Sunday, February 13, 2011

Filling in Transcripts

I have noticed a trend that is obvious in public schools, but is also lapping over into homeschools.  This is what I call transcript filling.  It seems to me that many homeschooling families give up the freedom of education that they once enjoyed in elementary and junior high when they get to high school.  They stop thinking about what they think is important for their kids to learn and start worrying about what the state requires.  They begin the process of what I've dubbed transcript filling.  By this I mean they start trying to check off the list of classes mandated at public schools for a "recommended" or "advanced" high school diploma.  They often do this with little regard for any level of mastery.  They also do this with little regard for the importance of the subject in the student's future life.  It is all about checking off stuff so that the kid can get into college.  That is the point that is so sad to me.  You can still get into college (good ones even) regardless of what is on your high school transcript.  I will give you an example. 

Let's say that my kids and I choose freedom.  Let's say that my son's transcript looks something like this.

4 English credits
3 Math credits (taken as dual credit at Tarrant County Community College)
2 Spanish credits
3 Science credits
1 US Constitution credit
1 World History credit (maybe related to ancient civilizations and the Bible)
1 US history credit
1 Biblical economics credit
5 Electives like cake decorating and marksmanship

With this transcript he would only be eligible for the "minimum" degree in Texas and would therefor not be able to get automatic admission to a state university like say Texas Tech.  But wait. . . He'll already have 9 college credits.  If he takes one more class and has a 2.5 GPA (that's 2 B's and 2 C's), then presto he is back into the automatic admission category. 

From Texas Tech's website for transfer students
ASSURED ADMISSION. If you present the required combination of transferable hours and GPA below, you are assured admission. GPA is cumulative for all transferable courses from all schools attended, and courses taken for grade replacement are used for GPA calculation only if the same course is repeated at the same institution where it was originally taken.
Transferable Hours GPA Requirements
12 - 23 hours
2.50 cumulative
24 or more hours
2.25 cumulative

So it wouldn't have mattered if all we studied in high school was underwater basket weaving and the Bible, as long as he had a diploma and could take 4 community college classes with decent grades.

But let's say that your kid is bound for bigger and better things than Texas Tech.  Let's say that he is going to a private Christian college like Patrick Henry University.

The College requires that a minimum of 18 high school level courses be completed. The following courses should be completed prior to admission to Patrick Henry College:
  • English: Minimum of four courses. To be well-prepared, students should pursue a well-rounded, college preparatory English program that emphasizes literature, grammar, and composition. Examples: grammar, literature, composition, speech, and debate. Please note: Competitive speech and debate may count for one English course.
  • Mathematics: Minimum of three college preparatory courses, which must include: algebra I, algebra II, and geometry. Examples: algebra (I & II), geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and calculus. To be well-prepared, students should take courses at least through trigonometry.
  • Science: Minimum of two different college preparatory courses. Examples: biology, chemistry, and physics. It is preferred that students complete three courses and that those courses include labs.
  • History: Minimum of two courses, which must include at least one comprehensive course in U. S. history and one comprehensive course in world history.
  • Government: Minimum of one course. The course should cover material on local, state, and federal government.
  • Foreign Language: Minimum of one course. Examples: French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Italian, Latin, or Greek. It is preferred that students complete two consecutive courses.
  • Electives: Minimum of 5 courses. Examples include Bible, fine arts, logic, rhetoric, music, economics, geography, and computer courses, as well as courses in areas such as biblical worldview and apologetics.
It looks as though that my son's "minimum" diploma is just fine for them.

There are all kinds of alternatives for ways to get into college and there are all kinds of colleges to get into.  There is even one Christian college doesn't have any academic requirements and selects students based on other criteria.  It is called Rivendell Sanctuary.  Its students graduate with an AA degree.  Every university I have heard of, accepts AAs without question regardless of where the are from. 

So I don't understand why more homeschooling families with high school students don't pursue freedom.  Why not follow what interests your child?  Why not fill their days with subjects you actually think are important to their future?  Why just check off some list given to you by the government?  Maybe I will understand it more when my kids get to high school, but I certainly hope not.