Posted in Curriculum, High School

Say YES to Home Economics

If you don’t know, I’m a trained chef by profession.  I went to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York right out of high school and worked as a chef for many years before I got married and started a family.   I LOVE all things food.   As you can imagine, Home Economics in 7th grade was a big influence on me – it was the first time my passing interest was put in an academic context.

We learned about the cookies we made, and we learned about how to make them better for next time.  I was shown how to crack an egg and peel a potato, and I was allowed to use a knife and the oven.  (I grew up in a home without an oven, strange but true, so this was HUGE!)  I was hooked.  I happen to also love the rest of it:  budgeting, sewing, childcare, etc.

Home Economics (rebranded as Consumer Sciences) has fallen from school curriculum in favor of STEM, and fights against the band, choir, and art for a school’s limited resources.  In our measurement-obsessed society, schools have little enthusiasm for subjects that doesn’t prep kids for standardized exams.  Let me say up front, that there aren’t any college credit options for high school home economics, and unless you’re going to major in home economics (excuse me, consumer sciences) you won’t find many college classes either.  It’s a shame, really.   Home Economics, in my opinion, is an acquired skill.   I didn’t always manage my home as well as I do today but know plenty of adults who must have missed home economics altogether.

I think FUN is to blame.  If a curriculum is too fun or too inviting, gets in the way of important things, like transcripts, college admission, and test prep.

Real home economics teaches basic life skills that will carry a person through their entire life, but they also give expose our teens to activities that may not have come up in our activities of daily living.  I realize making a batch of muffins and sewing a placemat don’t feel as important as more time in World History, but I don’t think it’s an “either-or” position, I think it’s an “and” position.  I think World History is important, and, I think home economics is important.

Poor home economics.  I don’t define a home economics credit as making frozen pizza and volunteering in the church nursery.    Those are valuable experiences, but let’s get into the heart of home economics.   Did it take you years to learn how to live on a budget (are you still learning?).  Do you have to eat out a lot or buy convenience foods because you never learned to cook from scratch?  Do you toss a shirt because it’s missing a button or become stained?  These small skills pay off in a small way once you live in a dorm, a little more when you’re in your first apartment, and a lot once you’ve started a family.  These skills pay off immeasurably if you’re going to be a homeschooling family living on one income for 20 years.

What is home economics?  Many will answer “life skills” and that’s not untrue, but to me, there is a difference between being able to keep your family alive and being a skilled home economist!  In my opinion, home economics are a deliberate attempt to learn and then master skills of the home.  I realize that some of the skills will fall into the category of “feminine” and may not appeal to your sons,  but that’s ok, we all have had to learn things that aren’t our favorite.  There may be many independent years where your son will thank you for teaching him to cook and do his laundry.

What’s covered in a basic Home Economics course?

It varies by curriculum designer, but in general, the more of this the better:

Finances and Budgeting (income, expenses, saving, credit, budgeting)

Household Care (interior cleaning, laundry, repairs)

Automobile Care (routine maintenance, pumping gas)

Basic Sewing and Mending (Fix a button, patch a hole)

Shopping and Storage of Food (refrigerated, frozen, and non-perishable)

Basic Lawn and Garden (Mowing, weeding, planting, pest control)

Basic Home Furnishings (selecting furniture, painting a room, hanging curtains)

Safety (CPR, First Aid, child-proofing, personal protection, over the counter medication)

Child Care (feeding, changing diapers, supervising, nurturing)

Organizing (a place for everything, everything in its place)

Entertaining (special cooking or baking, decorating, guest lists, etiquette)


Parent Mentoring

I think homeschool parents have an advantage when it comes to teaching and modeling good home economics.  Why?  Because we’re always teaching our children!  It doesn’t start or stop with the clock.  So while it’s common sense to teach these skills to our teens, I like to be a little more diligent about it by making a list of “must know” and tackling it with my husband.  A list is good because if you have many children like I do, it helps you remember who knows what and who doesn’t.  It also helps you really consider the skills familyyou’d like your teens to take with them when they leave home.  My kids watched a lot of lawn mowing before they were allowed to do it themselves, and many years of practice before they were “good” at it.  Many skills lend themselves beautifully to parent mentoring, but you may also want to use a formal curriculum or course.


When I started looking for a formal home economics curriculum, I was pretty disappointed.  My go-to and favorite review site Cathy Duffy Reviews doesn’t have a section for home economics, but I’ve done my own homework.  In addition to these high school programs, I’m going to list a few more “grown-up” options that are fantastic.  For example, I love the ServSafe Food Handler course!  In addition to it providing a real career credential they can add to their resume, your teen will learn a ton about basic kitchen sanitation – something everyone should know.   If you have a favorite to add, I’d love to know about it!


High School Textbook-based

Alpha Omega Home Economics Lifepac (10 workbook course – Christian)

Christian Light Publications (10 workbook course – Christian, for females only)

Landmark’s Freedom Baptist (1 book – Christian, for females only)

Abeka Family and Consumer Sciences (1 book – Christian, cooking only)

McGraw-Hill Catalog (over 200 books to choose from- Secular)

Foundations in Personal Finance, Dave Ramsey, (Christian/ Secular)

Online Learning

Home Economics Kitchen Skills, free online course, Plain and Not So Plain (Christian)

Household and Personal Management, free online course, Plain and Not So (Christian)

Foundations in Personal Finance, Dave Ramsey, (Christian / Secular)

ServSafe Food Handling Certification $15 food safety course includes certification.

Alison Diplomas, free open courses in Childcare, Caregiving, Nutrition, and many others. Can be taken individually or for a diploma.  These are not for college credit.  (Secular)

Life Skills for Young Men, Plain and Not So Plain (Christian)

 

 

Posted in financial aid, High School, Resources, Scholarships, working

100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

Last week, I wrote a nice long post demonstrating some of the financial and real-world benefits of Working During College.  At the end of that post was a list of companies that would pay your teen’s tuition while they went to college!

In today’s post, I want to share a list of 100 companies that frequently offer scholarships to their employees or children of employees!

Parents:  check with Human Resources immediately!  Scholarship application deadlines are sometimes a year in advance.

Who qualifies?

It depends.  In some cases, a parent’s dependents are eligible to apply, but in other cases, the teen must be an employee.  If you or your teen already work for one of these companies, simply contact your Human Resources department and ask for more information.

My teen wants a job that isn’t on this list

Working is great, no matter how you slice it, but rather than browsing and hoping to find your teen’s employer, be proactive and talk to them about seeking employment at a company that offers educational benefits through scholarships or tuition reimbursement.  That’s being smart and planning ahead.  A summer job isn’t supposed to be a permanent career that’s deep and rewarding. It’s a nice way to earn some spending money, learn responsibility, develop a work ethic……. and possibly earn a scholarship!

What’s the difference between tuition reimbursement and a scholarship?

Tuition reimbursement generally requires continued employment with the company while you go to school.  When you’ve finished a course, the company writes you a check to reimburse you for the tuition you paid.  Tuition reimbursement can sometimes pay for a full degree, but often has a service requirement or other obligation in exchange for the educational benefit.

Scholarships are awards given to a student for achievement.  Often, these are one-time awards.  Scholarship amounts vary by employer, but it’s not unusual to see scholarship awards for $500 – $2,500.  Typically, a scholarship is a one-time award without further obligation.

I’m seeing a few names that are also on the tuition reimbursement list.

That’s right!  Many companies consider investing in an employee’s education as a very important part of their mission.  According to the Society for Human Resource Management (the largest HR organization in the world), as many as 91% of large companies maintained or increased their educational benefits since 2014.  In contrast, as few as 4% offer any kind of student loan forgiveness program.  In short:  plan to find these benefits before you start college and resort to borrowing.  Among millennials, as many as 1/3 reports falling behind on their student loan payments.  Ouch!

  1. A&W
  2. Abbott Laboratories
  3. Adobe Systems
  4. ADP
  5. Aetna
  6. Alcoa
  7. Amazon.com
  8. American Airlines
  9. American Cancer Society
  10. AT&T
  11. Baxter International
  12. Biogen Idec
  13. BMW Group
  14. Bosch
  15. Build A Bear
  16. Burger King
  17. California Grape Grower
  18. California State University Bakersfield
  19. Capital One Financial
  20. Carmax
  21. CenterPoint Energy
  22. Chevron
  23. Chobani
  24. Citigroup
  25. Community Bankers Assoc. of Illinois
  26. ConocoPhillips
  27. Costco
  28. CPS Energy
  29. Cracker Barrel
  30. CVS Pharmacy
  31. Darden Restaurants
  32. DirecTV
  33. Dish Network
  34. Dominion Resources
  35. Duke Energy Corporation
  36. DuPont
  37. Edison International
  38. Express Scripts
  39. Exxon
  40. GameStop
  41. General Electric
  42. General Mills
  43. Genzyme
  44. H&R Block, Inc.
  45. Harley Davidson
  46. Hewlett- Packard (HP)
  47. Home Depot
  48. Humana
  49. Hyundai Motors
  50. IBM
  51. Intel
  52. J Crew
  53. JetBlue Airways
  54. Kentucky Fried Chicken
  55. L.L. Bean
  56. Land O’ Lakes
  57. Long John Silver’s
  58. Lowe’s
  59. Marathon Petroleum
  60. Mayo Clinic
  61. McDonald’s Corporation
  62. Meijer
  63. Morgan Stanley
  64. Mutual of Omaha
  65. National Roofing Contractors Assoc.
  66. Nordstrom, Inc.
  67. Nucor
  68. Oshkosh
  69. Pacific Gas & Electric
  70. PepsiCo
  71. Pfizer Inc.
  72. Phillips 66
  73. Pizza Hut
  74. Rockwell Collins
  75. Roller Skating Association
  76. SAS
  77. Servco – HI
  78. Southwest Airlines
  79. Starbucks
  80. State Farm
  81. Subway Restaurant
  82. Sunoco
  83. Taco Bell
  84. Texas Instruments
  85. Tj Maxx
  86. Uline
  87. Union Pacific
  88. United Technologies
  89. US Bank
  90. USDA
  91. Valero Energy
  92. Verizon
  93. Vermont Grocers Assoc. Member
  94. Wakefield Healthcare Center
  95. Wal-Mart
  96. Walgreens
  97. Walt Disney
  98. Wells Fargo
  99. Whole Foods
  100. Yum!
Posted in High School, Resources, Transcripts

Transcript Resource Page

It’s only the most important homeschool document you’ll ever create!  I have a few favorite resources that I know you’ll love.  If you want to read my thoughts,  Homeschooling for College Credit, Chapter 7 is dedicated to the creation of transcripts specifically for families earning college credit in high school.

 

GPA Calculation

My favorite GPA calculator is Back2College   SUPER easy to use, I’ve used it for at least 5 years.  Totally free, but it is really just a calculator.  They use a standard 4.0 grading scale, so if you’re planning to use a different weighted grade scale, this isn’t the best site.  

Alternative GPA calculator if you use weighted grades  GPA Calculator

 

Transcript Template

My favorite transcript template is by How To Homeschool  You can create a pdf document that can be printed or saved, all totally free!  Uses a standard 4.0 grading scale. 

 

Transcript Services

If you want to use an online template that looks really official, HSLDA offers a transcript service.  Note that they won’t write your transcript for you, rather you enter your data in their system and they store it for 12 months.  While I have not personally used it, I know many who have and were very satisfied with the product.  HSLDA Transcript Service

 

Transcript Writing Help

HSLDA has a nice section of samples, videos, and tutorials that can walk you through a lot of the basics.  HSLDA Transcript Help page

 

Not my Favorite

Transcript Pro Software& DVD $189.00

I balanced sharing my negative opinion vs. not saying anything at all, but I opted to share my opinion for this product because of the cost.  The bottom line, if you shell out this kind of money, you’re going to be disappointed.  The full package is $189  ($49 base +$29 for the digital download and an additional $79 for the DVD +$29 for the printable syllabus).  I purchased this program in 2017, but the new version they are selling (version 4) was written in 2009.  Unfortunately, the DVD only teaches you how to use their software, so unless you’ve purchased that too, there is very little for the parent to learn.  The software is locked, and you’ll need a password to open it.  Once open, you can make a total of only 8 transcripts.  You can buy another 8 attempts for $49 more.  Their software operates offline, so no updates to their product are available, and you’ll have to save your files to your computer.  Again, computer technology since 2009 has changed significantly, so it’s a shame that they haven’t moved their product to a web-based platform.  As a result, you’ll not be able to use the program if you have Mac or a mobile device.  It only works (properly) on Windows 98 or Vista, and there isn’t a mobile app, so you’ll need a desktop computer. My advice, this is an extraordinarily expensive product for something that you can do for free on a dozen websites.

Posted in Dual Enrollment, High School, Transfer Credit

Dual Enrollment Basics

Member question(s):  How does one go about starting dual enrollment?  I’ve seen posts of homeschoolers as young as 15 who are enrolled in dual credit classes, however, I am still not certain if there is an age limit for them to enroll?


This answer isn’t going to cover all of it, but it will give you the basics and get you pointed in the right direction.

First, let’s define dual enrollment:  it may be called something different in your state, but the general concept is that the student earns dual (double) credit for their work in one course. 

Example:  Your 12th-grade teen signs up at ABC Community College and takes English 101.  As the homeschool parent, you award them high school credit for their work (12th-grade English) and the college awards them college credit (English 101).  It’s double dipping!  2 birds with 1 stone!

Access to Dual Enrollment

There are several “levels” of dual enrollment access, and most of the time it depends on the state you’re homeschooling in. In the most restrictive states, there is no dual enrollment allowed for homeschoolers at all– you need a high school diploma/GED to take college classes. Keep in mind this is a standard college entrance policy, so this isn’t really doing anything wrong, but they are not lowering their admissions and granting access- so in other words, dual enrollment is a privilege being extended to students, allowing them to enroll in advance of meeting regular entrance requirements.  As such, not everyone gets this privilege.

Here are variations of privilege you’ll find as you search the public community college procedures in all 50 states:

  • It’s not allowed for high school students of any type.
  • It’s “allowed” if you’re in public/private school, but not homeschool.
  • It’s allowed for everyone, but you have to pay full tuition (Illinois).
  • It’s allowed, but the state tells you how many credits/courses you can take (Ohio).
  • It’s allowed, and the state provides a tuition waiver for reduced tuition.
  • It’s allowed, and the individual school decides if tuition is reduced. (South Carolina)
  • It’s allowed, and it’s free for all high school students. (Georgia, North Carolina)

Now, once you step outside of public community colleges, you’ll enter into the private school arena, where anything goes.  Private schools almost always charge full price tuition, however, some state programs extend their waivers to be used at private colleges (Ohio) but this is not the norm.  Even in states where dual enrollment has full access and is completely free (North Carolina) you won’t see this benefit extended to private colleges.

Age to Qualify

And yes, you guessed it, it differs greatly.  Most states that extend dual enrollment require the student to be in 11th or 12th grade.  Some exceptions exist, like our friends in Florida who can enter as early as 6th grade!  Expect the college to require a copy of your transcript and some type of test score- whether it’s the ACT, SAT, PSAT, or one of the college’s own tests (Accuplacer, Compass).  Not all states require test scores for entry (North Carolina, for example, only requires test scores for some programs) but it is generally the norm.

In every case, graduating high school ends your dual enrollment eligibility, and you’d switch over to a regular dual enrollment student if you continue at that college.  If you plan to attend a different college, you’d apply there as a regular incoming freshman.

Transfer Student vs Freshman Applicant

The word “transfer” has more than one meaning in college, which confuses the heck out of people, and rightfully so.

Parents want to know if their teen’s dual enrollment credit “will transfer” to a 4-year college later, and the answer is generally “yes.”  That definition of “transfer” is different than the definition of “transfer student.”

First, let’s talk about a transfer student.  A transfer student is a high school graduate that attended another college, accumulated some credit, and then applied to a different college.  While it “feels” like this includes dual enrollment students, (your teen did just graduate, they did attend a college, they did earn some credit, and they are applying to a different college) your high school graduate is not a transfer student as a result of accumulating college credit.  The distinction is when college credit was earned, and in the case of dual enrollment, it was earned pre-high school diploma.  Therefore, your student is not a transfer student.

This is always a hot question because transfer students don’t always have the same access to housing, scholarships, etc. as a freshman applicant.  As such, it’s a lazy answer for me to tell you “so check the college your teen is considering just to be sure.”  The problem with giving that canned answer is it undermines the parent’s confidence in using dual enrollment (which is amazing) and it implies that there are some colleges in both categories, and it’s a coin toss what will happen to their teen.  Let me put that fear to rest.

I would NEVER lie to you and tell you that I’ve looked up every college policy for dual enrollment every year for the past decade, and that and that I’m certain that you’ll never encounter an inconsistency from what I’m telling you- what I will tell you is that I spend a LOT of time digging into this question, and I’ve never found a single college that treats dual enrollment credit as transfer credit.  Not 1.  Ever.  So, while it’s true, that the unicorn may exist, I’ve never seen it.  Thousands of college policies, year after year, I’m still waiting to find an exception.  As such, if YOU find one, I want to know- I need to know! I want the readers to know.


A simple rule of thumb: 

classes taken pre-high school diploma:  dual enrollment

classes taken post-high school diploma:  transfer credit


Finding Dual Enrollment in Your State

Dual enrollment privileges and funding can change from year to year, and I don’t have a good resource list to share with you.  As fast as lists are written, changes occur, and lists are outdated (!)  Furthermore, when you do your own research, it isn’t enough to find out if your state offers dual enrollment, you need to find out if your homeschool student is eligible. Unfortunately, homeschoolers are not always eligible.

When I research dual enrollment, the BEST document that I start with was written by The Education Commission of the States and has a ton of good information.  (Start there)  It’s from 2015, and so it’s 2 academic years old at this point.  If an updated edition becomes available, I’ll post it here.  Here is the page for Alabama.  They have pages for each state:

Alabama
Program Basics
Statewide policy in place Yes
Definition or title of program Dual Enrollment
Where courses provided
  • At high school
  • At postsecondary institution
  • Virtual program
Postsecondary and/or secondary credit earned Both
Students may take developmental/remedial coursework for dual credit No
CTE component Yes. Students at two-year colleges may enroll in academic, career and technical or health science courses.

Local boards may elect to participate in the Early College Enrollment Program (ECEP), a dual enrollment program for career and technical education students in grades 11 and 12.

Students who do not have a minimum “B” average but who have demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses.

Unique characteristics Private school and homeschool students may also establish dual enrollment agreements with postsecondary institutions.Students in grades 10-12 who do not meet the eligibility requirement of a “B” average in high school courses may be determined eligible to participate in dual enrollment “pending demonstrated ability to benefit as documented by successful completion and placement identification on assessments approved by the department of postsecondary education” (includes ASSET, WorkKeys, CPAT). Such students are limited to pursuing career/technical and health-related courses, and must have “a ‘B’ average in high school courses related to the occupational/technical studies, if applicable, which the student intends to pursue at the postsecondary level and” have an overall 2.5 grade point average.

The state department of education must work with districts with the lowest high school graduation rates to implement dropout prevention interventions. One of the interventions the department may implement is offering full course fee waivers to students eligible for free/reduced lunch who are enrolled in dual credit courses. The department must submit a written report to the legislature on the outcomes of dropout prevention strategies, and any planned modification of school system dropout prevention strategies and activities, based on the data compiled.

Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook State Groups

You should join your state’s group and try to connect with people in your state/community. This is how we can create the best and most up to the minute help for each other.  State groups range from small to large, active to quiet, so the best way to add to the body of knowledge is to invite others who may want to contribute to or benefit from discussing college credit options!  Find Your HS4CC State Group Here

No Dual Enrollment?

If you don’t have access to dual enrollment, you may be able to enroll your teen in a different state’s program.  The New Mexico Community College system is open to 11th and 12th-grade homeschool students, and their courses generally transfer back to your own state.  They are a popular choice since their system is the lowest cost in the country- about $50 per credit for out od state students.

Another popular option is DIY Dual Enrollment, which operates outside the college system entirely.  In this case, the parent provides curriculum and instruction, followed by a standardized exam like CLEP.  I have a lot to say about CLEP vs Dual Enrollment, so I made a short seminar for you on the topic:

 

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, High School

3 CLEP Planning Strategies for High School

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to choosing subjects/exams for your student.  I’ve read articles full of “shoulds” but that’s short-sided advice.  The real “should” is based on your assessment of your overall high school program, your teen’s academic ability, your budget, their target school, and many other very individual factors.  Remember that if they earn even ONE college credit in high school, that they are ahead!

(1) Choose the course/exam based on what they are already working on in high school.  

This is a great, casual way to inject college credit naturally when your teen is younger (9th-10th grade), doesn’t have a target career or college in mind, or when planning feels overwhelming for the parent.  In most cases, this is an excellent strategy and the one I suggest as the “default” way to choose a CLEP exam or course.   For example, after studying high school Spanish for several years, it makes perfect sense to attempt the Spanish CLEP exam!

If you have a 4-year high school plan in mind, this will certainly be a logical approach for you.  You’ll simply choose AP, CLEP, or DSST exams that match your 4-year plan.  You’ll find exams for almost every slot, so this approach doesn’t require a lot of extra planning or stress.

(2) Choose the courses/exams based on a target college. 

This strategy sounds like good advice, and people who recommend it mean well, but I only like this strategy when your teen is in 12th grade or already graduated. Now, if your teen is already enrolled somewhere, it’s the ONLY strategy you should consider! But our homeschooling community consists of high school families, and that’s a different ballgame.  The reason this isn’t the best strategy is because you can’t predict the future!  Colleges

The reason this isn’t the best strategy is because you can’t predict the future!  Colleges can and do change their exam policy from year to year, and even CLEP/AP/DSST exams are constantly being revised and reevaluated.  When you’re planning 2-3-4+ years in the future, this strategy will leave you frustrated and overwhelmed, if (when) your teen changes their mind about their career, their target college, if the college changes their policy, or if College Board’s exam value changes.  As you can see, for future planning, this is the riskiest strategy.

An example of significant change came in October 2015 when The College Board’s literature exams were “devalued” by American Council on Education (they’re the ones who decide the number of credits any exam is worth.)  Previously, literature exams were worth 6 credits each, but after the ACE evaluation, they came out worth only 3.  For teens that completed the entire literature series, they went from 18 college credits down to 9! While this was upsetting for everyone, this can happen at any time.

(3) Choose the course/exams based on subject bundling.

This is a great strategy when your homeschool uses robust unit studies, follows a timeline curriculum, year-long immersions, or multi-disciplinary curriculum.  For instance, if you spend the entire school year studying all of the American subjects (American History, American Government, American Literature) then it makes sense for your teen to collect credit for all of the American exams, even if you don’t have a real target in mind.  People think of all kinds of creative ways to bundle exam subjects together to match 1 year of high school study.  Here are a couple ideas you can try:

American Bundle (yields 15 college credits)

  • US History I CLEP
  • Civil War and Reconstruction DSST
  • US History II CLEP
  • American Literature CLEP
  • American Government CLEP

Business Bundle (yields 15 college credits)

  • Personal Finance DSST
  • Introduction to Business DSST
  • Information Systems Computers CLEP
  • Principles of Management CLEP
  • Principles of Marketing CLEP

Psychology Bundle (yields 9 college credits)

  • Introduction to Psychology CLEP
  • Educational Psychology CLEP
  • Human Growth and Development CLEP or Lifespan Psychology DSST.  Choose one, not both. These are the same exam and your teen won’t receive credit for duplicate exams.

Links to Exams

List of DSST exams

List of CLEP exams

List of AP exams

Posted in College Majors, High School

Hot Rod School

Hot rod college? What?  File this under “interesting college options!”  Since relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve received quite an education about motorsports engineering, fabrication, and engines- it’s a BIG, BIG, deal to a LOT of people! nascar.jpg

So, I thought I’d devote this post to all things automotive.  I’ve got some really great resources for you from high school through college, mainly because I have 4 teenage sons obsessed with all things automotive.  Each of my sons has their own special interest (luxury cars, muscle cars, motorcycles, ATVs) so if this is where your teen’s interest lies,  start your engines!


Homeschool Curriculum

Crankin Engines (High School Credit) is a homeschool curriculum for your teen and easily adaptable to a co-op class.  This is on my “to buy” list for 2017-2018 school year, so I hope to share specific feedback later.  This will be devoured by my 13-year-old son. It’s a 4-stroke internal combustion engine applied science course, taught through DVD and enginehands-on lab.  The students much purchase an engine (the teacher walks you through a salvage yard and shows you how to choose one for about ten bucks).  The description promises that the parent/teacher doesn’t have to have prior knowledge.

Community College (High School Credit) you may not realize that community colleges have an entire division of courses available to anyone 16 and older for anyone to take!  They use various names, but you’ll see it called “Adult Education” or “Professional Development” and even “Continuing Education.”  These courses are taught by professionals through a non-credit option, usually evenings or weekends for a flat fee (not tuition).  Check more than one community college, if you may find a robust automotive offering!

Car Painting Course (High School Credit) is a DVD curriculum for anyone interested in learning how to paint a car and do simple body work in your home garage.


Summer Camp / Extracurricular

Motorsports Engineering Camp-  I have to take a moment to promote a summer pro1gram that my oldest son attended in 2012 at Univerisity of North Carolina that was absolutely fantastic.  We lived in Illinois at the time, so this was his first “sleep away” experience, but the students stayed on campus and were supervised by the
Engineering faculty during a week of motorsports engineering lab activities at their 4.5 million dollar facility! The did a lot of amazing things.  Sadly, this specific camp isn’t currently offered this year, but I encourage you to contact the many colleges I’ve listed below if this sounds like something your teen would enjoy.


Driving Experiences

Ok, I’m not fooling anyone- this is a complete and total indulgence, but if your teen is a car ennascar2thusiast, this fuels their fire and helps them appreciate the complexity and level of knowledge they’ll have to possess in the profession.  Driving experiences are available all over the country at select locations.  The NASCAR Driving Experience allows you to ride with or drive an actual NASCAR.  It’s expensive and requires
a full day of “school” before you’re eligible.  If you ride along, you must be 16, and to drive you must have a car3valid driver’s license.  The fun doesn’t stop there.  If NASCAR isn’t your style, there are Exotic Driving Experiences, which are nearly identical, except instead of a NASCAR, you’ll ride in or drive an exotic sports car.  (I feel obligated to share that my son paid for this himself.  This kind of indulgence isn’t in this momma’s budget!)


Dual Enrollment

Community College (High School & College Credit)  There is a strong possibility that your community college offers dual enrollment courses for college credit.  In many states, dual enrollment in career and technical occupations (automotive, motorsports, fabrication) waive testing requirements that are otherwise used for liberal arts, math, English, science, etc. courses.

As an example, my local community college offers 3 dual enrollment automotive paths, all lead into a degree program if the student desires.


College, Career, and Techincal Programs

The following programs are for high school graduates, though some may offer dual enrollment and summer programs.  This short list is my personal list, and I’m sure lacks hundreds of excellent programs, so it is by no means complete.  If you have a program you’d like to recommend for this list, let me know!

University of North Carolina Charlotte  Motorsports Engin2eering capital of the country.  A number of programs including Bachelor of Engineering with a concentration in Motorsports, Master of Science, MBA in Motorsports, and even a Ph.D. in Motorsports research. This is the campus that hosted the camp my son attended.
(Engineering majors study math above Calculus)

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis The first Bachelor’s program in the country dedicated to motorsports engineering, and they’ve also added a Master of Science program and a certificate option.  (Engineering majors study math above Calculus)

car2.jpgLakeland College Street Rod Apprenticeship Program in Canada has a fantastic program called “try-a-trade” that allows the students to “try out” the program for 12 weeks before deciding to enroll in the 8-month Street Rod Apprenticeship.  Apprenticeship Video

 

Utah Valley University    With a specialization in Hot Rod Technology, Utah Valley offers a one-year certificate, diploma, Associate in Applied Science Degree, and a Bachelor of Science in Technology Management Degree.  NOTE:  Utah Valley allows students to use CLEP and DSST exams to complete their general education requirements!  Up to 25% of a degree may consist of CLEP or DSST credit.

Ohio Technical College offers 10 different training programs, ranging from 1-2 years in length.   Depending on the specialization, students will earn either a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.  The Associate degree requires some general education, but the certificates and diploma programs consist of 100% hands-on labs.

  • Auto-Diesel Technology
  • Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology
  • Manufacturer Training
  • Classic Car Restoration Technology
  • Complete Automotive Technology
  • Diesel Equipment Technology
  • Motorcycle and Powersports Technology
  • High Performance and Racing Technology
  • Rod and Custom Technology
  • Welding and Fabrication Technology

NASCAR Technical Institute (Universal Technical Institute) is a NASCAR-endorsed franchise training program operating in 8 states (North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts).  Beyond NASCAR engines, you can also study automotive, motorcycle, diesel, collision, and marine technology.  They have a pretty active Facebook page your teen can follow.

The Hot Rod Institute in South Dakota is another 100% hands-on program.  The student’s training can lead to a certificate or diploma in specialties like Hot Rod Motorcycle, Hot Rod Upholstery, and Hot Rod Performance.  The only “ding” that bothers me a bit about this school, is that they don’t participate in Federal Financial Aid.

 McPherson College offers a BA in Automotive Restoration.  (Thanks Kathy B. in New Jersey!)

 

WyoTech has 3 campus locations (Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Florida) that specialize in core automotive technology, collision, diesel, marine, and motorcycle technology. WyoTech used to be owned by Corinthian Colleges, which landed them in serious financial student loan trouble- they used to have 7 campuses, and now only have 3 as of 2015.  This is a program to consider with caution.  It’s too soon to know if they will turn around or close down.  I mention this because if you start doing an internet search for programs, they’ll be in your top search results.  More information to consider before considering WyoTech.


Let me leave you with one closing thought:  Before enrolling in any of these super exciting programs, be sure to allow your teen the opportunity to meet people working in these careers.  Even informal interviews, email correspondence, or social media connections can provide valuable insight into matching the right training to the right career path.  

It is not always possible to be the best, but it is always possible to improve your own performance.  -Jackie Stewart “Flying Scot” Formula One Racing Driver

 

car

Posted in Curriculum, Dual Enrollment, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline and my 10th Grader’s Spring Semester

Almost as an afterthought, when my 12th grader started using Straighterline this past semester, I decided to enroll my 10th grader- for just one month.  My goal was for them to share the textbook I’d just purchased for my older son.  Efficiency is always an important part of our budget.  They’d share the text, learn lessons together (mostly) and we’d assess after the first class.  (NOTE:  In our second month, Straighterline’s policy for books changed, and a free edition of an eBook was included with each course’s tuition, so we ended up not spending anything on books after the first month!)

You can read about the basics of using Straighterline in your homeschool, or how to choose your courses in my previous posts.  For this post, I just want to provide a brief overview of what my son did, what we spent, and his outcome.  As you’ll see, the first month was so successful (earning 9 college credits) that I decided to continue for the duration of the semester (Dec-May).  You should know that he dedicated about 1-2 hours per day to his Straighterline course Monday-Friday as part of his regular school schedule.  He was able to complete his other homeschool courses (Chemistry with Lab, Consumer Math, and Building Thinking Skills) during another 1-2 hours each day.

As you read the schedule, I list each course and credit earned in the month that I purchased it, not the month he completed it.  Some courses were completed in a week, others in a month, and others took longer still.  As an example, Nutrition and American Government, courses he’d already taken in homeschool, took him only 1 week each, but writing-intensive courses like English Composition I & II took him about 7 weeks each.

As I write this, he enters his final month of school with Straighterline and me. We take a summer vacation, so I’m ready to wrap things up with our kids by Memorial Day.  He has completed everything except Chemistry and English II.  He has 3 more papers to write for English II and hasn’t started their chemistry course.  Since he’s been doing Chemistry with Lab all school year with me, I expect Straighterline’s General Chemistry I to go smoothly and take about 2 weeks.  Writing, for him, is a long and arduous process.  I expect he’ll struggle through until the very end.

Grades:  His grades have been fine.  Straighterline requires a minimum passing score of 70% for their courses, and he’s finished most of his courses in the mid-80’s.  His best course grade was English Composition I (93%) and his lowest course grade was Introduction to Psychology (79%).  Final course grades issued by Straighterline are based only on quizzes and exams (except composition and lab courses) so testing acumen is important if you want to score well.  Since these credits will only appear as “credit” on his college transcript, the final grades aren’t important to his GPA.  While I used his Straighterline courses to inform the grade I awarded him on his high school transcript, in most cases, the grades I gave him differed slightly.  (NOTE:  Since Straighterline is not a college, you never have to disclose any grades or credits earned/not earned through them.  Dual enrollment, on the other hand, requires full disclosure on college applications)


Breakdown of Costs & Credit

Month Class Cost Discounts Applied Credits Earned
December Membership

Introduction to Religion

Microbiology

Business Ethics

$99

$49

$25

$69

-$20 coupon

-$20 coupon

9
January Membership

Cultural Anthropology

Medical Terminology

Introduction to Nutrition

$99

$49

$49

$49

9
February Membership

English Composition I

English Composition II

$99

$69

$69

6
March Membership

Environmental Science

American Government

Introduction to Psychology

$99

$59

$59

$59

-$49 coupon 9
April Membership

Chemistry I

Introduction to Business

$99

$59

$59

-$50 coupon 6
May Membership $99
IMG_3442 $1376

-$139 coupons

$1237

39

The total we spent over 6 months was: $1237

Total credits earned:  39 

Breakdown average per month:  $206/month

The average price per credit:  $32/credit

What I liked best about his semester:

  • I obviously liked that he earned college credit since he’s isn’t eligible to use dual enrollment in our state until next school year.  This gave him a great head-start.
  • I liked that the course rubric (point break down) is spelled out clearly, so, at any given time, he (I) knew exactly how many points he needed to pass the class.  This eliminated a LOT of testing anxiety because in most cases, he’d already earned enough points to pass
    the course before ever taking the proctored final exam.  While the exam is required, passing is not, so his testing anxiety wasn’t nearly as high as when he attempted (and failed) his first CLEP exam last year.
  • I like that they added free eBooks in the tuition of each course.  This helped me make sure I had the book on day 1 of each class without waiting for books to arrive.
  • I like that I can pay for my son’s classes with Paypal.  This allowed me to use sales from books I’d sold through the College Credit Marketplace swap Facebook group.
  • I like Straighterline’s video lesson format.  Since a couple of their courses didn’t have the video lesson format (Microbiology and Statistics) this can also be classified as what I didn’t like!
  • I liked that my son could do all of his courses without my help (after the first one!)

What I liked least about this semester:

  • I didn’t like finding a totally different format (reading only!) in the Microbiology course.  This was a huge disappointment.  There’s a reason that course is only $25.
  • Some courses had WAY TOO MANY quizzes, or the quizzes were WAY TOO LONG.  I can think of several instances where the quizzes were over 50 questions and covered 4 or more chapters in the text.  Both my sons hated these.  Obviously, since the quizzes are open book (I make them look up every answer on every question on every open book quiz- that’s low hanging fruit people!) these took a long time.
  • This seems to contradict what I just said, but other quizzes were too short.  Nutrition, for instance, was full of 10-question quizzes.  As you can imagine, missing a few questions really makes a difference between an A and a C!  The “sweet spot” according to my teens is the 20 question quiz.  I tend to agree.
  • Written assignments are not graded by teachers, they are graded by “graders.” Graders are anonymous people who you’ll never meet, and can never have
    a conversation with.  While they attempt to give good feedback, the loop is broken because the student can’t communicate with the grader!  In one instance during English I, my son turned in a paper that was kicked back for being off-topic.  It was clearly on-topic, so we had to submit a support ticket, which escalated to a course administrator, and finally resulted in his paper being accepted and graded.  The process is clunky and frustrating when compared with the other courses that don’t have graders (tests are automatically graded instantly).
  •  My son worked fast- and you have to because you’re being
    billed $99 per month.  So, there is a constant sense of playing “beat the clock” in a course. Since we were aware of the structure ahead of time, I adjusted his homeschool schedule and was prepared to pull back on his other work if necessary, but for me, the feeling was a little inconsistent with my normal approach to courses- allowing plenty of time for marinating.  When I asked my son, he said he liked finishing courses quickly instead of spending all semester studying something……so mark this up to personal preference.
  • ProctorU.  I really, really, really don’t love ProctorU.  ProctorU is the third party webcam proctoring service that is part of each final exam.  Your teen logs in, the webcam clicks on, ProctorU opens your final and then testing begins.  Initially, I didn’t like the feeling of the webcam experience, but my kids thought this wasn’t an issue at all.  But, the issue that we had at least 3 times (between about 24 courses with 2 teens) was technical issues getting logged in.  If there is any log in trouble, they route you to tech support, but if you don’t start your exam within the 15-minute window, you have to reschedule it and pay $5.  So, as you can imagine, this is really really frustrating because you have to reschedule your test!  Finals must be scheduled 72 hours in advance (or pay a rush fee).  2 of the 3 times Straighterline covered the $5 reschedule fee for us (I didn’t ask the first time because I didn’t think to) but it’s really inconvenient when you’ve planned your homeschool schedule around taking a proctored exam.  The room has to be private, quiet, and free of things that could be used for cheating.  In our home, the room that meets these criteria is our dining room, so keep that in mind too.  One final ProctorU comment, you’ll need identification for each test.  If you don’t have a driver’s license, they’ll ask for 2 forms of ID.  My son used his passport and driver’s permit.

    EDIT TO ADD ONE MORE THING!!  I can’t believe I forgot to share this earlier when I posted, but English 1 and Psychology are considered actual AP courses – so his high school transcript will list both “AP English Composition” and “AP General Psychology!”   But no, he won’t bother with the exams, he doesn’t need them.