Life-Planning During High School
Life-Planning During High School; the hardest part of this process is getting started. Respecting your teen’s input and independence is crucial. In the end, they will be responsible for their life, but we can resource and equip them for the journey. Creating an overall 4-year plan for high school is a great way to start. Of course, expect twists and turns along the way, but having a clear path, to begin with, will give you a simple guide that can be easily modified.
When talking about your child’s future, it’s very easy to share your own career story. It’s also easy to over plan for your child without letting them give input into their hopes and goals after graduation. On the other hand, a teen’s “I don’t know what I’m doing next” is a cry for structuring in the decision process. How do you give them this balance of independence and structure?
With your kids, come up with a list of things your student loves to do or study. Don’t edit as you brainstorm that defeats the purpose of brainstorming. The sky is the limit. The power and purpose of brainstorming is not to be practical; it’s to generate ideas.
Use a graphic organizer or a mind map, if that will be helpful to you. Get a big whiteboard and add to it over several days.
What are some great sources for brainstorming?
- What are your child’s favorite books, movies, and TV series? Many young kids are discovering interests based on T.V. shows. NCIS has generated an entire group of students fascinated by Forensic Science.
- What does your student do in their free time? My history loving, botany loving gardener, has been thinking about paleoethnobotany since our visit to Mt. Vernon.
- Youtube is an excellent source of recorded interviews of professionals explaining their careers and talking about how they got where they are at today. Check out our friend Alex Steele for inspiration on many levels.
- Research careers on the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Outlook Handbook. These websites allow you to look up specific job titles or find different jobs within a field and see how much education level, salary, career growth.
Do you have Career goals for your high-schooler?
- Take steps to help your high-schooler find a post-graduation plan: are they work, vo-tech or college/ university-bound, military, marriage, or entrepreneurs?
- Brainstorm and make a game of researching options
- Explore job -shadowing and volunteering. Kids may discover areas of interest they didn’t even know existed. They may also find that they dislike certain things. A friend of ours was totally sold on Forensic Science as a Career until they job shadowed at a Mortuary.
- Research Clubs, Activities, Camps in areas of interest to build skills and explore jobs.
- Think about Test Prep. Test scores can make or break scholarship and career opportunities.
Need more great tips on life planning for your home-school high school student? Our Orienteering Course
is specifically designed to help students take ownership for high school and beyond! Check out our other career planning posts
Accelerate Your Career as a Homeschool Student
Accelerate Your Career as a Homeschool Student, which might seem crazy as you are probably not thinking about your career seriously yet. You’re not alone.
Many teens push professional goals aside and just focus on getting through high school. Then college time hits and they’re left with just focusing on getting through college. After that? You guessed it. They just get through work, left wondering what they missed in high school and college.
Your professional life doesn’t have to be boring and life-sucking. In fact, it should be fun.
Want to accelerate your career? Start today to set yourself apart.
The coolest thing about these ideas is they don’t change depending on where you’re going to college or what your major is. They don’t change if you’re wanting to take a gap year or skip college, either.
I’ve linked these ideas to lots of outside resources so you can do some more research and follow the ideas wherever they lead you (because it’s no fun to follow anyone’s advice verbatim!)
- Teach yourself an instrument. (Don’t get a teacher. Learn it yourself.)
- Build a website. No one else has a personal website at your age! Document your high school experience and your projects there!
- Teach someone else a skill. What better way to pass on what you know?
- Learn a skill set that is uncommon today. Study something like blacksmithing or knitting.
- Blog every day for a month. See if it won’t change your writing skills.
- Do anything every day for a month. You’d be surprised at the skills you build by sticking to something for thirty days.
- Set your goals in 30-day segments. Want to learn something new? Build a 30-day project around that goal.
- Read x amount every single day. Instead of setting a huge goal of reading a certain amount of books, start small. Read 30 pages every day, or 20, or 10: whatever you feel you can handle. 20 pages per day is 140 pages per week. That’s a small book’s amount! Besides, once you get started reading, you’re more likely to keep going.
- Complete a short course that’s relevant to your career interests. Places like Udemy have great courses that can help you expand your mind and build new skills!
- Go to conferences. Meet up with other people that think like you. Challenge your mind to think outside the box. Build your network young!
- Volunteer. There are hundreds of ways you can give back to your community and invest in yourself at the same time!
- Get a part-time job. Nothing will give you better experience than working in the market and making money for it.
- Find a mentor. Do you have big goals or ideas? Find someone ahead of you in those goals and learn from them. Better yet, do some free work for them and show them how much their advice matters to you.
- Start a podcast. Want to share your ideas with the world? It’s not hard to get started podcasting! You’ll build public speaking and content creation skills to boot.
- Learn how to email well. This is a skill you’ll need in your career. Learn it now.
- Use social media to your advantage. It doesn’t take long to establish yourself as an expert in the things you’re interested in!
- Read Breaking Smart. This series of essays will change the way you think about technology and its future.
- Dive into things as soon as they interest you. When those big questions hit you, take advantage of them. Research until you are tired of the subject. Write a paper on what you learned.
- Ask for recommendations. Some of the best books I have read were recommended to me by colleagues and peers. Same goes for videos, podcasts, and many other forms of content.
- Get good at learning things from Google. In today’s world, the ability to quickly and seamlessly learn something new is an advantage. Cultivate this while you’re young!
- Learn something new every day. Above all, make the commitment to never stop growing! Don’t fall into the rut of checking boxes. Take control of your learning experience today!
Want more ideas on how to prepare your homeschooler for their future career? Check out some of True North Homeschool Academy’sother posts on career readiness today!
Hey, I’m Lolita, content strategist at Praxis and lifelong learner. I was homeschooled for most of my high school experience; I spent a lot of that time running a small business raising dogs. I’m a guinea pig of all the ideas I mentioned above. You can follow me on Quora, where I dive into writing answers for fun. Check out my Instagram, where I’ve challenged myself to do things like a streak of daily polaroids. I tweet sometimes here, and post about my work on Facebook here. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m always excited to talk about education, career success, and big ideas!
Why do you need homeschool academic advising?
As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor and teacher, all rolled into one.
It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschooling forums and message boards who state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career and they came out just fine. And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.
Time and Money
The average student in American is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.
Hacking High School for Future Success
The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:
- Time to explore new opportunities and options
- Time to prepare for a successful launch
When I am putting together our “school” for each school year I am thinking about academics. I am also thinking about extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids are developing and growing in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”), how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest, what kind of personality skills or traits that they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed.
(Need more great career advice for your homeschool student? Check out all our other great career readiness posts!)
Why hire someone when you can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?
So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done, don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students interests or callings because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like. They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.
That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.
I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who basically flunked most of last year’s courses. After digging a bit deeper I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish each year for more than one family; has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his Grandmas and neighbors driveways and walks) works full time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker), and has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash that he’d earned watching YouTube videos.
Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I was able to create a transcript for him that reflected the hard working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we were able to lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.
Similarly, I worked with a family earlier this year who has hopes of graduating from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that but he is also very interested in going into an art field, doing creative, free-lance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes. These classes were coupled along with developing an online presence, going to professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.
Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling
Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.
Whether you have a fast burner or struggling learner- We Can Help!
Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling to just keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students from around the world for many years- from profoundly gifted to disabled. Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges as well as Ivy League schools. Every student has a story and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!
Check out our Podcast on Soft Skills, Academic Advising, Orienteering Course.
Testing often gets a bad rap in the homeschooling world. Could it be that we are trying to create space for our kids to be free and expressive, without the constraints of externally imposed values?
I want to take a moment to advocate for testing our homeschoolers- especially as they begin looking at the big, “what are you going to do with your life” type of questions.
Testing could and may determine a lot of things for your kids, such as what career they are eligible for if they go into the military, what college or university they get accepted to, how much debt they take out for vocational training post high school, what graduate schools and internships they are eligible for and more. Furthermore, tests can indicate disabilities and allow parents and advisors to seek out services and that can enable students to succeed where they might otherwise fail, or get certifications and training that wouldn’t be possible for them without accommodations.
While test taking might seem like a way to pigeon hole our kids, in many ways, their future will be impacted by their ability to take tests well. Some kids are naturally good test takers; some are not.
A general high school test schedule might look like the following:
High School Testing – 10th Grade
PSAT -The PSAT is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year the top 1% of 11th grade PSAT takers become semi-finalists. This is also considered a PSAT prep test.
ACT/SAT Test Prep – These tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future success. Familiarity with each test and understanding test strategies (should you guess at questions to answer them or is it better to leave questions you aren’t sure about unanswered, etc.) will improve test scores, and many test-prep guides suggest doing at least three practice tests to ensure your best score.
The ACT – The ACT measures what a student already knows and will have learned throughout high school. Research indicates that 50% of those who re-take the ACT a second time improve their scores
The SAT – The SAT is a predictor of what the student is capable of. It deals with material that the student may not have learned in high school. There is no evidence that re-taking the SAT improves scores.
Students can take the ACT and SAT multiple times as long as they pay the exam fee.
High School Testing – 10th-12th Grade
AP Exams (Advanced Placement)- Colleges and Universities may or may not accept AP tests for credits/ Classes
CLEP exams (College Level Exam Placement) Students can begin taking CLEP exams as early as they want. CLEP tests scores can be “banked” for many years, but not all colleges and universities may accept CLEP tests for Credits/ classes.
High School Testing – 11th & 12th Grade
ACT – 11th & 12th
PSAT/ NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)– This test unlocks millions of dollars in scholarship money for qualifying students. Additionally, it can be a good indicator of how well students will perform on the SAT.
What about testing for military enlistment?
ASVAB Test – This test is given before joining the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This one is a skills discovery test.
What about testing for Community College?
What if your student has plans to go to the local Community College instead of college or military? Will they be required to take the ACT/ SAT? Probably not, unless they want to Dual Enroll as a high schooler, in which case, they may need to take a standardized test. Otherwise, a high school transcript or a GED should suffice.
Having a general idea of what your student wants to do after high school can help you determine what tests to take and what test schedule makes the most sense for you.
If you are still unsure about how to proceed, check out our Academic Advising Packages and Orienteering Course.
I love working with parents of tweens and teens to develop a Personalized Learning Plan for their Jr and Sr High School years. High School should be a time when students are considering and exploring opportunities, being exposed to possibilities, and honing their work ethic, academic and skill sets. During this time they should begin career exploration.
For many parents, it can be overwhelming to think about covering all the basis for High school, let alone start thinking about what comes next. But, when I am working with families during Academic Advising sessions, I always start with where the students/parents think the young adult will end up after high school. Will they go to college, go to work, go to an apprenticeship, a ministry or the military?
Answers to these career exploration questions will help determine the course students should take during high school.
For instance, if a student or parent is relatively certain that their student wants to go military enlisted right out of high school, and the sooner, the better, I would advise them differently than if they wanted to go to a Military Academy. Their high school programs will look a lot different, even though a rigorous Physical Education program would be recommended for both.
If a student thinks they want to go into a Creative Field, like Writing or Movie Production, I will advise them to begin building their online presence as soon as possible, with either a blog or a YouTube channel, along with opportunities and classes that will develop their skills, along with their Transcript.
They are hired for their hard skills and fired for their soft skills
Of course, not every student is going to know what they want to do “when they grow up.” The reality is that many of them are probably going to be doing a LOT of different things as the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out. Most young adults should expect to have over 14 jobs during their vocational life-time. This statistic indicates that young adults need training in the soft skills of adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and so much more! Focusing on life skills such is always a good idea; if your kids are flexible, good communicators and know how to learn, they’ll go far regardless of what career field they go into!
For Career Exploration, think in terms of Career Clusters
With the changing world, and having to prepare our kids for jobs that may not even exist, focusing on career clusters, rather than a specific career, is a more logical way to approach career exploration. The following are Career Clusters, as defined by the Bureau of Labor:
- Agriculture, food, and natural resources
• Architecture and construction
• Arts, audio/video technology, and communications
• Business management and administration
• Education and training
• Government and public administration
• Health science
• Hospitality and tourism
• Human services
• Information technology
• Law, public safety, corrections, and security
• Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
• Transportation, distribution, and logistics
Do you still need more career exploration? Try clubs, camps, jobs, and internships!
Exposing young adults to clubs, camps, jobs, and internships might spark an interest that takes them in crazy directions. Both of our sons have done internships for our State’s Family Heritage Council in the State Capital during Legislative Sessions. While this hasn’t led directly to a job, per se, it has exposed them to policy-making, lobbying, connections around the state, allowed them to rub shoulders with men and women with an incredible work ethic and led to other internships and opportunities. These kinds of opportunities also give our kids the confidence to do the next big thing.
Still need more help?
What if your student can’t decide on what’s next? Check out our Academic Advising program, where you’ll get help not only creating a Personalized Learning Plan for High School, but suggestions and curriculum for career exploration and development. Our Survive Homeschooling High school E-book, is full of resources to kick start what’s next brainstorming. We also offer an Orienteering course which will allow the student to take responsibility for their career exploration with plenty of surveys, brainstorming, discussion, practical tips, and more!