HS4CC Chapter 4

At the start of each month,  I’m sharing excerpts from Homeschooling for College Credit second edition! I have several favorite sections that I refer to time and again, and I hope you enjoy them.  Today’s section is from Chapter 4: High School Planning

Resourceful High School Planning Starts Now!

While high school planning involves choosing curriculum and writing a transcript, resourceful high school planning goes beyond those basics. Resourceful high school planning takes into account your state laws, your teen’s abilities, potential career options, family expectations, and the financial impact of each decision. Within those parameters, resourceful high school planning makes the most of your teen’s high school career and launches them into the next chapter of their lives. In short, resourceful high school planning is developing your homeschool exit strategy.

Have you heard the phrase “Begin with the end in mind?” That suits this chapter perfectly. If you consider the three phases of homeschooling: the beginning- learning how to do it, the middle- finding your stride and pressing on, and the end- wait, what? Are we done? The end is just around the corner, and like all milestones, tends to sneak up on us. I’m graduating my third homeschooled son this year, and with each graduation, I’m a big cliché wondering where the time went. So, as you begin with the end in mind, we’ll have to uncover your teen’s “end.” There’s no doubt that it will be unique and complex, but that’s ok, your teen has the most dedicated and convicted guidance counselor assigned to the job—you.

Financial Impact

One of the biggest rewards of resourceful high school planning is the financial impact you can make on your teen’s future. We’ll talk a lot about cost and debt in a future chapter, but if you allow me to introduce you to some of the basic concepts early, it will give you a lens through which you can view future high school planning decisions. Even if your teen’s college fund is well-stocked, you still don’t want to waste money. We live in a country that glamourizes the “education at any cost” ideology. Certainly, there are times in life when the “at any cost” approach is rational. A baby is born at 25 weeks, a mother is diagnosed with cancer, or a home is destroyed by fire. No one should raise an eyebrow when parents take a second mortgage to pay for NICU care, max-out credit cards to cover treatment, or borrowing money from family while your family looks for a new home. Yet, somehow in the past 20 years, paying for a bachelor’s degree landed
in this pile.

You’ve read it in the news, but you probably know real people who have borrowed against their retirement savings, drained their 401k, and tapped their home equity to finance their teen’s college education. (Note: I deliberately choose the phrase “college education” instead of “college degree” because only half of those who
start college will actually complete their degree.) If trading my future financial security guaranteed my child’s certain success in life, I’d do it without hesitation. But, there is a fly in the ointment. A college education does not guarantee certain success. Enrollment in college does not guarantee completion. Completion of a college degree does not guarantee job stability. In addition, it’s very likely that even with a college degree, that retraining and adding new tech skills will be a requirement in most careers. Still, a college education in America has amounted to 1.4 trillion dollars in outstanding federal debt. So, this isn’t a case of parents and students simply paying more money, rather they are borrowing it. And the only guarantee in this entire mess is that each and every dollar borrowed will have to be repaid. The student loan debt crisis (that’s not hyperbole, it’s really a crisis) starts students so far in the hole before they begin work, that it’s unaffordable for most to begin their adult life at the same age as their parents. An early motivation for my family was to reduce cost and reduce my teen’s borrowing, but over the past 8 years, I’ve drifted from “motivation” into aggressively avoiding student loan debt. If that’s a motivation for you, as you build your high school plan, you’ll see places to inject college credit thus reducing overall cost. If you take advantage of the opportunities in this book, it is possible to cashflow your teen’s entire college education and graduate debt-free. Your family can too, it just takes resourceful high school planning.

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Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit