Will Homeschooling High School Put My Child At A Disadvantage?

When we started homeschooling a decade ago, I thought that homeschooling high school would be out of the question. I truly believed that it would put my boys at a disadvantage.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Last week, my son received his first acceptance letter to one of the four year colleges he applied to.

He was not only accepted, but offered a full scholarship. As in all of it, paid for (what?).

According to the letter, this award was based on his academic achievement and “demonstrated love of learning.” (Thank you, enrollment counselor for that little tidbit. It was like the homeschooling mom equivalent of a trophy.)

Homeschooling High School

The Truth About Homeschooling High School

Here’s what floors me.

I never intended for my child to even consider a four year option. I certainly didn’t require it or set it as any sort of standard in our home. He did this, entirely on his own.

Thinking back to those first years homeschooling and even the years as we headed into high school, I thought that I was trading the prospect of college for what I knew to be the right approach (most of the time) to his education. What I didn’t anticipate was that it was the right approach to getting him into college as well.

Homeschooling High School

What Homeschooling High School Is Really Like

For us, the homeschool high school years look an awful lot like the homeschool elementary and homeschool middle school years.

We still spent most of our learning time in areas of strength and interest. We still did a ton of hands-on activities and learning.

It still felt like I was missing something and, likely failing, all the time.

What was most different was when it was time to create a transcript for him. At first, I panicked.

But after reviewing the high school requirements for graduation in my state, I was actually relieved.

Although his learning may not have looked like a traditional school classroom, it did meet the basic requirements. In fact, because he is such an avid fan of building his own computers and guitars and reads books on World War Two in his spare time, his transcript depicted an overachiever – not the barely scraping by homeschooler I worried he might be.

Homeschooling High School

Will Homeschooling High School Put My Child At A Disadvantage?

I used to ask this of every mom, further down the homeschooling road, I could find.

Eventually I stopped asking, not because I stopped worrying, but because I assumed it was too late. We were already actively homeschooling high school.

It felt like it just happened.

One minute he was watching Liberty Kids for 3rd grade history. The next he was writing a college essay about how critical it is that we study history to inform our present and our future.

Homeschooling High School

High School Homeschool: A Look Back

Please know, I am not sharing this to any way brag or insinuate that we somehow won the homeschool race. The truth is, I would be just as proud and happy if he decided to work part-time at the guitar store for a while.

I am sharing this today for a few reasons.

The first is the fact that many of you have been following my son’s journey all along. You have read about his struggles, his successes, and everything in between for years.

I want you to know how the K-12 journey is ending for this one. I want you to know that it worked out.

I am also sharing it because I know that high school is a kind-of scary topic for homeschoolers to navigate.

I have shared this story before, but I think it bears repeating here.

When my oldest was in sixth grade, in the middle of a gynecological exam, my doctor asked me, “I know you homeschool now, but you won’t do that for high school, right? How will he ever get into college?”

Mid-lady parts exam. Seriously.

I would love to encourage the mom I was back then, who instantly felt a mixture of anger, shame, and worry,

I would love to say this to myself on that day. I can’t, so I am saying to you instead.

Your child will not be at disadvantage because of you homeschool high school. In fact, it just might be the “demonstrated love of learning,” fostered through the years of homeschooling, that gives him the advantage (and the scholarship – thank you Jesus, because I was so sure he wouldn’t go, I didn’t think I needed to save for college!).

Help For Homeschooling High School

Curious about how to create a high school transcript for your homeschooler?

The first place to start is with your state requirements for graduation.

Next, take a look at the various traditional course requirements. If you are an interest-led, more flexible homeschooler like me, you may need to get creative in “fitting” your high schoolers learning into “course requirements and descriptions.”

Homeschool High School Courses For Strength Based and Interest-Led Learning

Not to worry! You can find a list of Sample High School Courses For Interest-Led and Strength Based learning HERE. There’s even a downloadable copy to take with you as you plan your high school homeschool.

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  1. Shawna, I have followed you and your family’s journey for years. My family is a lot like yours in many ways. Your writing has encouraged me so many times, and it has meant so much to hear your insights and to feel less alone in what my family has faced. I am so very happy for your son! I almost cried reading this. My daughter is starting with community college in the fall, but there were times that I wouldn’t have dared to look this far ahead at all, much less think about college. Thank you for sharing your (very familiar) story with the community you have built.

    1. Julie! Your words bring tears to my eyes.
      I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement and support (all these years!). And congrats on your college journey as well. Whatever happens, I am so grateful to have this community to allow us to figure it out together.

  2. Brett Spore says:

    Thank you for sharing this great news and encouragement. We are eclectic interest led learners in our home and I was just researching how to do a transcript when you’re an unschool family in our state. I was encouraged there as well. Between the two places of encouragement I feel a lot better about our high school years. We are still a few years from starting high school and things may change before we get there. At least I have this encouragement that I know our son is self led and loves to learn. Thanks again for sharing your life!

    1. I am so glad you are feeling good heading into high school. It really has been such a gift for us. You know I wish you the same!

  3. Congratulations!! Thank you for so freely sharing your journey, as this is great encouragement to my family. Can’t wait to see what your boy does going forward!

    1. Me too! Thank you for being here and sharing in our lives.

  4. Shawna, I agree! My oldest was able to take courses in robotics as a homeschooler that he would not have been able to as a traditional student. He finished an associates in robotics in high school (except two English classes but then late transferred those back) and now in May will have a BS in mechanical engineering. Then in August he will be doing graduate school at Virginia Tech studying mechanical engineering and specializing in robotics! We are relaxed homeschoolers and I feel that by being relaxed, my son did not burn out so much in college. Now son number 2 is about to go to four year college where his brother went and hopes to study computer science, their BS/MS five year program. He also had time to explore different areas and also take it easy in his teen years. As he got closer to finishing his high school years, he decided it was time for him to get more serious and he has done wonderfully taking classes at our local branch campus.

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