Spend some time with your teen dreaming and talking about their dreams and plans for life after high school. We need to be realistic but we also need to make sure we are planning for whatever plans God has planned for our kids. We need to spend some time with our teens talking about their goals and aspirations and helping them to see what is possible.

I personally think that we should plan for college. Even if your kids don’t end up going to college, the academic foundation that you can give them now will hold them in good stead all their lives. Not to mention that I am seeing and consulting with far too many parents and students who didn’t plan for college and in the student’s Junior or Senior year they changed their mind and end up desperately scrambling. It is much harder to play catch up than to plan for it in the first place. I also believe that we, as parents, need to be vision casting for our kids that all things are possible with God and we need to be planning for as many eventualities as possible. I hope my kids get married but if that’s not something that God has for them, my boys need to know how to cook, clean and do their own laundry. If my daughter doesn’t get married, she needs to be able to maintain a car, mow the lawn and have a job that can support her. I work hard at preparing my kids for whatever God may have them so that when that day comes that God asks them to follow Him, they can feel as confident as possible in their abilities. My job is to prepare them as well as I can and that includes planning for the possibility of college. Far better to be over prepared than to be under prepared.

Start planning by finding out what your child needs to get into college.  

Most colleges want to see at least –

3 years of Math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry) STEM majors need 4 years, if possible through Calculus.

4 years of English

2 Lab Sciences (Biology and Chemistry) STEM majors need at least 3, if not 4. Physics if possible and and Advanced or AP class.

2-3 years of Foreign Language. Colleges generally like to see all the years in the same language.

2 years of History. 1 needs to be US History

1 Semester of Government

1 Semester of Economics

 

If my child is going to be a STEM major, they need 4 years years of math and preferably, Calculus. Working backwards looks like this:

STEM Majors need 4 years, preferably Calculus.

12th – Calculus

11th- Trig and Pre- Calc

10th- Geometry

9th – Alg 2

8th – Alg 1

7th – Pre- Algebra

By working from what they need in College, you can easily figure out what courses they need in high school.

Carnegie Credit

Per its original definition, the Carnegie Unit is 120 hours of class or contact time with an instructor over the course of a year at the secondary (American high school) level. Strictly speaking, this breaks down into a single one-hour meeting, on each of five days per week for a total of 24 weeks per year. However, knowing that classes usually meet for 50 minutes yields a value of 30 weeks per year. A semester (one-half of a full year) earns 1/2 a Carnegie Unit.[1]

To graduate, most students need between 20 – 22 credits

To have a General College Prep High school students need 24- 28 credit

For a Rigorous College Prep High School students should have 26 – 30 credits

***For a good breakdown on this you can goto the HSLDA website to print out their brochure on Homeschooling Through High School

http://www.hslda.org/highschool/brochures.asp

I can give you a general idea of what colleges want but I highly recommend that you visit different colleges websites to see what each college wants to see in a high school graduate and then what they want for scholarship applicants. I had quite the spreadsheet when my kids were in 7th and 8th grade which helped me prep for high school. As Yogi Berra said, “Know where you are going so you don’t end up somewhere else.”  

Picking Electives

My kids usually have 6 main credits a year (Bible, History, English, Math, Science and Foreign Language) and then 2-3 electives and 2 extra credits.

We have our kids take atleast 2 years of Physical Education, in our case Karate because I feel much better with all of my kids well versed in self-defense.  We also have them take atleast 2 years of music or music theory and atleast 1 of art or art appreciation.  It is important to us that our kids be well rounded and have a foundational knowledge of the fine arts.  We believe that they bring much joy and beauty into life and want to encourage our kids in those outlets. 

Health is an elective we take, generally only .5 credits and includes nutrition and good habits.  Many of the electives we have our kids take are less about the academics and more about training our kids the best we can for adulthood.  We also have them take atleast 1.5 years of Logic and a year of Philosophy as we are training them to think and to be prepared for the world around them.

We have our kids also pick electives that they are passionate about, things like computer programming, art history, psychology, C.S.  Lewis Literature,  Guitar, Piano Composition etc. 

Since our kids were young, they were allowed to pick 2 extra curricular activities.  They have been everything from Bible Bowl, Robotics, Irish Dance, to Soccer, and Baseball. As these are extra curricular, if they don’t have all of their school work done by a certain time, they don’t go.  School is their priority and everything else is dependent on their school work.

This year, the twins 9th grade year looked like this –

Old Testament Survey – 1 credit

Honors Ancient History – 1 credit

Honors English 1 – 1 credit

Algebra II (Collin) – 1 credit

Geometry (Caileigh) – 1 credit

Honors Chemistry – 1 credit

Spanish 1 -1 credit

Intermediate Music Theory – 1 credit 

Formal Logic – .5 credits

Karate – .5 credits

That gives them a total of 8 credits for their Freshman year.  If they continue with 8 credits a year, they will have 32 credits which puts them in range for Highly Selective Colleges. 

***Just a note, not all kids can or should take this hefty of a load.  You must meet your kids where they are at, and as I have said many times, each student should have an individualized path based on their goals, abilities and strengths.  My kids are strong academically but have weaknesses in other areas.  God creates each child and has a wonderful plan for each of them and they should be encouraged in that path and not made to fit in to a one size fits all mode. I can’t sew, knit, crochet or embroider but what I can do is teach, speak and plan curriculum. I would love to do all those beautiful crafts and I so appreciate those who can, but I am going to be content with who God made me to be. We must help our kids be who God made them to be, we strengthen their strengths and help them to overcome their weaknesses not try to fit them into a mold they weren’t created to fit into.  Someone once tried to fit me into a crafty, domestic mold because they thought that’s what Godly young women should be and I managed to break a very expensive sewing machine, horribly burn myself, made me question my entire existence and the apron that took me 40 hours to make, remake and remake again fell apart in the first washing. Many were very concerned (including me) that I would not make a very good wife and mother.  After 20 years of marriage, 3 kids and a house that is mostly clean, I realize that there is no one size fits all.  Don’t do that to yourself or your kids. Train up a child in the way THEY should go…

Weighted and Unweighted GPAs

I know many are going to ask how I define Honors classes and what does that mean? According to the College Board, Honors courses are tailored for high achieving students, covering additional topics and are in greater depth. They are not necessarily AP courses which must be approved by the College Board, although many of our Honors courses are designed to prepare for the AP test.  I plan an Honors course by take the average credit worthy class of 120-150 hours to take 30 hours longer and adds more books and workload. For instance, to take our curriculum’s English course and make it an Honors English class, I doubled the writing projects and added 10 more books to their readings.

Weighted Transcripts and Unweighted Transcripts

When determining a student’s GPA ( Grade Point Average) each letter grade is given a corresponding number. A= 4, B=3, C= 2, D=1 and F=0. If my student had  4 As, 3 Bs and 1 C (this pains me to type as if my student got a C, they would be redoing the course for mastery) which is a total of 8 credits.  I would add the numerical values of the letters which is 27 and divide by the 8 courses to get an average, or GPA of 3.38. This is an unweighted GPA.

Honors or AP courses are weighted differently. A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 2 and F = 1.  Using the previous example the weighted GPA would be 4.38. You must know both and probably have a transcript reflecting both as some schools want unweighted and some want weighted.  Connor got an extra $10,000 in scholarships because I could easily send the school his weighted transcript.

Leave a Reply