Monday, March 17, 2014

Visiting High Schools

Before we made the decision to homeschool, I had called around to local vocational schools and private/parochial high schools inquiring about whether they would admit homeschool students.  I also looked into college requirements.  Our tentative plan four years ago was that when it came time for high school, we would visit some vocational schools to see if the girls were interested in that. Over the last four years, however, I became more and more confident that between being able to take classes at the local community college,  Princeton Learning Cooperative/Princeton Learning Center, Teaching Textbooks and just having always been able to sort of find what we needed, we would be fine to homeschool high school.

While I was taking a little blogging break this winter, Allie, Piper and I toured some local Catholic high schools and vocational schools.  If Allie were in school, she would be entering high school next year (we sort of just keep going in our homeschool and don't think a lot about grade levels; it's more about learning as stepping stones that lead to more stepping stones, etc.)  Piper has two years to go, but Jason and I decided that she might as well come on the tours and come to the Open Houses so that she can be thinking about what she might want to do over the next two years--thus, giving us more time to prepare a transcript if she should want to enroll in school.  I am actually looking into having both girls take a standardized test this year--as much as I don't like them, I think we need some scores on record for their future.

I went to Catholic school for elementary school and when it came time for high school, I toured this very school with my parents. I had chosen NOT to go to this school myself as an 8th grader, but that was a choice that I was always glad my parents gave me and I felt I made the right choice for me.  I wanted to give Allie and Piper the same option.  

We decided to take a look at this school as well, it's also a Catholic high school near us.  I had not looked at as a prospective freshman, but we had the time and if nothing else, seeing the programs offered helps me to understand what we might want to cover so that the girls can be competitive in applying to colleges.

Vocational-Technical schools have come A LONG WAY since I was in high school.  I grew up in an upper middle class town, but even twenty-five years ago, not everyone went to college.  Quite a few people went to Vo-Tech, learned a trade and got a job out of school.  I know people who find this very hard to believe, but I still keep in touch with these folks and they are very happy and doing well, without ever having gone to college!  Imagine!

But now, roughly 50% of graduates of vocational schools in our area go on to a four year college and another 30% go to community college.  The employment rate 5 years after completion of vocational schools was 80% and ten years later was 93% and most of those students were employed in the field they had studied. at the vocational school.

Jason and I feel pretty strongly about the girls eventually going to college.  But we also feel strongly about paying for something that won't help them find a job.  We have been talking to them for YEARS about practical college and career choices and dreams such as being a stay-at-home mom--some careers like nursing or hair dressing are more conducive to flexible schedules and allowing mothers time with their children.  

This is the culinary arts kitchen at our local vo-tech.  My girls are not
interested, but my friends and I were VERY impressed and would love to
cook in this kitchen!

We learned about the application process, share time (homeschooling academics, going to vo-tech for a career program), jobs that can't be outsourced (you can't have your hair cut or your house wired by someone in China!) and programs that look good for colleges (if your kids know what they want to be when they grow up and some do; my girls change their minds frequently.)

Allie has taken this information and she is thinking it over.  I hope she feels empowered more than confused.  She still has a couple of weeks to make the decision to apply for next year or she can apply next year to enter as a sophomore or the year after to enter as a junior.  And should she decide not to do that but years from now regret that choice, she can always apply for the adult program and go at night for a small fee.