It’s a predictable yearly event. I experienced it at the end of my kids’ sophomore year of high school. I work through it with my private clients year after year. The junior year panic can seize you by the throat, cloud your ordinarily clear thinking, and convince you that you’ve totally messed up your child’s life by homeschooling high school.
You need to know that the panic is normal. You will survive. And, your kid is much better off than you realize. Here are some of the specters that haunt homeschooling parents:
My child doesn’t have the laundry list of offices that their friends have. No, they don’t. Neither do most homeschoolers and that’s totally okay. In fact, parents who are concerned about homeschool college admission and who have created organizations so their kids can have the “normal” memberships have actually done them a disservice. One of our advantages as homeschoolers is that we don’t look like everyone else. When we try to, we lose the benefit.
Look at it this way. A college admissions officer reads through piles and piles of applications every given day. Most of them list an honor society. The majority will list an officer position in any number of clubs: English Club, Spanish Club, French Club, Key Club . . . . And, the admissions officer knows that the child in this particular folder, like the rest of the 18,000 kids applying that year, show up at a prescheduled time for a lackluster meeting and have no real leadership. They just meet. Big deal.
Homeschoolers; however, that pursue the things they love don’t have normal things. Instead, they have interesting things:
* Glider Pilot Training
* Ring Master for an Auctioneer
* Owner and Operator of a small commercial feedlot
* Published author
* Lab Assistant
Do you see what a profound difference there is?
Have we done enough? Well, it depends. At the end of the sophomore year, there is still time to create meaning in a child’s profile, although not enough time left to build years of skill sets. If they have leadership in place and are actively pursuing opportunities they love, often just a tweak will push them over the top for competitive schools.
The rigorous academics are in place or not. Without Algebra 2 you can’t jump into AP Calculus BC.
But here’s the thing to keep in mind. If your child needs to go to college to become what they are designed to do (and many do not), there is a college for every child. Remember, there are not “best” colleges. There is the best college for your child and it might be your local community college or your premier state university or a tiny Christian school one state away. It all depends on your child. Therefore, checklists of what your student needs are, for the most part, unhelpful. Go at it in the reverse. Who is my child? What kind of education do they need? And THEN find a college that fits them.
If you are struggling with the Junior Year Panic, take heart. It’s normal, but it’s also a wake-up call to evaluate where your student is and what needs to happen in the time they have left.