Here’s how to help homeschool teens start the college search.
How to Help Homeschool Teens Start the College Search
In my many years of advising homeschool high schoolers, I have found that the college search is one of their big stressors. Teens and their parents sometimes don’t know where to start. Here are some tips on how to help homeschool teens start the college search.
The college search needs to start with some frank discussions. It is wise to be clear ahead of time. First off, parents should be on the same page about how much financial investment they can (and are willing) to make in their high school graduate’s college career. This varies widely in families, so make sure parents have a good financial chat before talking with their teen.
Next, teens rarely have any idea of the cost of college and they ways those costs get paid. It is wise to sit down with your teen and discuss the financial situation and expectations. It will help to visit some college websites together to get an idea of college costs in several institutions.
However, finances are not the only consideration when looking at colleges. Therefore, you can discuss together these topics.
Who is paying for what and how much?
Many people cannot rely on getting tons of Federal Aid or scholarships. The economy is different than in the past, so available funds are often tighter. Settle this clearly:
- How much are the parents able and willing to kick in?
- How much must the student bear?
- What is a realistic look at scholarships?
- What will that look like in paying back loans after college?
What is your homeschool high schooler’s college major interest?
If he or she is not certain, please do not waste thousands of dollars on college education before doing a solid Career Exploration course. In my years of advising homeschooling high schoolers, I often worked with teens who thought they had to go to college but had no idea what they really wanted to do.
- A few of them spent a few semesters at school, then decided that they felt more called to go into a trade, missions or the military.
- Several homeschool graduates changed majors several times because they went to college without being clear about their needs, goals and interests.
These experiences were the impetus for creating our Career Exploration textbook: It is based on the coaching I have been doing with homeschool teens for decades and learning their needs. Also download this freebie from VickiTillman Coaching to help the process.
With the finances understood, what are the options?
- Community college a best fit for the first two years? This is an amazing option for more and more families. The teens usually earn a two-year degree debt free (or with lower debt compared to the cost of a four-year institution). The makes the remaining two or more years much more affordable.
- State college often have special tuition rates or grants for local students. Is there a state college or university that looks like a good fit for your homeschool graduate?
- Would your homeschool high schooler prefer a Christian or private college? These schools have been common choices for many homeschool graduates over the years.
- Is your teen interested in the military? How about ROTC, one of the Academies, or (during high school) Civl Air Patrol? This is a good time to talk to a recruiter and get suggestions.
With the college options clear, do some online college searches for your college type with the major(s) of interest.
Look at each college’s description of their programs. Each college has a different personality, style or emphasis. Which ones look appealing or look like a best fit for your homeschool graduate’s goals and interests.
Also, talk about the kind of degree your teen desires (or is available in his or her chosen major). For instance some colleges offer BS and BA degrees in the sciences. Here’s a Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode that can help choose a type of degree.
Take some college tours. Talk to staff, students, teachers in the major(s) of interest. This is SO important. Don’t send your teen to a college he/she hasn’t visited!
Pray about it!
As 7Sister Kym always says: Pray first, last, always! You and your homeschool high school may plan your way, but you want to be available to God directing his/her paths.
Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode where we discuss college searches with Ann Karako.