Making plans for college

Today I finally got myself down to the community college to speak to an advisor regarding my kids.   I didn’t have a huge number of questions, but the questions I had were significant enough that it was keeping me from being able to firm up a plan.  You know, when your kids are at school, the need for parental involvement (and knowledge) can be less important since there are guidance counselors and teachers your children can turn to for college guidance.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t matter if parents are involved – of course it does! – but if your child is homeschooled and you don’t get involved, they’re really on their own. So I needed to get some clarity so I could better guide them.

Of course, since the winter semester begins really, really soon (as in tomorrow or the next day), the place was packed.  After I signed in to see an advisor, I went to wait in a room with at least thirty others.  Whew!  I used the time to read through all those handouts that I had picked up, which helped me focus my questions.   They will allow students in 8 – 10th grades in for up to two classes a semester, but they have to be labeled gifted and talented, and I’m not interested in trying to jump through the hoops to get dd labeled for that (besides the fact that I don’t really care for labels like gifted).  They allow early admittance for 11th and 12th graders, but they still would be limited to taking 2 classes a semester and as high school students, we wouldn’t be able to apply for any financial aid. At about $600 a class, paying the full costs out of pocket for two children would add up very quickly!

My initial thought was to enroll each of them for the winter semester for a couple of classes to ease them into college, but that’s not worth the effort involved at this time.   So after considering all of the options, I asked the advisor if they officially graduated at the end of this year, if they could be admitted as full time students in the fall.  She said that it was fine, that once a child has a high school diploma, they aren’t concerned about his/her age anymore.

This doesn’t make a huge difference to their homeschooling schedules, which will pretty much stay the same except that I’ll increase the science and history for them so that they have the full amount of required credits for high school graduation.  It does mean I need to get myself in gear to start organizing the paperwork – I don’t enjoy officially documenting all that we do!  But I’ll need to put all my notes together for their official transcripts.  I’m also thinking that they can both look into earning credit by examination between now and the fall if they are so inclined, and then when they enter, they’ll have some credits under their belts. That will help them maximize their time and energy.

Though this isn’t written in stone and things can (and probably will) change somewhat, it’s nice to have a direction to move in.  Now dd13 is asking me to help her get started on college preparatory work – yikes!


14 thoughts on “Making plans for college

  1. I personally think there’s something to be said for accelerating college entrance and starting younger, as you are. I started college at 17, after skipping a grade. I finished college in 20, after graduating in three years, and married this December at 21. I feel like it was a good plan, though it does mean many of our friends are a few years older than we are, as most of my peers will be dating for several more years.

    I actually found my local community college to be a great resource. I went to a liberal arts college away from home, but the summer classes I took at the local cc allowed to me skip a year of college, which saved a ton of money in the long run, even though I paid for my community college classes from the wages I earned as a student.

    1. Meg!!! You got married? Congratulations!!!

      I also think it’s a good use of time to start early (assuming the person is ready; I’m not a fan of pushing too hard, too soon); the earlier they start, the earlier they finish. Particularly for dd15, who wants to be a chiropractor and has 7- 8 years of school ahead of her, by starting in the fall she can be finished by the time she’s around 22.

      1. Thank you!

        Not to disparage higher education (I loved my college experience), but I think one of the frustrating things is that an BA, plus some kind of graduate work, can take so long and you are in a sort of limbo while you’re in school. I worked in college, but I couldn’t really build a career because I was in school all the time. I’m lucky, because if I go back to school in my field of choice, I will be done when I’m 25. But my husband, thanks to a 5 year degree system and the vagaries of the British educational system will be 25 when he graduates with his BA this spring. With graduate school, which he will not pursue for a few years, he could be thirty before really starting to build a career, which is quite late.

        My alma mater actually runs a program in New York City for underprivileged students that is based on the idea that the final two yeas of high school are usually kind of useless and that students are better served intellectually and emotionally by starting college level work at 16 or so. The program is doing well, and when the students graduate at 18, they have an AA degree and a high school diploma, and they seem to go on and do well. For many bright, motivated students, starting college earlier really is a viable path that should be considered.

        Though I went to a rather nerdy summer camp with this fellow. We also went to the same school, though a few years apart. I think this may have been a bit too much acceleration, though I know parents with very gifted children often struggle with how to best meet their educational needs, and I know he excelled in college and law school

      2. Shoshana–I just pointed him out as an example of perhaps too much academic acceleration. He was 11 when he started college. I knew him; we’re the same age, and he’s a very, very intelligent man, but 11 is awfully young to start college. I know his family struggled with the choice of having him start school so young.

        On the other hand, a friend of mine started college at 14, graduated at 17 and is now a sociology professor, so who knows?

    1. R, something nice about kids getting older is they start to look around at other families and realize that they have it pretty good. While I can’t say if they think I’m the most wonderful mother on the planet, they’re not complaining. :)

  2. I also graduated from college a year early. I had to option of leaving high school early, but I decided to stay and earn advanced placement. I had more than a year’s worth of advanced placement when I started college. That is even cheaper than starting at the local community college. It might be worth looking into AP exams. I have no idea if they are offered to homeschoolers or the requirements, but it is an idea.

    I probably would have preferred to go to college another year instead of staying in high school, for social and academic reasons, but the way I did it was definitely cheaper. Actually, I wish I had gone to college at 15 or 16, but I had no idea that was even remotely an option at the time.

    BTW, I am sure you are doing better job than many guidance counselors. I can’t remember being guided very much by mine. It was more like, “Oh, you’ll have no problem getting into college. What do you want to major in? Basket weaving? That’s nice, dear… Next!”

  3. Avivah, its great to hear that your kids will be graduating high school early and starting college at a young age. High school really is a waste of time, and by being homeschooled, I graduated high school after 2 years with twice as many credits as most people have when they graduate high school. I started college at 15 and was enrolled in a program called PSEOP- post secondary enrollment option program- where kids with high enough SATs and GPAs can go to college while a high school student and get both college and high school credit for their college classes. And best of all the program is free so long as you don’t fail the classes. There is a maximum of 4 classes a semester though.
    Is there a program like that in your state? It might be worth considering, as its free as well.

    How will your kids be getting to and from college? When I did it, I took the public bus there and back but it was a huge hassle.

    Just something I realized by going to college early- its very tempting to have a social life on campus when everyone else is. Sometimes i stayed in college many hours after I finished my classes- and as i was taking the bus I kind of had the freedom to do this. I don’t know if I necessarily want my children being exposed to what I was exposed to at 15 in college. If I did, if it were at all possible, I’d try to pick them up so that they wouldn’t have extra time to chill with the average college go-er after class.

    1. Here they have a program called Parallel Enrollment Program (PEP) for high school seniors and juniors, which is what I thought I’d have my kids participate in when I first learned about it a couple of years ago. The tuition is 50% off of full tuition if you’re attending a college in your county, no discount for kids going to an out of county institution. And there’s a limit of a maximum of 6 credits per semester. I won’t send my kids to the community college in my district (safety concerns and academic level is low), so we have all of the limitations and no advantages.

      As of now, I’d be driving them to college, and they won’t have the freedom to participate in any social scene. But knowing my kids, it’s not something I’d expect them to have an interest in. They already have a social life and that will continue even when they take classes there; they aren’t going to be dependent on college classmates for friends or a sense of belonging. They know the only reason they have to be there is to take the classes, and that’s it. Also, we’re going to be enrolling dd15 and ds16 in the same classes whenever possible so they have each other for support (academic and social).

      1. Wow. Guess my home state has a better program than elsewhere. But I’m happy to hear you found a good working solution with them graduation early.
        Are they interested in the same things that they’d take the same classes? Or these are core stuff anyhow?

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