Transitioning from Homeschool to College
by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
We all homeschool differently. We all choose curriculum our own way. But if we want our kids to be successful in their college experience, we need to give some thought to that transition. The high school years are the perfect time to introduce some skills that will ease the transition and help your child with the expectations that college professors will have.
First, make sure your child has a solid background in the advanced sciences and math. At least through Algebra II, if not Calculus. Biology, Chemistry and Physics. College level courses will be that much harder without a solid foundation here. If this feels beyond your homeschooling capabilities, you have other options. Great Courses (The Teaching Company) offers DVD classes that can be done at home. You can consider a tutor for these subjects or outside classes in your community (homeschool co-ops or parttime enrollment in your school district just for those classes). Even Netflix has some course work available and I’m sure Youtube does, too.
Practice with timed tests. College courses come with tests, and these will have some kind of time limit on them. 60 minutes, 90 minutes. Whatever the time frame, set the microwave timer (or smart phone timer) and give your students a test on the material you have covered. This needs to be done a few times a year in multiple subjects. You don’t want your student to panic the first time they sit down to a timed test for a college class. I’m not talking about ACT or SAT testing or the various annual standardized tests. This is your average run of the mill test on the unit you’ve been studying. Some multiple choice, fill in the blank and short answer stuff that you make up.
Writing college papers. Here I yield to the expertise of IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing). Their advanced writing course covers advanced note taking, writing a persuasive paper and writing a college paper. Buy the DVD set ($69) and use it with your student in 9th grade and again in 10th grade. Then use it again for your next kiddo when they reach 9th grade and repeat in 10th. You’ll get your money’s worth and your child will be ready for the college papers ahead.
And finally, time management. Every kid that goes off to college struggles with this. Multiple courses with varying deadlines and projects- it’s a lot to keep track of. Here’s my best advice. Teach your child how to pick out a good planner. One with plenty of space on each date, one that shows a week at a time when you open it up. Take each syllabus handed out during that first week of classes and transfer the dates to your planner. You can use different colored ink or colored pencils to denote each class or whatever works for you. Now, every date that has a BIG project due or exam scheduled, circle the date in the color denoting that class. Then flip back to a week before that date and write a note to yourself “big project due in one week” or “paper due in Psych 101 in one week”. Now flip back an additional week and write another reminder like “2 week count down- Psych paper” or “2wk count down – Physics test”. This will keep those big deadlines from sneaking up on you. And with all of your info conveniently on one planner, you just have one place to look to orient yourself and stay on track. Continue to write other assignments and team meetings in your planner as they come up and give yourself warnings well in advance if you have prep work to do for such commitments. You can check things off as you complete them. With the planner strategy, you’ll also be able to see which weeks seem particularly loaded, and you can start some work in advance to ease the burden on those big weeks. You’ll be a pro at this in no time!
One tip we came up with as my high schoolers tackled their first college courses: When a class assigns what feels like a large reading assignment, don’t procrastinate and end up reading 3 chapters of Chemistry all the night before the test. Check how many PAGES have been assigned and divide that up by how many days you have to get it done. Reading 6 pages of Chemistry each evening is much more manageable than 3 chapters all at once.
Lay the ground work for tackling the big assignments and the smaller ones will fall into place. You can have your child work on these skills and strategies with any outside classes they take during the high school years, or structure your home classes for some practice with this. College won’t feel so overwhelming with some solid skills under the belt.