A Different path
High school graduation. A destination has been reached and a new adventure is just beginning. It’s an exciting time—a time of new opportunities and transition. So what comes next?
For some students, a college degree may be the steppingstone to a dream career or higher education. For others, the ideal path may be a job, season of travel, short-term educational program, or the deferral of college. As a homeschooling family, you have already taken a different path in education—you have set your children an example of stepping outside the box. If a four-year college degree doesn’t fit in with your student’s long-term goals, he or she may want to do a little thinking outside the box to decide on the best investment of his or her time and money.
Here for You
HSLDA members may contact our high school coordinators, Diane Kummer and Becky Cooke, for advice on teaching teens. No, they can’t actually teach your teen math (so please don’t call for the answer to problem 17 regarding the total distance from point A to point B if train C is traveling 40 mph and train D is going 60 mph but has just gone off the track!), but they can point you in the right direction and help keep you on track. Call 540-338-5600 or email email@example.com.
Check out HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School website for helpful information on topics from awarding diplomas to preparing for college.
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Before your high schooler ever graduates from homeschooling, you can simplify the future by helping him plan ahead. Develop a plan for high school that includes curriculum that will help your student develop his interests. Utilize personality or aptitude tests to help your student discover his gifts.
Internships and job shadowing can help narrow down your student’s interests, providing opportunities for post-high school education, training, and even jobs. If your student is interested in working in a particular field or at a particular place, research the requirements for new hires and make sure you cover those prerequisites in your high school program.
If your daughter wants to be an interior designer, sign her up for decorating classes, or have her do a study in design and architecture. Distance learning is also a great way to supplement study and on-the-job learning. Technical and trade schools offer certificates in very specific fields, with computer-related fields being highly marketable.
Home School Legal Defense Association High School Coordinator Becky Cooke advises parents to make sure their high schooler gets a solid education that includes computer, accounting, and writing skills. These basic skills will provide them with the training necessary to make them invaluable to a company or to begin their own business. “If they haven’t had the foundational courses in high school, they may have to go back and do remedial work,” Cooke cautions parents.
Check out HSLDA’s Homeschooling
Thru High School website for more resources on career training, résumés, finding the right vocation, and more.
Three Grads Who Chose the Road Less Traveled
The Court Report interviewed three homeschool graduates who followed a different path and are working in career fields of their choice. Here are their stories.
Courtesy of the FamilyPeter Leedahl is fulfilling his dream of becoming a businessman by managing his own farm.
Peter Leedahl, 21, is a 2005 homeschool graduate and resident of Leonard, North Dakota. Growing up on a farm, Peter started working full-time on the farm with his dad at age 14. His dream to be a businessman began at an early age. As a boy, he set up a LEGO country with a full economy. As he met new people, Peter would ask what they did for a living and try to understand the business aspects of their work. In high school, Peter took a career assessment test that not only helped him discover personality traits and new interests, but also helped his parents focus his education. “I learn more efficiently hands-on, than I do in a classroom,” says Peter, “and I knew I didn’t need a degree to succeed in my field.”
Peter’s dad took him to most of his business meetings regarding the farm and spent long hours teaching him firsthand how to run a successful business. Peter supplemented this training with reading on economics and business management along with seeking the advice of businessmen.
Meeting with financial success in operating his own 530-acre farm and helping with his dad’s 2200-acre farm and cattle ranch, Peter sees farming as the most efficient way to jumpstart his business career. He plans on a future in real estate and manufacturing, and hopes to enter local politics after he establishes these businesses. He has also found time for sailing, and is training for a private pilot’s license. “Once you get an idea of what you might be good at, or might like doing, explore all the possible career fields, and get firsthand experience,” Peter advises homeschooled high schoolers.
Courtesy of the Haney’s PhotographyBy taking advantage of a variety of job opportunities, such as modeling, Victoria Pizana has found meaningful work and financial stability without a college degree.
Victoria Pizana, 25, graduated from homeschooling in 2000. She was living with her family in San Diego, California, at the time, and began working full-time as a nanny for her five younger siblings and volunteering as an office assistant at her church. After relocating to Fredericksburg, Virginia, Victoria started work as a temporary employee for Mary Washington Hospital.
“I was able to bring my secretary experience with me into my temp position at the hospital,” she says. Victoria was soon hired as a full-time employee with benefits, in the hospital’s human resources department. Although she was taking college classes on the side, Victoria realized she was gaining valuable experience, and could advance in her job without a degree and save money besides. By 2006, she had saved enough money to live independently, buy a new car, and move to North Dakota.
Now a resident of Fargo, North Dakota, Victoria works at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in the human resources and payroll office. NDSU offers a tuition waiver benefit for full-time employees, allowing Victoria to take college classes while working. Since Victoria has been able to save enough money to buy her own home, and has taken some commercial modeling jobs, she is content to take her time completing her degree.
She encourages other homeschoolers that it isn’t always necessary to set a time frame for the years following high school. “God unfolded His plan for me in ways that I could not have planned or imagined,” she says.
Courtesy of the FamilyValuable on-the-job training helped Andrew Fessler find his niche in the world of technology. He is pictured here with his wife Sheryl and son David.
Now a senior operations engineer for SafeNet, Inc., a company dedicated to information security, Andrew Fessler, 30, is simply doing what he enjoys. As a child, Andrew wanted to find out how his home computer worked, and he continued “tinkering” with computers through high school.
Having graduated from homeschooling in 1995, Andrew has taken community college classes and eventually plans to finish his degree, but “I have not made it a priority because I have been blessed with great jobs and have not been limited by my lack of a college degree,” he says. Past jobs include network engineer, telecommunications engineer, and senior support engineer for EasyLink Services Corporation, which streamlines business processes through electronic means. Along the way, Andrew has amassed a host of skills in hardware, software, network security, and voice and data communications.
Andrew attributes his success to “how my parents taught me to put all my effort into learning and doing a task well.” Working for his dad's sign company from the age of 8 gave Andrew an early taste of hard work and discipline. “Dad taught me to go the extra mile when working on a project,” he says.
Andrew’s long-term goal is to be the director or vice president of an Information Technology (IT) group. He encourages high schoolers who want to join the working world after high school to intern with a company in a field that interests them.
These three homeschool graduates are
not alone. Peter, Victoria, and Andrew represent hundreds of other home-
educated young people who are striking
out on unique routes to realize their
calling. Answering the question, “what’s next?” can lead to many unexpected and exciting places when teens and their
parents think beyond the traditional next steps, not to mention beyond “what my friends are doing,” and leave room for change-willing and ready to take the opportunities God gives and follow where He leads.