The Undecided Student

The Undecided Student

Many people use the terms work, job, career, and vocation interchangeably. While it’s true that each involves working and a wage, having a career and vocation means more than just a paycheck. They describe a type of work where your passion, purpose, skills, and the marketplace collide. In the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

While some students seem destined for a particular vocation at an early age, it is common for today’s students to near high school graduation without a plan. Parents can encourage informed early-career-direction decisions. It starts with helping teens identify who God made them be, then supporting them as they explore occupations, and finally, helping them to develop goals and create an action plan. By partnering with and encouraging them in this important decision, they can then graduate from high school with a vision for their future.

Help an Undecided Student Build Identity

Nothing is more foundational than being rooted in Christ. Assisting teens in forging strong, positive identities is one way to help them form convictions based on truth, and then stand firm in them regardless of what everyone else does. Google “Who I am in Christ.” Print and review as a family. Emphasize that work is part of God’s plan and that He designed them for a purpose.

Be generous with your praise, affirming skills and natural abilities you have observed.

Ask questions that help identify likes and dislikes and what is important: What kinds of interactions energize you or drain ​​you? Do you like to work with facts and data, or do you prefer people-oriented activities? Do your decisions tend to be objective and logic-based, or are your decisions based on how they may impact others? Do you like to talk out your ideas, or do you prefer time alone to make decisions?

Encourage busy teens to enjoy downtime, which can strengthen their creativity and problem-solving skills. Schedule time to pursue hobbies and to invest in electives, sports, and other team activities that build skills and reveal interests.

Explore Career Options

A better motto than “You can be anything you want to be” is “Be all you can be!

Researching careers online will help teens better understand occupational profiles that match their interests and personalities. Set a goal for how many careers to research. Information should include primary duties, the education or skills needed for working in that field, work environment, and median wage. Discuss the findings. Check out

Utilizing a career assessment tool at about the age of 16 may further identify vocations that match God-given interests. Informal assessments are readily available on the web. These are self-interpreted and can lack reliability so are best used to generate discussion. Fee-based or formal assessments are more comprehensive and statistically validated. A trained career counselor can interpret the results to identify best-fit careers and college options. Look for a comprehensive assessment that covers the four components of vocational design: personality, interests, skills and abilities, and values. Check out

Good career planning includes building curiosity and excitement toward participating in the marketplace. Use your networks to make introductions to people in occupations that interest them and match their vocational design. Thinking about a career sector rather than a specific occupation will generate a bigger list of options that match their interests. Encourage them to prepare a list of questions by Googling “informational interview.” Practice interview skills to improve their confidence level.

Take advantage of the flexible schedule of homeschooling. Facilitate opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through part-time work, volunteering, and job shadowing. This will help confirm interests as well as build a resume with skills that employer value.

(Need more great career ideas? Check out our posts on Career Readiness & Career Exploration.)

Set Goals and Take Action

By integrating the gathered information and identifying the education, training, and skills needed for the career sectors, plans and goals can be determined. Don’t worry about choosing one specific occupation at this stage. Goals can be categorized into one of these five pathways: four-year STEM-related college degree; four-year liberal arts college degree; two-year vocational degree or certificate; apprenticeship training, military, or workforce; and gap year or travel.

Teens who have a healthy and productive level of guidance and support from their parents have a much better chance of making good college and career choices. Here are some questions to think about: Which post-secondary institutions offer the programs needed? What is the cost for completion? How will it be funded? Can affordable or free college credits be earned in high school? What are the prerequisites or admission requirements? What courses should be completed during high school? Besides education, what experiences or skills would be valued? Together, you can develop a plan for high school, aligning them to support post-graduation goals.

Many students are more motivated in their studies when they have a defined purpose and have set personal goals. Those who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them. Work to break down their goals into specific, manageable tasks with timelines for completion. Change is constant, so capitalize on preparations for success after high school, no matter what they choose to pursue.

Need help preparing your student for their career path?  Check out our Academic Advising Program at True North Homeschool Academy and sign up for our Orienteering Course, offered fall of 2019!


©2019 Cheri Frame

Cheri Frame is a homeschool parent of three graduates, a certified Career Direct® Consultant, and author of Credits Before College: A Comprehensive High School to Graduation Guide. She specializes in advising parents and students on how to earn affordable college credits in high school, choose a career, and graduate college debt free. Cheri and her husband live in suburban Minneapolis.

Has Your Homeschooler Considered a Tech Apprenticeship?

Has Your Homeschooler Considered a Tech Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an old concept. For years, it was common for young children to learn a trade by working for free (or very little pay) as they learned from a master of a trade. Blacksmiths, carpenters, and sailors are several examples of jobs that were built through apprenticeship.

The concept is phenomenal. Become a master of something while creating value for the individual or business who is teaching you.

Today, apprenticeship is viewed as a great avenue for building skill in blue-collar jobs. But the idea can (and should) easily be expanded to the world of technology!

So what exactly is a Tech Apprenticeship?

In a tech apprenticeship, a startup agrees to pay an entry-level employee a certain amount in exchange for guidance and the chance to learn by completing projects. Apprentices have the advantage of creating real market value while building priceless skills that they can take anywhere in their careers.

Who should complete a tech apprenticeship?

You’d love a tech apprenticeship if you:

  • Are interested in sales
  • Are interested in marketing
  • Have some experience coding and would like to learn more
  • Want to build a business someday
  • Want to study business
  • Love spreadsheets and data
  • Don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do for your career
  • Want a fast-paced learning environment with mentors and a challenge

If you fit any of these categories, you would be a great candidate for completing an apprenticeship.

But what if…

“Do I have to learn to code first?”

Startups aren’t just for coders. Every tech company needs a marketing and sales team, someone to make sure the business runs smoothly, write blog posts, design graphics, and the list goes on and on.

Even if you’re at an entry-level role in a tech company without any coding knowledge, you can impact the company in numerous ways! It’s also the prime place to teach yourself a skill like coding because there are always REAL projects that you can complete for the company to show your progress!

“But most companies require degrees.”

Tech startups are on the leading edge of realizing that the degree is not a strong signal. Companies like Google and IBM have dropped their degree requirements within the last 5 years.

Learn how to show your skills. All employers want is to know you can create more value than you cost. If you prove that, they’ll hire you. Here’s how to do that.

“What if I’m not cut out for a tech apprenticeship?”

Do you have motivation? Are you excited about learning? Does the thought of a challenge make you set your jaw and get to work? Are you willing to stick to a problem until you solve it? Do you have a base level of communication and people skills?

Then you’re qualified. What companies are looking for are motivated learners that will grow quickly and embrace the company vision. You don’t need any traditional qualifications- just grit, determination, and a lot of hustle.

Why should anyone consider a tech apprenticeship?

1. “Software is eating the world.” –Breaking Smart

Technology is advancing faster than ever before.

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.


At that rate, anything that takes you 4 years to learn will be virtually obsolete before you graduate.

Let that sink in.

Tech startups, on the other hand, are on the front lines of the information advancement. There’s no reason to spend 4 years of your life and thousands of dollars on information when you can experience it while you work and learn!

2. College is deteriorating.

While many people are realizing that college is not as useful as it once was, others still resort to it as the “safe route” for the general population of young people.

But the cost of college is rising even as information advances. According to Forbes, the price of college is increasing almost 8 times faster than wages. USA Today reports that the cost of tuition to private universities has increased $7000 per year in the last 5 years alone!

The average student owes $37,172 in student loan debt. The total debt among US students now equals $1.5 trillion.

But those numbers don’t compare to the 4 years you’ll be sacrificing. That’s 48 months’ worth of cool projects you could work on. During that time, you could read 208 books of your choice (if you read one each week). That’s 1460 days and 35,040 hours that you’re giving to a money-sucking beast.

Sure, if you absolutely could not get a good job without college, these numbers could maybe, possibly have some merit. But hundreds of people are proving otherwise. Check out this job application that requires a creative Instagram post. Or this girl who got hired at Spotify by creating a landing page showing her love for music. Or this guy who assessed a startup company’s marketing funnel and sent them a video with his suggestions for how he could create value for them in a marketing role.

How can someone land a tech apprenticeship?

There are two options:

1).  Get your own apprenticeship. Here are some resources if that’s the route you want to take:

How to Get Any Job You Want

Throw Your Resume Away: Simple Steps to Building an Effective Value Proposition

You Need a Value Proposition

2).  Have a third party connect you with an apprenticeship. Here are some examples of companies and organizations that do just that:

College Alternatives: 2018’s Top Examples

Apprenticeship has been around for years. But it’s making a new comeback as technology advances. It’s the ultimate educational opportunity for anyone who is excited to forge their own path in life.

Are you interested in more career options for your homeschooler?  Check out our Self-Paced Career Exploration Courses!

Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who loves education. She is a Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis, where she works with other young people to help them build careers they love through apprenticeships. She originally published this piece here on the Praxis blog. In her spare time she is learning as much about the world as possible. Her latest interests are French and the ukulele. Interested in an apprenticeship or just want to chat about this idea? She would love to hear your thoughts! Her email is lolita(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com.


Is Your Homeschooler Prepared for High School?

Is Your Homeschooler Prepared for High School?

(The post may contain affiliate links.)

Ever wondered if your homeschooler is prepared for high school?  When your homeschooler is about to enter high school you may question a few things:

  1. Where did the time go?
  2. How will you get everything “done” before they graduate?
  3. Will they be accepted to _______ (insert college, votech school, adulthood)?
  4. Will they be successful?

Yep, everything’s getting real.

How can your homeschooler be prepared for high school success? There is so much to think about and so much curriculum to wade through. Not to mention that perhaps you feel like you have to give up the delight directed or unit study approach you took to homeschooling in the elementary and junior high years.  Today I will make it easy for you.  Here are some skills your student needs to be prepared for high school.

Writing and Presentation Skills

Regardless of what your child ends up doing vocationally, they will be required to do some type of writing and or presentation skills. Before your student gets to high school, they should be able to write a complete and well thought out sentence, paragraph, and 5 paragraph essay. If not, now is the time to really focus on these skills.

Can your student stand up and do a simple 1-2 minute presentation on a subject of their choice? If not, now is the time to find opportunities for them to do so. (Be sure to check out our Speech and Debate Clubs to help with these skills.)

Simple Computation

Honing students math skills in junior high is imperative if they are going to succeed at high school level math. Students should easily be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide, manipulate simple fractions, decimals and percent’s, calculate basic grocery story math such as making change and calculating a tip. Deductive reasoning and simple logic should be manifesting themselves in how your kiddos engage and interact with you and the world.

Health and Wellness

Health and wellness skills are necessary for a student to be prepared for high school.  Students should be taking responsibility for basic self-care as well as health and fitness. Engaging in sports or working out should be a regular part of their lives. Kids worn out by hard physical exertion are also less likely to argue and bicker and most people enjoy a challenge. (Check out the Goldilocks Principle to learn more.)

Wholesome Pleasures

We live in a world where pleasure and ease abound. Teaching our kids to discern between good and right activities and entertainment and what is not can save them from heartache, addiction, and more.  Teach them to protect themselves with internet and phone filters, having good definitions of wholesome and life-damaging, and being humble enough to have accountability. Helping them find a tribe and a purpose as they enter high school will take a lot of pressure off of them.

We live in a digital world. Your kids need to know some basics like how to keyboard, make their way around google docs, send email and netiquette. Learning simple programming will open options they wouldn’t otherwise have. Also, understanding how to present themselves online as well as protect themselves online will help them navigate online opportunities and challenges more successfully.


Science is all about observing and viewing the world with wonder and awe. Having a clear understanding of the scientific method, how to really study something well, revealing in the marvel and joy of creation- these are all cultivated skills that will hold students in good stead as they face high school and beyond. In a time when cultivated disinterest seems to be a norm, being intrigued not only cultivates awareness, but also gratitude.

Having a clear sense of history by the time one enters high school is a great gift to the student. It orients them to time and space, gives them a clear understanding of other cultures. It can also save them from the academic sin of anachronism, as well as helping them begin to develop empathy and compassion for cultures, people, and places that are not their own. (Check out our Claritas & More program.).

Bible and Theology

Having a clear sense of who one is and who they are in relation to a living God is a gift. Building on basic Bible stories, delving into Apologetic and Church History gives kids an even deeper sense of who they are, their place in the world, and God’s sovereignty.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are another way to ensure your homeschooler is prepared for high school.  These are things like manners, executive functioning, problem-solving, time and distraction management. Skills that are not easily measured but will allow your kiddo to survive and thrive in the world, despite their vocation or position in life.

Be sure to check out our Podcast: Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age for great tips and tools to develop soft skills in your kids. Books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, programs like TeenPact, Speech and Debate, Civics, can all contribute to a greater understanding of Soft Skills.

So now, how are you going to make all of this happen?

  1. It doesn’t have to be all at once.
  2. Use local resources like local co-ops or class days.
  3. Check out phenomenal on-line resources, like a live, online class through True North Homeschool Academy.
  4. Check out our Academic Advising program – We would love to help you create a plan that honors the integrity of how you homeschool while still preparing for your student for what’s ahead.

Need more information on preparing your child for high school?  Check out our ebook Survive Homeschooling Through High School.

Are you worried that your homeschooler isn't prepared for high school? Check out True North Homeschool Academy's top tips for preparing your homeschooler for high school. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #highschool #homeschooler #homeschool #homeschooling #homeschoolinghighschool

Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review

Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review

Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review

Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review came about because I am always on the look-out for quality art programs for high school students. As a closet artist drawing instruction and the fundamentals of art have been non-negotiables in our homeschool. Couple these basics with several years of high-quality art instruction at co-op by some talented homeschool Mommas, along with some professional art instruction and well, we have high standards. And we have had a hard time finding homeschool art instruction or materials that meet the mark.

Enter Take time for Art: Hands-on Art History by Penny Hayes

First, we received a box of beautifully packaged, high-quality art materials. Each student pack comes with all but the most basic and common art materials and supplies needed to complete each of the projects featured. This actually makes the program so much more enjoyable because all you have to do is keep the project pack neatly and carefully packed together in a large, durable zip-lock bag for storage; meaning that your materials will be ready to use when needed.

We chose Ancient Greece instead of Ancient Egypt, or Ancient Rome because my 18-year-old son is an old hand at re-creating historically accurate weaponry and costumes and he was quite curious about the Spartan helmet included in the pack.

The program is a winning combination of online history, art instruction, and hands-on creation.

Ancient Greece’s program includes 16 units that vary in length between 5 and 22 minutes. Each unit covers a specific period and is a visual feast of artwork, compellingly narrated by Penny.

About every fourth lesson is an art project. For this set, the projects were:

  • an octopus painting, reminiscent of frescos found in Ancient Greece
  • a tile painting
  • a foil relief picture
  • a 3-D Spartan Helmet

These are not cheesy, elementary projects, but very nice, artistically delightful projects that are suitable for gift giving. Our art group included a 15-year-old artist, an 18-year-old artist and a 24-year-old nurse who does not consider herself an artist, all of whom are or were homeschooled. My two kids have had extensive art training and are quite good in their areas of interest, but the great thing about these projects is that provide a very solid base that allows your kids to follow the projects exactly or get creative.

Take Time for Art giveaway

Penny does an exceptional job of explaining and showing in detail each art project. Penny’s explanations are thorough and complete, and the lessons are neither too rushed or too drawn out.

Penny also includes the name and artist of each piece of artwork displayed in the Credits. Under “Resources” there is a brief welcome letter, materials, a pacing guide and resources needed to create each project. The Pacing Guide is actually a curriculum guide and includes art and history questions. This is a great introduction to basic art terms. Also included is a video on the color wheel and instructions on how to make one.

This program could quickly be turned into an art history class if the parent wants to have the kids memorize the artwork included, of which there is an impressive amount.

Also included was a unit titled, “On the Road with the Apostle Paul.” This is a lovely rendition of the Road to Damascus story, told in gorgeous artwork, again with Penny narrating. It is clever in all the best sense of the word, and a unique look at an important event in church history.

My kids were a bit worried that this program was going to be childish and silly but they spent several happy hours talking about the history, looking up and cross-referencing things Penny had mentioned (we are die-hard history people, too!). The art projects the kids chose to focus on gave them several happy hours of creative relaxation. Furthermore, the end results were lovely! Also, included were art mats and suggestions for how to complete the projects for every day use.

Lastly, Penny teaches the kids how to make a Roman Road in a cup. A simple but profound aspect of the Roman world and a lesson in construction that isn’t crazy messy but gets the point across.

Take Time for Art – I loved the thoroughness of the program, the attention to detail and Penny’s gentle and sweet spirit as she guides young artists through history and art!

This is a unique and well-done program and is definitely worth the cost, especially considering that you can have more than one student accessing the course at a time. Do yourself a favor and purchase the art supplies when you order the class so that you’ll have artist quality supplies at the ready.

The actual lessons add up to about 3 hours and each project will take between 1-3 hours. Each program is easily worth ¼ credit of art; combine two for ½ high school credit of Art, History or Elective credit. This program is easily accessible to kids in elementary school throughout High School and beyond and would make a lovely present for the historian or budding artist in your life!

You can find Penny on her blog, Take Time for Art, on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. 

(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.)

The Value of Homeschool Extras

The Value of Homeschool Extras

One of the greatest perks of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each child.  This perk not only applies to core curriculum but also to all the little extras.  You may be tempted to skip out on some of these.  However, these extras are what can take a typical homeschooling day from boring to extraordinary!

Do you see the value of the extras in your homeschool? Check out why I think the homeschool extras can take your day from boring to extraordinary! #homeschool #homeschooling #electives

Electives, jobs, college prepping, life skills- these are frosting on the cake. They take a good, solid plan and jazz it up into something grand and festive.  So how do homeschool extras add value?

1).  Homeschool Extras Explore Their Interests

One year, our freshman took the Grammar of Poetry, Middle East studies, Intro to Water Color and Bio lab in our co-op. He also took Chemistry Lab and Myths and Legends online. Why?  Because it was what interested him!  Another year he enrolled in music studies, a lab at a local hospital, as well as a Physical Science lab. Our kids have even studied Spanish at the local co-op with native Spanish speakers.  We have sought out opportunities for them to explore things that are their passion.

Find out what your child loves.  What sparks their passion?  What lights a fire in them?  Perhaps you have a child that loves cooking.  Then our culinary course would be an easy place to start fanning that flame.  Maybe you have one that loves art. Then don’t forget to check out our digital art design course.  Maybe a local art class would even spark their interest.

Explore their interests and match their curiosity.  You might be surprised where your adventures might lead you.

2).  Homeschool Extras teach Life Skills 

Our acreage and house-rebuild project have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, about parts of construction and remodeling.  All of the kids also know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable.  Students learn life skills in several ways.

First, from simply living.

By living and working alongside each other. Most of the above were not curriculum but necessity driven. When my husband and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and learned.  Our lifestyle has necessitated seeking out information and implementing it.

Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil conversation, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We love technology, but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home.  Everyday life offers so many opportunities for homeschool extras, embrace it!

Also, from part-time work or volunteering.

Our high-schoolers have often had jobs that have included part-time work at tea and coffee houses, office work, farm and ranch work and most recently working at an orchard.  Never undervalue learning from hands-on training.

3).  Homeschool Extras Help Prepare Your Child

What comes after high school? We have found college is getting more expensive, less academically challenging and of questionable value when coupled with crippling debt. We are also in that odd middle-income range that affords mostly nothing regarding government aid, but can’t justify $25K per year per child on college. Where does that leave us? With college hacking, vocational and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Homeschoolers can spend their high school years fine-tuning their plan.  They can ask what comes next?  With that dream in mind, they can form a plan and a strategy on how to implement it.  Do they want a career that will require college?  Then perhaps they can start with some cheaper classes at the local college.  They can even volunteer in their field of interest to help with scholarship applications.  Maybe college isn’t their thing; then they can always pick up a part-time job in their area of interest.

(Need help during those scary high school years?  Check out our homeschool advising service in our store!)

As I wrote this post, it seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, most of the extras look like stuff that we “do” as a matter of course through living our lives. I offer what we do and have done as mere suggestions – perhaps they will spark an idea for you.  So how about you, do you see the value of the extras?