Planning to get your AA degree while homeschooling high school

There are as many high school plans as there are high schoolers, and what works for one family isn’t going to work for another.  There are also so many new options today for our teenagers to earn college or vocational credit while still in high school, and trying to navigate them all can be overwhelming.

In our state, it is possible for a student to graduate high school with an AA degree at the same time because of the numerous dual enrollment classes available.  (You can read more about dual enrollment coming up in my Planning for College series).  When our oldest started high school last year she decided that was the path she wanted to take.  As I started researching AA degree requirements, the bachelor degree program she wants to pursue at the university, and then our state graduation requirements, I quickly realized that this was going to take some serious planning.

You can download my free planning worksheets here:
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High School & Degree Planner
Although you will probably need to modify them for your specific needs, it should give you a framework to keep yourself organized.

 

 

The first thing I did was to list out the state graduation requirements on the left column of the high school sheet.  I broke them out by grade, placing the 2 years of foreign language in 9th and 10th grade to get them out of the way and free up space in 11th and 12th to take college classes.  In our state, there are minimum graduation requirements, and then there are an additional set of credits a student needs if they wish to pursue a degree from one of the state universities.  I based this spreadsheet on the 2nd set of requirements.

Homeschool High School Planner

 

 

 

 

 

Next I switched over to the AA sheet and pulled up the requirements our community college has for an AA degree. I listed each grouping of credits and the number of hours on the left.  The last thing I did was to pull up the document our state provides that tells me what high school credits students receive for specific college courses.  (For example, ENC1101 is worth 0.5 English high school credits).  I found this document in the dual enrollment section of our community college’s website.  If you can’t find it online, try calling your home education contact with your county or the dual enrollment coordinator for your local college. Now I have the roadmap of where I’m going.  Time to start filling in the pieces.

In our state, students can start taking dual enrollment classes in their junior year.  So 9th and 10th grade would be all our own classes with an AP history class each year.  (There is no minimum age to take the AP tests.  You can read more about what APs are here, and how I created my own class to prepare for the test here).

Under the course column on the high school sheet I began to fill in the classes for the first 2 years.  If I already knew the specific curriculum I wanted to use I put it there, but if not I just used the more generic “English II” or “Biology.”  Next to each class I filled in the high school credit each is worth.  Most high school classes will be worth 1 full credit, but there are a few that are worth a half credit.

Homeschool High school planner

 

 

 

 

For the 2 AP tests that we are doing I went to the College Board website and noted the amount of college credit and which course our community college was giving for a passing score.  I put these into the appropriate column next to the AP class.  Then I clicked on the AA sheet and entered these courses into the right section. To determine what section to put them in, refer to your community college’s AA degree requirements.  They should have a list of the courses you can choose from for each category.

AA degree planner

 

 

 

 

Now you can see what core courses you have left for the AA degree and begin filling them in on the high school sheet. Be sure to pay attention to pre-requisites.  For example, you might have to finish ENC1102 before you can take a literature class.  So 11th grade English would need to be ENC1101 and ENC1102, then put the literature class in as one of your 12th grade English classes.

You should now have all or almost all your English, Math, Science, and possibly History high school graduation requirements filled in on your high school sheet.  In our state, there are additional elective credits above these core credits that we can now use to fill in with the rest of our AA degree requirements.  Our AA degree program here leaves 24 hours for elective credits.  So how do you decide what to take?

If your student is planning on pursuing a bachelor’s degree, I highly recommend visiting that university’s website to see what that degree requires for the first 60 hours and trying to take as many of those classes as possible.  Many universities will have information for students transferring to their degree programs that is helpful. For our university, they have a list of courses students must complete before they transfer.  We need to be sure to use these as some of our electives.  Another option is to have your student take electives that are in areas of interest.  Maybe a photography class, an art class, or creative writing.

Whatever direction your student wants to go, early planning can help make sure they get there.  My high schooler and I sit down every now and then and review our plan and make any changes we feel necessary.  As a homeschool mom you have to play both teacher and guidance counselor, so don’t be surprised if you often have to find the answers you need on your own.  However, persistence pays off, and if you keep at it, you and your student can make a great plan to help them achieve their goals!

How to use Pinterest for homeschool planning

Pinterest-homeschool-planning

Pinterest is perhaps my favorite part of the internet. While I enjoy the conveniences that come from having the world at my fingertips, there is something so happy and exciting about logging on to Pinterest. A whole site devoted to everything I want to try? Yes please! Plus, it allows me to indulge my need to organize – everything gets its own place. (And unlike my house, things stay put!) If you aren’t on Pinterest yet, I highly recommend it, especially for homeschoolers! Think of it as an online filing cabinet of ideas. I use Pinterest heavily all year round, (you can see my boards here) but it has become indispensable to me for planning my school year. There are many ways to plan with Pinterest, but here’s how I do it:

1. I create a board for the specific school year. This is where I pin links to the specific curriculum I am considering. I use the comments section to note anything particular about that book or program that I want to remember or research further. I create this board many months ahead of time and pin to it as I find things.

2. I have boards specific to each of our major school subjects. This is where I pin things throughout the year as I see them on other blogs or through surfing the Education section on Pinterest. Sometimes I don’t read the whole post, but I pin it anyway for future reference.

3. Whenever I repin something, I take a look at the others who have pinned it in the pop up that appears after you successfully repin. I click through to their board and take a quick look around. If there are several pins there that appeal to me, I follow that board. That way any time they pin something to that particular board it will appear in my home feed. This saves me research time. I also go to that person’s main page and see if there are any other boards I might want to follow.

When it comes time to sit down and make decisions for the year I go back first to my specific school year board. I usually have more than one curriculum pinned for history, Bible study, and writing. I pick one of them and look at each of my pins for that subject. This helps me to compare the differences and answer any questions I mentioned in my comments so that I can come to a final decision.

Once all of our books are decided on, I head over to my subject boards to see what fun activities I can add into my lesson plan. For example, this year we are going to study the Middle Ages, so I have crafts, videos, and pictures pinned to my Middle Ages Pinterest board.
By keeping all of my ideas online in my Pinterest boards I know exactly where to find them, and I can access them from anywhere. I do recommend that you make your homeschool boards as specific as possible to make it easier to find things later on. It’s no fun to scroll through 700 pins to find the one you want! Happy pinning!