Can you take the Five Year Plan for high school? It's called by many names: 5th Year Senior, Fifth Year Program, Super-Senior. What it means is that your teen takes an extra year of high school.
Can you do that?
Yes! Of course you can! One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that you can do what fits your child and meets your family needs, in order to provide the best opportunities for your student. Embrace the freedom that homeschooling independently provides.
How do you do that?
Usually it's easiest to make a transcript by year. Doing it that way provides a summary of all high school courses arranged by subject matter, not arranged by the year the student took the class.
Public schools do it.
5 year high school programs have been talked about for years, like this USNews article: 13th Grade Offers Some Teens an Easier Transition to College: Teens can start college in a supportive environment when they stay for a fifth year of high school. In some districts, schools have a 5-year plan that's tied to dual enrollment, hoping students will use that 5th year of high school to earn college credits. OregonLive news article explains why their "Fifth Year Program" started. "Educators who operate the fifth-year programs say the are a win-win: Students get extra support from a high school teacher or counselor who helps shepherd them through registration and other hurdles at community college and monitors their progress in every community college course. And the high schools get somewhat more money from the state than they pay to the community college, allowing them to pay for the advising and even pocket some of the difference. But the big drawback, for the districts and for the state, has been the impact on the graduation rate: Since those students didn't get their high school diploma until they completed the year at community college, they were counted as failing to graduate on time." In Chicago they call it a "Post-graduate" year of high school. Colleges do it, too. At some universities it will often take a student 6 years to achieve a 4-year degree.
Why Take 5 Years?
There are lots of reasons why it might be a good fit for your child.
Be careful about your expectations. You don't need to achieve a certain level of math or science to graduate. You don't need calculus, or physics, or foreign language to graduate high school. You can create your own graduation requirements when you are an independent homeschooler. You may not need to bulk up classes, or max out test scores, or compensate for a perceived weakness that's not really a weakness at all. There are normal kids on all ends of the bell-shaped curve that are successful.
Be careful about the emotional ramifications. Not many high school seniors want to stay at home and be homeschooled. It's extremely difficult to homeschool an adult - more challenging than you can even imagine - so you really need to have your teen on board with the idea.
Be careful about dual enrollment. It's helpful to take college classes while in high school, particularly if it's paid for by state funding, without being penalized. Just be careful that community college is right for your child, because dual enrollment can be a Rated R environment, and be sure your child knows how to be successful in community college.
Be careful about scholarships. You don't want to break some rule you don't know about and have it eliminate scholarships. They may decide that dual enrollment classes as a super senior are college credits, not dual enrollment credits, which could be a problem. Ask each college you might attend their rules. Confirm that the dual enrollment classes are taken as an independent, high school student, not after graduation.
Be careful about the transcript. You don't want to imply your child is remedial or lazy, so avoid including too many elective classes, and focus on core academics. Arranging the transcript by subject, rather than by year, can help with that.
Be careful about socialization. You don't want to imply that your child was too shy or socially awkward to be able to succeed in the real world. Make sure you have enough activities listed on your transcript to demonstrate a well-rounded child. Read How to Create an Extraordinary Activity List for Perfectly Ordinary Teens.
Ultimately, nobody can decide but you.
On the bright side, as the parent you know more about the situation than anyone else could ever know. You love your child more than anyone else could. You have their best interests at heart. you can make this tough decision, as long as you consider carefully. Make the best decision for your child.
Feel like you need to read more about how to put a Super Senior year on a transcript? You can read more in my post, Super Senior or Delayed Graduation: The 5 Year Plan.
Thank you so much for this post! It helped us tremendously to make our decision to modify our son’s high school plan. I am now in a little bit of trouble, we are filling out the common application for college and it asks to list grades per year, the options are grade 9-12 and other courses. How do you recommend I enter the courses he is currently taking this year, which is his super senior year and prior years? Thanks so much.
I think it would be easiest to create a transcript by subject, not by year. Then you don't need to worry about it.
I'm dealing with this issue from the opposite end. My fall-birthday son started high school at 8th-grade age. Two years in, he decided he didn't want to graduate young, and we reclassified him based upon his age. The result will be that he will have done 5 years of high school before he graduates. I am still unsure how to reflect that early/extra year of high school on his transcript.
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