Home    |  Search    |  About Us    |  Contact Us
Popular Feature Articles
Getting Started in Homeschooling
How to Homeschool Topics
Community Help and Activities
Resources for the Homeschooler
Audio and Video Presentations
Homeschooling Through High School
Frequently Asked Questions

Last Revised: October 1, 2009

If you are new to Homeschooling, you may
also want to view these other informative pages:
Getting Started and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).
  1. How do I know what subjects to cover in high school?
  2. What are credits and how are they determined?
  3. How do we plan our student's high school program?
  4. What about a diploma?
  5. What is a transcript and how do I get one?
  6. Will colleges accept homeschoolers?
  7. What about graduation?
  8. I know my student will need a transcript and probably a portfolio, but are there any other records or recommendations that should be completed if my student is going to college?
  9. When do we start planning for college?
  10. What are college entrance exams and how does my student take them?
  11. What about dual enrollment, CLEP tests, and AP tests?
  12. What does a college look for in an applicant?
  13. What about the reading list? What books are recommended for college?
Image Credit: © Lorelyn Medina -
1 — How do I know what subjects to cover in high school?

Short Answer
As with any grade level in homeschooling, what you need to cover depends on your state's regulations. Most states have general requirements only, such as four years of the core courses (math, science, English/language arts and history/social studies). The state may also require specific courses such as physical education, civics/government, fine arts, or computer technology.

Once a student is in high school, what is important is not the grade level but the number of credits earned. The main difference between high school and the lower grades is that the subjects are recorded as credits earned. To earn credit for a subject the student must pass the course. Each state determines the number of credits required for graduation. The average is between 22-26 credits (using the Carnegie system of 1 year equal to 1 credit).

The number of required credits are the “shell” of the high school program. Which courses are taken to fulfill the subject requirements will vary depending on your educational goals, philosophy of education, state requirements, and career options.

The number of credits a student needs to graduate from high school may not be the same as the number of credits needed for college or vocational training. Since entrance requirements for advanced education and training vary from program to program, a good approach is to take the entrance requirements needed for the college, major, or vocation of choice and work “backwards” to ensure that all the necessary subjects have been covered in a logical sequence.

Image Credit: © Scott Maxwell -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

2 — What are credits and how are they determined?

Short Answer
Credits are simply a way to record the work a student has done. If the amount of work required is completed in a satisfactory way, the student earns the credit. At the high school level, students accumulate credits over the four years. Students are designated as a freshman (9th grade), sophomore (10th grade), junior (11th grade), and senior (12th grade) based on the number of accumulated credits.

The typical high school program requires one credit in each of the core courses (math, science, social studies/history, and English/language arts), which gives the student 4 credits. At least one or two electives are also covered in each year. This means most high school students will take six subjects per year, for a total of 24 credits.

There are different systems used for determining credits, but the most common is the Carnegie system whereby one year's work is equal to one credit. One credit is equal to 180 hours (180 days of classes in a nine-month school year, with one hour of class per subject). Even though most classes in the public school system aren't an hour long, the time spent doing homework is added to that time.

However, it's important to remember that in a group classroom situation, students rarely spend the entire period working on the subject at hand. Time is spent taking attendance, turning in and returning class assignments, and general class management. Since homeschooling is generally more efficient, most families award credit based on anywhere from 150 to 180 hours worth of work. In some cases, a course may only last half a year; this would be ½ credit for 75 to 90 hours worth of work for one semester.

If you are using a structured textbook approach, finishing the textbook is usually considered one credit's worth of work. If you are using a less structured approach, you can log the time spent on that subject and award the credit based on the number of hours logged, the complexity of the assignments, the type of work involved, and the type of resources used.

No matter what system you use, the student must pass the course in order to earn the credit. This means some sort of assessment process is required at the high school level. This may be a new situation for some families who do not feel grades and arbitrary testing are necessary in the homeschooling setting, when the parent is intimately involved in the child's education and knows what the student has or has not mastered. But if the student is planning on going to college or a vocational training institute, you will need to document how the student managed each course.

As the homeschooling parent, you decide how each course is to be evaluated. Most structured curriculum programs at the high school level include structured tests (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer). You can also use the student's daily assignments as the basis for the grade. Or a combination of both the daily assignments and tests. Another option is to assign projects or writing assignments (e.g. essays or research papers) that show what the student has learned.

For courses that are based on life skills, talents, or physical activities (generally electives), it is easier to set up specific objectives and then grade the student based on the extent to which the objectives were completed. A few examples are:
  • Ballet class – learn and demonstrate the five positions of the feet and arms
  • Karate class – earn the next level/color of belt
  • 4H project – successfully raise a rabbit and exhibit at the state fair
  • Auto mechanics – demonstrate how to change the oil on a car
  • Cooking – plan, shop for, prepare, and serve meals for a week
It's a good idea to keep a notebook or portfolio for each year of high school that includes a course description for each subject covered, report cards, tests, and sample work. The course description should include a paragraph summary of the topics covered in the program, the resources and/or textbooks used, the academic year that the course was taken, the number of credits for the course (or the number of hours logged), what was expected in the course (including how you knew when the course was completed), and how the course work was evaluated. There are samples of different types of course descriptions in the archives.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

3 — How do we plan our student's high school program?

Short Answer
There are two basic approaches: college prep work and career preparation (non-college or vocational training). Both approaches provide 3 to 4 years of each of the core courses (math, science, English/language arts, and history/social studies), which comes to 12 to 16 credits. Since most states require an average of 24 credits to graduate, the remaining 8 to 12 credits come from electives. Electives are subjects that interest the student, courses that provide specialized training, or courses that go more in-depth in one of the core subjects. Examples includes the arts, computers, study skills, Bible, and life skills.

Most colleges require 4 years of each of the core courses (math, science, English/language arts, and history/social studies), for a total of 16 credits. They usually require two years of a foreign language, which brings us to 18 credits so far. Colleges like to see well-rounded students, so it's a good idea to have a credit of physical education and/or health, a credit in fine arts (e.g. music, art, drama), and a credit in computers or technology. This brings our running total to 21 credits. Since most colleges average 24 required credits, that leaves only 3 credits for subjects that interest the student or relate directly to the planned field of study. Of course the student can take more electives, but most colleges prefer not to see more than 28 credits total.

That's the typical scope for a college program. Individual programs may vary, which is why it's a good idea to look at what the college requires and work backwards from that. The typical sequence for the core courses is:
  • Math – algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2, advanced math (trig, calculus)
  • Science – physical or earth science, biology, chemistry, physics
  • History – geography (if not included over the years), US history, world history (1 or 2 years), government/economics
  • English – English 9 (mastery of grammar and language skills), American literature, world literature, and applied language (composition, creative writing, journalism, communication, drama, speech/debate)
At the high school level, courses are self-contained. They don't build in a sequential manner in the way they do in the younger years. Once a topic is covered, that's it and the student moves on to another topic. This is because the high school years focus on applying skills or concepts learned in the younger grades. So the sequence of courses can vary, with a few exceptions. Some math programs put algebra 1 and 2 together. Chemistry and physics require advanced math skills that should be covered before attempting these courses. Students who need more work in writing skills will need to cover this course earlier in the sequence in order to be able to write essays for college admission.

For students planning on attending a vocational training institute, the plan is generally the same except that they may require only 3 years of each of the core subjects. Most do not require a foreign language, although some require at least one year. The remaining credits then come from electives or specialized courses in the vocation. A listing of sample electives can be found in the archives. In some cases, you can include an apprenticeship, internship, or work-study program in the vocation of choice. This same plan can be used for a student planning on attending a community college only.

For students who have no plans for formal advanced training, the only consideration you have to follow is your state's graduation requirements. Beyond those, you and your student can plan a program based on areas of interest, talents and necessary life skills (e.g. consumer math, household repairs, household management, child care).

Keep in mind, however, that young people often do not know what they want to do yet or have only general ideas about what career they want to pursue. A lot of changes take place during the high school years, particularly as you expose students to the possibilities and choices available, they mature in their sense of self-identity, and they come to recognize their God-given gifts and plan for their life. As parents, we want to keep the options open for our young adults, so it's a good idea to plan for a college track. You can always adjust your plan as you go along.

There's one last point in planning your student's high school program – and it's probably the most important. As homeschoolers, we understand that education involves more than just academics. We recognize the need for training in life skills, social skills, job skills, and character. We want to help our children identify their unique gifts, talents, and calling. In short, homeschooling a high schooler is not so much teaching as it is discipling.

When you look at all that we want to accomplish, four years doesn't seem like much time. And it isn't! The time flies by faster than we think. We are torn between playing the academic game of credits and grade-point-averages versus taking the time to develop character and values in our students. Our fast-paced society pushes us to finish high school sooner so our students can get on with life, when what they need at this pivotal time in the life is to learn how to develop a healthy, adult relationship. It can feel like an endless tug-of-war. Perhaps that is the nature of the journey...having to rely on God to find the right blend.

As you pray, research the possibilities, and plan with your high schooler, interacting with one another and discussing the options, you will be providing an essential model of how to make decisions. It can mean the difference between dealing with an adolescent teenager (as the world views this stage) and a young adult (as God views this stage).

Click here to return to the top of this page.

4 — What about a diploma?

Short Answer
A diploma is considered a “certificate of completion” that shows that the student has successfully completed high school. In homeschooling, the parents award the diploma when the student has successfully completed the requirements for graduation. You set those requirements based on the state's regulations and any additional requirements you feel your student should fulfill.

The format of the diploma itself can vary. You can purchase a blank award certificate from any office supply store and fill it in yourself. Blank diplomas are available online that are generic (used for any type of educational program) or are specifically designed for homeschoolers. You can purchase just the piece of paper or you can buy the diploma bound in a presentation binder. Most of these suppliers will also special order diplomas pre-printed according to your specifications, but you must allow plenty of time for these to be processed.

If a community college or employer asks if a student has a diploma, they usually do not need to see the actual diploma, but rather some sort of verification of the student's high school years. In most cases, the student's transcript will be sufficient.

Generally speaking, the transcript is more important than the diploma, particularly if the student is going to college or vocational training.

Image Credit: © Scott Maxwell -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

5 — What is a transcript and how do I get one?

Short Answer
A transcript is a one-page summary of the courses the student took in high school, the grade earned, and the credits awarded. The back side of the page includes testing scores, extracurricular activities, and any special information such as grading system or honors courses. In homeschooling, the parents are responsible for keeping the necessary information and constructing the transcript. It must be signed and dated by the parents to be official.

The particular format of the transcript can vary, but most include the following information:
  • Complete student information, including name, date of birth, gender, and address.
  • If the student is filing for financial aid, it's a good idea to include the student's social security number since this is how students are tracked in the system.
  • The name of the homeschool – this can be the family name or a specific name chosen (e.g. Smith Family Homeschool or Greater Heights Academy).
  • Courses taken listed by semester or year, including credit possible, grade earned, and credit awarded.
  • Honors courses and CLEP courses marked accordingly.
  • A summary of the credits earned by category or subject (in order to track fulfillment of requirements), including a running total of credits earned.
  • The grade point average per term and the cumulative grade point average.
  • Parent's signature and date.
  • Any variations in grading systems or programs, including internships, apprenticeships, or remedial programs.
  • Standardized test scores, including college entrance exams (e.g. ACT and SAT).
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs, community service, talents, and extended workshops or training programs.
  • Any special awards.
There are numerous resources and software available that can help you generate the transcript. Or you can simply construct your own on a computer. If you pulled your student from a group classroom situation, you will need to get a copy of the student's transcript from the school. You can then copy that information onto your transcript, indicating where those credits were earned.

Transcripts are required for college entrance and many vocational training institutes. Most community colleges also require them. Since homeschooling has become so widespread, almost every institute of higher learning has a procedure for processing homeschoolers. The vast majority accept parent-generated transcripts.

The information recorded on the transcript is compared to any entrance exams to ensure that the information is consistent – which is true of any transcript from any school. Since the transcript is only a summary, and course names are vague, there is a lot of variance across schools as to what was actually covered. Not to mention the tendency for grade inflation; what constitutes an “A” in one school may not be the same as an “A” at another high school, or at the college.

The question often arises about the difference between an official transcript and an accredited transcript. An accredited transcript is issued from a school or umbrella organization that is accredited through a specific accreditation agency. For more information on how accreditation works, please see the archives or the FAQ's under Getting Started. Such transcripts usually bear the seal of the accredited program. It is possible to get your homeschool transcript accredited by an umbrella organization, but these tend to be very expensive. In the vast majority of cases, you do not need an accredited transcript for a college. But you do need an official one. An official transcript is one that is signed and dated, has complete information on it, and can be verified by your documentation and records if necessary.

The bottom line for homeschoolers is that it's a good idea to check with any potential colleges that the student is interested in to see what their requirements and procedures are. This way you can prepare the documents as you go along, rather than trying to scramble at the last minute to recreate the records. Colleges vary significantly as to what they want to see. Some just want a transcript; others want to see a portfolio and complete documentation, including sample tests and work. Some require a personal interview; others don't.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

6 — Will colleges accept homeschoolers?

Short Answer
Yes, almost every college has a procedure for processing homeschoolers. Each of the major military colleges, as well as the Ivy League colleges, recognize homeschooling. Some colleges are more open to homeschoolers, while others make it more difficult to get in. The requirements vary, so it's a good idea to research possible colleges ahead of time. Keep in mind that colleges want students (and their money), so they aren't likely to turn down students who have been adequately prepared.

Many colleges actively pursue homeschoolers, primarily because these students tend to be self-motivated, have developed a love for learning, and are goal-oriented. At the same time, a college has certain procedures and standards that must be met. That's why it's important to keep the necessary records so that you can document your student's program. It's not enough to say that the course was taken, and leave it at that.

The good reputation that homeschooling enjoys with colleges has taken time to develop. Homeschoolers had to prove themselves over the years, partly because it was a relatively unknown option, and partly because college administrators were part of the established educational community that didn't want to accept that parents could provide a quality education as well as professional, specialized educators. We have stood the test of time.

The extent to which we will continue to enjoy this positive reputation will depend on how diligently the homeschooling community pursues excellence. Homeschooling was not as easy to do in the past, so those who did it had to work hard at it. With so many resources now available and homeschooling being recognized as a viable alternative, more families are “testing the waters.” Many families are fleeing the public school systems and homeschooling, not because they believe in the idea of homeschooling, but because they see no other option. Unfortunately, some of these families do not have the time or heart to research, prepare, and administer their homeschool as completely as they should. It's possible that this may impact how colleges perceive applicants in the future.

Already we are seeing some colleges who will not accept a transcript unless it is through a certified or accepted program – however they define it, or even IF they define it. Some will automatically accept a homeschool student as long as the student achieves a certain score on the ACT or SAT that is higher than the minimum score required for entrance. The bottom line for homeschoolers is that we must be diligent to prepare our students for college.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

7 — What about graduation?

Short Answer
A graduation ceremony marks a rite of passage; it signifies that the student (and parents!) have persevered and completed the set goals. As such, it's a good idea to have some sort of celebration to mark the accomplishment. Many homeschool support groups have graduation ceremonies for their members. Otherwise, you can incorporate a ceremony as part of a graduation party with families and friends.

Whether your student is going on to college, starting a career, or moving out, graduation marks a significant milestone. Your child is now recognized as an adult. If the student is 18, he or she is now viewed as an independent person, and the parents do not automatically receive information concerning the student without the student's consent. That can be a big adjustment for some parents.

Likewise, students are now faced with making independent decisions. Sometimes these come fast and furious, and in the midst of new and unfamiliar settings. The changes can be overwhelming, particularly if the students aren't prepared. This is where character training, life skills training, and values/worldview training become so important.

Image Credit: © Scott Maxwell -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

8 — I know my student will need a transcript and probably a portfolio, but are there any other records or recommendations that should be completed if my student is going to college?

Short Answer
There are three major differences between college and high school:
  1. the amount and pace of reading is greater
  2. the amount of writing and discussion are greater
  3. the student is responsible for his or her own time management and decision-making
College-bound students need to be able to write well, be familiar with different forms of expository writing (e.g. essays, reaction papers), and be able to express ideas and opinions clearly and respectfully. Students should also keep a detailed reading log throughout high school (some colleges require these of homeschoolers). The student should be taught how to be organized (e.g. keep a planner) and how to allot time to various activities, including reading, long-term projects/papers, extracurricular activities, social time, physical exercise/health, and spiritual growth.

College marks a transition time for your student. Parents and family members are no longer directly involved in the student's day-to-day life. The student is faced with many new experiences, ways of thinking, lifestyles, opportunities, and decisions. How well your student responds to these challenges depends on his or her preparation. Beyond the obvious academic and life skill preparation, there is the ability to make right choices. Choices are based on our character, beliefs, values, assumptions, and views about life. These are often summarized into one term: worldview.

Your young adult will meet students and professors who have a different worldview. This is true even if your student is going to a Christian campus. Part of the transition for your student is recognizing that he or she is an independent person, both in terms of the logistics of life and spiritually. At some point, usually during or after puberty, children have to make their faith their own. They have to determine their own worldview. This often involves questioning what they believe. It's important that you provide your child the opportunity to do so in a guided, loving, and supportive environment BEFORE going to college.

There are also several good resources to help prepare the student for the types of encounters found on a college campus. (See Fish Out of Water from New Leaf Press and Own Your Faith from NavPress.) There are also a variety of worldview resources available, designed specifically for the homeschool setting. Homeschoolers often get so caught up in fulfilling academics requirements that they overlook this vital area. The value of homeschooling is the opportunity to not just educate our children, but train them and disciple them.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

9 — When do we start planning for college?

Short Answer
Ideally, the summer before high school. This is when the student and parents should develop a general approach to high school (e.g. college-bound, vocational training, career track) and make a tentative plan of the courses to be taken.

  • Freshman Year: develop study skills, practice time management, research college majors and requirements, research entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT, and perhaps do a career assessment; update reading list and transcript, review high school plan
  • Sophomore Year: take the practice tests for college entrance exams (PSAT or PACT), begin to narrow down your list of potential colleges (through websites and in person), explore career options; begin preparation for ACT/SAT; update reading list and transcript, review high school plan
  • Junior Year: master essay writing skills; finalize college list and explore in-depth, including entrance requirements, application procedures, and tests required; register, prepare for, and take the ACT/SAT (at least once, usually twice); investigate financial aid and scholarships, making a chart of deadlines for applications, apply for any scholarships that have early deadlines; develop personal resume; investigate internships, apprenticeships, and work-study programs for career options; update reading list and transcript; review high school plan
  • Senior Year: take ACT or SAT for final time; complete college applications, giving yourself plenty of time to write (and rewrite!) the necessary essays; complete federal financial aid forms (FAFSA), including income tax forms for both student and parents; apply for any remaining scholarships (both at the college and with independent organizations); complete internships, apprenticeships, and work-study programs; finalize career options; finalize reading list and transcript; award diploma
Image Credit: © Hillsdale College -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

10 — What are college entrance exams and how does my student take them?

Short Answer
Entrance exams are used to assess the student's ability to handle the challenges of college academics. Most colleges use either the ACT or SAT; generally, colleges on the eastern and western coasts prefer the SAT while colleges in the middle of the US prefer the ACT. Some colleges have developed their own entrance exams. So you need to check with any potential colleges to see what is required. The ACT and SAT are administered by the College Board, and you can register for them directly online. The student selects several test dates and locations, and is informed by the College Board as to which one is selected. Every test date has a registration deadline, so keep this in mind as well.

The ACT and SAT are standardized tests that are normed across the entire nation. They have different systems of scoring, so you will want to become familiar with them in order to properly evaluate the student's score. When you register for the test, you have the option of having scores reported directly to any colleges you select or having the scores sent directly to the student. However, when you apply to a specific college, you will need to have the results sent directly from the college board, and there is an extra fee for this if it is sent later.

You can take these tests as often as you wish, but generally it is best not to take them more than three times (at which point all the scores are averaged rather than just reporting the highest score). Students typically take a practice test for whichever test they will need for college. Then the test is taken at least once during the junior year (most students take the test in spring and again in the summer or early fall of the senior year). It's usually best to take the test again in your senior year to try for a higher score. Many academic scholarships are automatically awarded based solely on the ACT/SAT scores and grade point average.

Both the ACT and SAT cover the same basic topics – reading, comprehension, thinking skills, math, and science. Since most high school students are still taking the upper level math and science courses, it's helpful to take the test again after the first semester of your senior year to reflect your mastery of these subjects. Both tests also include a writing portion, although it is optional on the ACT. It is highly recommended that students complete the writing section. Some states incorporate one of these tests in their high school graduation tests, which are used for the state's merit scholarships. These tests are often taken earlier in the junior year, and you must register with the school system to take them.

It's also highly recommended that you spend some time preparing for the tests. Not in terms of studying for specific subjects, but learning how to take the tests. As with any tests, there are specific strategies you can use to tackle the test, isolate possible answers, and move through the test in the allotted time. There are a variety of resources available to help you, including sample tests, test prep manuals, tutors, and extensive (and expensive) prep programs.

The point of the entrance exam is to evaluate a student's ability to succeed in college. In the past, the two tests were quite different. The ACT focused on pure knowledge whereas the SAT focused on thinking skills. Over the years the tests have become more similar, but the distinctions are important when preparing for the tests. The SAT may no longer include the dreaded analogies, but it still puts more emphasis on thinking skills.

Image Credit: © Jason Stitt -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

11 — What about dual enrollment, CLEP tests, and AP tests?

Short Answer
These options enable students to accumulate credits toward graduation, and often toward college, in special ways. These options should be evaluated in light of the student's educational goals, the family's view of education, the potential colleges and possible majors, and the student's personal development. These special options are recorded on the student's transcript accordingly.

Dual enrollment is where a student takes a course that qualifies for both high school credit and college credit. Most community colleges offer dual enrollment, although they vary as to when the student can take the courses (at what age) and how much they cost. This option is particularly useful for courses that the family feels they cannot tackle adequately such as upper level math and science, foreign languages, or specialized courses.

There are two major issues when considering dual enrollment. The first is that many colleges restrict the number of credits that can be accepted (some as few as 4, others up to two years). Some do not accept credits for courses in the student's major, allowing credits for general education courses only. The second consideration is whether or not a community college environment is appropriate for your student. Even if your student seems mature, is this option the best way to prepare your child?

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. This is a testing program available through many colleges and institutions whereby students take a structured, standardized test to show knowledge in a particular subject. Students don't have to have taken a special course to take the test; if they feel they can study on their own and pass, they can qualify. Different subjects have different standards for a passing grade. The CLEP tests are proctored tests, meaning they are given at certified testing locations by certified administrators. You can find information and testing locations for the CLEP on the College Board website.

The same issues should be considered for “clepping out” as for dual enrollment. Not all colleges accept CLEP tests, and going this route may not be the best preparation for your student. However, the major advantage is cost; even though there is a fee for the CLEP test, it is cheaper than paying for college courses. The CLEP is popular among homeschoolers, particularly with families who have homeschooled through the student's entire academic life, because homeschooling tends to be more efficient. By the time students reach the high school level, they are farther along in their studies than their public school counterparts. The “dumbing down” of the American educational system, both at the high school and college level, means that many homeschoolers can pass the CLEP by just reviewing their high school courses. And since colleges seem intent on pricing themselves out of the market, it is a popular option.

AP stands for Advanced Placement. This is a program similar to the CLEP, but it is not as readily available to homeschoolers. There are specific classes that qualify as AP courses. This designation means that the student has mastered an advanced study program that enables the student to earn college credit or receive advance placement in their major (skipping more general, prerequisite courses). Colleges are more likely to accept AP courses than CLEP credits. However, the AP exam is more expensive and harder than the CLEP. Because homeschooling is now being recognized more widely as a viable option, the AP board is making the courses and test more available to homeschoolers. Some states even offer online courses. The primary issue in considering the AP option is the student's chosen college and field of study. Because of the intensity of the program, it is not recommended for many students.

There is some confusion between AP courses and Honors courses. That's because many public schools refer to their AP courses as honors courses. But not all honors courses are AP courses; AP courses have a specific design and mandate to them. The program must be a registered AP program in order to issue AP credits. Homeschoolers can still provide Honors courses for their students. To qualify as an honors course, the course of study should exceed the standard requirements. For example, if a student took a high school biology course in junior high and then takes an advanced biology course in high school, it should be designated as an honors course. Likewise, a student who reads a book a week in a literature class, as long as the book is at the high school or adult level, could list the course as an honors class.

You may also come across the acronym DANTES when researching these options. This is the equivalent of the CLEP program used by the branches of the military.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

12 — What does a college look for in an applicant?

Short Answer
Colleges look for students who have a solid academic track record, both in terms of the types of classes taken and the grades earned. They want to know that the student can manage college-level courses. They look for students who are well-rounded, who have a broad understanding of the world around them. So they want to see a variety of courses and activities on the transcript. They also want to see specialization – what inspires and motivates the student.

Colleges want students who will make them look good. Colleges are evaluated and ranked according to certain criteria such as how many students graduate, how long it takes for students to graduate, how many go on to advanced degrees, and how involved students get in the community. And, of course, grade-point-average.

The front side of the transcript should highlight the student's individual academic achievements. Colleges look for the full breadth of core courses, although a student doesn't have to follow the typical sequence. When they look at electives, they want to see if the student has branched out into unfamiliar areas, as well as pursuing obvious areas of interest.

The back side of the transcript should highlight what makes this student unique. How is this student any different from all the other college-bound students with good grade-point averages who took the same types of courses? What can this student contribute in terms of personality, interests, talents and leadership qualities to the college community? Is the student passionate about anything? Passion implies motivation and determination to make a difference and succeed.

Click here to return to the top of this page.

13 — What about the reading list? What books are recommended for college?

Short Answer
There is no set reading list for college. The number and types of books to be read depends on the student's overall academic program, goals, outside interests, job commitments, and potential college program. It's a good idea to read a variety of genres (types of literature) and read different authors from around the world.

Some colleges, as well as high schools, publish recommended lists online. You should look these over to get an idea of the types of books suggested. We have posted a suggested reading list on this website. You will find many of the “classics” on these lists. Classics are books that have stood the test of time because they are well-written, contain memorable characters, and have a plot that captures the attention or offers a poignant portrayal of life. You will also find contemporary writers that some believe will become classics, as well as those that reflect a particular mindset or worldview. Some lists highlight books that deal with current issues and trends in literature.

The English historian, G. M. Trevelyan, once wrote: “Education...has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” Christians are also advised to “redeem the time,” to be wise stewards of the time and resources we have. So it's important to carefully consider what your student should read.

This doesn't mean you should only read titles that fit your worldview. The high school years are a time to prepare your young adult to handle the challenges ahead, including interacting with many people who live life differently. A book may include elements you don't appreciate or be written by an author whose perspective and life do not offer a good role model. But one of the values of reading is to be able to glimpse life in different ways without having to experience it firsthand. Well-written literature can enable us to empathize with a character; empathy is not the same thing as acceptance. Literature is also a reflection of the society. Well-written literature can help us understand the world's mindset and better equip us to engage that mindset and influence it for God's glory.

As homeschoolers, we are often torn between sheltering our children from the world's destructive influences and preparing them to live in that world as self-sufficient, successful adults. The high school years can be a time where you can expose your student to these other life choices in a guided, directed manner, where they can be assured of seeing both sides of the issue. One example is the Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This classic displays the horrendous consequences of secular humanism. It portrays what happens when men are left to their own accord – in this case, a group of British schoolboys stranded on an island who attempt to govern themselves, with disastrous consequences. It can be a powerful illustration of the fact that ideas have consequences.

Another point to remember is that certain classics are often referred to in the media, in classroom discussions, and textbooks, and it is helpful to at least be familiar with the title. You will also want to include books of interest to the student, no matter what the genre. You want your student to develop a love for reading and a lifelong habit of reading, not only for information, but for enjoyment, too.

Image Credit: © Andrzej Tokarski -

Click here to return to the top of this page.

To view more commonly asked questions please 'Log In' and visit the 'Getting Started' page.

Thank You for Visiting Our Sponsors

About Us    Approaches    Archives    Ask An Expert    Audios    Character Matters    Choosing Curriculum    Contact Us    FAQ    Getting Started   
High School    Home Page    Keeping Focus    Legal Information    Links    News Items    Product Reviews    Record Keeping    Search   
Sponsoring Sites    Support Groups    Teaching Tips    Terms To Know    Videos    What Is Homeschooling
Disclaimer                                         Right of Editorial Approval                                         Privacy Policy
Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010© — The copyright of this website and the material on this website (including without limitation but not limited to the text,
computer code, artwork, photographs, images, music, audio material, video material and audio-visual material on this website) is owned by
[and its licensors] unless otherwise noted.
Contact the Webmaster