Homeschooling Gifted Teens: Preparing for College

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By Wes Beach

Many of the considerations regarding homeschooling your gifted child apply to teens as well as to younger children. However, if your older child has moved beyond the level of resources available for school-aged children, you may want to start thinking about college-level projects or classes. In fact, college classes can be part or all of your teen’s schooling, and may even have become part of her (or his) schooling before she entered her teen years. See HSC's "Taking College Classes."

If your teen enrolls in classes at a community or four-year college, continuing attendance may be all that’s required for admission as a full-time student at a four-year college or university. At most schools, an applicant’s admission depends solely on her college record after some number of units has been completed. This number ranges from 12 to 60 semester units.

If your teen is preparing for full-time admission to a four-year college without first completing a substantial amount of college coursework, his preparation may or may not be traditional. Well-documented, good work in traditional high school subjects can provide the basis for college admission. This work can be done independently and in schools, with tutors and mentors, through distance learning, and in special programs for the gifted.

If traditional subjects do not engage your gifted teen’s interests and passions, a persuasive presentation of his or her abilities and accomplishments in other areas can often lead to college admission. Careful, detailed documentation of travel, volunteer work, employment, independent learning, community involvement, work with tutors and mentors, and participation in special programs for the gifted can form the core of a successful college application. Clear indications of academic ability should also be a matter of record, and this will most likely include at least minimal coursework in traditional academic subjects. Test scores, written testimony from experts, and work samples can form a substantial part of the record.

Gifted teens often take a path that leads to early college admission, and this sometimes requires early graduation from high school. See HSC's "Tests (CHSPE and GED)" and "The High School Diploma."

Your teen may not want to go directly to college. Her interests and talents might best be pursued elsewhere; a college degree is not always necessary for personal fulfillment and high achievement. However, if that is the path they choose to pursue,  there are a number of ways for homeschooled gifted teens to make a smooth, successful transition to college. See HSC's "College or Not."


Wes Beach is currently Teen Advisor to Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. He has served on the Board of Directors of the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) and is currently that organization's Teen Advisor as well. Find out more by reading his book, Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling, or his new book, Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories, to be released in May 2015!

See also GHF's Teens (and College) page

This article was originally written for the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) Web site. It is used here with HSC's permission.

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