Believe it or not, college credit is NOT created equally, and your teen’s anticipated use of that credit will help you choose the best kind of credit for them to earn.
Making the right choice is the cornerstone of resourceful high school planning. Most of us don’t know for sure what direction our kids are headed until their high school years are in full swing, but we can be honest with ourselves about things that we do know, and we can plan well when we think about planning through the lens of common sense.
Is your teen an academic rock start? Do they consistently achieve top scores on standardized tests and have an exceptional level of motivation? Mine didn’t. I ruled out competitive and elite colleges very early- that did two important things for my family…and sanity…and budget…
(1) It allowed me tune out the different demands of teens on paths other than ours. I wasn’t worried about AP tests and SAT scores, I wasn’t worried about getting Calc 1 on the transcript- I had other things to worry about.
(2) It allowed me to go full speed ahead in the direction we wanted to go, which was where they wanted to go to get trained/educated for specific careers. For my teens, that meant I enrolled each in my community college’s free dual enrollment program and they earned their first credits according to their respective occupations. Since I wanted to control all the costs, I left nothing to the chance of scholarships. That was my path – and it was resourcefully and carefully planned for each of them.
BUT, what if your teen is on that elite and competitive admissions path? Or military academy? Or apprenticeship? Or trade school? Or ministry? Or one of the other dozens of options available to your teen? Each potential path has different demands and thus your strategy won’t look like mine. Or Jill’s. Or Katie’s. Or John’s. Or Brian’s.
Individualized education – yes! Do that!
Finally, it’s important to respect that each family has their own values, their own philosophy, their own goals, and their own budget – and that’s separate from the discussion about getting the right kind of credential for their target occupation! Take yourself out of the competition that compares your teen to others and remember YOU are their best guidance counselor.