A Plan for High School for Ontario Homeschoolers

QUESTION: If my admission will be based on only 12U credit courses or standardized tests written in my last year of home schooling, then how do I structure the earlier high school years?

Plan backwards: Determine when you will need final grades and scores and make a reasonable timetable of study working backwards. Generally, 1-2 years is a good length of time to study for a high-stakes standardized test. Subject tests (SAT II or AP) will require at least a full year’s worth of study to prepare for the test, but also may require 1 – 3 years of prerequisite study of earlier topics leading up to the tested material.

Choose a curriculum method:
You may find it easy to pick one series of textbooks and generally follow it up through the high school grades to ensure that you are following a comprehensive curriculum. You may prefer to design your own “skills/knowledge” based curriculum where you research the specific skills and topics required (e.g. Quadratic Functions, Trigonometric Ratios) to achieve your goals and then simply use a variety of texts or internet resources to research and study each particular topic.

Be disciplined: Don’t put off studying simply because the test is so far away. These tests may only be one day events, but they are intended to measure years’ worth of preparation.

Read: Read anything you can get your hands on, and read critically. Read not only to understand the content of the text, but also how the writing style itself conveys meaning. Make every text an opportunity to discuss how an author gets his meaning across to the reader. Don’t just study literature; read newspaper and journal articles, textbooks and other non-fiction works.

Write: Writing may not feel like a natural activity, but strong writing skills are essential to success in most university programs. Encourage any kind of writing such as journals, letters to the editor (or mom and dad!), stories and book or film reviews. At all times, stress clarity of thought and expression. Remember that writing is an attempt to communicate and successful writing is writing that gets its point across well!

QUESTION: How early do I have to start planning?

The answer will depend on whether you choose to include standardized tests, 12U credits and/or a portfolio in your university application.

High School Diploma: start taking credit courses in “Grade 9″
Standardized Tests: follow a challenging English/Math program through “Grades 9 and 10″ and begin test prep in fall Gr. 11
12U credit courses: follow a challenging English/Math program through “Grades 9 and 10″ and begin with one or two (easier) 12U credit courses in fall of Grade 11
Portfolio: document activities starting in “Grade 9″ and start producing samples of admission-level work in “Grade 11″

General Admissions Timelines
“Grades 9 and 10″

  • Decide on your admissions strategy (Standardized Tests, 12U credit courses (“Top Six”), Portfolio/Transcripts, Mature student entry)
  • Research admission policies at your schools of interest (Do they have a homeschool policy already in place? Is there a homeschool contact person in university?)
  • Contact universities to confirm policies and establish relationship
  • Personal thinking/planning about future (Am I a “science” person? A “history” person? Do I have a specific profession in mind? Do I want to attend university right after high school?)
  • Begin formal documentation for portfolios/transcripts
  • Consult Ministry of Education course descriptions for lists of curriculum topics by grade
  • Collect samples of work, externally-evaluated if possible)
  • Keep exhaustive list of activities and use edu-speak to translate into courses
  • Start regular, academic writing (Argumentative/persuasive writing, report writing, grammar and style, research and documentation, organization and structure)
  • Analysis of texts and literature (fiction and non-fiction) including reading for meaning and content; understanding tone, perspective, and bias; use of figurative language; themes and character development in works of fiction
  • Regular diet of algebra including basic arithmetic and order of operations; integers, fractions, decimals; solving equations; rate, ratio, percent and proportion; linear and quadratic functions; linear and quadratic equations and systems of equations; analytic geometry; polynomials and factoring

“Grade 11″ – credit courses or personalized study program for standardized tests

  • Attend university fairs (usually in the fall)
  • Visit university campuses – when students are there!
  • Language Development
    • Continue regular writing and revising – style and sentence variety
    • Work on improving, enriching vocabulary – consider studying some elements of Latin, Greek
    • Read challenging texts, including those which are open to interpretation
    • Studies in current events/world issues
    • Elementary Logic, especially logical reasoning and fallacies for the purposes of evaluating arguments, identifying faulty reasoning
    • Traditional Grammar Study for clear, concise communication
  • Mathematics Development
    • Humanities students: Continue studies from Grades 9 and 10, working towards proficiency in these skills, and/or SAT preparation
    • Business students: this should be a pre-calculus year with an added emphasis on statistics and probability-if possible, write AP Statistics exam this May-(or with the intention of pursuing this next year)
    • Social Science students: studies from Grades 9 and 10, working towards proficiency in these skills, and/or SAT preparation with an emphasis on statistics and probability (or with the intention of pursuing this next year)
    • Science students: this should be a pre-calculus year (physics students should also consider this a pre-linear algebra year)
    • Math/Computer science students: this should be a pre-calculus and pre-linear algebra year. Completion of the equivalent of 11U Mathematics (Ontario) or Algebra 2 (U.S.) should be the goal.
  • Standardized Test Preparation (if applicable)
    • Start prep for SAT (and any AP exams) in the fall
    • Write SAT (May or June)
    • Write AP exams (May)
  • Credit course route
    • Take one or two 12U courses in first semester (easy ones!)
    • Take one or two 12U courses in second semester
  • Research universities – Method A: By School
    • Close to home vs. far away?
    • Finances and Scholarships?
    • Size of campus/classes?
    • Size of city/town?
  • Research universities – Method B: By Program
    • Where is the program available?
    • Co-op or internship possibilities?
    • Specialization or general?

“Grade 12″

  • Visit OUAC website in the fall
  • Contact OUAC in September re: applying as a home schooled student to receive appropriate login information or paper applications
  • download copy of INFO (available late Sept/October) for specific program requirements and application information
  • Language Development
    • Read and respond to challenging, classical texts – explore the universal themes of classic works and the elements of language used by the author to communicate his or her message
    • Use academic journals (instead of newspapers) to explore current issues
  • Choose some subjects to be studied “from the textbook” and develop the skill of learning independently from a textbook (perhaps choose a text you may be using next year in university – e.g. intro to psychology)
  • Look for opportunities to present your learning to others – form a study group or join a community organization and volunteer to present
  • Attend local seminars held by museums or local colleges/universities
  • Join or form a book club with deadlines for reading and discussion dates
  • Mathematics Development
    • Humanities students: No further mathematics is required beyond studies from Grades 9 and 10, and/or SAT preparation.
    • Business students: study calculus (formally or informally) this year with an added emphasis on statistics and probability if not previously studied. Plan to write SAT II Mathematics and/or AP Calculus in the spring, and AP Statistics, if not previously written.
    • Social Science students: Plan to write AP Statistics in May.
    • Science students: study calculus (formally or informally) and possibly linear algebra. Write SAT II Math and/or AP Calculus in the spring
    • Math/Computer science students: study calculus and linear algebra (formally or informally) with the intention of writing SAT II Mathematics and/or AP Calculus in the spring
  • Standardized Test Prep
    • Revisit prep for SAT in the fall
    • Start AP and/or SAT II preparation in the fall
    • Rewrite SAT (before December)
    • Write AP exams (May)
    • Write SAT II subject exams (Spring)
  • Credit courses
    • Take two or three 12U courses in first semester (ideally, have 6 done!)
    • Take one or two 12U courses in second semester, if desired/necessary
  • Other options
    • Volunteer placements
    • Internships, job shadowing
    • Online university/college courses
    • Competitions (e.g. music, academic)
    • Special camps/activities hosted by universities or community groups
    • Offer tutoring and/or mentoring to younger students
    • Outside certification courses (e.g. cooking, technology, athletics, public speaking, technical writing, swiming) in areas of interest and/or teaching classes in these areas
    • Specialized research project
Want to tell some folks about this post?