Since the possibility of obtaining an associates degree is available, I determined we would aim for that. The fact that the state of Utah also provides the New Century Scholarship is a bonus.
How do I prepare my children to get the associates degree in high school? First, I see middle school as high school for my kids. I don't believe in redundancy so my kids move forward not backward in their math, English and science. You can see a chart of possible ways to achieve the associates degree here.
Refusing to shut any doors and possibilities, I researched the highest requirements and prepared my children to attend a closed enrollment school. This included the ACT. Some people are unaware of the truth of the ACT and the influence of this test. Here's what I found in Utah:
This college focuses upon working adults not graduating seniors
Open enrollment Universities:
Salt Lake Community College
Applied Technology College Campuses
Link to other possibilities: http://www.utah.gov/education/colleges.html
I allow them to take it in 8th grade (13 year old) as a game. It effects nothing- not what I teach, where I teach or how their peers will look at them. It is merely a puzzle. Anything that comes of it is a bonus. ACT will allow a child to test as young as 13.
Some parents have children who need access to more challenging courses earlier and need to be empowered to get what they really need for their child. I have learned there are places that allow children to be tested as young as 4th grade. For example: Duke Tip provides this testing, camps and even recognition to children who are achieving in this manner. Here is a list ACT recommends:
Allowing them to take the test early has provided some benefits. First, It has allowed me to demonstrate my children's capabilities to counselors or anyone who questions my intentions or my children's desires. Since the schools or counselors are unfamiliar with my student, this is the only thing that speaks to them. It is unbiased and nationally recognized.
Second, the score allowed me to see that I really wasn't doing too badly in comparison to the public system altogether. Since homeschooling was so new to me, I was unsure of how my children compared. As the public system gets dumbed down farther and farther, more children will be able to succeed and look brighter and brighter if the parents are proactive in their child's education.
Fortunately, in Utah there are ways to make sure your child can move forward rather than backward through dual enrollment, online schools, co operative learning groups, independent study and more. See What Are My Options? blogpost. Unfortunately, the laws are primarily available for 9-12 grades through the public system. Charter schools are still struggling to do so due to funding. I would love to see more options readily available for 7-8th grade since this is crucial time to keeping their interest.
Things are slowly changing to make all options available. Sadly, the changes are coming far too late for my own children but the possibilities are coming for others. If the parents will continue to be their student's champion, we will see public education become a marketplace of opportunities to learn not necessarily a babysitter.
So…. What happens if you want to avoid the ACT all together and attend a closed enrollment school? There are ways. But the results may not be in the timing or as cost effective as most would prefer. You can wait till you are 25 to go to Utah State University and then transfer. You could go to a open enrollment school like Snow where they can use placement exams but unfortunately many of those placement exams are associated with ACT i.e. the Compas, Accuplacer or PLAN. The other issue at hand is scholarships. At this time, I am unaware of any transfer scholarships to a closed enrollment school. There appears to be scholarships options after the first year of attendance at the school but not until then. There is also another possibility especially if you have money to spare- take the accuplacer or compas at your local community college and start there and skip the whole public school issue altogether.