Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homeschoolers and College Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment (attending community college while still in high school) has become a very popular trend among many homeschool students. After all, the chance to reduce college costs is pretty attractive! There are some great benefits to this choice, but I've found that many parents are unaware of the potential pitfalls when their 16 or 17 year-old student participates in classes designed for older adults.
Our sons attended community college when they were 16 and 17, and one of the most surprising things we experienced was the abundance of pornography. There was pornographic material for sale in the student bookstore right next to the engineering books (because presumably engineers are males). One parent told me that her daughter signed up for an English class, and one of the pieces required for reading was pornographic in nature.
During one of our son's foreign language classes, they showed movies of unclothed people, in order to "experience the French culture". In their speech class, the class and the teacher were great, but another student in class gave a speech that was pornographic in nature. My children were trying hard to act cool, but as a parent, I was pretty mortified that I put them into that situation.
At a college fair I went to, a representative from one community college took me aside and told me to give a message to homeschoolers, that their children are sitting next to adjudicated adults - people who have just been released from prison and registered sex offenders. Community college is an adult environment. There is no way that adjudicated adults can be refused admission.
We were also astounded by the vulgar language. One of the calculus teachers would drop the F-bomb when he spoke all the time. I think he was trying to be cool and trying to fit in with the group. It's important to note that not all teachers do all of these things; we just found these to be true.
Community college is similar to a public high school atmosphere without the moderation that comes from being with other children. At community college you will see people smoking without being concerned that they're smoking, people swearing, etc. They bring this content into the classroom because they're all primarily grown adults; it's not a children's environment.
Students who are perfectionists tend to have more difficulty in community college. This is not an academic problem, because they can get an A with little effort. The problem comes when students transition from community college to a university. When they go on to university, all of the sudden much more effort is required to earn an A. When they realize they didn't get A's because they were a genius, depression can be the result.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons before you enroll your student in this environment; the costs just may not be worth it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Emergency Course Descriptions for Anxious Homeschool Parents

Some homeschool parents are really organized; they keep up with their high school course descriptions each year, so that when senior year arrives, they're ready to pop their student's comprehensive records into the mail with all those college applications, and sit back and wait for the scholarships to roll in. Then there's the typical homeschool parent, who just never seemed to get around to starting on those course descriptions...
If you find yourself sliding into that second category, now is the time to get caught up! Set aside just one weekend and you can pull together a pretty good comprehensive record in time for college application deadlines. Although this marathon approach is not the recommended way, here are a few helpful tips when you find yourself in a pinch and need course descriptions right away.
During this marathon weekend, take your transcript and expand it with as many details as you can from your memory, using any records you have, and adding as many details as you can. Even if you haven't kept records, you have kept some things. Perhaps you have receipts from your purchases which you can go through, and come up with as many details as possible of what you purchased.
If you keep a high school planning guide, which reflects each class your child takes each year, that will be a big help. If you start with the current year, that's usually the easiest to remember, and will encourage you to keep at it, all the way back to your child's freshman year.
There will be little things that you'll forget by doing it this way, because there is a lot to remember, but if you start with the current year, you'll remember that you did World History, which will probably prompt you to remember that you did American History last year, etc. List each curriculum or experience for each class on the planning guide, which is like a worksheet to help you fill out as many details as possible.
If you are completely unprepared for course descriptions and have no records of previous coursework, start by putting together a list of the classes you remember your student took. After you have that list, modify it into sentences, and if you can, change your sentences into paragraphs.
This is like having your child brainstorm ideas for an essay; take the list and just add some words in-between. Start with a writing prompt like "In this class, the student will utilize Saxon Algebra 1 practicing with 26 tests and 13 quizzes." Basically, just take what you've written in your list and write it into a whole sentence.
Cutting and pasting descriptions that others have already written will be a big help too. If your child is in a classroom situation, such as a co-op or an online course, you can use the description of that course in your own write-up. Do a Google search of the curriculum used, and edit it to reflect your student's experience.