On the first day, God created light and it was good. On the second day, God created the heavens between the separated waters, and together the light and the heavens were good. He continued with each day’s creation being deemed good until the sixth day. On the sixth day, God created land animals and then man, male and female, in His image, to rule over all of creation. All of His creation was very good.
Being created in the image of our creating God, it is inherent in us to desire to make good things into more good things, and more good things into very good things. This is why no parents will ever raise up their children with the goal of making them worse than they were themselves. If our life is good, then we want our children’s lives to be very good. We work hard to provide a very good life for them; we make decisions about their education that will empower them to provide very good lives for themselves as they reach adulthood.
When our children were young, we made the hard decision to move from good to very good and homeschool them following the classical, Christian model—and for many of us, using Classical Conversations. Now, as they mature, we have to make another hard decision. How do we choose what is very good for our child at the high school level?
Do we continue with Classical Conversations or do we join the status quo and enroll our homeschooled children into government schools because they appear to offer more opportunities such as sports, extracurricular activities, and accredited academic records? We face this decision because we know college looms ahead. How will my homeschooler get accepted into a very good college without sports, accredited academic records, and a résumé replete with extracurricular activities and clubs?
Public universities, Ivy League schools and service academies all love homeschoolers
Whether your definition of a very good college is one that is better because of its sports or academics, or whether it is public, private, Ivy League, or a military academy, admissions departments at major colleges are now familiar and comfortable with applicants who have been homeschooled.
Consider the University of Notre Dame, a private school known for both its academics and its sports. On the evaluation criteria page of their Office of Undergraduate Admissions site, they specifically address the requirements for homeschooled applicants because homeschooled students regularly apply—and are regularly accepted—to attend there.
If you are considering a college known especially for its academics, MIT, for example, you will find the same thing. On their admissions site, they have an entire web page addressed specifically to homeschooled applicants, starting with “MIT has a long history of admitting homeschooled students, and these students are successful and vibrant members of our community.”
Perhaps you want your child to attend an Ivy League school. Princeton offers a Tips for Home Schooled Students web page to prepare your child for applying to its undergraduate program. Additionally, on their FAQs page, they highlight that the 2002 valedictorian was a homeschooled student.
Some parents want their child to attend their favorite state university. There is no state university that has not accepted homeschooled students. We all know of one example, Tim Tebow, former Heisman-winning quarterback from the University of Florida.
A service academy may be the route for those planning a future in the U.S. military. The Naval Academy’s admission site includes a page to instruct homeschooled applicants. Like some others, it also emphasizes the fact that “there are no additional requirements for homeschoolers.”
Classical Conversations makes high school transcripts easy
As we consider the possibilities of higher education for our children, we notice that colleges and universities require transcripts to evaluate each potential student. What records, grades, or statistics will we provide to a college on behalf of our homeschooled children? This concern may prompt the thought, “Maybe I should put my child into a government school so he will have acceptable transcripts and report cards.” This is a false dilemma we have put ourselves in.
We are not forced to choose between no transcripts from the home school and transcripts from the government school. Classical Conversations provides two means by which you can create professional, credible academic transcripts for your homeschooled student. One of these is Janice Campbell’s Transcripts Made Easy. This book clearly explains the how and why of high school transcripts. It tells you exactly what to put on the transcript, from how to calculate credits and grade point averages, to recording credit-by-exam and dual credit classes. It also teaches you how to create a high school diploma and comes with free e-mail support from the author.
As a second option, Classical Conversations offers its AcademicRecords.net transcript service. On this site, you simply put in your child’s academic information and the site creates transcripts for you. The record keeping service is free; you pay only $15 per student when you need printed transcripts and documents. This $15 fee provides unlimited access to your student transcripts and documents for one year. Having professional transcripts does not require attendance at a government school, but it does require a little bit of work and record keeping on your part as a homeschooling parent.
Homeschoolers win with extracurricular activities
Of course, college acceptance boards want to see more than just good transcripts; they want to see a well-rounded student who is involved in extracurricular activities. Here again, it would be a false dilemma to think the best way for your child to get involved is to attend a government school. With a little effort and research, you can find several very good opportunities and activities for your child.
The Naval Academy page for homeschoolers lists activities such as leadership in church youth group, Junior Achievement, scouting organizations, and/or local band, orchestra, or theatrical productions. Many communities have these activities and more: Habitat for Humanity volunteer work, soup kitchens, pregnancy centers, and animal shelters. Additionally, websites like www.meetup.com open the doors to political clubs, chess clubs, art clubs, book clubs, cooking clubs, and others. Many of these activity opportunities are absolutely free and life-enriching!
Check your motivations for seeking athletic scholarships
The last concern parents might have for considering a move to government schools is sports. We have already established that we want our children to grow from good to very good, and that we desire for our children to grow strong, healthy, well-exercised minds and bodies. It would be damaging to a child to pit their mental health against their physical health. After all, God created us with minds and bodies, not as ethereal spirits floating through nothingness.
The question that needs to be asked is, “What is the motivation for enrolling a child in a government school for sports?” What should be obvious to us (and least-likely to be the reason) is that we have made sports an idol. Hopefully, God-fearing Christians recognize the potential for idolatry and vehemently refuse to succumb to it.
Another motivation is that we think sports will provide a free trip to college through athletic scholarships. If so, according to a CBS Moneywatch.com report, “Playing for a Scholarship,” only 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded either a full or a partial scholarship. The average athletic scholarship is $8,000-10,000 a year, often only a quarter of the year’s tuition. That number is often closer to $2,000 a year.
The same report also clarifies an often misunderstood or unknown fact about athletic scholarships: the NCAA dictates not only how many scholarships a school can award, but how much it can award. So the fact that one school is bigger and wealthier than another actually does nothing to increase the number or value of its athletic scholarships. The report’s author warns that unless your child is one of the top five best athletes in your state for the position he or she plays; your child is not likely to get a scholarship to an NCAA Division I or II school.
Hopefully, your interest in a sports program for your child is for the real reason it should be: to develop their bodily health alongside their mental and spiritual health. If this is the case, then we are again facing a false dilemma. Athletics are not limited to none in the home school or some in the government school. Many communities offer community-level sports and/or private leagues. Some parents have hired or bartered for coaches to train their children. Are you a piano instructor who knows an archer? Trade some piano lessons to the archer’s child for some archery lessons for your own.
An internet search for “Christian sports league” or “homeschool sports league” returns almost 6 million results. Go back to www.meetup.com; there are sure to be clubs with a physical fitness focus. As homeschoolers, we are famous for thinking outside of the box! The sports your child is involved with can be baseball, football, or basketball, but they do not have to be—there are all kinds of activities in which you can involve him or her!
A little research and good record-keeping will ease transition to high school and college
This much is true: there are hard decisions we have to make in life. If you have not reached this point yet, be aware that these questions are coming and prepare your family early with good record keeping and preliminary research about your high school options. However, if you have come this far, do not make a leap like this without considering all of your options. You have done the hard work of homeschooling your child this far. Do just a little more as you research and think of ways your child can have a professional-looking transcript, a résumé full of extracurricular activities, and a healthy body to accompany his or her healthy mind and soul.
Remember, your commitment and passion to cultivate the good into the very good will do just that.
Originally posted by Matt Bianco on Thursday, 31 March, 2011