Sometimes we homeschoolers worry about college too much…PART ONE

I wasn’t sure how to title this post, but it’s going to be about college plans. You know, the ones you start panicking about sometime around 7th-8th grade. The ones that whip themselves into a frenzy during the last couple years of high school. The plans that some of you are even thinking about NOW when your kids are still little and leaving home is somewhere in the murky, unknowable future. But…you are still keeping an eye on that future anyway – listening to the “what I want to be when I grow-up” stories and imagining how to best help your children  accomplish their dreams in the little bits and pieces of your homeschool.

I have two children who’ve grown up and moved on. Two children who’ve navigated all the college prep and high school transcripts, testing, preparing, waiting, dreaming. Because I’ve gone through this experience (and am getting ready to go through it one last time), I want to share some things I’ve learned that might be helpful in someway for those of you who haven’t navigated these sometimes muddy, exciting and yes, even stressful waters.

Around eight years ago I was preparing for my daughter’s entrance into the high school grades. It was my first time to teach a high schooler! We decided to homeschool through high school for a variety of reasons. The reasons were both the same (in some ways) and different (in other ways) for each child. For Emily (*the blog name I use for her), it meant a higher and more rigorous level of academics, opportunities to volunteer in the community during regular school hours, dual credit opportunities at the local community college to get a head start on earning college credits, religious reasons, extra time to pursue her interests in our homeschool setting, and so on. We knew that our homeschool was the best place for her to thrive as well as prepare for her future.

We were confident about our decision but wow…the stress! There were so many things we hadn’t done before like SAT testing, applying for scholarships, looking over college brochures, planning out 4 years of high school graduation credits, making a transcript, choosing the RIGHT classes & courses for future college admission, learning about the local U.C. admission requirements and how to accomplish those in a homeschool setting (we wanted to keep her college options open), purchasing lab equipment for serious science courses, figuring out how we wanted her to earn her math credits, prep. for foreign language study and the list goes on. There was also the work of transitioning HOW Emily learned. We wanted her to learn how to take some responsibility for her own work and how to start having serious deadlines for assignments. We wanted her to start learning skills that would help her be successful in college and pre-college testing like writing essays with a time limit, testing well, dealing with grades, etc.

Moving into the high school years was a big transition from earlier years of homeschooling that were much more flexible. We wanted to maintain some of that flexibility, but also knew there was a lot of work to be done in so many areas. Having never been through it all before I experienced a lot of stress researching and preparing and working to have her meet all the ten thousand different “requirements” I thought she should meet in order to assure her the greatest success. I bought books about homeschooling through high school, book about applying to colleges, books about colleges themselves. Everything suddenly became centered around COLLEGE COLLEGE COLLEGE. We looked over college catalogs. We picked our jaws up off the floor when we saw the sticker prices of said colleges. We agonized over how she would get in and then how she would pay for it since we do not believe in going in debt. This was her LIFE we were preparing for. We knew she had to have the best start so she could be successful. Everything was building a foundation for…well…forever! That’s a pretty tall order! And instead of handing it over to college counselors at the local high school or paying some college admissions guru, we were doing this all by ourselves. We made so many plans to do this and that and whatever and always there was the thought in my head that I HAD to make sure we did everything right.

One thing we forgot about though was this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

I’m going to share with you some true miracles that have occurred in Emily’s life that stem from this verse and how it’s all played out during her years in college and even how God was preparing her for some things before she was even in high school! She did not end up where she thought she would or where she even wanted to, if we could go back in time and ask her. However, God has given her opportunities that have far surpassed anything we ever could have planned for. He showed us that it’s all about HIS plans and not ours and that what He comes up with is better than anything we ever could.

It’s time to stop stressing and start trusting.

In future posts in this series I’m going to go into more detail about our homeschool high school to college process. I’ll also be discussing Emily’s college experiences and sharing some amazing things that have occurred… true miracles down to a Mcdonald’s milkshake (yes, God cares about even the SMALL details!!). I’ll talk about things we did in our homeschool that prepared her for God’s future plans for her even when she was in the elementary grades.

Here’s a hint about where Emily ended up college wise: it’s an option many of us think as sitting on or near the very BOTTOM of our college plans. It’s an option Emily actually cried over, lol. I can laugh now, because, well, it worked out better than even her “dream college” plans. You’ll see! I’m going to explain to you why sometimes what seems like the worst option is the BEST option.

Come back soon to see how it all played out or subscribe to my blog for updates sent right to your email or RSS feed reader (please see the right-hand side of my blog for our new subscription options). Current subscribers, please make sure you’ve re-subscribed in the past week as I’m switching email list / feed providers or you won’t continue receiving my blog content! Thanks to all my loyal readers. 🙂

Emily in Japan - one of the amazing opportunities God gave to her during her college years.

Emily in Japan (she’s on the right with the light brown hair) – one of the amazing opportunities God gave to her during her college years.