Timeline of Events for High School Students

Oftentimes homeschooled students miss out on opportunities because they are unaware of available events as well as the deadlines associated with certain opportunities. Planning ahead will help your students successfully complete high school and be well prepared for life after graduation. Below are suggestions to consider for each grade of high school. There are links included that will direct you to sites with more information or past blog posts that address particular subject matters. Some of the information is repeated in more than one grade and, although it may seem redundant, it allows parents to skip to a later grade if their students have already completed an earlier grade.

General Advice:  

Begin helping the student discover his/her gifts and talents. Discuss classes to include in the high school years.  English, history, science and math in addition to classes that interest the student, encourage character, teach computer skills, and more. Include specialized classes or co-ops that encourage the talents and interests of the student when possible. Be aware that there may be state requirements regarding particular courses necessary for a homeschooled student to earn state grants. In addition, some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s high school transcript. Not all colleges require two years of the same foreign language in high school, but some do. Most expect to see four credits of English, three or four years of math, three credits of science (with at least one lab), and three credits social studies. Many states have added a half credit for personal finance to their suggested guidelines. There are no laws regarding the credits a homeschooled student needs to graduate, only guidelines, but knowing the requirements for state grants as well as the expectations of the colleges your student is considering will help you plan to meet your state’s requirements and the requirements of your top college choices. The state of Tennessee does not require a homeschooled student to take particular classes in order to earn state grants, but an ACT or SAT score is required. Some states may require certain GPAs, test scores and/or community service for grants. The grants often have deadlines for application so be sure you are aware of that information before the student begins his senior year. Bryan College does not have specific requirements for high school courses but, depending on the student’s desired major, certain high school classes may be recommended by faculty members. For instance, if a student plans to pursue an Engineering degree, then taking an increased number of math and science classes during high school will help better prepare the student for that major.

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletic, music, drama, and additional events that may be worth pursuing. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one). STOA and NCFCA are two Christian homeschool speech and debate clubs. One of my regrets after homeschooling my 9 for more than 32 years is not getting involved in speech and debate clubs until my oldest four had completed high school. 

9th grade

Transcripts:  Keep records to be inserted in a transcript including subjects studied along with credits and grades earned. If you would like to use the Transcript Genie offered for free by Bryan College to build a professional-looking transcript (it even calculates and weights grades), go to this link, scroll down and enter your email address. There is also a free eBook called The Journey that you can request and it will provide information on testing, scholarships, and more.

Community Service:  Look for opportunities for your student (and/or the entire family) to participate in volunteer opportunities, ministries, camps, classes, and more. Keep a record of volunteer hours and hold on to any certificates earned.

Portfolio:  Begin collecting and filing documents that provide proof of the student’s participation in community service, mission trips, camps, classes, athletic events, awards, certifications, and more. If your student is featured in an article, add a copy of the article to the portfolio. If your student has work published, include that in the portfolio.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing if possible. This is an affordable test for students offered in October and, in 2021, an additional test date in January was added. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this test several times a year at home, for free, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee.

Summer:  Check out camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships that might interest your student.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities. Making money, although beneficial, should not always be the deciding factor when choosing between opportunities. Students may gain more experience and character growth in volunteer positions.

Dual Enrollment: Look into dual enrollment classes for the 10th grade year. Dual enrollment is a great opportunity as it allows a student to earn both high school and college credit at the same time, but it is not without dangers. Homeschooled students often make a few mistakes pertaining to dual enrollment and this post will help you avoid those mistakes. Choosing which dual enrollment class a student should take is also important.  

10th grade

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college then find out the qualifications for participation in order to make sure your student meets the requirements. Bryan College allows 10th graders to take dual enrollment classes but the requirements are more stringent than the requirements for 11th and 12th graders, so planning ahead to meet those requirements is important.

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing that takes place if possible. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this free test several times a year at home, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee. 10th graders taking the CLT10 may qualify for scholarships offered by the CLT. Consider having your student take college entrance exams, particularly if test scores are required for dual enrollment classes. Most colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT. Many Christian colleges accept the CLT.

College Credits: If your student is ready to take college classes, find a college that is a good fit for your student. (Bryan College offers online classes four times a year with out-of-state scholarships.)  Be sure you discover guidelines for dual enrollment because, in some instances, college entrance exam test scores are required. Consider CLEP and AP possibilities for additional college credit. 

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletes, music, drama, and additional opportunities. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one) STOA or NCFCA

Summer:  Consider dual enrollment classes, camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities.  

11th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college, find out the qualifications for participation.

Preparing for College: Attend college fairs and visit colleges of interest. Take college entrance exams, pinpoint weaknesses and tutor to the weakness. Purchase materials that will help improve test scores. Consider on-line tutoring for test prep such as 36 University (enter code “bryan” and save $3 a month, reducing the price to $12 a month). Schedule campus visits at colleges of interest. Begin with the virtual tours offered online, and visit in person when possible, preferably when classes are taking place so the student can attend classes. Begin applying to colleges of interest when permitted (find out if there are events or times when the application fees are waived). Research scholarship and grant opportunities offered by the state in which you live, the colleges you are considering, as well as independent scholarships. This article gives suggestions for making college affordable.

Testing:  Discover opportunities for taking the PSAT the summer before, or at the beginning of the 11th grade year. It is the score from the PSAT taken during the 11th grade year that qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships. A National Merit Semi-finalist receives full tuition at Bryan College.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Summer:  Consider attending camps that are held at the college your student is considering attending. Request a FAFSA ID for student and parent in order to fill out the FAFSA the senior year.

12th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity. If you would like to print a diploma for your student, the free e-resource mentioned, The Journey, includes an editable diploma template. None of my nine children have ever needed a diploma. What they did need was a completed transcript.

Continue attending college fairs and visiting colleges of interest unless a firm decision has been made at this time. 

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment (and college) find out the qualifications for participation early in the year because deadlines are often tied to certain opportunities. If your state offers grants for college, but you know your student will be attending an out-of-state college, then using the college grant (borrowing against it) for dual enrollment will save you money in the long run. Students planning to attend an in-state college may also want to borrow against a state grant for dual enrollment because the cost of dual enrollment classes is often much lower than the cost of traditional college classes.

Make sure all classes necessary for graduation are scheduled to be completed either by participation in class or by testing.  

Apply to colleges of interest. 

Continue earning college credits via dual enrollment classes, CLEP (can now be taken virtually from home) or AP tests (can now be taken from home). Continue taking college entrance exams. As a result of COVID many colleges are test optional meaning they will use a student’s GPA for merit scholarship, without requiring a test score. However, most test optional colleges will accept test scores and use the scores to award scholarship amounts if the exam score increases the amount a student can earn beyond what the GPA entitles the student to be awarded.

Attend scholarship events (when applicable) that take place at the college of interest.  At Bryan College these events take place once during each semester.  These are invitation only events, extended to qualifying seniors who have applied to Bryan College and each participant receives additional scholarship funds of varying amounts based on an interview with faculty or staff.

Be sure your student has developed time management skills. If the student is taking a dual enrollment class or attending a structured co-op then, more-than-likely, the student is honing these skills. This article offers five steps to help students improve their study skills.

October:  Fill out the FAFSA. You may want to wait a few days because the first few days are filled with so many families completing the FAFSA that the site gets bogged down. But, do not wait too long because in certain situations scholarships may be first come, first serve.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Spring:  Be sure all subjects necessary for graduation will be completed.  There may be state requirements for homeschooled students to complete specific courses in order to earn state grants. Some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s transcript. Make sure all requirements are met. Continue taking college entrance exams if higher scores are needed for scholarships. 

Summer:  Consider sending your student to camps that are held at the college your student plans to attend if that’s an option. At Bryan College a senior enrolled at Bryan will earn a small scholarship for attending Bryan’s Summer Institute. A high school graduate can also dual enroll with Bryan College the summer after graduation. If your student plans to live on campus, then he may very well find a suitable roommate while attending the camp.

The earlier you start preparing your high school student for success, the better it will be for everyone involved. However, if you are like I was with my oldest kiddos, and you are late to the game, do what you can to play catch up and make up for lost time. Even though my older students were ill prepared (thanks to my lack of knowledge concerning many of these issues), they did well after high school. Could they have done better or had an easier time getting to where they wanted to go had I better prepared them? Probably, but I was doing all I knew to do at that time. Give yourself some grace and utilize the information that is available to you and your students now that you are aware of the options and opportunities. Feel free to email me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

Which Dual Enrollment Classes Should a Student Take?

Dual enrollment (DE) is a wonderful opportunity for a student to earn both high school and college credit at the same time. Keep in mind that grades for college courses go on your student’s permanent record, so stress the importance of passing the class. One college course is equal to one credit on a student’s high school transcript. In other words, one three hour college class will be counted as one full credit on a high school transcript. In most cases if a student attends a college different from the one where the DE credits are earned, the GPA is not transferred, only the credits. On the other hand, students who attend the college where they earn DE credits will more-than-likely have their GPA transferred along with the credits. Depending on the student’s earned GPA this could be an advantage or a disadvantage. Also, be aware that if the student is using a state grant then a certain minimum GPA may be required to maintain the grant.

INTENTIONALITY: If your student is ready to handle the rigors of a college class, then being intentional when choosing which classes to take is important for several reasons.

  1. If your student plans to pursue an engineering degree or certain pre-professional degrees, then the four year plan is different than that of a student pursuing a liberal arts major. Knowing which classes are part of the four-year plan will help your student choose which classes to take. However, if your student has no idea what major he intends to choose, then this advice will not be very helpful. Worse case scenario, if your student takes a class that is not on the four-year plan, that class can be counted as an elective. However, your student should be careful not to accumulate too many classes that will be counted as electives otherwise he may end up having to extend the time it takes to graduate or he may end up having to take multiple classes during a semester that are more intense than certain electives. A homeschooled student who plans to become an engineer recently visited Bryan College. He was disappointed to find out that the foreign language class he was taking at that time (as a DE course) is not a course required for the engineering degree here at Bryan. It will be counted as an elective. Had he been aware of that beforehand, he would have chosen to take a math or science class, per the advice of an academic counselor.
  2. If your student plans to take DE classes at one college, but attend a different college post-high school then he should not take classes that pertain to his major unless he knows that the college he will be attending will transfer those credits as courses that count towards the major. For instance, if a student is going to major in biology, he may not want to take biology as a DE class because the college he will be attending may want him to attend that class at their college. If that’s the case, then taking biology as a DE class would more-than-likely transfer as an elective. There are certain majors where it may not matter if the student takes classes as a DE student at one college, and then attends another. This is one reason it is helpful to have your student narrow down top college choices so that these issues can be addressed beforehand.

COURSE CHOICES: Having explained those concerns, which classes should DE students take? One of the first considerations is the student’s interests and strengths. Choosing a class that the student is likely to pass without too much of a struggle will build the student’s confidence. A student can either start with core classes or with subjects that may confirm a possible interest. My youngest son’s first DE class was philosophy (which he took during a short 5 week semester) and I was slightly concerned with his ability to handle that since it is a weighty subject and the semester was condensed to five weeks. Not only did he make an A, but that class confirmed his love of philosophy. However, if he knew he would be majoring in philosophy at a college other than Bryan, that class might have transferred as an elective. That was a risk he was willing to take and I was okay with that because it confirmed his love of philosophy.

SPECIFIC CLASSES: Taking English I and II and/or College Writing (depending on the classes offered by the college) is always a good choice. College students will be writing, and writing, and writing some more so the sooner they hone those skills, the better. If your student needs to take Foreign Language as a required high school course as well as a college course, taking foreign language as a DE course is a good idea. Math classes are always a good idea for several reasons: 1) If your child dislikes math, then getting required math classes out of the way is appealing, 2) Students who take college exams while taking math classes usually score higher on the math portions of the tests because it is fresh and 3) Students who plan to major in a STEM-related major will do well to have many math and Science classes under their belts. The students who enjoy science and/or who are pursuing a STEM-related major would do well to take both biology and chemistry as DE courses as long as they can handle the rigor of college level-classes.

As a last piece of advice, keep in mind that students need to advocate for themselves. In fact, you will not even be able to have a conversation with an employee of the college about your child’s classes unless your child has signed a FERPA. Plan to have discussions prior to your student entering high school when possible. This sixteen minute podcast may help you in the decision making process as you plan courses for your student’s high school years. Knowing options ahead of time will lessen the likelihood of making poor decisions. Feel free to contact me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu if you need help or if you have questions relating to dual enrollment courses.

Five Steps to Improving Study Skills and Time Management

At a visitation day at Bryan College several years ago, we had a question and answer session set up with a panel of ten college students who were homeschooled. A parent asked, “What was the most difficult adjustment to college life and, what would you recommend to incoming students in order to be better prepared?” All ten students said that time management was the most difficult adjustment. The recommendation made by the students was for high school students to either participate in a co-op or a class where they answer to someone other than mom or, if able, to take dual enrollment classes. Unless the student is taking a class on time management, this skill is not learned through the curriculum but, rather, through the process. The flexibility that homeschooling allows, although advantageous, is often a contributing factor to poor time management. Having to complete homework, turn in assignments, take tests, and participate in group forums (or activities) with deadlines forces students to sink or swim. We don’t want them to sink, so let’s help them swim.

Although dual enrollment is a great way to introduce high school students to the rigor of college classes, your students will do better if they have learned how to manage their time beforehand. Students who are able to organize their schedules, develop good study skills, and manage their time well will have much less stress than students who fly by the seat of their pants, hoping everything will come together in the end. In several of the articles I’ve written, I point out that there are neglected subjects that may be as important, or more important, than the core classes for high school students. Time management is a skill that should be taught long before students head off to college, so let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of how to do this.

  1. Set the Environment: Because students are very diverse in how they learn, there is no black and white, one-size-fits all method, but the principles are similar. Where to begin? Let’s start with where your students study. Encourage them to prepare a study environment that works well for them. When studying, students should put their phone on silent, and put it away so they won’t be tempted to pick it up and check notifications. Create a ritual that enhances their ability to concentrate. For some, that will mean working in total silence while for others, background music may be helpful. Running a diffuser, lighting a candle, or turning on a fan are other suggestions that could be incorporated into the process. Some students can sit at a dining table with activities going on all around them and not be distracted, while others need a setting with as few distractions as possible. When I was in college I doodled while I took notes. It helped me concentrate. For others, that would be a distraction. Do not impose on your students the environment that works best for you if it does not work for them. On the other hand, if a student insists on a certain study environment, but work is not getting accomplished, then changes may need to be made. If your home does not allow for a quiet place, yet that is what your student needs, then purchase a noise blocking device such as headphones, ear muffs, or ear plugs. If you are not familiar with Cynthia Tobias and her book, The Way They Learn, I highly recommend it. This video is part 1 of a two part series that is well worth listening to when you have time. Not only does Cynthia help you understand the differences in how we learn, but she’s quite funny and entertaining too! This site contains free resources from Cynthia including multiple tips for parenting!
  2. Manage Study Periods. Making the best use of the time allotted for study is crucial to successful studying. If possible, it is helpful to schedule specific, consistent study times. One method many students have found helpful is called the Pomodoro method. This method has the student set a timer for short, intense periods of study. When the timer ends, the student takes a break and then resets the timer. According to William Wadsworth, “The benefits of working in intense, timed bursts separated by breaks includes:
  • Better motivation: bolster determination to achieve your goals by having an external motivator (the ticking clock) to get you fired up.
  • Enhance focus and concentration, encouraging you to cut out interruptions and stay on task.
  • Strengthen your determination to keep on trying even when you don’t feel like it, or the work is tough, because you can’t quit while the timer is ticking.
  • Higher levels of energy and intensity because of the mild time-pressure, with breaks serving as opportunities to pause and refresh before going again.”

The Pomodoro method may not work for everyone, but it’s worth checking out. It helped one of my sons when he began using it while in college. The article includes specifics regarding this method, so check it out.

3. Discover the Most Effective Way to Study. There are several types of learners and, for that reason, some methods of study are more effective than others, depending on the student’s learning style. Some students are visual, needing to see notes on the material being presented. Handwriting notes for review is most helpful for many. More than a few college professors do not allow students to take notes on laptops and, for that reason (among others), knowing how to take handwritten notes effectively is important. There are many articles that defend the value of handwritten notes and this article, from NPR, shares research results while giving more than a few reasons for this stance. For those who do take notes while studying, this article describes the Cornell method of notetaking. This video summarizes the Cornell method in less than a minute. Until my son told me about the Cornell method, I had never heard of it. In my opinion, the concept is simple, and brilliant!

While some students are visual learners, others are auditory learners and, for those students, dictating information that they can repeatedly listen to is beneficial.

Thanks to modern technology, studying, regardless of the type of learner, has become easier. There are free phone apps that help with a variety of study methods. When my daughter, Courtlyn, was in nursing school, needing to learn to identify parts of the body visually and by name, she used Chegg to create flashcards that included photographs as well text. She is a kinesthetic learner (absorbs information through touch, movement and motion) and she found that hand writing each slide from her professor’s powerpoint presentations helped her commit the information to memory. Quizlet is another popular app. In addition to learning tools, this app has flashcards and pre-set quizzes (which may have been added by professors or by students). Quizlet even allows professors to create in-class games. According to this article, with Quizlet you can:
– Get test-day ready with Learn
– Put your memory to the test with Write
– Race against the clock in a game of Match
– Share flashcards with classmates (if you’re a student) or your students (if you’re a teacher)
– Listen to your material pronounced correctly in 18 languages
– Enhance your studying with custom images and audio

4. Set a Schedule. If your students do not set aside specific times to study then, more than likely, time will slip by with little or no studying taking place. When setting a schedule, break up assignments into time increments that are doable and that allow for on-time (or early) completion. Be sure to highlight important deadlines and test dates. Set aside a liberal amount of time to be used exclusively for studying and for homework. The time set aside need not be one block of time. If a student has time in the morning, afternoon, and/or evening, several blocks of time can be set aside. Using a white board to write down the student’s schedule creates a visual reminder for the student while allowing the parent to be aware of whether the student is sticking to the schedule, or not. Online calendars are also great for setting up schedules because reminders and alarms can be put in place, ensuring the student’s awareness of the schedule, avoiding missed deadlines.

5. Prioritize. Students need to be intentional about scheduling time to study and time to complete assignments. If your students are not self-disciplined, then they may need to be held accountable for their time and if that is the case, withholding privileges until work is complete may be adequate motivation. Work first, then play.

With intention, good study habits can be learned, time can be managed, and as a result, stress will be lessened.

If What You Believe About Money Turns Out Not to Be True, When Would You Want to Know?

If what you believe about money isn’t true, when would you want to know? I first heard that question from Don Blanton, the founder of PEM life. Most of us would want to know right away if a belief we held was not, in fact, true. Many of us have been taught a thing or two about money that may not be true! 

Mr. Blanton has worked to educate more than 20,000 financial advisors in his nearly 30 year career as president and founder of MoneyTrax Inc., and still maintains a successful personal practice as a financial advisor today. The core concepts, tools, and principles which he has developed to teach and train financial services professionals are now being made available through PEM LIFE curricula in an effort to extend financial literacy.  Many families spend quite a bit of time and money on their students’ education yet many students graduate with little to no understanding of how to manage the money they will earn. 

It is amazing that society puts so much emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic, but excludes a need for practical lessons on personal finance.  This class, available as a three hour dual enrollment class with Bryan College, or as a stand alone class without college credit, is now available to homeschooling families. This class is life-changing.

student with moneyIn sharing my personal experience with you, you may be surprised at the lessons I learned through this course. It is certainly different than the advice I had received from several Christian money management programs.

So, what is it that we have we been taught to believe that may not be true? Most of us have been led to believe that taking out loans should be avoided and that we should pay cash for everything when possible. We have been taught that we should pay off our loans, including mortgages, as soon as possible. We have been taught that having and using credit cards should be avoided. That’s the advice we have heard for many years. My husband and I were introduced to Don Blanton and the PEM class via my son (who was taking the class at Bryan College) right before we were to close on one house and purchase another. My son encouraged me to read the chapter on mortgages and my mind was blown. Mr. Blanton suggests that it might be preferable to take out a 30 year mortgage with a lower down payment rather than using cash on hand for the purchase. What? Don’t invest all the money from one home to another? Don’t go for the lowest loan amount possible? Don’t try and pay off the mortgage sooner rather than later? After reading the chapter I was almost convinced, but not quite  — so I called Mr. Blanton and, after asking me a few questions about our situation, he convinced us that it would be wiser to have a higher mortgage amount at a low interest rate so that we would have access to cash for investment, emergencies, ministries, etc.  Of course this decision was based on our ability to handle the mortgage payments. That was a year ago. We heeded his advice and have no regrets. We are currently refinancing at a lower interest rate and our monthly payments will be reduced by over $100 each month. We will leave the table with more cash. Do not interpret this as a condemnation on those who choose not to take out loans. Everyone needs to decide what is best in light of their finances and the options available.

We have been led to believe that if we take out a loan, then we are in debt. That is not necessarily true. Debt, as defined by Don Blanton, is when you have an obligation to pay with money that is yet to be earned. That is debt. Taking out a loan does not put you in debt unless you borrow more than you have. You may finance a new car at a low interest rate even though you have enough cash to be able to buy it outright. In that case you have a loan, but you are not in debt. Make sense? You are not having to make payments with future earnings. 

Debt is an obligation to pay with money that is yet to be earned. It may take a little time to wrap your head around that. It did for me. When talking to Mr. Blanton about my hesitation to finance any purchase, he pointed out that we finance many expenses, not just those that require a loan. We pay monthly for our electric, wifi, gas, phone, and similar products and services. Those expenses are financed. We do not ask to pay up front in order to avoid a monthly payment, do we? Another lesson your student will learn in this class is that there are always additional costs associated with material possessions. A house is never truly ‘paid off’ because you will always have upkeep, insurance bills, and taxes to pay. Even when a car is purchased for cash or paid off, there are always additional transportation costs including upkeep, repairs, insurance and more.

spencer-davis-hi1Iq4x_ldM-unsplashLet’s talk about credit cards. Some money management programs suggest one should never get a credit card and that cash only should be used. Currently, that is turning out to be a problem since the pandemic has created situations where cash is not accepted for certain purchases. Credit cards are not, in and of themselves, an evil thing. Credit cards are a tool that many use for convenience, in order to earn points or get cash back, have purchases insured, or to simplify bookkeeping. When credit cards are procured without annual fees and paid off monthly, they offer many advantages to the card holder. Wisely using credit cards builds credit scores and having a credit card enables the card holder to be able to rent cars.  One of my daughters uses a particular credit card to earn a free vacation annually. Another daughter was glad her husband used a credit card to rent a car when in Ireland because, when they had a flat tire, the repair was covered by the card.  Even though credit cards can be beneficial to those who use them wisely, not everyone should have a credit card. Many people, especially teens, do not handle credit cards wisely and they end up owing more than they can afford (putting them in debt), and the late fees and interest charged for non-payment rack up. Is there a danger in having credit cards? Yes! Just like there is danger in driving a car. One does not get behind the wheel of a car (hopefully) until licensed, insured and prepared to drive. Credit cards in the hands of an irresponsible person is a recipe for disaster. 

avery-evans-RJQE64NmC_o-unsplashEnrolling your students in this introduction to personal finance is a great first step in making sure they are ready for independent living. If your student takes the class as a dual enrollment class then they will be in an online class with other students. If you purchase the homeschool version, great care has been taken to provide everything you need to easily and successfully deliver the course material. From interactive lessons and resources which will challenge students, to the tutorials and coaching designed to assist instructors, all of the hard work has been done for you. The course practically teaches itself, and you’ll surely find that your students won’t be the only ones learning!

One of the best features of this course is the interactive visual model that Mr. Blanton has created for this course which allows the student to observe what actually happens to their money. This visual is called the Personal Economic Model (PEM). It shows the students exactly what happens to their money, depending on the choices they make. There are investments and savings that may defer taxes, but all money is taxed at some point. (Another belief dispelled is that there is no such thing as tax free earnings.) The visual model includes several tanks that represent money earned, money spent, money invested, and money saved. When students fully understand the financial lessons taught in this class they will be well prepared for life after high school. There is both a biblical and a secular version available. The price is amazing considering the students will have access to many tools and calculators that cost financial advisors a lot more.  There are 15 core units, 64 individual lessons, 30 financial calculators, and hours of video instruction.

PEMStudents who have completed the 10th grade with a 3.0 GPA can take this class online with Bryan College, for college credit. If you live outside of Tennessee, a $200 scholarship is available, making the three hour class only $300. For Tennessee students, the DE grant will pay for the class if it’s one of the first two classes taken by the student. After the DE grant is used, a $200 scholarship will be offered to Tennessee students as well. The cost of materials is only $75. If you would like to have your student apply to Bryan College as a DE student, use the code bryanhss to waive the application fee.

Students who want to take the class without college credit, or who do not yet qualify for dual enrollment, may take the class at home with a substantial savings. The course is priced at $199 and that includes the materials fee, but if you use this introductory offer code, Intro50, you can save $50 making this course only $149. Parents will appreciate how little work they will have to do with this course. 

Take a look at the PEM website. There are a couple of videos worth watching. If you have any questions, let me know and I can put you in touch with Don Blanton, the founder of PEM Life. If what we believe about money isn’t true, the sooner we find out, the better. 

Choosing Curriculum: A Guide to Planning for Elementary, Middle and High School Students

Whether you are new to homeschooling or you have been homeschooling for a while with students moving up to another level, this article will provide guidelines to consider when making plans for your students.

Although the suggestions I make in this article are general and eclectic, it may be worth your while to take a look at the multiple styles and methods of homeschooling. You may be surprised at the many choices and philosophies available for your consideration. There is no right or wrong choice. You may try out one style only to discover it is not the best fit for your family. In the end, you may find the best plan is to pick and choose from various styles in order to design a plan that works for you and your family.  Two books that will encourage you in your homeschooling journey are Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah McKenzie and Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

For elementary students, keep it simple and keep it fun. Creating a love of learning is the key to raising students who are academically successful. Do not worry about curriculum. It is available for your use, but you have done well teaching your children from birth to age 5 without curriculum, so if you want to continue in the same manner, jerry-wang-0qmXPnZKeLU-unsplashgo for it! The freedom and flexibility of homeschooling allows you to plan your students’ experiences around their learning style and their interests. If you do purchase a curriculum and it is not working the way you envisioned, feel free to set it aside, sell it, or give it away. Do not become enslaved to curriculum. If you feel a need to make purchases then purchase Legos, critical thinking games, a globe and maps, and fun items that inspire the imagination. During the younger years, a huge emphasis should be placed on reading aloud, enjoying nature, having discussions, and playing games. Go on fieldtrips. Visit museums, science centers, and zoos. Oftentimes, the cost of an annual family membership is not much more than the cost of a one-day visit, and many zoos and museums have reciprocal memberships! Involve your children in meal planning and grocery shopping. Reach out to your community and volunteer for opportunities to serve that allow your children to participate. Encourage your students to ask questions, and then guide them towards learning how to find the answers to their questions. No one can know everything, but students who learn how to find the answers to their questions become independent learners, allowing parents the luxury of not worrying about whether their students will succeed academically, or be left behind. Look for an upcoming article with specifics on how to encourage inquisitiveness and how to teach your students to find answers from reliable resources! When you have a few minutes, listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk on How Schools Kill Creativity.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Although planning for middle school is not quite as important as the high school years, parents should begin getting serious about their students’ academic studies. During the elementary years you have, hopefully, instilled in your children a love of learning as well as having equipped them with the ability to find answers to their questions. The middle school years are challenging because of the physiological changes that start taking place and those changes often result in undesired attitudes surfacing. Expediting an academic plan may be fraught with the need to address character issues. Be sure you address the character issues. If you need to set aside academics in order to restore relationships or repair damage done by students who are acting out, do so. Do not be afraid to have non-negotiable parental mandates, but explain to your students the reasoning behind the decisions and alex-michaelsen-4jcZiXH63fM-unsplashdirections you pursue. They do not have to understand or agree with your decisions, but your students should be required to respond respectfully to you (and to others).

In addition to teaching your students how to answer questions, middle school is a great time to encourage students to question answers, but to do so respectfully. (Are you seeing a correlation to middle school and character issues?) If you have already lived through the middle school years you may chuckle at the advice to encourage your students to question answers because that tends to be natural for middle school students. They tend to question everything, particularly rules and expectations set forth by parents. Avoid answering with, “Because I said so,” if possible. You will gain respect if you take the time to share your heart and, even if your students are not mature enough to understand or agree with your explanation, they are apt to be less frustrated than they would be otherwise. Now that character issues have been addressed, let’s talk about subjects to cover.

Math: During middle school make sure your students have a firm understanding of basic math facts so that they will be adequately prepared to be introduced to algebra and geometry in high school. Being able to multiple mentally, whether by memorizing the times table or using another method to achieve that result, is imperative. Knowing how to divide without using a calculator is also important. Understanding percentages and fractions is equally important to having a firm foundation for higher level math classes.

English: In high school your student should begin writing essays so while in middle school introduce your students to simple writing assignments such as book reports, short stories, testimonies, and more. Continue to read aloud, but assign great literature to be read by your students as well. You may find your students are willing to read more if they are allowed to read the biographies found in the juvenile section of the library. Rather than reading one biography that is over 200-300 pages long, your student can read five or six, or more, biographies that are of much shorter length. There are many resources for literature-driven curriculum.

History: I was that student who thought history was the most boring subject on the planet until I began homeschooling my students and discovered historical fiction! Reading books that brought history to life led me to have a deep love for history! Introduce your students to history through literature or through unit studies! For American history, the House of Winslow series is very historically accurate. If your students are reading biographies, then chances are they may want to further pursue information about the period of history being covered by the biography they are reading. With one of my sons (who loves history), we went through the Timetables of History (a chronological record of history from the beginning of written records) and when something sparked further interest, we looked up videos and articles pertaining to that event. For those looking for a literature-based history curriculum, TruthQuest may be just what you need.

Science: Because your student will be taking biology and chemistry in high school, the middle school years should include an introduction to basic science that includes life, earth, and physical science. If you are going for a more literature based approach, include biographies of great scientists. One of my favorite books to read aloud is Carry On Mr. Bowditch. Books about George Washington Carver were enjoyed as well. As far as text books go, many families choose to use Apologias books for science.

Electives: In addition to the basics, you may choose to add in any number of electives from physical education to music, foreign language, leadership, religions and worldviews, shop, cooking, or anything else that particularly interests your students.

group of people sitting on stairs

HIGH SCHOOL

Now is definitely the time to make specific plans for your students. Although you will have some flexibility, in order to ensure that your students are adequately prepared for life after high school, it is important to plan ahead. Be sure you prepare your students for college, whether they think they need college, or not. It is better to be prepared and not need it, than vice versa. I wrote an blog post that will help you avoid eight common mistakes that homeschooling parents make. If your students have no idea what they want to pursue after high school, help them discover their gifts, talents, and passions. Narrow down top college choices so you can find out what is expected from those colleges as far as admission requirements, transcript expectations, and scholarship potential. Feel free to download The Journey, a free e-resource that will help you plan ahead.

Transcripts: Although most states have suggested guidelines for high school graduation, there are no set-in-stone laws, so you have the freedom to plan according to what’s best for your student. The expectation is that a four-year high school transcript will include 22 to 24 credits. Most states expect a student to take at least 3 math classes, 3 or 4 English classes,  3 science classes (with at least 2 labs), 3 social studies, ½ credit for personal finance, 1 or 2 physical education credits, 2 foreign language credits, and the remainder as electives. Some states are more rigorous while others are more flexible but, again, these are guidelines and not mandates. Be aware that as flexible as you are allowed to be from a homeschooling point-of-view, you may find particular colleges have requirements that your student must fulfill in order to attend that college. For this reason, narrowing down college choices is vital to planning the courses for your students. Some homeschooling families have their students take a 5th year of high school and, believe it or not, colleges will accept a 5 year transcript from homeschooled students.

Curriculum: When I began homeschooling (in the 1980s) our curriculum choices were very limited. That is not the case today. There are online programs that are totally free (Easy Peasy and Kahn Academy are two programs often recommended) and there are many programs that can be purchased. There are textbooks available for every subject imaginable and there are products galore for the students who prefer learning without textbooks whether that is with CDs, videos, or with real books.

Course Selection: It is presumed that your student will take English, math, science, and social studies. Most state guidelines suggest two years of the same foreign language, although there are colleges that do not have that requirement. If you know what major your student will pursue, you can better plan which courses to choose. For instance, students who plan to become engineers should take as many math and science classes as possible while in high school. If your students show a particular interest in a subject, then have them take classes pertaining to that subject in order to confirm or refute that interest. If your students have no idea what they want to do after high school, then provide a well-rounded high school experience while trying to nail down a plan for after high school. My next article will include suggestions for helping your children discover their gifts, interests, and passions.

Beyond the Basics: Although we have all been conditioned to believe that including the classes mentioned above are sufficient for a proper education, I would like to suggest that there are classes worth considering that are equally (if not more) important to a well rounded education. Taking classes in current events, speech and debate, apologetics, logic, entrepreneurship and personal finance are classes that will help prepare your students for life after high school whether that includes college, or not. One of my regrets is not having my students involved in debate clubs until the 5th child (of 9) was in high school.  Once I became aware of the skills gained being involved in a debate club (there are at least three Christian homeschool debate leagues), my students were required to participate in a debate club for at least one year.

Books:  To help plan for the high school years read Celebrate Highschool: Finish with Excellence and More Than Credits: Skills Highschoolers Need for Life both written by Cheryl Bastain.

Test Prep. Because COVID has disrupted the ability for colleges to require test scores for admission and scholarships, many colleges are now test-optional. Whether these colleges will remain test-optional is yet to be known. Before COVID, the highest scholarships were awarded to students with high test scores (ACT, SAT and/or CLT). For that reason, spending time and money on your students so that they could adequately prepare for these tests and, taking the tests multiple times in order to raise their scores, was essential to families needing scholarships for their students (and, to be honest, most of us need all the financial help we can get). At this time, GPAs are being used by test-optional colleges when test scores are not available. For that reason, your students should be encouraged to achieve high grades even if that means repeating classes with poor grades.

Dual Enrollment. Taking college-level classes is a win/win for students who are ready and able to pass college-level classes. Not only will your students receive both high school and college credit, but one college class is usually counted as a full high school credit, meaning your students will earn a year’s worth of high school credit in one semester. This will either allow your student to graduate early or to continue taking college classes during high school. Dual enrollment is free in several states, discounted in some states and, oftentimes, discounted by the college. Bryan College offers dual enrollment classes on line four times a year with a $200 scholarship for out-of-state students and, for Tennessee students, the same scholarship is offered once the state DE grant is used. In fact, a Tennessee student can take 30 credit hours with Bryan College for as little as $600 if the student uses the DE grant, the school scholarship and the HOPE. As wonderful as the dual enrollment opportunity is for high school students, it is not without dangers.

As you make plans for your students’ academic future, take comfort in knowing that you have both the freedom and the flexibility to make adjustments as needed in order to improve your students’ homeschooling experience. There is no black-and-white, or right-or-wrong way to do this. Plan, pray, talk to friends, and research options and everything will eventually come together!

Matt and able at graduation

Engineering with a Missional Emphasis

Engineer postersAs I travel to college fairs and conferences, sharing Bryan College with homeschooled students, one of the often requested majors I hear students ask for is engineering. Two years ago when Bryan College announced the addition of an engineering school, I was thrilled. When our department was introduced to Dr. Marshall, the new Chair of the engineering school, I became even more excited about this program. Why? Because Dr. Marshall, being aware that engineers are able to get into places all over the world, even places that are often closed to Christians, has a heart for “missional engineering” (a term he may have coined). His vision for missional engineering is quite contagious.

Bryan College’s engineering school is a biblically based, grounded and personalized academic experience. Bryan is doing something atypical here. The course  created entitled “Engineering the Great Commission” is an example of the emphasis on missional engineering.  Bryan is integrating everything in a serious and meaningful way as students are being prepared for the kingdom work. Bryan offers a Bachelors of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree which provides flexibility for the student by offering several concentration areas including: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, biological engineering, computor engineering, chemical engineering, environmental engineering and even business engineering!

Being able to speciate within that program in multiple directions will be advantageous to the engineering students. For now, Bryan College is focusing on civil, mechanical, engineering- rulercomputer science and bio-medical concentrations. Tailoring those concentrations for individual students, Bryan will actually offer course work credit for internship experiences so the students can work with engineering professions in the field in an area that dovetails with their concentration.

Combining an individualized curriculum while working alongside experienced seasoned engineers will enhance the student’s academic coursework.  For instance, if students are interested in designing prosthetic devices, they take the bachelors of science engineering core along with bio-medical concentration classes and then they actually work in a bio-medical setting, working on a project to design prostheses. This all comes together in the student’s degree.

The genius of this program is its breadth. The universe is the possibility. We offer the best academic core possible, using the same textbooks as MIT.  Recognizing the diverse needs and desires of our students,  we work with students to tailor their degree to best fit their individual interests and goals.

Engineering students working in the labStudents who enjoy using their knowledge of math and science to solve problems are often successful as engineers. Students involved in robotics, STEM, Lego or Minecraft clubs are also great candidates for an engineering program. For high school students planning to major in engineering, having a strong math and science foundation is recommended. Math up to pre-cal is expected, and going beyond is suggested. In addition, having strong speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills is an advantage.

Here are a few remarks from students currently enrolled in Bryan’s Vogel School of Engineering:

What I appreciate about the engineering department at Bryan College is the relatively small size. I prefer one-on-one relationships and small groups as opposed to large crowds. I also appreciate the biblical approach to engineering. The fact that I am surrounded by like-minded people who truly love God is something incredibly special and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

bryan engineering awardI love that this is a starting program. Being a part of the first class and getting to help shape the program for the years to come is very exciting and encouraging to me. Then there’s the faculty. The faculty at Bryan College in general, and specifically the engineering program faculty, are so genuinely invested in our education, character as a whole, spiritual life and future that anyone who is a part of it cannot help but feel supported and encouraged. Being in engineering school is intimidating. It is such a demanding field, but knowing I have godly leaders surrounding me that will set me up for my future in the best way they know how, again, brings that peace that only can come from God.

For more information about Bryan College’s School of Engineering, go to this link.

 

 

 

Links, Links, and More Links (Resources for the high school years.)

Information is available at our fingertips, but finding (or re-finding), a resource on-line is often time consuming and aggravating. Let me make this a little easier for you by posting often used links for preparing your students for a successful high school experience! Feel free to share these links (or this article) with your friends and/or on social media!

Testing materials:  Any test prep will help with all of the college exams to some extent so even if the program is an ACT prep, it will also help with the SAT and CLT in many areas. ACT is the only test to include science, but the student’s scientific knowledge is not being tested, rather the student’s ability to analyze the data provided is what is tested.
Test prep books:  Princeton Review (publisher)
Test prep programs:
College Prep Genius (There are many testimonials from parents and students on their FB page. Impressive!)
Use the code bryan to save $3 a month, making the cost only $12 a month! 36U ACT Prep is offering prospective Bryan students a free note-taking guide workbook ($20 value) with their 6 months program ($65) or $10 off a note-taking guide with a monthly subscription ($15/mo). To take advantage of the offer, enter the code BryanLionsNT when you register at 36university.com.
ADA Accommodation information is here. All three college exams offer accommodations for students diagnosed with disabilities.
Books to help plan for the high school years (written by Cheryl Bastain):
Ebook: The Journey is a free ebook with information on transcripts, testing, scholarships, dual enrollment, and more. Scroll down to the ebook inquiry.
Programs to consider:
TeenPact is a four day government class that takes place in the capital city of each state.
STOAUSA and NCFCA are two Christian homeschool speech and debate clubs. Find a club near you and visit. If you can volunteer to be a community judge at a tournament you will not only be appreciated, and fed well, but you will be amazed at what you observe.
FAFSA form (fill this out in October of senior year).

Video presentations:

Dual Enrollment Mistake to Avoid

studentsMany homeschooled students take dual enrollment classes, earning both college credit and high school credit at the same time. This is a great option assuming your students can handle college level classes, keep up with assignments, and pass the class. However, in addition to student readiness, there are additional facts to consider before proceeding.

In some states dual enrollment classes are offered tuition free so parents may be tempted to have their students enroll in college classes whether the students are ready for college level classes, or not.  Since the classes are free they assume they have nothing student disappointedto lose. However, that is not the case. If a student fails to pass a class with a certain GPA there will be negative consequences. Many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. These grants are lost if a student does not earn a high enough GPA in the class and, in some states, there is no way to regain the dual enrollment grant. If a student takes a class and does poorly, then losing the opportunity to continue taking college classes during high school for free (or at a discounted price) could be a costly mistake. Not only does the student lose the grant, but the parent could then become responsible to pay for the failed class out-of-pocket.

Also, be aware that your students’ college record will follow them whether they pass the class, or not. The college GPA might, or might not, follow your student depending on whether they go on to attend the college where they took the dual enrollment classes. In most cases, if your student takes dual enrolled classes at a certain college and then goes on to attend that same college after high school, the GPA will follow the student. On the other hand, if your student takes dual enrollment classes at a college different from the college they end up attending, the credits may transfer, but the GPA may not (wiping the GPA slate clean). When students earn college credit, but receive low grades, not having the GPA transfer would be beneficial, but for the students who receive high grades, having a GPA that does not transfer would be a disadvantage. Regardless of whether the GPA transfers, or not, the college record of a failed class will be included in your students’ record unless the student retakes the class and passes it.

sharon-mccutcheon-552616-unsplashAcademic scholarships for freshmen are often determined by the students’ GPA and earned test scores (ACT, SAT and/or CLT). High school students who have a high GPA prior to taking DE classes could lower their GPA if they perform poorly in college classes. If a GPA is lowered to the degree that scholarships are reduced (or lost), then the “free” classes were not free after all.

When students sign up for dual enrollment classes the college will treat them as an adult and you will, more than likely, not be notified in any way of your child’s progress. Students can sign a FERPA release so that you can be notified if there are concerns, but colleges will not be in contact with parents otherwise. And, even with a signed FERPA on hand, the school may not initiate any communication with the parent. You and your students should have an understanding, beforehand, so that you are not caught unaware of poor performance.

As stated above, many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. Be sure you weigh the advantages and know whether your student is ready for college classes or not. Stay on top of the situation so that you are not surprised by a failing grade when it’s too late to do anything about it. The advantages of taking dual enrollment classes are huge for the students who pass the classes, but costly for those who do not pass the classes.

eye with worldviewBecause I homeschooled my students for 32+ years I have many friends who finished their homeschooling adventure long before I finally finished. One of the often heard regrets has to do with allowing high school students to attend college classes on a secular campus. The environment that students will be exposed to on a secular campus will be far different than the environment of a Christian campus. Yes, I am well aware that there are students on Christian campuses who do not live Christ-like lives but, hopefully, that will not be the norm. Not only should you be careful about the curriculum used on secular campuses (especially the literature assigned), but the worldview of the instructor could make a huge impact on your student, especially if he or she is an atheist with a pronounced agenda to debunk Christianity. Parents should not be sheltering their students 24/7, but they do need to be careful about putting students in certain situations before they are mature enough to handle those situations. Taking online courses may be preferable to on-campus classes, but if the courses are taught at a secular campus, then the material might conflict with your beliefs (depending on the class). Most homeschooling families have been so careful about making wise academic choices that it is surprising at how quickly many enroll their students in secular classes simply because of financial considerations. Please do not think that I am saying a parent should never allow students to take classes at a secular institution. Several of my children took both dual enrollment classes at secular campuses and two earned degrees from secular campuses. This is not a black-and-white, always do this or never do that conversation. You know your child better than anyone so prepare, plan, and pray that you will have the ability to steer your students on a course that is best for their future.

I put together a short video presentation on dual enrollment here.

If you would like to talk more about dual enrollment, in general, or about dual enrollment at Bryan College specifically, set up an appointment via email! pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

Introduction to Personal Finance: A Must for Every Teen

Copy of Copy of StheD_OrientationDon Blanton, co-author of the book Personal Economic Model, has designed a three hour college course that will help students understand everything they need to know about the financial world. Using visuals that are interactive, this course takes you from questioning, “Why work?” to helping your student plan wisely to lead a productive and responsible life from high school graduation to retirement (and past retirement age for those who do not choose to retire).

Luke Morris, who has taught this class on campus for Bryan College, has more to say about the class in a short video here.

This Introduction to Finance is different from most financial programs in that the course includes access to a variety of financial calculators designed by Blanton, a test to help the student discover their strengths and weaknesses, and the acknowledgement that a wisely used credit card and certain loans are not always a bad thing (he also explains how students can do this correctly).

Many  homeschooling families include financial classes in their students’ high school schedule yet most of the classes available do not include college credit! After students complete their sophomore year of high school, as long as they have earned a 3.0 GPA or higher, they can dual enroll with Bryan College and take on-line classes four times a year (fall, spring, and two summer sessions) with a $200 scholarship per class! (For Tennessee residents the scholarship does not apply until the TN DE grant is used.) Earning college credit while taking a class that prepares a student for life after high school is a win/win!

This course includes videos, access to financial calculators and software, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes and tests. Dual enrolled students with Bryan College need not be on the computer at a specific time of the day, allowing each student to determine their own schedule as long as assignments are completed on time.

Donald L. Blanton is the owner and president of MoneyTrax, Inc., a company dedicated to the development of innovative communication tools for professionals in the financial services industry. MoneyTrax, Inc., was founded in 1994, and has gained national recognition for its unique and easy-to-use client-centered financial software through the Circle of Wealth® System. Don is a nationally sought-after seminar speaker, addressing the top financial planners in the country who utilize his unique communication style and tools to work with their individual clients.

Out-of-state students receive a $200 scholarship per class. Tennessee students receive the same scholarship once the DE grant is used. Connect with Bryan College’s Dual Enrollment to find out more! If you would like a code to waive the application fee for dual enrollment, email me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

 

Dual Enrollment – A Great Opportunity, but Not Without Dangers

dsc_3910As a homeschooling mom of 9 (finally finished) who is now the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College I am a huge proponent of dual enrolling!  After all, it makes sense to cover both high school and college material at the same time!  It is an academic BOGO!  And, students who earn college credit in high school have less college to pay for later!

When we host Homeschool Visitation Days at Bryan College, during the Q&A session, a parent will often ask the current Bryan students who were homeschooled the following question: “As a homeschooled student, what was most challenging about coming to college and what would you advise high school students to do to be better prepared?”  The answer is almost always that the students struggle with time constraints, planning, and scheduling.  The advice they give to future students is to either be part of a structured co-op or to dual enroll before coming to college!

alexis-brown-85793When our family lived in Florida and homeschooled students were allowed to dual enroll at the local community college (this was years ago), my oldest two daughters asked to take classes on campus.  I had my concerns (I had been a student on that same campus years earlier), but I thought if I was careful with my choices it would be okay.  So I signed them up for Computer and Spanish classes.  I also made sure my friend signed her boys up for the same classes so that my daughters would have “body guards.”  To be honest, nothing terrible happened, but the Spanish professor did take the class to a bar so that the students could hear the bartender speak in his native language and a boy brought in his Playboy Calendar during show and tell.  That was bothersome and it would have concerned me more had it been my sons in that class rather than my daughters.

A few years later one of our sons wanted to dual enroll and we were convinced he was not ready to be in that environment.  As it turned out, for one reason after another, he was not able to take dual enrolled classes until 3 semesters later and, by then, he was so busy with Civil Air Patrol that he ended up taking classes at night at a satellite campus with a room full of older students.

marc-wieland-150252Homeschooling parents are often criticized for being helicopter parents, holding onto that leash far too long.  On the other hand, there are parents who boot their children out of the house at a certain age regardless of the child’s maturity level, the environment, or the college.  We want to raise our children so that they can successfully live independent of us, whether that is at age 16, 18 or older.  Dual enrollment is a great choice for many, but not necessarily for every high school student.

Because I have been homeschooling for so many years, I have many friends who finished their journey far sooner than I did and an often heard regret by many is allowing their high school students to take classes on campus at a secular college during the high school years.  Whether we have the same religious perspectives, or not, most of you would probably agree that the language, sexual conduct, and alcohol and drug use on college campuses is of concern to many.  I have one friend whose son was asked to spend the night with a girl the day he met her.  Before you get all hot and bothered because you believe that your child would never be negatively persuaded by his/her peers, you could be wrong, and you might end up being one of those parents having regrets.  Truth be told, this should be taken on a case-by-case basis.  There are no clear guidelines to determine whether a child is ready for this or not.  Back in Florida where I previously lived, the homeschool students band together, share information on which professors to avoid and which to pursue and, for the most part, create a safe-environment among themselves.  We do not have to throw out the baby with the bath water, but we do need to take steps to ensure our student’s well-being.

There are definitely precautions a parent will want to take when sending a teen to a secular college campus as a high school student.  Sometimes on-line classes may be preferable to on-campus classes because the negative peer influence is removed (for the most part).  Taking classes at satellite locations or at night diminishes the number of students whose goal is to party more than to receive an education.  If, like me, you are a Christian and having classes taught from a biblical worldview is important to you, then research those options.  My youngest boys dual enrolled at Bryan College, both on-line and on-campus.  When they were on-campus they blended in with the rest of the students and oftentimes no one was even aware they were high school students.

element5-digital-352048In some cases your high school/college GPA from DE courses does not follow you to college unless you go to the college where you took the DE classes.  If your child takes classes at the local community college as a DE student and then attends another school after graduating high school, more-than-likely his GPA would start fresh the first semester even though his college credits transfer.  With my youngest two sons, because they took DE classes at Bryan and now attend Bryan, the GPA followed them and, in their situations, that was a good thing because they had high GPAs. For high school students who have poor GPAs with their DE credits, this may be a blessing if they are starting over (GPA-wise) at the college they attend.

Another question often asked is whether DE credits will transfer to another school.  The answer to this question is, “It depends!”  It depends on the school the student attends.  It depends on the major the student is pursuing.  There are some colleges that accept very little credit from other colleges and there are some that will transfer almost any college credit that a student has earned. Generally, if the high school student has earned an AA, then they can take the AA with them to almost any college.  Using words like “generally” and “usually” and “almost any college” are necessary because there are no firm, set-in-stone mandates. For these reasons I would suggest that if your students are going to dual enroll that they take basic classes that may likely be accepted at many colleges. If your student knows which college he/she plans to attend, then find out from that college which DE classes will transfer.  The same is true of AP classes and CLEP credits.  There are no across-the-board answers that apply to this discussion.

Two more bonus suggestions and then some advice from a friend. Suggestion #1:  Your homeschooled students can graduate any time of the year so if there are summer DE classes your students would like to take before graduating high school, they can take those classes in the summer and graduate high school in August! Suggestion #2:  Taking college math classes while in high school has the added benefit of improving the math scores on the college entrance exams (assuming the student does well in the class).  Not only are the students completing college math credits, but their raised test scores could very well earn additional scholarships!

Here are some of the possible outcomes to dual enrollment experiences:

  1. Positive outcome: A great experience is enjoyed and both high school and college credits are earned at the same time.
  2. Positive outcome: Money is saved and students earn their degrees much faster by completing college credits during high school.
  3. Positive outcome: Some states offer scholarships related to dual enrollment credits earned so there is potential for additional college funds to be earned.
  4. Negative outcome: Some students are eager to take classes, but they do not take them seriously and as a result they do not make the grades necessary to continue with the process. (In some states the DE grants are tied to GPAs earned.) They are removed from the program.
  5. Negative outcome: Some students become so preoccupied with the social activities that they lose site of the goal and play away their time on campus, failing classes.
  6. Negative outcome: Some students’ values and beliefs totally change when they are presented with beliefs alternative to their parents. (Young adults should be free to decide what they believe in regard to the great questions of life, but some students are not ready to reasonably and logically discuss some of these deeper issues until they are older.)
  7. Negative outcome: Some students, not knowing how to handle the freedom they have been given in this setting, become rude, crude and disobedient to their parents. They obtain a superior attitude and life at home is less than pleasant.

Advice from a friend:  When approaching colleges about their dual enrollment policies, be polite because dual enrollment laws are often broad and vague. Each college can interpret them as they wish. Rules will change year-to-year so be flexible, polite, and grateful. 

Make sure your child stays rooted at home and in a peer community. They are at the age where they are hungry for community and if they don’t have it at home they will find it where it’s convenient. It is a battle worth fighting, but you have to give them something. 

Be careful just gathering credits. Know where your child is going from here and check in with that destination to make sure you are following their recommendations. Find people who have walked similar (degree wise) paths recently. Information from when their son majored in “x” at “y” is usually irrelevant if it has been more than three years. That is generally true of all things college. It changes year to year.           — Cathy, from Florida

There you have it.  The good, the bad, and the ugly of all things dual enrollment.  To dual enroll on-line or on campus at Bryan College one can apply on-line, pay a small application fee, and provide a transcript showing the completion of the sophomore year with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  If a DE student wants to take math classes at Bryan then he/she must have scored a 22 on the ACT (or comparable on the SAT or CLT).  Bryan offers on-line classes during the fall, spring and twice during the summer (six week sessions). Technically, a dual enrolled student could take classes through Bryan College during 10 semesters before graduating high school. For more information go to www.bryan.edu/de.  If you have not downloaded the free e resource I put together to help you plan the high school years, it is available here:  www.bryan.edu/ebook