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!

My new method for keeping homeschool grades

Last year I really felt like I wanted to keep a cumulative record of the grades my kids were earning on the subjects where we have tests. I know looking forward to high school we will have to start keeping a GPA, and I thought that it was time to start that process in a small way. Mainly the kids were earning grades on spelling tests, grammar quizzes, reading comp quizzes, and science tests.

I set up a spreadsheet for each child with these subjects down the rows. I printed out the blank sheet and filled it in as we went. What I found was that I was not so great at stopping to figure the overall grade each semester. By the end of the year I had abandoned it because it wasn’t doing what I wanted.

I was having coffee with one of my best friends the other night (who is a wealth of information and great ideas!) and she showed me a new app she had downloaded for her iPad. Called Homeschool Helper, this cute little app is a planner and record book all in one. You can enter field trips, lesson plans, grades, attendance and more – all for $5.

Main screen

Main screen

I was a little hesitant to try any online planner – I had a bad experience last year when I bought an online homeschool planner that never did deliver what it was supposed to. However, after clicking around on my friend’s app, I was hooked.

I am much happier using my own paper lesson plans, but I am using this app for my grades. In about 15 minutes I was able to add both kiddos and all the subjects that I will be tracking grades for. You can even weight the different items so that tests hold more weight than quizzes and so forth.

Student snapshot screen

Student snapshot screen

The app includes a great help section that is full of videos for all your FAQs. Best of all, as soon as I enter the grades, it instantly gives me their cumulative grade. I just love it when technology does the hard work for me!

Note: these images are screenshots from my personal Homeschool Helper app. All copyrights are theirs.

For those of you who keep track of grades, how do you do it?

This post is linked to The Ultimate Homeschool Link Up at The Homeschool Village.