to a high school diploma. One of my classes was in High School was taught by someone with a Masters, and we were able to sign up to get college credit for that class (concurrent enrollment). I know it was also possible to take classes at the local community college and have them applied towards the High School diploma.

I did a quick check for the colleges I went to to see about getting in without a high school diploma. Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) says "SLCC is an 'open admission' institution, which means there are no minimum grades and test scores required for admission." ( Basically you show up, pay a little to take their computer test (math and English skills) and that tells you what level of math and English you start at (SAT and ACT scores apply if they were taken within 2 years of enrollment.) As a side note, I took that test because I started there more than 2 years after high school. I was place in English 101 and Trigonometry. I still think I could have started at Calculus there, but the highest math class their test will place you in is trigonometry.

Utah State University actually has an admissions page for homeschool students: You have to have an ACT or SAT score and you have to have a GPA of at least 2.5, but I have no idea how a homeschool student gets a GPA.

So it would seem that it is possible to skip high school and go straight for the Associates degree depending on what college the child goes to and that schools requirements. The questions remain though: at what age can a child be prepared to take English 101, trig, and other classes when you home school them? (This really depends on the home schooling parent) If the child places in lower classes is it worth it to pay college tuition to take those lower classes? Are you close enough to a community college to send a young child there every day (or else how will the child live somewhere outside of home to take classes)? And of course what are the social/phycological challenges of a 15 year old in classes with adults? On the other hand, I had classmates in college that were homeschooled and they did say they felt like the first college classes were easier than they were used to.


At June 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Evenspor said...

I'll start at the end and answer your questions backwards:

The social/psychological challenge of being in a class with adults: Unlike their public-schooled peers, homeschoolers have not spent most of their days being in a classroom of people the same age as them. They have spent their time around a mixed group of ages and have experience interacting with adults in a natural setting (rather than the unnatural teacher/student relationship of public school). They may have had conversations with business owners or councilmen on fieldtrips, voluteered with some local organization or be friends with the librarian. I would submit that a homeschooled teenager most likely wouldn't have difficulty adapting to being in a class surrounded by adults.

Mental readiness: I don't know about yours, but my English 101 class didn't include anything that wasn't covered in my Jr. High English classes. There have been articles about college professors saying students are coming into college less and less prepared. Public school teachers have to spend so much time working on NCLB standards that students aren't getting a sufficient education in how to learn. They don't have the necessary critical thinking skills. (note: the teachers aren't at fault; they hate it too) As a result the professors have to set the bar lower and lower (I saw this in many instances at my college, and the profs can't do anything about it either. If there's one thing the students do know, it's how to blame things on someone else - in this case, "It's the profs fault I failed because _____.") Homeschooled students, for the most part, tend to be the opposite. Depending on the curriculum and learning style, they may not have learned as many facts, but they have learned the skills they need to catch up in whatever area they need to, when motivated.

I am not sure how easy this idea is to understand if you're not into the homeschooling culture. You can read more of what I'm talking about on Peter Gray's blog "Freedom to Learn." (you can find a link in my sidebar) I especially recommend his post about math (coincidentally, you may have already seen it - Joseph sent out a link to that same article about a month ago.)

At June 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Evenspor said...

College admission and transcripts for homeschoolers: Many collegees now have an application process for homeschoolers, including some of the top schools. Some even brag about how accepting they are of homeschoolers because homeschoolers have developed such a big reputation for outperforming their peers in college. However, in most cases, I would think for a high-school-aged student, starting out at the CC would be best, simply because of the good prices most offer for high school students (often in the $15-$40 a credit hour range). Your area might be an exeption, though. I don't know what SLCC's high schooler prices are, but I know their regular prices are pretty high for a CC. As I recall, BYU's high school courses aren't that cheap either.

Parents of high school homeschoolers can create their children's transcripts (and some states require them to). It is not an easy proccess. There's a lot more to it than writing down some numbers that sound good. There's research that needs to be done and all kinds of documentation that you need to back those numbers up. That's actually the main topic of discussion with homeschoolers when they talk about high school and the reason behind my post. Getting an associates bypasses that tedious step.

One of the arguments I've seen against homeschooling high schoolers is that the military puts alternative high school education (aka: GED instead of high school diploma) applicants automatically as "second tier" status. There is supposed to be a new provision for homeschoolers, if they have a proper transcript, but there are some issues and it is still controversial. So that is a concern for families who have children who may decide to join the military. (Which is ironic, because homeschooling is not uncommon in military families, since they move around so much.)

Homeschooling is not well understood, because it takes a paradigm shift or three away from the way we are conditioned in public school to see how not sitting in a classroom can be condusive to learning. Unschooling takes even more of a shift in thinking. Although, I know you are more open-mind than the average person, so it may not take as big of a shift for you.

Question: Are foster parents allowed to homeschool, or is that not a choice they get, since the kids belong to the state?

At June 20, 2010 at 5:29 PM , Blogger Kabaju said...

So many thoughts about this, you can see why I made it my own post rather than just a reply to yours. Here's a couple quick thoughts to explain a bit better.

I've seen a variety of home school results. Some of my classmates at USU were home schooled and they were at the top of the class. I know others that couldn't stand going to the community college because it was just too hard for them. I understand there are others where they're "home schooled" in quotes because the parents just keep them home to baby sit their younger siblings. It all depends on how the parents treat it. Knowing you, and looking through your blog, I'm sure your children could skip high school and get a bachelors when they would normally graduate High School.(And I don't think you'd be too heart broken about them missing Prom like other parents would.)

I also know someone who wanted to join the Air Force, but because he only had a GED instead of a diploma (because of home school) he couldn't, so he joined the Army instead. If he had an Associates though, he could have joined the Air Force.

At June 20, 2010 at 5:36 PM , Blogger Kabaju said...

As a foster parent, you don't have the same parental rights as a regular parent because the child is in custody of the state. For example you need the birth parents permission (or the judges) to take the child out of state on vacation. You also can't baptize the child into your own religion. (And if the parents don't want your child going to your church you can't take the child to your church.)

Because of this I haven't asked about home schooling the a foster child, I just doubt that it will happen with those rules. On the other hand, I figure that in public education, just like in home schooling, what the child gets out of it depends mostly on the parent, secondarily on the child and third on the teachers.

At June 20, 2010 at 7:09 PM , Blogger Evenspor said...

That's kind of what I thought, but that is a good point at parental involvement. Some people now like to call it homeschooling and public schooling at the same time. ;) (Can you believe we've even gotten to a point where it can be considered to unusual to teach your child at home when he also goes to public school?)

Actually, helping with the younger kids and maintainin the household can be a pretty valuable education. :)

(P.S. Sorry for writing a whole new post in your comments. It was so long, blogger wouldn't let me have it all in one comment.)


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