Requirements for High School Graduation? Help!
Are you taking strolls through the fallen autumn leaves, savoring hot apple cider, or enjoying the crackle of a fire in your fireplace? We delight in reminding you to take pleasure in your surroundings (and your teens!) in the midst of your homeschooling days.
Seasons come and go, and so will your teen’s high school years—relish every moment. The first quarter of this year attests to how quickly they pass. Before you know it, you’ll be creating your teen’s high school transcript, if you haven’t already, and may be wondering if you are covering the academic credits necessary for graduation. Let’s look at the factors that come into play when answering this question.
|Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Learn more >>
What courses are required?
Required courses depend on the state in which you live. Some states specify the number of credits to complete in various subject areas. Other states leave the responsibility to determine required courses up to the homeschool parent. It’s best to first review the HSLDA legal analysis for your state when determining which courses to include in your teen’s high school program.
The next step is to determine the number and types of courses that provide your teens with the skills and knowledge needed to meet their post-graduation goals. If your teen has a good idea of the direction he will go after high school (tech or trade school, employment, college, or the military), your job of choosing courses will be a bit easier. However, your teen may have little or no idea of his plans after graduation, so it may be helpful for him to take a career interest test, research various careers, and possibly set up some job shadowing opportunities.
Although most states do not require homeschoolers to comply with public high school graduation requirements, some parents find it helpful to use them as a frame of reference. You needn’t feel tied to these requirements, but, if you like, take what information you deem useful and incorporate it into your plan. For example, many public schools require at least one technology course to graduate. If knowledge and use of computers will be beneficial to your teen’s future, it may be advantageous to include such a course in his high school plan. Public school graduation requirements can be found on your state’s Department of Education website.
For college-bound students, check the various college websites your teen is interested in applying to and note the specific high school credit requirements the school sets as admission standards.
What types and how many courses should my teen complete?
The number and types of courses in your teen’s high school program is up to you! This may be freeing for some of you while others may wonder if it’s really true. Customizing your teen’s high school courses to take into account their strengths, interests, and goals is a tremendous benefit of high school at home. While most public and private schools usually offer three graduation tracks with every student fitting into one of those tracks, you can tailor a high school program to uniquely “fit” your teen.
When building your teen’s high school plan, start by choosing the core academic courses (English, math, science, history, and foreign language). How many courses your teen completes in each category will depend on several factors. Is she a budding writer? Then pile on the English courses. Is he interested in engineering? It would be a good idea to include as many math and science courses as you can. Is your teen interested in starting a business? Good communication and writing skills will be helpful. Does she plan to run for political office someday? A civics course is advantageous. A future linguist would enjoy and benefit from many foreign language courses—and perhaps a world geography course!
Once you’ve decided on the core courses, then the fun begins. Add electives to your teen’s high school plan that enable your teen to develop a new skill, broaden her interests, or enjoy exploring areas connected to a future career. Electives that have educational value should also be considered. Still unsure what to choose? Find more information relating to electives in a back issue of the newsletter, “Benefits of Electives and Extracurricular Activities.”
HSLDA’s A Guide for Homeschooling through High School offers samples for a general high school plan (for those going directly into the workforce or military), a college prep plan, and a rigorous college prep plan. Use the sample plans to note essential courses and other recommended courses that you may want to consider. We’ve also come up with 38 different subject areas, with links to a sampling of suggested curricula in each category. We hope it provides a starting place to explore the many resources available to you.
Typically a general high school plan includes 20–22 credits, a college prep plan includes 24–28 credits, and a rigorous plan may include 26–30 credits. These numbers are merely suggestions—meant to give you an idea of what is generally the norm. Many factors, such as your teen’s initiative, outside activities, and course options, will come into play when determining the number of credits in your plan.
What are other considerations?
Think of your high school plan as an opportunity for you to custom design a road map for your teen. There are many course options—just as there are many different routes to travel when driving to a certain destination. Don’t be alarmed if your friend’s teen is learning Arabic and yours is not! Don’t go into a panic when you discover that Johnny is planning to take calculus and your son is struggling through Algebra 2. The Lord created each of your children with different abilities, skills, and motivation. A plan that sticks to the basics and allows plenty of time for serving others may be exactly what suits your daughter. For another teen, a plan full of demanding AP courses may be what’s needed to challenge him. Since no two teens are alike, no two high school plans need to look alike!
Involve your teen in choosing some of his courses each year (especially electives). Ownership of his high school plan can be energizing and make a positive impact on enthusiasm for school work.
Where can I find help?
Many careers and professions have association websites, providing information on types of high school courses that are beneficial in preparation for a career. The College Board website lists courses that colleges are interested in seeing. You may also want to check out career resource materials that provide additional help in knowing what education and training are needed for various careers.
Would you like to chat about your proposed high school plan for your teen? If you are an HSLDA member, feel free to call or email us to discuss choices of courses for your teen. We’ll make suggestions, give you reassurance, and help you outline your personal homeschool’s high school credit requirements. If you are not yet a member of HSLDA, we invite you to join today and take advantage of the 20/20 limited time promotion, to receive additional savings this holiday season.
Join us next month as we remind you of the blessings of homeschooling. As we head into the holidays, please know that you are on our hearts and we are thankful for the impact you are making in the lives of your beloved teens.
Heading out to enjoy the fall foliage,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants