How to Prepare Your Student for College and Life, According to Veteran Homeschool Moms

Abigail EndsleyAug 21st, 2020


Working as a Student Counselor here at Accelerated Pathways, I’ve talked to many fear-stricken homeschool moms. Just last month, one such mom called me in a panic.

“I’ve done everything wrong! My child will never make it to college and it will be all my fault!”

Ever felt that way? You’re not alone.

Meet Bonnie, Cindy, Kelly, and Nickie: four successful homeschool moms who have graciously shared their stories about the ups and downs of homeschooling and what they consider to be the most important skills to teach your children, especially when preparing them for college.

So, what does your child need to succeed after high school?

1. Direction

How can a student prepare for the future if they have no idea what the future holds?

So much focus is placed on getting students into college, why they’re going in the first place is often forgotten. College isn’t for everyone.

“We have this whole group of incredibly talented craftsmen who are going off to college for 4 years and are in $40,000 in debt,” said Kelly, mom of 3 and one of our former staff members. “Some of them could skip all that because they don’t need it! There are definite careers that need a college degree, but there are definite careers that do not and we should stop pushing everyone down the college route.”

Sometimes a certification, licensing, or tech school is the best option for students, especially if the career they’re pursuing is very specialized.

High school is a great time to allow your student to explore their options, find their “niche,” and learn what they’re passionate about. Allow your student to explore their options and, more importantly, allow them to fail while they’re still at home.

By trying, failing, and answering these tough questions in high school, your student can avoid making the same mistakes later in college, when the stakes are higher.

2. Self-Directed Learning

A natural planner, Cindy directed her efforts toward organizing the entire homeschooling process before even beginning. She found the perfect curriculums and made fool-proof plans.

“I tried to do ‘school at home,’ and ‘school at home’ did not work for us. It was horrible. I felt like a giant failure, like I couldn’t teach my sons. We wanted them to really think about things and not just do things because everybody else is doing them. I wanted them to be self-learners and know how to find the information, be able to be resourceful, and not be dependent on teachers.”

With that thought in mind, Cindy allowed her sons to pursue what interested them while keeping careful record of everything they did, softly facilitating their studies while they took charge of their own education. With some help, she turned their self-assigned projects into credits equal, if not superior, to those they would have earned following a traditional path.

This practice encouraged a habit of self-directed learning in her kids. It later paid off tenfold when both of her boys both began and graduated college early.

But not every family works the same way!

While Bonnie followed a more “strict” homeschool route, her children benefited by the same atmosphere of learning: “We did a traditional school day… however, we used a variety of materials and programs throughout the years. When we worked on a classical approach toward middle school and high school, the girls began to make good academic connections.”

Bonnie found this structured routine worked well with her girls’ personalities and even utilized it herself when she went back to finish her bachelor’s degree as an adult learner in 2009.

Encourage self-directed discovery and learning, whether this comes from self-assigned projects or mom-assigned ones. Kids are naturally curious. Hone in on your student’s learning style and run with it. The ability to self-direct is invaluable in college and beyond.

3. Thinking and Study Skills

When I asked Nickie which skills have been most important to her son post high school, she answered without hesitation:

“Critical thinking! We found classes for Biology, Chemistry, Logic, Latin, and Critical Thinking and they were a major part in developing great study habits.”

Teaching your students to break down every problem into digestible chunks can be one of the best gifts you can give them. Applicable to both higher education studies and ordinary life management, no student can be successful without this crucial skill.

Because he internalized foundational study skills, like in-depth note-taking and critical reasoning, Nickie’s son excelled in both high school and college.

“Through his high school years, he maintained a straight A average and was therefore exempt from final exams. He maintained a 4.0 GPA for several years and has a 3.97 GPA currently.”

Though study skills courses are often not for credit, learning how to reason well, increase memory skills, and take excellent notes will pay off in the long run, even if your student isn’t college bound.

According to these four homeschool moms, the best way to prepare your student for college is to instill the basic skills any adult will need to succeed in everyday life. Pass on the fundamental qualities you use every day: self-direction, dedication, and critical reasoning.

With these crucial life skills, your student is bound to succeed no matter where they go, college or otherwise.

We at Accelerated Pathways value self-directed learning, especially in the first years of a student’s education. Whether pursuing dual credit in high school or getting started in college, we’ll pair your student with a Success Coach who will help them learn the skills they need to succeed in college and life beyond. Click here to learn more about the Accelerated Pathways program.

Abigail Endsley

A former student counselor and Accelerated Pathways student, Abigail is now a writer and Accelerated Pathways Content Manger who's passionate about empowering others to achieve their goals. When she’s not hard at work, you can find her reading, baking cupcakes, or singing Broadway songs. Loudly.