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"College Prep High School in a Box" -- Does it exist?


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OK, so maybe it sounds like I have spent too many years figuring out the curriculum for my ds and now I'm getting lazy, but I'm wondering if anyone knows of a secular (or something not super-duper-religious) high school curriculum that will help prepare my ds for college.

 

I know about BJU, and we did use the BJU DVD program for some of the elementary grades, but I noticed that the older ds got, the more intensely religious the curriculum was becoming (and we don't agree with a good part of the religious stuff the BJU curriculum espouses.)

 

I also know about Oak Meadow, and actually own almost every year of elementary and middle school curriculum they offer, because every year I swear we're going to do OM... and then for some reason, we don't. :glare: But if their high school program is very solid, I'll take a look at it.

 

Basically, I want to be sure to dot all of the i's and cross all of the t's. I don't want my ds to miss anything he needs to take, and I'm concerned that if I design a program on my own, it may not be rigorous enough or I might miss something important. I definitely want him to take some "real" classes at some point, but I want the "at home" courses to be solid. They can be online, textbook-based, DVD classes, or whatever -- the format is of less concern than the content.

 

I have been quite confident about my choices in the past, but high school seems so much more important to determining my ds's future opportunities for college admissions, and I don't want to blow it.

 

So... does anyone have any ideas for me? I know that there are so many threads here with great scheduling ideas, so I can certainly piece things together if I have to, but it would be nice to have a foundational program to follow, and then add extra stuff as I find it, so I won't wake up in the middle of the night worrying that I'm ruining my ds's future. :tongue_smilie:

 

Thanks for any ideas or advice -- sorry to sound so pathetic and clueless! :blush:

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I would say go with BJU and skip the bits you don't like.

 

I have heard they are very rigorous and prepare you well for college.

I have experience with the High School world history and it is very, very

good. (Not perfect but good.)

 

BJU covers all the subjects you need for all of high school.

-----

ABeka is another option. But I hear the Geometry has a few downsides. It

can be a bit boring at times. It also would have bits to skip. But they do cover

all the bases. You would have a decent education at the end.

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I just thought again.

 

I think the BJU history might bother you because I went over it

in my mind and it does have tons of religion...

 

---

 

I would love to hear from people who have done Oak Meadow. I think

they use Holt, which are standard public school textbooks?

 

 

 

---

 

If I had to decide now to "make a box," I would:

-AoPS for all the math (books or online) OR A Beka math + Khan Academy

-A Beka Physics OR Derek Owens Physics OR the book regentrude uses (search her threads)

-A Beka Chemistry OR BJU Chemistry OR Co-op Chemistry

-Co-op Biology (they use Apologia) OR Miller & Levine

-BJU History OR Spielvogel History

-PA Homeschoolers Microeconomics

-PA Homeschoolers Computer Science

-PA Homeschoolers English Literature AND Composition

-English: Read Great Books + Write Literary Essays for English 9 & 10; AP Lit & Comp for 11 & 12

-PA Homeschoolers Physics for Senior Year

-American History: ??? Probably A Beka

-Lukeion Latin OR Lukeion Greek Grades 9-12

-Government: Probably A Beka or local

-Health: Skip it OR Co-op

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Rumor has it that Calvert will be introducing ninth grade this year. I haven't seen anything official on their website (and there's nothing in the 2013-2014 catalog), but people on the After Calvert Yahoo group have said that some of the education counselors have said it's true. Supposedly they'll introduce a ninth grade curriculum this year, tenth next year and so on. Complete with honors and AP courses.

 

As a Calvert user I've been hearing the high school rumor for years, so take it FWIW. But there were multiple people who said they'd been told the same thing by the education counselors.

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I would look for complete curriculum by subject not as a whole grade. I don't think that those who are great at crafting math curriculum are necessarily great at lit or science or foreign language.

 

My analogy would be deciding that you don't want to make dinner from scratch, so you grab a meat and a marinade packet, a bag of precut veggies, a box of precut salad mix and bottled dressing, a loaf of French bread and a tube of cookie dough. You don't have to try to find the whole meal premade and ready to eat (and then get frustrated because you wanted broccoli instead of mashed potatoes).

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What makes your request so difficult is that high school is the time when students develop particular interests that may not be covered at the appropriate level of intensity for your student. This could be high intensity or just a "get 'er down" situation because of time or personality.

 

The other thing is that high school is the time for "talk, talk, talk". Despite our best planning, those conversations lead to the inevitable rabbit trails. A book that I loved might not have worked with my son. Something happens in the world and there is your fourteen year old making connections between it and an event in history, thus leading to readings or Teaching Company classes that you had never considered.

 

Maybe some of us aren't very good at staying in boxes so we shouldn't post in threads like this...

 

Good luck.

Jane

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If you have had an "in the box" program every year, intended to use it, and then somehow not used it (oak meadow), what makes you think that won't happen in high school as well? Just a thought...

 

I should probably not be posting on this thread, either, since we just used the community college when we wanted to outsource, but in case it is helpful... the "in the box" college prep options that have caught my eye over the years are PA homeschoolers for individual AP classes, the catholic programs like Kolbe, Potters School, K12, Oak Meadow, a few of the programs run by universities, and for classes where you just want the box checked, Keystone. An alternate approach is to do a stripped down program like American School in order to give your child lots of free time in which to do their own thing. It doesn't sound like this last is what you are looking for, though. If I had had to go with one complete boxed program, I probably would have investigated the university run ones, Oak Meadow, and K12.

 

Just to give you some other things to look at...

Nan

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Cat, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

 

There will be gaps...there will be gaps...despite my best efforts, there will be gaps.

 

Or at least that is what Nan and JennW have told me on more than one occasion. Also, I have older kids who have done public schools, and there are gaps. Embrace the idea and in doing so, relax a bit. I am willing to bet that if you do your job over the next four years and teach your child, you will find that for every gap, you have probably exceeded the expectations in 2-3 other areas.

 

Why don't you step into the consulting area and tell us what you are looking for - besides the assurance that your student will have the perfect high school education. :D

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Thanks again for all of the suggestions ... I'm starting to calm down a little now! :D

 

I'm checking out all of the options that were suggested -- so far the University of Nebraska - Lincoln High School sounds like it might be one of the better possibilities. The reviews of the program seem quite positive, and I like it that they list their course requirements on their website, because at least it gives me an idea as to what we should be covering for basic college prep (and then we can add more to it as we go along.)

 

http://highschool.un...equirement.ashx

 

The prices are lower at the online schools than I expected them to be, and are WAY lower than the tuition at the private high schools in our area, so I was very pleased to learn that these schools are affordable.

 

Obviously, I still have a long way to go (and a lot of research to do) before making a final decision about all of this, but I'm relieved to hear that there are so many good options available.

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Cat - I had a look at the requirements. You might want to compare them to these: https://www.umass.ed...ns-requirements (our state uni's) or these: http://www.bu.edu/ad...apply/freshman/ (a medium goodish Boston uni).

 

To be safe, don't do less than 4 years of math and 4 years of English, no matter what the program says. A typical course of study for application to selective colleges is 4 each of math, Englsih, science, social studies, and foreign language, plus some fine arts and a bit of computer programming. Our high school only has a math requirement of 3 years, but the guidance counselors won't let any student possibly be headed for college (even if they say they aren't) take less than 4 because they say it would limit them too much. They don't make them all take calculus. They can take statistics instead if they get past pre-calc and don't want to do calc.

 

Just in case this is helpful...

Nan

 

ETA - I'm not trying to discourage you from using the Nebraska program. I know nothing about them. I suspect you'd find that these are their minimum requirements and that if you signed up with them, they would assign you an advisor and the advisor would say you should do four years of math for college prep. I just posted the info so you could do your own advising. You could make a separate post asking people what courses are standard for college prep and see what they say. That might be helpful. Deciding which courses to do isn't the hard part, in my experience. The hard part was deciding what material and skills to include in those courses and then actually getting your children to learn the skills and to understand and remember the material.

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Cat - I had a look at the requirements. You might want to compare them to these: https://www.umass.ed...ns-requirements (our state uni's) or these: http://www.bu.edu/ad...apply/freshman/ (a medium goodish Boston uni).

 

To be safe, don't do less than 4 years of math and 4 years of English, no matter what the program says. A typical course of study for application to selective colleges is 4 each of math, Englsih, science, social studies, and foreign language, plus some fine arts and a bit of computer programming. Our high school only has a math requirement of 3 years, but the guidance counselors won't let any student possibly be headed for college (even if they say they aren't) take less than 4 because they say it would limit them too much. They don't make them all take calculus. They can take statistics instead if they get past pre-calc and don't want to do calc.

 

Just in case this is helpful...

Nan

 

ETA - I'm not trying to discourage you from using the Nebraska program. I know nothing about them. I suspect you'd find that these are their minimum requirements and that if you signed up with them, they would assign you an advisor and the advisor would say you should do four years of math for college prep. I just posted the info so you could do your own advising. You could make a separate post asking people what courses are standard for college prep and see what they say. That might be helpful. Deciding which courses to do isn't the hard part, in my experience. The hard part was deciding what material and skills to include in those courses and then actually getting your children to learn the skills and to understand and remember the material.

 

 

Thanks, Nan -- that's very helpful information!

 

It looks like the college prep track at Nebraska includes 4 years of math, ending at pre-calc, but ds is already doing Algebra 1 this year, so he would have a chance to take calculus in his senior year. I agree with you that the suggested schedule would probably need some tweaking, but at least it gives me a general idea of what my ds would be looking at, in terms of schedule. For some reason, I was thinking he would have to take more classes per semester, so I'll have to check on that. I definitely want to add some computer programming courses, and maybe have him do a few web design-type classes at our community college, because I think he would enjoy them.

 

Probably the biggest nuisance of the online programs will be finding a proctor to administer the tests, because with several classes and several tests per class (at least I assume there will be several tests,) it could be hard to find someone who will commit to doing it on a fairly regular basis. It would be nice to find a program where the tests don't require an independent proctor, but I understand why the schools would want them, because I'm sure many parents would let the kids get away with doing open-book tests, even when they were supposed to be closed book.

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Here is another one:

 

Texas Tech University: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/uc/k-12/

 

 

Thank you! I will check that one out, too!

 

I'm glad to learn that there are so many options out there. I have been fine with doing the elementary and middle school grades on my own, but I think I would prefer to have a more structured, accredited program for high school. I'm sure I could teach my ds the same material, but I really want him to develop better study skills, organizational skills, and discipline, and I think there's a better chance of that if I'm not the fulltime teacher.

 

I also think it will be good to have other teachers besides me to grade things like writing assignments, because they'll be able to provide new perspectives and possibly recognize strengths and weaknesses on a more objective level than I'm able to do.

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Could you check with your library about the proctoring? Or public school teachers here are willing to do things on the side to make a bit of extra money. You might be able to find one that would be willing to proctor for you for a fee. If you did it at the library, then the rest of you would have something to do.

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What makes your request so difficult is that high school is the time when students develop particular interests that may not be covered at the appropriate level of intensity for your student. This could be high intensity or just a "get 'er down" situation because of time or personality.

 

The other thing is that high school is the time for "talk, talk, talk". Despite our best planning, those conversations lead to the inevitable rabbit trails. A book that I loved might not have worked with my son. Something happens in the world and there is your fourteen year old making connections between it and an event in history, thus leading to readings or Teaching Company classes that you had never considered.

 

Maybe some of us aren't very good at staying in boxes so we shouldn't post in threads like this...

 

Good luck.

Jane

 

 

This is exactly why canned/boxed doesn't work for us. The other issue is you need to make a list of potential, non-standard, electives. Many box curriculums have extremely limited electives options - A.C.E., Alpha Omega, BJU, Abeka, CLE, all come to mind in this regard.

 

Additionally, while many companies manage a decent job of doing all manner of humanities under one format, I've found as Jane has, that they do very poorly with math and science instruction or foreign languages. So, in order to really do each individual subject due justice, it's generally pretty important to plan one subject at a time. Of course, seasons in life also have to be taken into consideration. If you can't teach or plan for everything, then it's wise to choose online coursework or a tutor or dual enrollment to help you out.

 

My kids, natural born torture experts :D, have been difficult. Their electives have included - this isn't the full list, just representative of what they like to do to me - Art History, Astronomy, Geology, Ecology, Zoology, Icelandic, Danish, Ancient Egyptian, Archaeology, Visual Basic Programming, Java, C ++ (thankfully, Dh can handle the computer stuff though I still have to pull together timelines and what not), Botany, Marine Biology, WWII History, Civil War History (yeah, they wanted year long studies on those topics), and Hebrew. Thanks kids. :willy_nilly:

 

Finding math that worked well, Lial's Basic College Mathematics through Intermediate Algebra, Trig/Pre-calc, and dh's old college Calc text (can't remember the name off hand), and core sciences (Apologia, approved AP texts or combos of both) as well as English/Literature, American and World History (kids study for the AP's so we choose texts from the approved list) have been fairly easy to determine. It's the crazy electives that make my head spin 360 degrees at mach speed.

 

We've found M.I.T. Opencourseware to be very helpful!

 

Faith

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Check with the organization's rules, but usually an accredited librarian or a counselor at the local high school can proctor the tests for you.

 

Cat, I suspect what you may find as you get into your first year is that down the road, you will do a mix. You may want someone to teach writing and to correct the essays, but you may not think the history is at nearly the caliber you have been doing on your own. Print off those stated goals from the post above: better study skills, organizational skills, and discipline and keep them somewhere handy. Figure out how you are going to measure how those goals are being met and then check against them every once in a while. I had to go through two older kids and two years of accredited programs before I had the nerve to do my own thing. You'll figure out what works for you both and all will be fine.

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Could you check with your library about the proctoring? Or public school teachers here are willing to do things on the side to make a bit of extra money. You might be able to find one that would be willing to proctor for you for a fee. If you did it at the library, then the rest of you would have something to do.

 

 

Thanks for the suggestions -- I will definitely check with the library. I remember I once had to take a test and a librarian at our local community college was the proctor, but that was many years ago, so I don't know if they still offer that service. I can't remember what it cost at the time, but I'm sure it was very reasonable (because if it was expensive, I would have remembered! :D)

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Check with the organization's rules, but usually an accredited librarian or a counselor at the local high school can proctor the tests for you.

 

Cat, I suspect what you may find as you get into your first year is that down the road, you will do a mix. You may want someone to teach writing and to correct the essays, but you may not think the history is at nearly the caliber you have been doing on your own. Print off those stated goals from the post above: better study skills, organizational skills, and discipline and keep them somewhere handy. Figure out how you are going to measure how those goals are being met and then check against them every once in a while. I had to go through two older kids and two years of accredited programs before I had the nerve to do my own thing. You'll figure out what works for you both and all will be fine.

 

 

I'm sure you're right, Lisa. We used Calvert pretty exclusively when ds was little (and I kept trying to add in Sonlight and Five-in-a-Row type stuff, but ds wasn't having any of that! :rolleyes:) Once I gained some confidence, I started doing more on my own, even when we were also using the BJU DVD classes for several subjects.

 

I have to get past the "this is high school and if I mess it up, I will ruin the kid's life" mentality, and then I'll be OK! :tongue_smilie:

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Thanks for the suggestions -- I will definitely check with the library. I remember I once had to take a test and a librarian at our local community college was the proctor, but that was many years ago, so I don't know if they still offer that service. I can't remember what it cost at the time, but I'm sure it was very reasonable (because if it was expensive, I would have remembered! :D)

 

 

Some colleges have testing centers that will proctor for non-students as well (for a fee). Some library systems will proctor. Some programs will also allow clergy to proctor.

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This is exactly why canned/boxed doesn't work for us. The other issue is you need to make a list of potential, non-standard, electives. Many box curriculums have extremely limited electives options - A.C.E., Alpha Omega, BJU, Abeka, CLE, all come to mind in this regard.

 

Additionally, while many companies manage a decent job of doing all manner of humanities under one format, I've found as Jane has, that they do very poorly with math and science instruction or foreign languages. So, in order to really do each individual subject due justice, it's generally pretty important to plan one subject at a time. Of course, seasons in life also have to be taken into consideration. If you can't teach or plan for everything, then it's wise to choose online coursework or a tutor or dual enrollment to help you out.

 

My kids, natural born torture experts :D, have been difficult. Their electives have included - this isn't the full list, just representative of what they like to do to me - Art History, Astronomy, Geology, Ecology, Zoology, Icelandic, Danish, Ancient Egyptian, Archaeology, Visual Basic Programming, Java, C ++ (thankfully, Dh can handle the computer stuff though I still have to pull together timelines and what not), Botany, Marine Biology, WWII History, Civil War History (yeah, they wanted year long studies on those topics), and Hebrew. Thanks kids. :willy_nilly:

 

Finding math that worked well, Lial's Basic College Mathematics through Intermediate Algebra, Forester's Trig/Pre-calc, and dh's old college Calc text (can't remember the name off hand), and core sciences (Apologia, approved AP texts or combos of both) as well as English/Literature, American and World History (kids study for the AP's so we choose texts from the approved list) have been fairly easy to determine. It's the crazy electives that make my head spin 360 degrees at mach speed.

 

We've found M.I.T. Opencourseware to be very helpful!

 

Faith

 

Thanks for all of the info, Faith! :)

 

I'm sure my ds will have quite a few suggestions about electives, so my biggest concern right now is "the basics." Once I know I have the core courses covered, I will be able to relax a bit, and my ds and I can have some fun with the extras. I'm hoping he will choose at least a few things that my dh and I can help him with, but I would also like to outsource some of the classes, so ds can get used to different teachers with different teaching styles, and so he will have to do a wider variety of assignments. (I like to think I vary things quite a bit, but I'm still just one person and I'm still "just Mom," so I think it will do my ds good to have an outside teacher here and there.)

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Kolbe?

Rigorous (best I've seen for science and math), classic, teacher support, transcript services....

 

 

Thanks, Aimee :) -- I think one of ds's friends is using Kolbe for middle school, so I'll ask his mom more about it. I think she has mentioned that she thought there was quite a bit of recordkeeping involved, and her ds has had some trouble keeping up with the volume of school assignments and the number of tests (but I'm not 100% sure they're using Kolbe; I just think they are.)

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Thanks, Aimee :) -- I think one of ds's friends is using Kolbe for middle school, so I'll ask his mom more about it. I think she has mentioned that she thought there was quite a bit of recordkeeping involved, and her ds has had some trouble keeping up with the volume of school assignments and the number of tests (but I'm not 100% sure they're using Kolbe; I just think they are.)

 

 

Kolbe is Catholic. You will need to decide how non-secular you can go.

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Kolbe is Catholic. You will need to decide how non-secular you can go.

Yes, and while you can opt out of religion in the lower grades, you cannot for high school.

 

Thanks! :) I knew it was Catholic, but I didn't know how much religion was required. Both my dh and I were raised Catholic (and my dh always attended Catholic schools,) so we would probably have a much easier time using a Catholic curriculum than other non-secular programs, so it's worth looking into Kolbe... but my preference is still for a secular curriculum.

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Thanks! :) I knew it was Catholic, but I didn't know how much religion was required. Both my dh and I were raised Catholic (and my dh always attended Catholic schools,) so we would probably have a much easier time using a Catholic curriculum than other non-secular programs, so it's worth looking into Kolbe... but my preference is still for a secular curriculum.

If you can't find a secular program, I did notice that Kolbe (while requiring their theology course for transcripts), DOES allow high schoolers to "substitute" other courses if it meets their approval (academically). So if you find their history choice not secular enough, you could "sub out" that for something else (with approval - and they are very easy people to work with, in my experience). It appears that other than a couple of their history choices, the only other course that isn't secular is the religion course specifically.

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If you can't find a secular program, I did notice that Kolbe (while requiring their theology course for transcripts), DOES allow high schoolers to "substitute" other courses if it meets their approval (academically). So if you find their history choice not secular enough, you could "sub out" that for something else (with approval - and they are very easy people to work with, in my experience). It appears that other than a couple of their history choices, the only other course that isn't secular is the religion course specifically.

 

 

Thanks, Aimee! :)

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We use Seton (Catholic) and don't take the religion classes. Other then some stuff in biology (euthanasia and right to life church doctrines) there have been no issues for us. Both my husband and I were raised Catholic but we are not practicing (currently attending a Methodist church). We sub out some things but they require that you use their English and history. I like the accountabilty and the fact that my daughter knows what she needs to do. She's in 9th grade this year. I looked at Kolbe but couldn't get past the history. A whole year of ancient history did not appeal to my daughter! She did geography this year with Seton and will take world history next year. I believe Kolbe reqires their history as well but you can sub the middle school into high school or something like that...

While Seton has not been perfect - it has worked this year and we will continue for next year. I have especially liked the fact that they do all the grading (esp for essays) and record keeping.

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We use Seton (Catholic) and don't take the religion classes. Other then some stuff in biology (euthanasia and right to life church doctrines) there have been no issues for us. Both my husband and I were raised Catholic but we are not practicing (currently attending a Methodist church). We sub out some things but they require that you use their English and history. I like the accountabilty and the fact that my daughter knows what she needs to do. She's in 9th grade this year. I looked at Kolbe but couldn't get past the history. A whole year of ancient history did not appeal to my daughter! She did geography this year with Seton and will take world history next year. I believe Kolbe reqires their history as well but you can sub the middle school into high school or something like that...

While Seton has not been perfect - it has worked this year and we will continue for next year. I have especially liked the fact that they do all the grading (esp for essays) and record keeping.

 

 

Thank you!!! :)

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