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American School -- Is anyone currently using this for high school?


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I have read many conflicting reviews of The American School ( http://www.americanschoolofcorr.com/ ) so I'm hoping that someone here is still using their college prep program and will post a quick review of it.

 

Many of the complaints I read about the school seemed to be from people who used it several years ago, before they made improvements and added courses like Physics and Calculus, so I'm wondering if it's more rigorous than it was in the past.

 

I know they offer very basic courses like Essential Mathematics, but apparently you can substitute more advanced math courses if your student doesn't need the more simplistic ones. It also appears that there are lab science options that can be selected instead of the courses listed on the "course requirements" pages, and some of the electives sound pretty decent, as well.

 

The price is amazingly cheap, which always worries me a little. ;)

 

So... if anyone can post the pros and cons of using the American School for high school, I would really appreciate it. (I'm also checking out Keystone School and some of the university high school options that were suggested to me in another thread, but the American School option was so inexpensive and seems to be a popular, accredited program, so I thought I'd ask about it.)

 

Thanks!!! :)

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@Cat No experience with American School, but a couple of suggestions: (1) Check with the Admissions offices, of any universities your DC might want to attend, to see how they would react to someone with a diploma from American School. (2) Keystone: I seem to recall reading a thread, probably here on WTM, many months ago, by someone in California, that the UC system stopped accepting their credits. And, when I contacted them, last year, the person who responded to me could not tell me which BBB they are a member of. Our experience is with TTUISD, and you wrote that you are familiar with the various universities that offer High School Distance Learning. I think I read that American School allows "open book" examinations. That is 180 degrees from TTUISD, which requires an "Approved Proctor" for Final Examinations. My wife and I consider "open book" examinations to be very poor preparation for taking PSAT/SAT/ACT, military entrance examinations, pre employment examinations and examinations in a university. You are correct, the price of American School is extremely low, and sometimes things that are very inexpensive can be excellent, but you really need to investigate, thoroughly, any school(s) you are seriously contemplating. GL

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I used the American School for my oldest. The big drawback is that the course were very boring. After a few courses of just reading the texts, filling the tests and sending them off my daughter was ready for a change. So her last 2 years she dual enrolled at the community college and never finished the American School even though we had paid for it. She did Biology with lab, and the lab was just ok. It cost about 80 extra and was not very extensive. On the other hand my other daughter did Biology in public school high and the lab was pretty lame for that too!

 

Some courses are better than others, especially the ones that used "school" textbooks and not texts written specifically for the American School. The best courses we did were physics, earth science, algebra I & II and geometry. I like the McDougal Little texts they use for math and am going to reuse them with my other kids. I will probably re-use the physics too (Conceptual Physics). The daughter that we used this with really needed to have someone other than me grade her work, which is why we went with it, and it was what she needed at the time.

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@Cat No experience with American School, but a couple of suggestions: (1) Check with the Admissions offices, of any universities your DC might want to attend, to see how they would react to someone with a diploma from American School. (2) Keystone: I seem to recall reading a thread, probably here on WTM, many months ago, by someone in California, that the UC system stopped accepting their credits. And, when I contacted them, last year, the person who responded to me could not tell me which BBB they are a member of. Our experience is with TTUISD, and you wrote that you are familiar with the various universities that offer High School Distance Learning. I think I read that American School allows "open book" examinations. That is 180 degrees from TTUISD, which requires an "Approved Proctor" for Final Examinations. My wife and I consider "open book" examinations to be very poor preparation for taking PSAT/SAT/ACT, military entrance examinations, pre employment examinations and examinations in a university. You are correct, the price of American School is extremely low, and sometimes things that are very inexpensive can be excellent, but you really need to investigate, thoroughly, any school(s) you are seriously contemplating. GL

 

 

Thanks for your help, Lanny!

 

TTUISD is one of the schools I have contacted for more information, so hopefully I'll hear from them soon. Do they require several proctored exams per course, or is it only the final exam that needs an approved proctor? (Some of the schools seem to require at least 3 proctored tests per class. One exam per class would be a lot easier to deal with!)

 

I agree with you about open book testing not being exactly stellar preparation for "real" exams. Even though I have always homeschooled my ds, he has never taken an open book test. I know many parents thought I was crazy, but I always believed that an open book test was nothing more than a regular assignment, and didn't let me know whether or not my ds had really learned anything in the class.

 

I was discussing the topic with a friend the other night, and we both think that even if we go with an "open book test" kind of high school for our boys, we will see if we can arrange to hire a local librarian to administer at least some of the tests. We both think it would be a good idea for our kids to take some of their tests with someone other than us as the proctor, in a "non-home" environment, as practice for the types of tests you mentioned in your post.

 

My main reason for considering the American School was the convenience, but it's difficult to evaluate the academics of any of the high schools without seeing all of their materials and having some idea of the types of assignments they require. On one hand, I want my ds to learn a lot in high school and be prepared for college, but on the other, I don't necessarily want him to be deluged with a ton of busy work, just so the school can claim to be super-challenging. It's a tough choice and I don't want to mess it up!!!

 

Thanks again for all of your help! :)

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I used the American School for my oldest. The big drawback is that the course were very boring. After a few courses of just reading the texts, filling the tests and sending them off my daughter was ready for a change. So her last 2 years she dual enrolled at the community college and never finished the American School even though we had paid for it. She did Biology with lab, and the lab was just ok. It cost about 80 extra and was not very extensive. On the other hand my other daughter did Biology in public school high and the lab was pretty lame for that too!

 

Some courses are better than others, especially the ones that used "school" textbooks and not texts written specifically for the American School. The best courses we did were physics, earth science, algebra I & II and geometry. I like the McDougal Little texts they use for math and am going to reuse them with my other kids. I will probably re-use the physics too (Conceptual Physics). The daughter that we used this with really needed to have someone other than me grade her work, which is why we went with it, and it was what she needed at the time.

 

 

Thanks, Anne!!! :)

 

I'm on the fence about the American School for the same reason you mentioned -- I'm concerned about the Boring Factor. On the other hand, it seems efficient and is certainly reasonably priced. I was thinking that if we signed up and paid for the full 4 year program, my ds could give it a try and get some classes out of the way, and if he hated it and we ended up switching to a different program, we would still probably come out ahead financially, because the American School courses are so inexpensive. It seems to be a fully accredited program, but I still want to check and be sure my ds could transfer credits into a different accredited program at another school if he wanted to make a change after a year or so.

 

I also want to find out if an American School diploma (combined with some solid electives from other sources) will be good enough to allow my ds to be considered for a good university (assuming his standardized test scores are very high.) I don't want him to have to do 10 hours of school each day, yet I don't want to choose something less intense and have it hurt him in the long run.

 

Decisions, decisions!!!

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I can't tell you how it is now, but I actually graduated from American School 23 years ago. Back then we didn't call it homeschooling, just a correspondence school. I only dd my senior year. It wasn't exciting, but it got the job done. I did go n to college from there.

 

 

Thanks, Kari!

 

I'm looking at it as being pretty much exactly the way you described it -- not exciting, but will get the job done. I want a solid framework for ds's high school subjects and an accredited diploma at the end (particularly because my dh is uncomfortable with the idea of not having "official" transcripts.)

 

I'm thinking that I can add more meat to the program as necessary, to be sure ds learns what he needs to know for college, but that it will be much less stressful for me if there is a specific curriculum in place to use as a jumping-off point.

 

Thanks again -- it was nice to read a success story! :)

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Well, this is my first time teaching homeschool high school, and I'm pretty much flying blind here because I live in the UK and don't know anyone else who is teaching an American high school program, so feel free to take everything I say with a grain of salt.

 

My 15yo is finishing his first year with American School right now. I looked at a lot of options last year and came to the conclusion that my ds is not particularly academic (he's very bright but not overly interested in doing schoolwork) and not very motivated. He wanted something that he could get done to meet the requirements and get into college, but there was no particular area that he wanted to dive in deep with and explore. I didn't want to spend the year trying to cajole him into reading and discussing with me, and he didn't want to do an on-line course with lots of discussions. With my lack of experience homeschooling high school (my oldest went into the state schools a few years ago), the fact that I have two younger kids to educate, my dh's desire for ds to get an official transcript from a real school, and the high cost of some of the on-line options, we decided to try American School. We only signed up for one year because we didn't want to be committed to four and discover that we didn't like it.

 

So far it's gone well overall. I agree with the other posters that the books are not fantastically interesting and it does use open book tests. I also felt like it was a fairly weak 'college prep' coursework, only requiring 18 credits with some of them being things like 'Planning Your Career.' So I'm adding in a lot of extras to his transcript. He'll get a transcript from American School, but he'll also get a homeschool transcript. For 9th and 10th grade I'm adding in things like Spanish, Bible, logic, worldviews and literature. For 11th and 12th grade I'm hoping to add Ancient History and World History with MFW, speech, economics and a final year of Spanish. I'm also giving him experience with non-open book tests with the subjects that I'm teaching him.

 

Overall we've been happy with American School because it gets the job done without a lot of time or stress for me at a reasonable cost. We will sign him up for another year at American School next year, but again we're only committing to a year. I'd love it if at the end of next year he's gained some motivation and wants something that's more challenging, but if not, we'll just keep going with AS. I don't think it's the absolute best option out there. If you have a kids with a real passion for learning, he'll probably be bored with AS and not be challenged. But for us, in our situation, it's working. Hope that helps.

 

Also, if you do a search for American School with my user name (can you still do that on these new boards?) you'll find some posts from last year with people answering my questions as I was making this decision last year. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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I used American School for my two oldest. Both had full time jobs throughout high school and just wanted to get it done. I will add that in biology, Brit lit, and a few other courses the open book tests were not easy. They aren't copying it out of the text. The answer is in the text but not spelled out for the student. They have to take the knowledge from the text and apply it. Overall it was fine- boring mostly. But they both got their diplomas in 3 years. My third son goes to public school and next year my daughter starts high school. I did consider it for her but she is thriving using the wtm methods so we are doing high school on our own by the book.

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>Thanks for your help, Lanny!

 

You are welcome. This is the first time I have revisited this thread. Sorry for the delay in this reply!

 

>TTUISD is one of the schools I have contacted for more information, so hopefully I'll hear from >them soon.

 

When did you contact them and how did you contact them? Your inquiry may have been lost in the shuffle. About 2 weeks ago, they moved their offices, from one building to another building, on the TTU campus, so if you inquired then, your inquiry may have been lost.

 

If you can PM me, later I will look for an email contact for you and send that to you, via PM. Also, you can call their toll free (within the USA phone number), but if you have a number of questions, I always believe it is better to write them down in an email, so nothing is lost in the confusion of a telephone conversation.

 

>Do they require several proctored exams per course, or is it only the final exam that needs an >approved proctor? (Some of the schools seem to require at least 3 proctored tests per class. One >exam per class would be a lot easier to deal with!)

 

DD is finishing the first semester of her Math and English courses. (6A is the first semester and 6B the second semester and the same textbooks are used for both semesters). At the end of each semester, there is a Final Examination which must be taken under the supervision of an Approved Proctor. The Final Examinations count for 25% of the semesters grade. (I assume that is the way they do it in TTU also).

 

Now, I don't know if you live in Texas, but if not, Texas is on what I might call the "forefront" of rigorous testing. So, there have been other tests, that were called TEKS or TAKS, that were given before High School level.

 

Now, there is STAAR and I believe there are 16 of those, in High School. The Texas Legislature, which meets every 2 years, recently has done a lot of work regarding education in Texas and in particular, the STAAR examinations. I am not sure how the final legislation will work out, but probably they are going to reduce, from 16, to 5 STAAR examinations. Also, the STAAR examinations, by state law, count as 15% of the grade. The STAAR examinations, I believe, are at the end of the school year, so they are testing two (2) semesters. Everyone is complaining about all of the testing and the legislature has heard from parents, teachers and probably the students....

 

All of those examinations require an Approved Proctor, which is a PITA for those of us overseas.

 

>I agree with you about open book testing not being exactly stellar preparation for "real" exams. >Even though I have always homeschooled my ds, he has never taken an open book test. I know >many parents thought I was crazy, but I always believed that an open book test was nothing more >than a regular assignment, and didn't let me know whether or not my ds had really learned >anything in the class.

 

Exactly. My wife and I believe an open book examination is close to worthless.

 

>I was discussing the topic with a friend the other night, and we both think that even if we go with an >"open book test" kind of high school for our boys, we will see if we can arrange to hire a local >librarian to administer at least some of the tests. We both think it would be a good idea for our kids >to take some of their tests with someone other than us as the proctor, in a "non-home" >environment, >as practice for the types of tests you mentioned in your post.

 

Good idea and I believe in the case of TTUISD, a Librarian is one of their suggestions of someone who can be an Approved Proctor.

 

>My main reason for considering the American School was the convenience, but it's difficult to >evaluate the academics of any of the high schools without seeing all of their materials and having >some idea of the types of assignments they require. On one hand, I want my ds to learn a lot in >high school and be prepared for college, but on the other, I don't necessarily want him to be >deluged with a ton of busy work, just so the school can claim to be super-challenging. It's a tough >choice and I don't want to mess it up!!!

 

The Textbooks used for TTUISD courses ("Print" or "Online" courses, all of them require traditional textbooks be purchased) are probably the same textbooks used in Texas Public Schools. They each weigh approximately 4 pounds. My DD seems happy with her textbooks.

 

The curriculum is something you should also give consideration to. At TTUISD, they have someone write the courses and then, I assume, more than one person checks everything over, before they turn it loose on the world. DD was the first student, I believe, to enroll in the 6A Math Online course. We are waiting for 6A History to go "Online", and she is taking the Middle School Art course, which is a "Print" course, normally taken in 7th grade. The Art teacher wrote a huge (about 16 MB download) course for that and the Art textbook is more of a supplement to his course. So, I believe with a University run High School, your student is more apt to have courses written by people who are well qualified to do so.

 

My understanding, from someone whose older child is in the 9th grade in TTUISD, is that it is quite demanding, no busywork, and that her student is thriving and learning a lot. When the return to Texas, from the UK, they are planning for her to continue in TTUISD and graduate from there.

 

Imagine, if you will, your student in a traditional brick and mortar public school classroom situation, or, at home, distance learning, with the same textbook, from TTUISD or another university high school. Your student at home is going to study (hopefully) at least one hour, each day, for each subject. How much time would your student be learning, in a traditional classroom every day? 10 minutes per subject?

 

>Thanks again for all of your help! :)

 

My Lunch is on the table so I didn't get to finish editing this but I hope you will read it and if I can help in any way, please send me a PM.

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One of my kids is enrolled in American School. She started in January, and she's already completed three classes. Overall we are happy with American School. She's also doing some homeschool classes, and taking Alegra 2 with Derek Owens.

 

In the fall she plans on taking a class or two at our local community college.

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@Cat WTM is up again and this is my first time back to this thread. I believe it depends, upon what your goals are for your DS. What are his goals? If he hopes to attend a university, will they accept a diploma from American School? If he wants to enlist in the military, is American School considered a "Tier 1" school or a "Tier 2" school, by the military? I believe some branches of the U.S. Military (U.S. Air Force, for one) do not accept *any* graduates of "Tier 2" schools, while other branches (U.S. Army?) can, if they want or need to, accept up to 5% of enlistees, from "Tier 2" schools.

 

I believe that a high school run by a public university (TTU, OleMiss, Oklahoma, etc.) is going to be far more rigorous, than American School or similar schools. The reputation of the university is on the line, with their high schools, so they are rigorous.

 

You and your DS should discuss what his goals are (at this time), for the days after his high school graduation and then go from there.

 

Again, if you have not received information from TTUISD, please send me a PM and I will look for email contacts and PM them back to you. Their offices moved, 2 or 3 weeks ago, and I'm sure a lot of things got lost in the shuffle, when they moved to another building on the TTU campus.

 

With TTUISD, all the teachers they use are employed, full time, in the Lubbock ISD and the same teacher is involved with the student, during the semester. At American School, will your DS have the same teacher, throughout a course, or does a different teacher on staff grade the assignments, as they arrive in the school?

 

As I wrote before, investigate, thoroughly, any school you contemplate using. Hopefully, you and your DS will be happy with the school that you select.

 

HTH and much GL to you and to your DS.

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So far it's gone well overall. I agree with the other posters that the books are not fantastically interesting and it does use open book tests. I also felt like it was a fairly weak 'college prep' coursework, only requiring 18 credits with some of them being things like 'Planning Your Career.' So I'm adding in a lot of extras to his transcript. He'll get a transcript from American School, but he'll also get a homeschool transcript. For 9th and 10th grade I'm adding in things like Spanish, Bible, logic, worldviews and literature. For 11th and 12th grade I'm hoping to add Ancient History and World History with MFW, speech, economics and a final year of Spanish. I'm also giving him experience with non-open book tests with the subjects that I'm teaching him.

 

Overall we've been happy with American School because it gets the job done without a lot of time or stress for me at a reasonable cost. We will sign him up for another year at American School next year, but again we're only committing to a year. I'd love it if at the end of next year he's gained some motivation and wants something that's more challenging, but if not, we'll just keep going with AS. I don't think it's the absolute best option out there. If you have a kids with a real passion for learning, he'll probably be bored with AS and not be challenged. But for us, in our situation, it's working. Hope that helps.

 

Also, if you do a search for American School with my user name (can you still do that on these new boards?) you'll find some posts from last year with people answering my questions as I was making this decision last year. Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Meg! :)

 

It sounds like you're using American School the same way I'm thinking of using it, which is as a framework for all of the "basics," and then adding extra subjects as needed, and preparing a second transcript for his additional work.

 

I'm glad to hear that it's working out for you so far!

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I used American School for my two oldest. Both had full time jobs throughout high school and just wanted to get it done. I will add that in biology, Brit lit, and a few other courses the open book tests were not easy. They aren't copying it out of the text. The answer is in the text but not spelled out for the student. They have to take the knowledge from the text and apply it. Overall it was fine- boring mostly. But they both got their diplomas in 3 years. My third son goes to public school and next year my daughter starts high school. I did consider it for her but she is thriving using the wtm methods so we are doing high school on our own by the book.

 

Thanks for posting your experiences with American School. I particularly appreciate it that you described the tests, because I was wondering about them. I assume that some are easy, others are moderately difficult, and some of them are pretty tough, just like in any high school program. I like it that they have to apply the knowledge in the textbooks, not just regurgitate information (although I'm sure there's some of that, too! ;)) I don't think my ds will mind the "boring" part, because he's a kid who wants to know what he has to do, and then get it done. He's not going to be hopping off on rabbit trails for most of his subjects. He would rather get his schoolwork done, and then pursue his own interests, rather than delve deeply into every school subject. He's more of an independent learner in that way.

 

Thanks again! :)

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@Cat WTM is up again and this is my first time back to this thread. I believe it depends, upon what your goals are for your DS. What are his goals? If he hopes to attend a university, will they accept a diploma from American School? If he wants to enlist in the military, is American School considered a "Tier 1" school or a "Tier 2" school, by the military? I believe some branches of the U.S. Military (U.S. Air Force, for one) do not accept *any* graduates of "Tier 2" schools, while other branches (U.S. Army?) can, if they want or need to, accept up to 5% of enlistees, from "Tier 2" schools.

 

I believe that a high school run by a public university (TTU, OleMiss, Oklahoma, etc.) is going to be far more rigorous, than American School or similar schools. The reputation of the university is on the line, with their high schools, so they are rigorous.

 

You and your DS should discuss what his goals are (at this time), for the days after his high school graduation and then go from there.

 

Again, if you have not received information from TTUISD, please send me a PM and I will look for email contacts and PM them back to you. Their offices moved, 2 or 3 weeks ago, and I'm sure a lot of things got lost in the shuffle, when they moved to another building on the TTU campus.

 

With TTUISD, all the teachers they use are employed, full time, in the Lubbock ISD and the same teacher is involved with the student, during the semester. At American School, will your DS have the same teacher, throughout a course, or does a different teacher on staff grade the assignments, as they arrive in the school?

 

As I wrote before, investigate, thoroughly, any school you contemplate using. Hopefully, you and your DS will be happy with the school that you select.

 

HTH and much GL to you and to your DS.

 

 

Thanks so much, Lanny -- you've given me a lot to think about!

 

I found the complete TTUISD catalog online, as well a lot of other information, so I'm going to spend some time comparing it with the other programs I've been considering.

 

I will be quite relieved when I finally make a choice about ds's high school program. I have always had a relatively easy time making decisions in the past, because I always figured that if one option didn't work out, I could always switch to something else, but I don't want to do a lot of jumping around between programs for high school, as I don't want ds's transcripts to be such a mish-mash of so many different things that the college admissions people will think he's a flake!

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@Cat Here is another thing, for you and your DS to consider, as you investigate and consider different options for high school. When I was starting out as an Engineer, in something that is Defense related and incredibly complicated, I wondered if I was in "over my head". The man who was my "mentor" told me something that I have not forgotten and that may apply to your DS and this decision. He told me, "I believe people should do the most difficult work they are capable of". I told my DD that.

 

She just finished writing an essay, for her last English assignment, for this semester. I told her, "you must assume, that when you take the Final Examination, which will be Online, that a timed Essay will be part of the examination, so be prepared for that". The SAT has a timed Essay, among the various examinations.

 

Rigorous has advantages, in preparation for the future. If he is headed to university, a rigorous high school will better prepare him. If you decide on a university run high school (TTUISD, OleMiss, Oklahoma, etc., etc.) he may take some dual credit courses that are graded by the university. Not by a junior college, or an AP course that is supposed to be equivalent, but by the university. University level courses run at a very rapid pace. One needs a lot of self discipline and time management to do well.

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Lanny, I agree with you that high school needs to be challenging, but I don't want to make it so tremendously rigorous that my ds is completely burned out by the time he's ready for college. I think there needs to be a balance, so he learns a lot, yet isn't spending 12 hours a day on his schoolwork. Additionally, we travel quite a bit, and we split our time between a few different residences, so whatever we choose needs to be at least somewhat portable!

 

I am at the point where I have several different options to consider, and I need to start narrowing them down to a few favorites. After that, I'll see if my ds has a strong preference one way or the other, and will also run it by my dh to get his opinion.

 

Thanks again for all of your help -- I really appreciate it! :)

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My sil graduated from the American School. She's not a US citizen, she completed her diploma overseas. At the time dh and I were living in Chicago, I had never heard of them before and was happy that I had the chance to personally go to their offices and speak to people in person. When I talked with them about why they didn't have anything online, they stressed that this was important to them as it enabled them to keep their costs (and consequently their fees) low. My sil was in contact with some of her instructors via email, but tests, books, etc. all had to be physically mailed.

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Lanny, I agree with you that high school needs to be challenging, but I don't want to make it so tremendously rigorous that my ds is completely burned out by the time he's ready for college. I think there needs to be a balance, so he learns a lot, yet isn't spending 12 hours a day on his schoolwork. Additionally, we travel quite a bit, and we split our time between a few different residences, so whatever we choose needs to be at least somewhat portable!

 

I am at the point where I have several different options to consider, and I need to start narrowing them down to a few favorites. After that, I'll see if my ds has a strong preference one way or the other, and will also run it by my dh to get his opinion.

 

Thanks again for all of your help -- I really appreciate it! :)

 

 

@Cat Starting from the bottom up. First, you are welcome. I hope I added something, to the discussions you and your DS and your DH need to have about this.

 

If you go with a university run high school (Distance Learning), I believe that when he is in High School, he should plan on spending one hour a day, on each course, studying. If he does that, he will be well prepared, and, hopefully, not burn out. DD spends one hour a day, on each course, in Middle School. Distance Learning will fit in very well with your traveling, so that is cool and, the majority of the time, your DS will be studying on his own, learning Time Management and Self Discipline. You will not be his "teacher", but you might be his "tutor".

 

Work with your DS on this and make the decisions together, so he has been involved in the research and the decision making. Make him a "stake holder".

 

You are correct that you want to make the correct decisions here and not need to make changes, during the crucial high school years.

 

If you consider one state to be your "home" state, look to the requirements of the best public universities there, for guidance.

 

If you can keep your list down to 5 or 6 schools, maximum, to begin with, that will greatly reduce the time you spend on this and greatly eliminate confusion and stress.

 

When we began looking into Middle Schooling for our DD, one year ago, this weekend, one of the schools that was on the short list, a private school in California that I read about in a web forum, turned out to have "accreditation" that I consider to be worthless. it was very inexpensive, but did not check out.

 

Eliminate the schools with things that are obvious that you do not like, ASAP, and keep narrowing your list down. .

 

If he goes with something rigorous, he will be well prepared for a university. Or, if he chooses, he can attend a Junior College. But, if he goes with something that is not rigorous, he will not be prepared for university. It is a tough grind.

 

You and your DS and your DH need to have a heart to heart talk (actually, a series of talks), about what his goals are, for his life after high school and then try to prepare him for that.

 

To go back to the title of your thread, if you end up going with American School, or something like it, and then, he gets into a university, I believe he will be in for a very rude awakening. Much GL to you and your DS!

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Lanny, while I completely respect your decision to use a rigorous homeschool program, I think that you may want to reign in the tone that seems to imply that you know the best course of action to take for all homeschoolers. I notice that you are currently home educating one child who is 12yo. I may be making incorrect assumptions here (maybe you've already graduated a couple of homeschooled kids), but with only one 12yo under your belt, you may want to soften your tone a bit.

 

Catwoman, I just want to respond to a few of Lanny's points. First I want to preface this with a statement I made on my earlier post. If you have a highly motivated student that loves to learn and explore, then American School would probably not be the right choice for you. So please don't think that I'm trying to push it on you in any way. I do want to reassure you, though, that I feel that Lanny is completely overstating things when he says that "if you end up going with American School, or something like it, and then, he gets into a university, I believe he will be in for a very rude awakening." Probably if you did the AS curriculum and added nothing to it, then his statement would be fairly accurate. But you can use AS as a starting off point and add to it. I've been on these boards for many years, and I've read many posts where parents have stated that their dc was very unmotivated in their earlier teen years, but matured significantly around 15 or 16yo. Since I had a fairly unmotivated 14yo when we were making this decision last year, I decided that I was better off getting some easier courses out of the way early on with the option of ramping things up in junior and senior years. If all goes according to plan, he will be completing MFW AHL and WHL in those years along with MFW economics and Hewitt speech. I feel that these courses (or other similar courses if plans change) would give him the rigour that he would need to prepare himself for college. I think that introducing that rigour at 14yo would have only created stress and resentment. We also still have the option of transferring him to a different program for his last couple of years as the AS credits should transfer to most other online schools. It is a fully accredited high school. And there are also a multitude of other rigorous courses that we could add in to those last couple of years instead of MFW as he will be completing most of his AS credits in the first couple of years of study and only have 3 per year for the last couple of years.

 

I say all of this to you not to convince you that AS is the best option out there, but because I don't want you to feel bullied into a rigorous program for fear of ruining your ds's chances of getting into a good college.

 

By the way, I didn't come up with this idea of 'start with AS and add in extras' on my own. Last year when I was doing my research, I read a couple of books by Cafi Cohen, and this is what she did for her kids, and it seemed to work pretty well for them. From her book And What About College:

 

Jeff won an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.... Jeff also gained admission to the United States Naval Academy, Boston University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. West Point put him on their waiting list. Jeff won substantial scholarship offers from Army, Navy, and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). After he received these offers, half a dozen other colleges actively recruited him. Two of these schools, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, offered Jeff full scholarships.

 

More recently our homeschooled daughter Tamara received acceptances from two selective colleges, Agnes Scott College in Georgia and Stephens College in Missouri. Emory University in Georgia placed her on their waiting list.

 

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a bit more to think about. Hope you figure out what will be best for your dc.

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Lanny, while I completely respect your decision to use a rigorous homeschool program, I think that you may want to reign in the tone that seems to imply that you know the best course of action to take for all homeschoolers. I notice that you are currently home educating one child who is 12yo. I may be making incorrect assumptions here (maybe you've already graduated a couple of homeschooled kids), but with only one 12yo under your belt, you may want to soften your tone a bit.

 

 

@mazakaal What you wrote, above, is very well written and very well thought out. In NO way do I think I know the best action for all home schoolers. Hardly. I apologize, if my "tone" implied that. Things that are written, in black and white, do not have the "tone" the writer intended, frequently. That's the case here. In a telephone conversation, the "tone" the person intends is obvious. In black and white, it's not obvious.

 

If a child can do well, in a rigorous program, I believe that will always benefit them. With a less rigorous program, it can become like "tracking" in a public school and their destination is on another road.

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Meg, thank you very much for your post. Your comments echoed exactly my sentiments, but you phrased them a lot better than I could have! :)

 

Lanny, I have to disagree with you about a rigorous program being so important and necessary. I have been blessed with a ds who can handle anything I can throw at him -- he pretty much memorizes everything the moment he reads it, and he analyzes complex information very easily. I am not at all concerned about whether or not he will be able to handle university-level work when the time comes, because I know he could do it right now. My dh and I both have advanced degrees, so we have a pretty good idea of what will be required of our ds when he gets to college.

 

I think Meg's "fairly unmotivated 14yo" was very similar to the way my "fairly unmotivated 13yo" is right now. Very intelligent and capable, but not a kid who wants to delve deeply into every single school subject. If he's interested in something, he'll research it to death, but otherwise, he wants to do his schoolwork and get on with his life and his own interests (mainly computer games, video games on XBox Live, and hanging out with his friends and eating everything in sight while they talk about video games and computer games. :rolleyes:) He has no clue about where he wants to go to college, or what he wants to do as a career -- and I think that's entirely normal and acceptable.

 

I don't want to bog him down in "rigor" at this point, because I don't think it would serve any purpose. I'm not saying that he won't be taking calculus or physics (or whatever) in high school, because he will. I'm just saying that, as Meg said so perfectly, that introducing a lot of rigor at his age will only create stress and resentment -- and with no real long-term benefit. We will ramp things up as necessary as he gets a bit older, just as Meg suggested.

 

With my ds, if I'd had him spend an hour a day on each subject, he would have been one of those kids who was 12 years old with a bachelor's degree :eek:, and neither my dh nor I wanted that for him. We wanted (and still want) him to be a regular kid who can relate to other regular kids. He does his schoolwork so he has time for the things he likes to do, not because he LOVES school. School is more of a means to an end at this point, and I think that's just fine. I'm pretty sure my dh and I were exactly the same way, and we turned out OK! (Well, OK, my dh did. The jury is still out on me! :D)

 

I don't think our way of doing things is right for every family, but when you have a kid like mine who can breeze through a textbook once and ace the final exam, I'm not sure how a tremendously rigorous program is necessary at this point. If he needed to build skills, or if I didn't feel he was already capable of doing advanced work, I might feel differently. I feel that sometimes, the super-rigorous programs are overly complex and time-consuming just for the sake of it (and so parents will have bragging rights about all of the work their kids are doing,) rather than because all that work is really necessary or helpful for the future. When my ds develops some specific interests, I'm all in favor of challenging him to learn as much as he can about those topics; I'm just not convinced it's necessary for all of his school subjects. Frankly, it seems like overkill.

 

That said, I really appreciate all of your help and ideas -- I think we have different ideas about what's best for our kids, but I know that we both have their best interests at heart! :)

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@Cat Sounds like you have made your decision and that you have a clear road ahead. Much good luck to your DS and your family!

 

 

Thanks, Lanny.

 

We haven't made a decision yet; that's why I'm looking for input from families who are already using American School. So far, everyone who has contacted me has been pleased with their decision to go with AS, but the more information I have, the more confident I'll feel about making a choice (one way or the other!)

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@Catwoman The information in your post #25 in this thread, with the information you provided about your DS, etc., completely changed my thinking on this. With that information, yes, I would, probably go with AS, in addition to the other things you mentioned. It sounds like your DS will do great on the SAT or ACT examinations, etc. The only thing I wonder about, and I am not sure if this is true about AS, or if it was about another school, was that each time the student submitted a lesson, a different teacher graded the lessons. I think continuity is nice and hopefully the same teacher for the entire semester. Hopefully, AS has the same teacher with the student, during the entire semester. GL!

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@Catwoman The information in your post #25 in this thread, with the information you provided about your DS, etc., completely changed my thinking on this. With that information, yes, I would, probably go with AS, in addition to the other things you mentioned. It sounds like your DS will do great on the SAT or ACT examinations, etc. The only thing I wonder about, and I am not sure if this is true about AS, or if it was about another school, was that each time the student submitted a lesson, a different teacher graded the lessons. I think continuity is nice and hopefully the same teacher for the entire semester. Hopefully, AS has the same teacher with the student, during the entire semester. GL!

 

I have been wondering exactly how that works at AS, as well, Lanny. I'm making a list of questions to ask them, and I just put it on my list. Thanks for mentioning it!

 

I think that many correspondence and online programs have more than one person doing the grading for each subject, simply because there are so many students, and also because the kids are working at their own pace, the tests are arriving at the schools at no particular time, and when one student is sending in his first test, another is mailing in his final exam for the same course. It would be hard to keep track of which teacher was grading which students' exams, and might also slow down the turnaround time if one teacher had to grade a bunch of exams all at once, while another teacher had nothing at all to do, because his or her students hadn't mailed anything in for a while.

 

It appears that most of the courses are pretty much self-taught (or the parents are helping their kids,) rather than teacher-led, and again, that's because students are allowed the freedom to work at their own pace on the courses of their choice, beginning and ending at any time of the year. It could be difficult for a kid who needs extra help, and whose parents aren't willing or able to provide that help (or hire a tutor, or whatever,) but I guess it's all a trade-off. If you want a lot of teacher interaction, I think you need a more structured and scheduled program, but if you want more freedom, you're going to have to do almost everything on your own. In our circumstances, my ds will be better served with the freedom to work at his own pace, because we will be available to work with him whenever he needs us, but if I felt that he would need more direct contact with a teacher, we would definitely be looking into other options.

 

One thing that seems to be consistent with all of the correspondence and online programs I've inquired about is that they are SLOW to send information in the mail! (OK, Keystone School and the North Dakota CDE programs were very speedy, but the others.... not so much. :glare:) I know that most of the information is available online, but I'm one of those old-fashioned people (or maybe I'm just OLD ;)) who prefers to have actual printed catalogs to work with. It's so much easier for me to compare the offerings, make little notes on the pages, etc. when I have real catalogs and brochures.

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@Catwoman If AS has the same teacher with the student, for the entire course, that to me is a big plus. I can't remember, if it was AS or another school, that I read had lessons graded by whatever teacher was available when the lesson arrived. Something to ask about, when you contact them with your list of questions. It could be that the school I read about, where the lessons are graded by whatever instructor is available, is the Penn Foster High School. There are several of those schools. In the case of TTUISD, the same teacher works with the students for the entire semester. TTUISD teachers are all employed, full time, by the Lubbock ISD. I believe TTUISD allows them a maximum of 7 days, to grade and return the assignments students send in.

 

You wrote about Keystone. That is one of the schools I looked into, 52 weeks ago, when we made a sudden (and wise) decision to pull DD out of the brick and mortar school she was in. On their web site, they had a BBB icon, but when I clicked on the icon, it took me to the main BBB web site, which asked me to put which BBB I was interested in. I sent an email to Keystone, asking which BBB they are a member of, and never go an answer to that question. After awhile, I asked again, but got no answer. I strongly suggest you look for reviews of Keystone on the web. Look on HomeSchoolReviews.com and in other places. Most of the things I have read about Keystone seemed to be negative, but I did read some positive things. One was by a girl here on WTM, she and her family were living full time in an RV. She was taking AP courses and obviously working very hard and doing very well.

 

We were looking for Middle School (6th grade), during April 2012, which greatly limited our choices. For High School, you have a much bigger selection, which adds to your confusion. I do remember that Keystone did not mail a copy of their Printed catalog to us and that I had a very hard time, trying to read their Online catalog, because of the way it was formatted, or the Software they used to create it. It was not a regular .PDF file. Calvert School did mail a Printed catalog to us, and I remember sitting in the Living Room, reading all of their catalog and all of the papers they sent with their catalog. As you wrote, it is nice to be able to sit down with something in your hands and read it. I just read your last post again and I see that Keystone did send you a Printed catalog. Possibly because we are Overseas, they didn't want to spend the money on postage.

 

Keystone is owned by K12. About 2 hours ago, I read a long (December 2011) article about K12 and the Online schools they run for a number of states. What they charge the states for that is incredible. And, the quality is not very good. Might be a good thing to look into buying stock in K12.....

http://www.nytimes.c...?pagewanted=all

 

The bottom line is that for High School, you have many possibilities to choose from and I am sure that you will choose the one that is best for your DS and that he will

do well. Even in the 6th grade, my DD is teaching herself now. If she needs something, my wife and I are here to help her, or she can email her teachers, but it is very rare that she needs help.

 

GL

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This thread is very interesting. I have fully enrolled my rising 8th grader with MODG but I keep looking at AS because she has many interests. She wants to study culinary arts, Spanish, and different cultures which I could add to her AS transcript to beef it up. I'm not sure how that transcript would look like...AS transcript with our homeschool classes but that's for another thread. ;)

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You wrote about Keystone. That is one of the schools I looked into, 52 weeks ago, when we made a sudden (and wise) decision to pull DD out of the brick and mortar school she was in. On their web site, they had a BBB icon, but when I clicked on the icon, it took me to the main BBB web site, which asked me to put which BBB I was interested in. I sent an email to Keystone, asking which BBB they are a member of, and never go an answer to that question. After awhile, I asked again, but got no answer. I strongly suggest you look for reviews of Keystone on the web. Look on HomeSchoolReviews.com and in other places. Most of the things I have read about Keystone seemed to be negative, but I did read some positive things. One was by a girl here on WTM, she and her family were living full time in an RV. She was taking AP courses and obviously working very hard and doing very well.

 

We were looking for Middle School (6th grade), during April 2012, which greatly limited our choices. For High School, you have a much bigger selection, which adds to your confusion. I do remember that Keystone did not mail a copy of their Printed catalog to us and that I had a very hard time, trying to read their Online catalog, because of the way it was formatted, or the Software they used to create it. It was not a regular .PDF file. Calvert School did mail a Printed catalog to us, and I remember sitting in the Living Room, reading all of their catalog and all of the papers they sent with their catalog. As you wrote, it is nice to be able to sit down with something in your hands and read it. I just read your last post again and I see that Keystone did send you a Printed catalog. Possibly because we are Overseas, they didn't want to spend the money on postage.

 

I have read very conflicting reviews about Keystone, as well! I always try to ask my questions here on the WTM forums whenever possible, because I feel I'm more likely to get honest input from "average" users, and not just from people who go online and post reviews on review sites. Let's face it, a lot of the super-positive and incredibly glowing reviews often sound suspiciously similar, and like they were written by shills for the company or school. Most of the incredibly negative reviews are either from truly dissatisfied customers (and when you consider the huge number of students and graduates in some of these programs, the numbers are very tiny,) or by shills for the competition who are trying to make their competitors look bad. Most people don't bother to post reviews if they're generally satisfied with something. Sure, they may have a few complaints, but for the most part, everything went just fine, and they don't feel like they have to rush off and post a review. When I ask questions here, I feel like I'm getting the truth -- both the positives and the negatives, from people who don't have any reason not to be honest about their experiences

 

I remember reading a very negative review of American School, and quite frankly, it was worrisome... until I saw the exact same review posted by a supposedly different reviewer for a different high school program. :glare: The phrasing was almost identical, except that instead of AS, the name of a different school had been pasted in. It was very obvious that both reviews were posted by the person, who was a shill for a different (unaccredited) program, because both reviews spoke about switching to a different school, which was absolutely wonderful... and it was the same diploma mill-type school in both cases. :angry:

 

We were thinking of Calvert School, because we used it for a few years when my ds was much younger and it was an excellent program, but their high school program is brand new, and we would have to trust them that the new grade levels will be available when ds needs them, because right now, there is only a 9th grade program. I'm not sure I'm willing to take that chance!

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This thread is very interesting. I have fully enrolled my rising 8th grader with MODG but I keep looking at AS because she has many interests. She wants to study culinary arts, Spanish, and different cultures which I could add to her AS transcript to beef it up. I'm not sure how that transcript would look like...AS transcript with our homeschool classes but that's for another thread. ;)

 

Does MODG stand for Mother of Divine Grace? I haven't heard much about that program, except that I think it's for Catholic homeschoolers and goes all the way through high school. How do you like it so far?

 

LOL about not knowing how your transcript will look if you have an American School transcript, and then have a separate one that you prepare on your own -- I have been having the same thoughts! :) I know that many people do exactly that, though, so I assume that colleges are OK with it. I think I read somewhere that if your child takes classes from an accredited high school program, AS will add that information to the AS transcript, but I'm not 100% positive about that.

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Hi Cat. Yes, it is Mother of Divine Grace. She actually won't start until the fall, we just enrolled. I've heard good things from different forums and the people there are super nice. It's just that we are pretty relaxed and having a schedule and accountability to someone else seems pointless since there's no mandatory testing or reporting in my state. The main reasons I chose it was for accreditation and it is Catholic. The accreditation was important to save her from testing if she went back to public school in 9th grade. But, now I'm thinking that' she probably wont go back to PS and we may go with AS and beef it up with our own courses. Seems like the high schools care more about an accredited diploma than the colleges. ;)

 

I'm glad you posted about the same negative posts with different school names, that was an eye opener for me. Lol.

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Hi Cat. Yes, it is Mother of Divine Grace. She actually won't start until the fall, we just enrolled. I've heard good things from different forums and the people there are super nice. It's just that we are pretty relaxed and having a schedule and accountability to someone else seems pointless since there's no mandatory testing or reporting in my state. The main reasons I chose it was for accreditation and it is Catholic. The accreditation was important to save her from testing if she went back to public school in 9th grade. But, now I'm thinking that' she probably wont go back to PS and we may go with AS and beef it up with our own courses. Seems like the high schools care more about an accredited diploma than the colleges. ;)

 

I'm glad you posted about the same negative posts with different school names, that was an eye opener for me. Lol.

 

I wonder why MODG isn't talked about as much (here, at least) as Kolbe and Seton. :confused: It sounds like a good option, but when I was looking at Catholic programs a few years ago, it wasn't even on my radar.

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@Catwoman I am replying to your post #32. YES! I too believe that some "reviews" are written by Shills. 52 weeks ago, when I began this search (my wife tasked me to do this, since U.S. English is my native language), there were some very glowing things, about a school based in California. I can't remember the name of the school as I write this. I now believe those glowing reviews were written by shills. When I contacted the school, and asked about their Accreditation, and then I tried to check out their Accreditation, I told my wife it was worthless. The school was very inexpensive, which is a plus, but it did not check out.

 

Some of the things I recall reading, in reviews of Keystone: They lost assignments that had been submitted and the student had to do the work over. Mother calls the school about some problem and she is told that everything is her fault, nothing is the fault of Keystone. Someone wrote that on the Keystone Facebook, anything that isn't positive results in one being attacked. Probably THE most important thing I read about Keystone, was here on WTM as I recall. Someone in California wrote that the UC system schools had stopped accepting some or all Keystone courses. THAT, to me, would be very troubling.

 

Calvert School I believe was sold. Probably last year. It was always a Non Profit company and K-8, but I too had read, possibly in a thread here on WTM, that they were going to begin offering High School courses. Apparently, TTUISD had a contract with Calvert, to do work for Elementary grades (and possibly Kindergarten?) and I understand (from another TTUISD parent) that contract was terminated. No idea what happened between TTUISD and Calvert.....

 

Your thread here is about AS. Awhile ago, I read a thread, by a mother concerned about her DS graduating "too old" from HS. I wasn't logged in at the time, but if I had been, I would have suggested that she consider AS for him.

 

I believe you could do a lot worse than your idea of combining AS with other things. Your post #25 really explained your DS and your situation to me.

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@Catwoman: There's a Yahoo group for American School with many helpful people posting their experience with AS. It has been very helpful to me, you might want to check it out & become a member.

 

Since your son seems to enjoy video games & computers so much (whose 14 yr old son doesn't, right? lol ), you might want to check out CompuHigh. It was the first all online high school & it is accredited by some of the major accreditation agencies. It is all online, self-paced, enroll any time through the year, and actual teachers to contact for help. I did read somewhere that the instructors could take up to 48hrs to respond.

 

I'm in between the regular correspondence AS and CompuHigh.

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@Catwoman: There's a Yahoo group for American School with many helpful people posting their experience with AS. It has been very helpful to me, you might want to check it out & become a member.

 

THANK YOU!!!

 

Since your son seems to enjoy video games & computers so much (whose 14 yr old son doesn't, right? lol ), you might want to check out CompuHigh. It was the first all online high school & it is accredited by some of the major accreditation agencies. It is all online, self-paced, enroll any time through the year, and actual teachers to contact for help. I did read somewhere that the instructors could take up to 48hrs to respond.

 

I'm in between the regular correspondence AS and CompuHigh.

 

Thanks for the suggestion -- CompuHigh is brand new to me, so I appreciate the suggestion, and I will definitely check it out! :)

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Calvert School I believe was sold. Probably last year. It was always a Non Profit company and K-8, but I too had read, possibly in a thread here on WTM, that they were going to begin offering High School courses. Apparently, TTUISD had a contract with Calvert, to do work for Elementary grades (and possibly Kindergarten?) and I understand (from another TTUISD parent) that contract was terminated. No idea what happened between TTUISD and Calvert.....

 

Thanks for the heads-up about Calvert School. I just checked, and apparently they made the announcement in early January of this year that they were selling off their distance education division.

 

I no longer have any interest in learning more about their high school program. I'm not suggesting that the new owners won't keep Calvert's promises of a new high school grade level being available each year for the next four years, but I'm definitely not going to take a chance on it. I don't want my ds to start the Calvert high school program for a year, only to find out that the 10th grade program won't be available for another few years. I want to stick with an established program -- and right now, I'm not willing to trust the "new" Calvert with my ds's education.

 

Thanks again!

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My 26 year old graduated from AS. My almost 25 year old started AS, but I was shamed into pulling him out to give him the education "he deserved". Pulling the younger out of AS was the single biggest homeschooling mistake I ever made.

 

I haven't read the whole thread. I hardly ever read this sub-forum, never mind post in it. But, I just wanted to say I loved AS, and would be continuing to use it if I had more children. The school is non profit and has been around for a long time. Don't be afraid of the low price. The program is incredibly efficient and works. You can always add to it, let the student unschool, or let them go out to work. Teenaged Liberation Handbook will give you ideas if you need to add more.

 

My oldest graduated from AS when he was 16. He then proceeded to put himself through the local junior college, earned a degree in business management, and moved to Las Vegas at 19 totally financially independent. He married and built a house there at 24. AS opened up a whole world for him to WORK and accelerate his studies, and do what HE wanted to do, without being bogged down in expectations SO much higher than if he had attended the local PS.

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I want to stick with an established program -- and right now, I'm not willing to trust the "new" Calvert with my ds's education.

 

Thanks again!

 

Old Calvert or New Calvert, you are correct, not to trust them, that the courses your DC needs will be available when he needs them.

 

Keep checking schools out and GL!

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@Catwoman: There is another school that I have been checking out: http://virtualedu.org/.

 

It is also accredited & they will give you a free 7 day access pass. They are NOT affilliated with AS of Correspondence.

 

 

Thanks! I like it that they offer the 7 days of free access. It's so difficult to make choices without being able to "try before you buy!"

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