What are good online highschool or homeschool curriculums that I can start over summer and graduate early?

By | November 4, 2015

For the record, I live in California; I know state standards have an effect on a question like this. Also, if you’re not planning on directly answering the question, please read the long version before commenting.
Short Version:
I would like to be able to graduate a year early – I’m currently a sophomore going to the closest public high school, but as soon as I get let out for summer I’m hoping to be able to start right away and be done with highschool by the end of the school year, if not by the end of the actual year (~Late December 2013). What are some (preferably faster/easier, I do a ton outside of school) options? Whether it’s college prep or not doesn’t matter.
Long Version:
I’m a sophomore student a year older than my grade who doesn’t get along with the people my age. I currently go to the local public highschool, but plan on transferring out to some form of online or homeschool system at the end of the year. That’s what I need help with picking. At my school, everyone is extremely immature and stupid, and no one seems to think things through before they do them. But ironically, by definition, I’m a poor student – I don’t turn in all my work, I have a horrid time focusing, and it feels like the lessons being taught should last five minutes, but are stretched out to last an hour.
I’ve thought about taking honors classes, but practically all of people I know who do spend the majority of their time doing homework. That honestly wouldn’t work for me because of how much I do outside of school – I currently hold an internship at an IT (industrial data continuity and disaster recovery, specifically) company, and I’m the local music/recording guru (along with computer and other media gigs/jobs I’m given). Because music and tech are the two things I would like to base my career(s) in, I figure those are more important because I’m learning skills that I can use for the rest of my life as opposed to random information that I’ll forget less than a year after I graduate.
I don’t plan on going to college (at least not right away, but I’m not completely ruling out the option). I have a buddy I plan on moving up to Nashville with and opening a recording studio once I get out of highschool – I know, in the long run, the odds of it working out are almost none, but I figure it’s an adventure. And anyway, in the music business it’s not about education, it’s about who you know (and sometimes your talent). My plan B would be to go into some field of the computer/tech industry (assuming music didn’t work out). The same person who got me the internship I work now has told me that he’d be glad to help me out, and that he’d hire me without a second thought wherever he’s working. One of the things we talked about was how, in that industry, it’s all about experience because when you go to college to learn the same thing, you’re learning things that are a year or two (if you’re lucky) behind what’s actually out there. So neither my plan A nor plan B require a college degree, which is why that isn’t a huge priority to me.
Ever since 2nd grade I’ve had a horrible time learning in a classroom environment (as of 4th grade it was psychologist proved, haha no joke). I’ve always learned better at a faster pace (helps keep my attention), and I’ve always learned best teaching myself things. I’ve taught myself how to sing, play guitar, piano, drums and bass, do all the music production I do, build, fix (and break, haha) computers and other electronic equipment. I feel like it would be awesome to do school at home where I can pace myself as well as teach myself the content. I talked to my academic counselor about independent studies, but because of the way our school system is set up only people with physical medical conditions can be a part of that program.
These are only a small portion of the reasons why online schooling (or some form of homeschooling) appeals to me. So, that being said, what are some faster paced/easy online schools or homeschool curriculums that I could graduate from by the end of next school year, if not ~December 2013?

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3 thoughts on “What are good online highschool or homeschool curriculums that I can start over summer and graduate early?

  1. Jennifer

    You are correct in your opening statement: Where you live plays an enormous role in what you can and cannot do. You need be absolutely sure you are meeting all laws for your state. I am not a lawyer and not a resident of California, so I can’t advise you there. This link may help you get started: http://www.californiahomeschool.net/howTo/legOpt.htm.

    My recommendation:

    1. Figure out what courses would normally constitute a high school education in your state. (You can find this out by visiting your state Department of Education website.) List out those which you have already taken, those which you are currently taking, and those which you would still need to complete. Your homeschooling laws may or may not have specific course requirements, so be sure you are meeting those as well.

    2. Design a plan of study to finish the courses you still need. Now here’s where things can work quite well for what you want, but I would not be simply looking for the easy way out. Don’t shortchange your own education! Think of your education as a complete body of knowledge that you want to master. Schools are designed for the efficiency of the schools, not the students. When you consider it, is it even logical to assume that every single subject from algebra to world history to chemistry can all be learned in the exact same amount of time and days? When you are freed from the constraints of a school schedule, it is certainly possible to master a subject in less time (or more time, if needed) then the academic school year mandates. You may find it takes you two months of studying two hours a day to finish a US history course, but five months of studying one hour a day to finish geometry. You can work your schedule to suit your needs, goals, and skills.

    3. Find your materials for your studies. Although you are not looking at college per se, I recommend you explore the following sites that are designed to help students prepare for college-level testing and/or college credits. You can use the same materials for your studies, without taking the exams at the end.

    a) Free CLEP Prep: http://www.free-clep-prep.com/ Choose an exam study guide based on subject, such as American Government, and then scroll down the page for a list of free and inexpensive study materials.

    b) CLEP for Homeschoolers: http://clepprep.tripod.com/cleplessonplans/id4.html This site gives basic lesson plans for each subject, generally broken down into a 9-week schedule. It does require the purchase of some books.

    c) Homeschool College USA: http://www.homeschoolcollegeusa.com/ There are over 40 courses here, designed for homeschooling high school students who also want to take college-level exams. You can find all the core subjects, plus many electives. Everything is free and you do not need to purchase a thing. It is entirely self-directed and self-paced.

    d) Saylor: http://www.saylor.org/ If you look at only one site in this list, make it this one. Between the general education courses, the electives, and all the courses offered under the various “majors,” you could put together an excellent course of study to finish high school and you can work as quickly as you want to finish each subject. You can create a student account to keep track of your work and record the grades you earn on the final exams. This site is also free and does not require the purchase of any materials.

    e) Carnegie-Mellon Univeristy’s Open Learning Initiative: http://oli.cmu.edu/get-to-know-oli/learn-about-our-courses/ There’s not a whole lot here, but what they do have is very good. Additionally, there are plenty of websites that list the numerous open-learning courses universities offer. Just do a search on “open learning” or “opencourseware.” (Note, though, that outside of the Carnegie-Mellon courses, most open learning courses do require the purchase of a textbook.)

    There are other options out there, such as the free online public schools, but for the most part, they do not let you move completely at your own pace.

    I said it above, but I think it deserves repeating – don’t shortchange yourself and rush through your education so quickly that you don’t get anything at all out of it. Yes, frankly, you will forget a lot of it. Sometimes, though, it’s not about remembering when the Spanish-American War broke out or how to find the area of a trapezoid. It’s about training yourself to think. Like weight training will build up your muscles, “brain training” will help develop your critical thinking skills, something that can very much determine your success, or lack of, in life. I am not saying you can’t finish school faster than average; many students would if they weren’t locked into the traditional school calendar. I am simply cautioning you not to try to skimp too much, because there really is a genuine value to education, and you shouldn’t miss out in your rush to finish.

  2. Jackie

    Jennifer gave you stellar advice. I would add that you might visit Let’s Homeschool High School’s site. They have tons of great articles and information that you might be able to use. They also offer a student forum.

  3. A M

    In addition to the info Jennifer gave you, you might want to look at colleges in your area that offer options for online joint enrollment courses. We have used Marshall University’s Online College Classes for High School Students as well as Georgia Perimeter College Online. There are several colleges that offer courses that are dual enrollment. The great thing with you being an independent worker who wants to focus on your learning, and who teaches yourself well, is that online classes would likely be ideal for you! You can search online for “dual enrollment online California” and you will get results that include colleges with programs near you. My son even took one class with Sanford University in California even though we live in Georgia. With the online options that are available, you can potentially attend classes anywhere! With the online courses, you can take a full load if you like, and as long as you have met your high school graduation coursework requirements, you should be good to go for early graduation.

    If you prefer not to go the dual enrollment route, there are a large number of homeschool, high school programs listed at the Learning Abled Kids’ Virtual High School programs listing. There are several there that are noted to be “At Your Own Pace”.. Any of those will allow you to study and progress at your own pace.

    There really are a LOT of options available out there! It’s great to be thinking outside of the standard school box. ;-)

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