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One of the most frequent questions parents ask us at OTA is about what classes your child should take during high school to be prepared and/or gain acceptance to college. Honestly, this is the hardest question to answer as every college expects different things and every state has different requirements.
I always tell parents the first step is to check their state’s high school graduation requirements. When you create your child’s high school transcript, you want it to look similar to other student’s transcripts from your states. These requirements can typically be found online.
Then, check the entrance requirements for the college that your child MIGHT be interested in attending. I know it is hard to anticipate this when your child is in 8th or 9th grade; however, you will have a decent idea if they are attending a state college, a state university, a private university, a university where your child is legacy or an Ivy League college. It is best to prepare for the most competitive anticipated situation. You can easily find this information on most college websites. In addition, have your child (not you – but the child – yes, you can proofread the email – but let them write it from THEIR email address) email the college stating they are a homeschooled student and might be applying to this university and have them ask what the university expects as high school requirements for admission.
When you create a transcript, be sure to use the wording that the college uses. For example, don’t call United States Government … Civics. Use the names for the classes that the colleges want to see.
It is encouraged that your child takes the most challenging schedule that THEY CAN BE SUCCESSFUL at. If your child can handle AP or IB classes and get As or Bs, they should take AP classes (and reach for that “A”). If your child can handle Honors classes, they should take honors classes. Colleges want to see what level they are at and can have success while being challenged.
Colleges are typically looking for four years of work with six classes every year. It is good to base everything off of 24 credits. One year of classwork equals one credit.
4 years of English
- This can be the traditional 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade English.
- This can be unique English classes like Intro to Literary Analysis, American Literature, British Literature and Lights! Camera! Action!
- This can be a blend of writing classes with literature classes of your choice.
- Remember, as the homeschooling parent you can take what your child has done, and write it up as English 9, English 10, English 11 and English 12.
3 years of Math
Many competitive colleges want 4 years, which should include:
- Algebra One
- Algebra Two & Trigonometry
- Multivariable Calculus
3 years of science
2 years should be laboratory science, with the third year being something fun and unique.
If you are applying to any STEM major, it is expected that you take four years of science and two of those years should be AP level of Biology, Chemistry and/or Physics.
3 years of history and/or social sciences.
It is typically expected that you take:
- United States History
- World History or Geography
- United States Government (half a year)
And an extra half of year in some other social science area, such as:
- Comparative Religions
- Current Events
- Sociology, etc.
2 years of Foreign Language
Many colleges want three years – be careful with ASL because not every college “accepts” this as a foreign language.
1 year of a technology-based class
1 year of an art-based class
What I listed above (without the extra year) is 17 credits. This means that you will need seven more credits. Personally, as a teacher, college coach and a parent of a college graduate, I would encourage your child’s transcript to look like:
- 4 years of English
- 4 years of Math
- 4 years of Science (but one year can be a fun experimental, unique science)
- 4 years of History (again, one year can be a fun experimental, unique social science)
- 3 years of foreign language
- 2 years of technology-based classes
- 1 years of art-based classes
- 2 year of something completely student’s choice
Today, college is competitive. You might as well have your best foot forward!
Eva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.