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How To Get Your Homeschooled Teen Ready For College

While homeschooling your children is mostly rewarding, there are some serious challenges to face. If you have a teen, getting her ready for college is one of those challenges. You spent hours planning, preparing, and teaching her academic subjects to get her ready for the next step in her education. You convinced a college or university to accept her in spite of your homemade transcripts. She has worked hard for years at home, learning, studying, taking tests, reading, and preparing academically for higher education. Now, the time has come to make sure that when she leaves you to enter the world of a college campus she will not be overwhelmed and will succeed with her integrity and values intact.

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Gain Admission

The first step towards getting your teen successfully off to college is getting him into a college. It can seem like an overwhelming task, because you are essentially playing the role of your child’s teacher and guidance counselor, both of which are full-time jobs. If you have provided him with a rigorous and varied curriculum, then you have prepared him academically for admission to a good school.

As a homeschooler, what your teen does not have is an official transcript. This should not put you at a disadvantage, however, if you create a thorough record of what he has learned. Consider consulting with your local public schools to find out what information should be on a transcript and how you might record your child’s credits and grades. The public schools can also give you an idea of what subjects and how many credits of each they require for graduation and which are desirable to have when applying for colleges.

Contact colleges as well for the information you need to get your teen ready for admission. Find out what entrance exam is required (for instance the ACT or SAT) and what scores are needed. Your child can take the test along with the kids at your local high school, but make sure you get him registered by the deadline. Work with your teen on his application and help him craft an essay that highlights his unique experiences as a homeschooled student. Although it may seem like you are at a disadvantage, many universities and colleges are very open to admitting homeschoolers and many even have a separate admission procedure. Check with the schools of your choice to find out how they handle homeschooler admissions.

Talk To Your Teen About College

As a homeschooling parent, you have the advantage of being close with your kids. Communicate openly with your teen about college and your and her expectations. As you go through the process of looking for a school and trying for admission, talk about what she wants in a college, what she thinks she might like to study and major in, and how she envisions her future. Too many kids go into college blindly, simply knowing that they should get a college education, but having no plan and no idea what to do with their degree later. Stress that she need not have her future mapped out precisely, but that she does need to start thinking about it.

Going off to college will be a very new experience for your teen. Whether she will be staying at home or living on campus, the change may be overwhelming. Keep the lines of communication open and prepare her for what she can expect life to be like as a college student. When you maintain your close relationship and talk about everything, your child is more equipped to cope with her new experience.

Visit Campus

Perhaps the best way to illustrate to your teen what life might be like at college is to visit. If you are considering more than one university, take the official tour to help you decide which may be the best fit. It may also be possible for your child to stay overnight in a dorm to get a more in-depth feel for campus life. The college should be able to place him with an outgoing and friendly student who can show him around and help make him feel more at ease.

At a minimum, plan to spend one full day on campus so that your teen can see everything he is interested in. For instance, if he loves sports, you can visit some of the intramural teams and learn about how to get involved. If going to church or Bible study is important to him, you can check out the options available on and off campus.

Talk About Diversity

If there are any negatives to homeschooling, one may be that your children likely do not experience all of the diversity that is out there in the world. Of course, if you have joined up with other homeschoolers and church groups throughout your child’s education, she is no stranger to socializing with others and making new friends. But, chances are, those friends came from like-minded families, people with the same values and from similar backgrounds as your family.

When she gets to college, she will experience a new level of diversity. Talk to her about this and make sure that she understands just how different other people will be from her. She can expect to meet people of different backgrounds, different faiths, with different values, and of different sexual orientation. Help her to understand that different does not mean bad.

A great way to teach all of your children about the differences that make people interesting is to experience diversity firsthand. Your curriculum should include the study of different cultures around the world and across the U.S. Watch documentaries about different cultures and discuss them with your children afterwards. Take field trips to locations where your children can see and interact with different types of people. Getting involved with your church’s volunteer opportunities and mission work are great ways to become familiar with diversity.

Encounters With Different Values

Interacting with people of diverse cultures and faiths is one thing. What may be more difficult to prepare your teen for is encountering people who are making choices that you consider to be immoral or counter to your values. If you have done your job as a parent and homeschooler well, your child should be ready to stand up to the immoral behaviors and peer pressures that she is likely to find on a college campus. But, before you let her go, have a discussion about it.

Talk to her about how you expect her to handle such situations and be specific. Come up with real scenarios that could happen to her and ask her how she would react. You can even role play it with the other kids for a fun activity. Also talk about the fact that your teen might want to be friends with her fellow students in spite of the fact that they drink or partake in other similar behaviors. Remind her that she can interact with and even befriend these other kids without joining in on the bad habits. Also encourage her to join up with student groups that share your values. For example, most college campuses have student-based church and faith groups.

Consider Community College

After all the talk, preparation, visits to campus, and discussions, your teen may still be unsure about going off to live at or attend a university away from home. An alternative is to start with a community college that is close to home. He can ease into college life while earning credits that could transfer to a university. One, or even two, years at a community college while still living at home might be just the right path for your teen who is struggling with the idea of being jolted into independence. If he can spend a few days a week on the local campus, learning without you, he will gain confidence and be better prepared to take the next step.

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