We Chased High-Interest Courses

My youngest is graduating from high school this year, and his high school plan was so different from his older brothers, that it prompted me to write this post. I dedicated 80% of his homeschool courses to chasing high-interest courses. I hope it encourages parents who feel unsure about whether or not it’s ok to do things differently.

A small backstory, my youngest didn’t learn to read until he was 10. He’s fine now, but this early challenge meant working well below grade level, even in high school, in some subjects. I’m not immune to peer pressure, so I experienced a lot of uncertainty along the way. His older brothers all finished high school with a lot of college credit, even a degree or two, so to say I needed to plan differently with him is putting it mildly. I want to add that learning challenges are frustrating for the student, and it’s often easier for them to say they “hate school” than share their feelings of vulnerability around wishing they were better at school. I understood his lack of motivation and fear, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep trying to find something to motivate him!

I discovered that my son’s motivation for history, science, literature, and math was in no way reflective of his motivation and ability to do well in OTHER SUBJECTS. As I watched him rebuild an engine from scratch, fix our neighbor’s lawn mower, and demonstrate his gifts in different ways, I decided to chase high-interest learning opportunities for him.

What I “hoped” would happen, was that he would develop strengths in academics as a byproduct of studying high-interest subjects.

For 9th grade, we did very light academics paired with very robust industrial arts. I’m sharing his actual transcript in this post.

9th Grade 2019-2020
9th Grade English1.0B
Spanish I1.0B
High School Mathematics1.0B
Introduction to Computers0.5C
Earth Science0.5B
Physical Science0.5B
Driver’s Education0.5A
Men’s Health0.5A
Industrial Arts Shop Safety OSHA-100.5A
Industrial Arts Intro. Blacksmithing0.5A
Industrial Arts Beginning Welding0.5A
Industrial Arts Glassblowing0.5A
TOTAL Credits / GPA8.53.29
CUMULATIVE Credits / GPA8.53.29

His OSHA class was online, Blacksmithing was a paid internship- and by that I mean WE PAID THE BLACKSMITH to let my son work for him (!), welding was a homemade class of learning from a neighbor and YouTube videos, and glassblowing was a series of classes he took at a local glass studio.

Welding was the winner, and I immediately signed him up for a Welding Summer Camp offered by a local college. It was expensive and a long drive, but we found the spark, and that informed the rest of his classes.

10th Grade 2020-2021
10th Grade English1.0B
Spanish II1.0B
Math for Welders I1.0A
Industrial Arts Intermediate Welding11.5A
Industrial Arts Advanced Welding11.5A
Industrial Arts Welding Cutting Processes10.5A
Industrial Arts Welding SMAW Stick Plate11.5A
Industrial Arts Welding GTAW TIG Plate11.5A
Industrial Arts Construction Technology 13.0A
Industrial Arts Small Engine Lab0.0Pass
TOTAL Credits / GPA12.53.84
CUMULATIVE Credits / GPA21.03.62

As we moved to 10th grade, I have to emphasize that our state allows parents to set their homeschool graduation requirements, so I went all-in and focused entirely on high-interest courses. He was still struggling with reading, writing, and math, so I worked on finding ways to marry those subjects with something he loved. He did reading from welding books, he did writing by copying welding books, and he did the math using a math welding book! The courses with the “1” after them (or other numbers in other grades as you will see) were taken at our local college, so these were face-to-face. His 10th-grade year turned my “boy” into a “man” in how seriously he took his future. He was motivated to do a good job, show up and work hard. He was motivated to become a skilled welder! In that year, he graduated with 2 “adult” certificates, one in construction and one in welding. He was also exceptionally motivated to do “Math for Welders” because he viewed it as “relevant” to his career. He did not have the skills to finish the entire book in 1 year, so we did it over 2. At that time he also decided he wanted to plan his career as a welder and was ready to work on the college’s degree requirements.

11th Grade 2021-2022
11th Grade English1.0B
Math for Welders II1.0B
Industrial Arts Technical Sketching0.5B
WLD 121: MIG Plate21.5A
WLD 141: Symbols21.0A
WLD 116: SMAW Stick Plate/Pipe21.5A
WLD 122: GMAW MIG Plate/Pipe21.0A
WLD 132: GTAW TIG Plate/Pipe21.0A
WLD 151: Fabrication 121.0A
WLD 261: Certification Practices21.0B
CIS 110: Intro.  to Computers21.0A
Total Credits / GPA11.53.70
Cumulative Credits / GPA32.53.65

11th grade brought the first of several “general education” requirements set by the college. His math and English skills were not college 101 level yet, so we finished Math for Welders as a homeschool course, and I kept him working on high school English (reading/writing). His Intro. to Computers course (a degree general education requirement) was a very-hard-earned “A” but once he had that credit, I knew he could make it the rest of the way. The transcript reflects high school credit, but I’m using the 3:1 ratio, so each college course worth 3 credits yields 1 high school credit. He completed 27 college credits in 11th grade and his 3rd credential – a college diploma in Welding Technology.

This brings me to his current semester! I’m writing this post in real time, so he’s just finishing the first week of this spring semester. This semester is full of his remaining general education courses and loaded with college credit, but it was by his request that he add an additional credential (Nondestructive Examination) to his schedule. After this semester (May) I will award his high school diploma and he will graduate from the college with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology with an additional Nondestructive Examination certification. He’ll have 1 art class this summer, but the college will award a degree with one class pending. His English and math requirements are now met (they weren’t easy) and he has become such a confident young man who went from feeling beaten by “school” to being excited about his career and future.

In our case, his Homeschooling for College Credit journey is leading to a degree in welding. I hope you are fearless in crafting your teen’s college credit journey in a way that gets him EXACTLY where he wants to be!

12th Grade 2022-2023
ENG111 English Writing31.0B
MAT110 Math Measurement & Literacy3  1.0B
WLD143 Metallurgy31.0A
ISC112 Industrial Safety31.0A
WLD231 TIG Pipe31.0A
WLD270 Orbital TIG Pipe31.0Current
ENG112 English Research31.0Current
NDE142 Visual Testing 1-231.0Current
NDE143 Liquid Penetrant Testing 1-231.0Current
NDE110 Intro Nondestructive Testing31.0Current
SOC231 Intro Sociology31.0Current
COM231 Public Speaking31.0Current
ART131 Drawing I31.0 Summer
Total Credits / GPA
Cumulative Credits / GPA  


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

5 thoughts on “We Chased High-Interest Courses

  1. This post made me cry because of how wonderful it is to see a mother support her child in their strengths and guide them towards a life of confidence and productivity in pursuing their interests. I have brothers that I wish would have had these opportunities instead of being pushed along in mindless courses that held no interest for them and added to their already low self-confidence. I’m so grateful that I can do something different with my own children. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. I can’t express how much I appreciate you, your honesty, this service. It is extremely helpful and empowering. I use everything that you share. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. We have a large family and have always sought to tailor our children’s classes to their strength. Still, like yourself we had one that learned to read at 10 as well and we are still working through his areas of interests and strengths. This was an encouragement to me to pursue his interests further. Many thanks!!🌺

  4. Love the concept of focusing on a specific area of interest and building academics around that. We took 1 year to pursue a trade certificate while also maintaining homeschooling for traditional academics. The trade program was very time consuming: 22 hours/week, about 1,000 hours in total. I’m not sure how best to enter it onto the transcript. Public schoolers in the program receive 5 ‘technology’ credits. I am going through the curriculum, though and I think it can be more appropriately divided into subcategories: math, science, technology, trade specific (draft reading, Osha 10, CAM….). My son is needing credits towards specific subjects versus the general ‘technology’ credits. Is there any guidance available on how to determine credits per each subject AND how to document skills/concepts mastered? Thank you for the inspiration and transcript sample!!

    1. There are several ways to calculate 1 high school credit, if you wanted just to dump everything into 1 bucket like the ps is doing, that’s certainly an option, but I’d love to help you sort this into classes for his transcript. Feel free to email me directly and include a link to the course or something for me to look at. Jennifer Cookderosa@hs4cc.com

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