So you’re homeschooling your teen in high school . . . and you’ve got some questions about their future. Maybe you’re wondering, “How do I prepare my kid college?” or “How in the world do we choose a college out of so many options?”  or “How do I know which college a good fit for my grad?”

You can feel assured that colleges today view homeschoolers favorably, and you can confidently take steps to prepare your teen. And, you’re not alone—let’s walk through those steps together!

It all begins with starting early to develop a personalized college prep plan for your teen.

You can get your teen excited and engaged by approaching planning as a team—exploring their career interests, discussing course options, and penciling proposed courses into a four-year plan. (HSLDA members, here’s a blank four-year plan form you can download and fill in.)

And you might consider inviting your teen to go a little deeper with career interest testing and job shadowing opportunities. Gaining clarity about your student’s likely careers will help you together choose high school courses that best prepare them for college majors related to that career.

Of course, it helps to keep in mind that this overall four-year plan can be adjusted along the way if needed to meet course requirements for admission to specific colleges.

It’s also encouraging to know that taking the types of courses found on a college prep plan equips your student with much more than academic knowledge. These kinds of courses can help your teen develop the study skills, independent work ethic, research proficiency, and time management skills they’re going to need to succeed in college.

Here are three typical college prep course plans (with sample college plans attached near the bottom of this post):

Average—Usually a minimum of 24 credits

Strong—Approximately 26–28 credits, with higher-level math and science courses as well as additional social science, history, and foreign language courses

Rigorous—28 or more credits, with AP® (Advanced Placement) and dual-enrollment courses strongly recommended

The strength “rating” of your student’s high school program depends on the number of credits earned and the number of advanced courses taken, which include AP® (Advanced Placement) and dual-enrollment courses (whether taken at a local college or through a distance learning program). Advanced courses are a great way for your teen to demonstrate they are ready for college-level work.

Another way you can boost the strength of your teen’s high school program and its appeal to college admissions officers is by incorporating classes from outside sources and coursework that is evaluated by a non-parent or non-family member. As a bonus, outside instructors can be excellent sources for letters of recommendation often needed during the college admissions process.

Other benefits of taking outside classes include:

  • interactions within a group setting,
  • exposure to different teaching styles,
  • evaluation of grades by a third party,
  • development of note-taking skills,
  • deadline requirements for coursework,
  • college credit for dual-enrollment courses, and
  • development of time management skills.

Around 9th or 10th grade is a great time for your teen to take a deeper dive into reading good literature. By reading classics and other good books often, if not daily, your teen can significantly broaden their vocabulary.

And it’s never too early for your teen to participate in extracurricular activities (such as summer sports camps, leadership training, travel groups, etc.) that will interest colleges.

For all college prep programs, the senior year of high school should consist of a full course load that includes higher-level courses. Colleges consider the senior year a good indicator of the student’s college readiness, so it should be academically challenging.

Now you’ve got some helpful tools for the first step in preparing your teen for college!