Post High School Selection Process
For many families, August is the time to put those finishing touches on plans for a new school year. If your teens are entering the junior or senior years, be sure to schedule time to research the myriad of schools and training options available after high school graduation.
It can be a daunting task to narrow down the possible institutions to which your teen will apply. So to help you select a school that will fit your teen, we would like to offer some suggestions.
The selection process becomes less intimidating if you take time to list some major factors in priority order that are important to your family. Your list of factors may differ, but as a possible starting point, here are some items to think about.
- How far from home do you want your teen to be?
- What type of transportation will be involved in getting your teen back and forth from school (car, bus, train, plane, subway)?
- Is your teen best suited to a small town, urban area, inner city, or rural area?
- If your teen intends to work part time while going to school, what location provides for the best job opportunities?
On campus or online?
A major decision in choosing post-high school training will be whether your teen will complete coursework in a classroom setting or through a distance learning program. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Taking courses online affords the opportunity to save money in room and board. Some schools may have a policy that a certain number of credits must be earned on campus in order to be awarded a certificate or license from the school, so be sure to check this out with the school.
Size of school
Each size of school has its advantages and disadvantages. Large schools generally have a wide variety of training opportunities while small schools tend to have smaller classes with teachers who are more accessible. If your teen tends to gravitate to smaller settings, then career training schools or community college classes would be a better environment than large institutions.
For many parents, the cost of a school will be a determining factor. However, financial aid is available for most post-high school education and may be in the form of scholarships or grants, loans, or work study programs. Aid can come from federal, state, local or school sources as well as private organizations such as banks and credit unions. Also look for scholarships through the organizations your teen participated in during high school (4-H, Scouts, and more).
The most important financial aid form is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and priority should be given to completing this form. In addition, contact your individual state's department of education financial aid office to inquire about sources of state aid.
Also, be sure to contact your school's financial aid office to ask about any other financial aid forms specific to the school that are required for institutional money.
More information on financial aid may be found on the HSLDA high school wesbsite.
- Newsletter Archives: "College Financial Aid"
- More Financial Aid Information
- Competition and Scholarship Awards
During the high school years, you may want to have your teen take a career test to determine his strengths and weaknesses. The test feedback may also suggest occupations that lend themselves to your teen's interests and abilities. Some resources to help you get started are listed on our high school website.
If your teens know what career they wish to pursue, it will give them time to investigate the training that will be necessary following high school graduation. This will be advantageous to you in planning the necessary course work they will need to complete in high school to be ready for their next steps.
Some professions will require training from an accredited program or school. If this is the case, you will want to investigate the credibility of the school or training program and its accreditation status. An accredited program will often lead to a certificate or diploma and may be required for employment.
Certification or Licensing
For some careers, the employee will need to be certified or licensed before being able to procure a job in a particular field. Evaluate the process and requirements with your teen so she will be prepared to complete them successfully.
On-the-Job Training or Classroom Setting
Will the training program include both of these ingredients? If not, is one better suited to your teen than the other? Another aspect to investigate is the length of training time required.
Gathering information on schools
With your parameters in hand, you are now ready to begin gathering information about a potential school. One of the best ways to search for colleges is to use these general search engines:
The internet is also a valuable tool to use. Your community college may be another source since many provide vo-tech and career training programs. They may have knowledge of other schools in your area.
Once you've narrowed down the list of schools, visit each school's website. Most websites provide the email addresses of various departments/personnel that you may contact with questions.
Onsite school visits (if applicable) are highly recommended. Visiting a school lets your teens envision themselves there, gives them a "feel" for the place, and allows all of you to talk to current students. Be sure to take notes after each visit so that you'll be able to distinguish the schools from one another.
Looking ahead to the next season in your teens' lives is an exciting venture. With some prior discussions with your teens and a plan of action, narrowing down the school and program will turn a daunting task into a satisfying one.
Our September newsletter will provide words of encouragement as you begin the new school year.
Hanging onto summer,
Becky Cooke & Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (8/5/2010), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.