My youngest is graduating from high school this year, and his high school plan was so different from his older brothers, that it prompted me to write this post. I dedicated 80% of his homeschool courses to chasing high-interest courses. I hope it encourages parents who feel unsure about whether or not it’s ok to do things differently.
A small backstory, my youngest didn’t learn to read until he was 10. He’s fine now, but this early challenge meant working well below grade level, even in high school, in some subjects. I’m not immune to peer pressure, so I experienced a lot of uncertainty along the way. His older brothers all finished high school with a lot of college credit, even a degree or two, so to say I needed to plan differently with him is putting it mildly. I want to add that learning challenges are frustrating for the student, and it’s often easier for them to say they “hate school” than share their feelings of vulnerability around wishing they were better at school. I understood his lack of motivation and fear, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep trying to find something to motivate him!
I discovered that my son’s motivation for history, science, literature, and math was in no way reflective of his motivation and ability to do well in OTHER SUBJECTS. As I watched him rebuild an engine from scratch, fix our neighbor’s lawn mower, and demonstrate his gifts in different ways, I decided to chase high-interest learning opportunities for him.
What I “hoped” would happen, was that he would develop strengths in academics as a byproduct of studying high-interest subjects.
For 9th grade, we did very light academics paired with very robust industrial arts. I’m sharing his actual transcript in this post.
|9th Grade 2019-2020|
|9th Grade English||1.0||B|
|High School Mathematics||1.0||B|
|Introduction to Computers||0.5||C|
|Industrial Arts Shop Safety OSHA-10||0.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Intro. Blacksmithing||0.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Beginning Welding||0.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Glassblowing||0.5||A|
|TOTAL Credits / GPA||8.5||3.29|
|CUMULATIVE Credits / GPA||8.5||3.29|
His OSHA class was online, Blacksmithing was a paid internship- and by that I mean WE PAID THE BLACKSMITH to let my son work for him (!), welding was a homemade class of learning from a neighbor and YouTube videos, and glassblowing was a series of classes he took at a local glass studio.
Welding was the winner, and I immediately signed him up for a Welding Summer Camp offered by a local college. It was expensive and a long drive, but we found the spark, and that informed the rest of his classes.
|10th Grade 2020-2021|
|10th Grade English||1.0||B|
|Math for Welders I||1.0||A|
|Industrial Arts Intermediate Welding1||1.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Advanced Welding1||1.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Welding Cutting Processes1||0.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Welding SMAW Stick Plate1||1.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Welding GTAW TIG Plate1||1.5||A|
|Industrial Arts Construction Technology 1||3.0||A|
|Industrial Arts Small Engine Lab||0.0||Pass|
|TOTAL Credits / GPA||12.5||3.84|
|CUMULATIVE Credits / GPA||21.0||3.62|
As we moved to 10th grade, I have to emphasize that our state allows parents to set their homeschool graduation requirements, so I went all-in and focused entirely on high-interest courses. He was still struggling with reading, writing, and math, so I worked on finding ways to marry those subjects with something he loved. He did reading from welding books, he did writing by copying welding books, and he did the math using a math welding book! The courses with the “1” after them (or other numbers in other grades as you will see) were taken at our local college, so these were face-to-face. His 10th-grade year turned my “boy” into a “man” in how seriously he took his future. He was motivated to do a good job, show up and work hard. He was motivated to become a skilled welder! In that year, he graduated with 2 “adult” certificates, one in construction and one in welding. He was also exceptionally motivated to do “Math for Welders” because he viewed it as “relevant” to his career. He did not have the skills to finish the entire book in 1 year, so we did it over 2. At that time he also decided he wanted to plan his career as a welder and was ready to work on the college’s degree requirements.
|11th Grade 2021-2022|
|11th Grade English||1.0||B|
|Math for Welders II||1.0||B|
|Industrial Arts Technical Sketching||0.5||B|
|WLD 121: MIG Plate2||1.5||A|
|WLD 141: Symbols2||1.0||A|
|WLD 116: SMAW Stick Plate/Pipe2||1.5||A|
|WLD 122: GMAW MIG Plate/Pipe2||1.0||A|
|WLD 132: GTAW TIG Plate/Pipe2||1.0||A|
|WLD 151: Fabrication 12||1.0||A|
|WLD 261: Certification Practices2||1.0||B|
|CIS 110: Intro. to Computers2||1.0||A|
|Total Credits / GPA||11.5||3.70|
|Cumulative Credits / GPA||32.5||3.65|
11th grade brought the first of several “general education” requirements set by the college. His math and English skills were not college 101 level yet, so we finished Math for Welders as a homeschool course, and I kept him working on high school English (reading/writing). His Intro. to Computers course (a degree general education requirement) was a very-hard-earned “A” but once he had that credit, I knew he could make it the rest of the way. The transcript reflects high school credit, but I’m using the 3:1 ratio, so each college course worth 3 credits yields 1 high school credit. He completed 27 college credits in 11th grade and his 3rd credential – a college diploma in Welding Technology.
This brings me to his current semester! I’m writing this post in real time, so he’s just finishing the first week of this spring semester. This semester is full of his remaining general education courses and loaded with college credit, but it was by his request that he add an additional credential (Nondestructive Examination) to his schedule. After this semester (May) I will award his high school diploma and he will graduate from the college with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology with an additional Nondestructive Examination certification. He’ll have 1 art class this summer, but the college will award a degree with one class pending. His English and math requirements are now met (they weren’t easy) and he has become such a confident young man who went from feeling beaten by “school” to being excited about his career and future.
In our case, his Homeschooling for College Credit journey is leading to a degree in welding. I hope you are fearless in crafting your teen’s college credit journey in a way that gets him EXACTLY where he wants to be!
|12th Grade 2022-2023|
|ENG111 English Writing3||1.0||B|
|MAT110 Math Measurement & Literacy3||1.0||B|
|ISC112 Industrial Safety3||1.0||A|
|WLD231 TIG Pipe3||1.0||A|
|WLD270 Orbital TIG Pipe3||1.0||Current|
|ENG112 English Research3||1.0||Current|
|NDE142 Visual Testing 1-23||1.0||Current|
|NDE143 Liquid Penetrant Testing 1-23||1.0||Current|
|NDE110 Intro Nondestructive Testing3||1.0||Current|
|SOC231 Intro Sociology3||1.0||Current|
|COM231 Public Speaking3||1.0||Current|
|ART131 Drawing I3||1.0||Summer|
|Total Credits / GPA|
|Cumulative Credits / GPA|