• Should You Homeschool a Super Senior Year?

    • By Lee Binz, The HomeScholar

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What is a Homeschool Super Senior Year?

Before you can decide if you should homeschool a super senior year, you need to understand what it is. A homeschool super senior year for high school is called by many names:  5-year plan, 5th year senior, 5th year program, delayed graduation, 5-year high school, or 13th grade. Or you can simply call it an extra senior year or 2nd senior year. 

You can also simply graduate your child when they’re ready and put all high school classes on the transcript without a description. I’ve even seen a homeschool super senior year called a “Post-Graduate” year of high school, though that’s more commonly used to describe college students. It’s common at some universities for a student to take 5 to 6 years or more to graduate. But it’s possible to take longer to graduate in high school as well. 

What? You can take more than 4 years to finish high school? 

Yes, you can homeschool a super senior year! One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that you can do what fits your child and meets your family’s needs to provide the best opportunities for your student. Embrace the freedom that homeschooling independently provides. Let me explain what it is, how to decide, and how to handle the details. 

Whatever you call it, a homeschool super senior year is not something to jump into without careful thought. It's normal for a child to graduate high school between the ages of 17 and 20. Many parents feel they can provide a 5th year of high school and still graduate their child on time. However, your child may not want to take a homeschool super senior year if their close friends think it's strange to take five years to finish high school. Parents should think through all the details and decide if it would benefit their student. 
2 Reasons Your Child Should Not Take a Homeschool Super Senior Year image

2 Reasons Not to Take a Homeschool Super Senior Year

Few families choose to homeschool a super senior year. Kids are ready and raring to get on with life and parents are usually feeling done with teaching high school after 4 years. If you are considering an additional year of high school, there are 2 big reasons not to homeschool a super senior year. Sometimes it’s a mom problem — the parent has unreasonable expectations. If you have unrealistic expectations, you may think your child has weaknesses that don’t exist. Other times it’s a student problem — the student lacks the compliance needed for another year of homeschool. 

1. Parent Has Unreasonable Expectations

Perceived weaknesses are not important. Perceived weaknesses due to unreasonable expectations are not a good reason to homeschool a super senior year. Graduation is not determined by the lowest common denominator or the level your child achieves in their weakest subject area. Your child doesn’t need calculus, physics, or foreign language to graduate high school. It’s not necessary to bulk up classes, max out test scores, or compensate for a perceived weakness that's not a weakness at all. Normal kids, on both ends of the bell-shaped curve, can be successful. I don't recommend holding a child back because of one class or subject. 

Graduation requirements can be confusing. If you look for requirements online, often the "required courses for graduation" list is from the public school website.  Instead of looking at public high schools for guidance, look at the colleges your child is interested in attending. Often, they don't include these kinds of requirements at all. Some colleges even specialize in different learning challenges. You can create your own graduation requirements when you homeschool independently.

Graduation can be complicated by emotional and physical maturity. You are training your child to become independent and one day your child will turn 18 and want to be independent. This is when homeschooling gets difficult. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them learn. Weigh the student’s desires and maturity against their age and abilities when making the decision about whether to homeschool a super senior year.

2. Student is Not Compliant

Do not attempt to homeschool a super senior year if the student is not compliant. The reasons for non-compliance are many, and not all indicate a bad attitude. Beware of emotional ramifications. It's extremely difficult to homeschool an adult — more challenging than you can even imagine — so make sure your teen is on board. Not many high school seniors want to stay at home another year to homeschool — they want to be done with school. And parents want to be done, too.

Your child may be too mature to homeschool a super senior year. Students long for independence and adulthood. Sometimes your student is too mature to homeschool. Mature adults don’t like someone always telling them what to do, so maturity can be a signal that it’s not a good time to homeschool a super senior year. That’s why I generally don’t recommend homeschooling after the age of 18. 

The student may be resistant to academics. A child may demonstrate a lack of motivation that you can’t overcome. They may simply refuse to do schoolwork or politely talk their way out of it on a daily basis. Parents may experience intense frustration as they are serving a quality education that is not engaged in by the teenager. When you can’t tell an adult what to do, attempting to homeschool a super senior year is an exercise in futility. 
3 Good Reasons to Consider a Homeschool Super Senior Year

3 Reasons to Consider a Homeschool Super Senior Year

1. Maturity Issues Need to Be Addressed and the Teen is Compliant

Academic maturity is needed. It's important to allow teens to mature academically before going to college. Academic maturity is shown by independent work, self-motivation, and working out of advanced concepts. This is particularly important when they are attending a rigorous college or planning to enter a particularly demanding field of study. You don’t have to graduate your child when they have met minimum requirements — you can homeschool a super senior year to ensure you meet your student’s needs. 

Physical maturity is needed. Being larger, stronger, and more physically mature can help some teenagers meet their goals. This is especially important for NCAA athletes who want to compete for a position on a team, and for dancers who need to advance their skills. 

Emotional maturity is needed. Some teens just aren’t mature enough to handle themselves and they know it. They need more time practicing self-reliance before leaving home. Everyone matures at a different rate. Artists also develop a depth of emotion to meet the level of college artists and musicians, and may benefit from more time to perfect their skills. Attaining an adequate level of emotional maturity is important especially when they are attending college in another state and will not be able to easily return home.

2. Requirements Must be Met and the Teen is Compliant

Personal goals may have additional requirements. In some cases, just one extra year can help students meet the requirements for their unique career goals. For some, you can homeschool a super senior year to help them meet minimum high school graduation requirements. Or one more year will allow them to meet or exceed college admission requirements. A super senior year can compensate for a horrible freshman year. Mixed-up kids have time to straighten up, even if seriously bad choices had big consequences. It allows time to replace failed classes or huge gaps, so it’s helpful for teens who are far behind or need specific high school classes. Students can get classes they need (such as calculus) to meet their career goals (such as engineering).

Extra time can help meet requirements of a “Reach” school. Your student may need to meet extra requirements for their dream college or military academy. In an extra year, your teen can earn multiple core credits and look more impressive. They can take more advanced classes and focus more on test preparation or subject tests. 

3. Earn College Credits while the Teen is Compliant

Dual enrollment can earn free college credits. Even during a super senior year, some school districts allow high school students to take college credits, paid for by the state. This can smooth the transition to college while earning high school and college credits at the same time. Some students could earn a 2-year Associate degree while still in high school this way. 

Be honest in every interaction about dual enrollment. Work with the school district or dual enrollment college and the university the student wants to attend. Be above-board  so you aren’t perceived as cheating the system. In some school districts, they offer a 5-year plan that's tied to dual enrollment so teens can earn college credits. It may be beneficial for students, because they get extra support from parents as they start their college degree, helping students monitor their progress in college coursework. In some districts, the school benefits as well because they earn money from the state for each enrolled student, even if the student is dual enrolled.

Not all schools support this concept. In some areas, the 13th year implies the student didn’t graduate or is considered to have failed to graduate on time. Each district has a policy that requires honest conversation. 

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, but dual enrollment can be a Rated R environment. Also be careful about scholarships. You don't want to unknowingly break a rule and lose scholarships based on a misunderstanding. Some colleges view dual enrollment classes as a super senior as college credits, not dual enrollment credits. This could eliminate freshman scholarships, reducing your teen’s overall financial aid package. Ask each college about their rules. Confirm that dual enrollment classes are taken as an independent high school student, not after graduation.
4 Alternatives to a Super Senior Year

4 Alternatives to a Homeschool Super Senior Year

When a student is not compliant, or the prospect of homeschooling a super senior year is impossible, there are alternatives to taking a 5th year of high school.

1. Take a Gap Year for Maturity

A student can graduate after 4 years and take a gap year after high school. This option is helpful when the student has the requirements to graduate, but needs a break before starting college. Burn out can happen if high school was too rigorous, overwhelming, included too many AP classes, or they were over-involved after school. If your teen lacks the maturity or motivation for college, or complains they want to “live a little” before college and career, then taking a gap year may be the answer. 

2. Find a Perfect Fit College

A student can graduate in 4 years and go directly to college if you carefully search for a perfect fit. With careful research, you can find a college that matches your teen’s academics and test scores. My “College Applications Simply Explained Workshop” will teach you how to find a perfect-fit college and complete college applications. 

3. Focus on Career Preparation and Independence

Your student can graduate and get a job. When a teen is no longer compliant in your homeschool, or is nearing adulthood and not available for school, then parents can focus on what comes after high school. This could be employment to earn money for college. Graduation means there is something next, something new on the horizon: college or career. 

4. Stop Homeschooling (with or without a diploma)

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can provide a great education but you can’t make them learn. At a certain point, it may be necessary to stop homeschooling a non-compliant older teen. Set boundaries and allow the student to make their own adult choices, even if that means they don’t get a high school diploma. It’s not your fault when a student decides to go AWOL from your homeschool or drop out. It’s your responsibility to set boundaries, though, instead of financing a lifestyle of codependence and sloth. 
Learn How to Put a Super Senior Year on a Homeschool Transcript
Click the Image and Learn How to Make a Homeschool Transcript Whether or Not Your Student Takes a Super Senior Year

How to Put a Homeschool Super Senior Year on a Transcript

Once you have decided that a super senior year is appropriate for your child, you need to figure out how to express it in their records, including the transcript. 

1. Make a 4-Year Transcript with Early High School Credits

When you include the final four years of high school, little explanation is necessary. The student will appear to have a rigorous high school education. There is no reason to declare the student’s age when they graduate. As independent homeschoolers, the parent decides on the year of graduation, and the 4 years prior go on the transcript. Classes before that time might be considered “Early High School Credits” on the transcript. Common examples are math (Algebra 1 and higher), science (biology or more advanced), and foreign language (using a high school level curriculum). If your student has taken high school level classes, those may also be included. Read Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School

2. Create a Transcript by Subject

Parents can arrange the transcript by subject instead of by the year the student took the class. List all math classes first, all English classes second, group all science classes together third, and so on. 

3. Describe Your Child’s Education with Course Descriptions

Write course descriptions to demonstrate the rigor of your classes. This allows you to show that first year classes were high school level, along with the 5th year classes as well. Describing all classes, both core and elective subjects, can explain how all classes were at a high school level, and provided a quality educational experience. 

4. Explain the Super Senior Year in a Cover Letter

When you decide a super senior year of high school is required or beneficial, your reasons can be explained in a cover letter. It's important to put a positive spin on things, but parents can explain that maturity, additional school credits, or health needs have required an additional year of school. If truthfully possible, explain that the student was eager for the additional year, to eliminate the concern of over-controlling parents. Be careful how admissions staff perceive socialization. You don't want to imply that your child was too shy or socially awkward to succeed in the real world. Make sure you have enough activities listed on their transcript to demonstrate a well-rounded child. 
How to Decide Whether to Take a Homeschool Super Senior Year image

Decide About and Document a Homeschool Super Senior Year

Ultimately, nobody can decide but you. On the bright side, as the parent you know more about your child than anyone. You love your child more than anyone else could and have their best interests at heart. As long as you consider carefully, you can make the best decision for your child. Expect dramatic changes during high school. Your student will not always be immature, flighty, or small for their age. Changes occur quickly during high school. 

Learn how to make a professional homeschool transcript, regardless of whether your student takes a super senior year. You can create an official homeschool transcript that colleges will love (and believe) with the Total Transcript Solution. The Total Transcript Solution will make the process as simple as possible. You can do it, just like Monica:

"Lee Binz is a genius at taking complex information and making it simple. I was so confused about weighting and how to calculate a credit hour, and what constitutes high school work. She simplified the information in a fun way. I felt so empowered! I now have the information I need to turn what my children enjoy doing into credits on their transcript. I highly recommend her!"

You can experience tremendous success, like Aleyne in Maine, who writes:

"My daughter was offered the highest scholarship and invited to join their honors program. One of the administrators praised the transcript we sent in. They said it was the best one they had seen. My teacher was Lee Binz! I recommend your program to anyone that asks. If I had known, I would have bought your products sooner."
Should You Homeschool a Super Senior Year?

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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School" and more freebies:  HomeHighSchoolHelp.com/freebies.
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