As a homeschooler, the transition to college isn’t always easy. However, there are options for higher education and careers that don’t require such an in-depth commitment like college. A great option for homeschooling students looking to have a career right out of high school is technical or trade school. These schools offer higher education in the form of a two-year degree or a certificate in a career field of your choosing. Certificates offer career specific classes that allow you to skip all the other basic general education classes that might otherwise make it take a lot longer to get to where you want to go career wise.
Technical or trade school will require preparation just as any higher education would. However, it’s often not as in depth as a university would be and is much quicker to complete in terms of getting a degree or certificate. If you are a homeschooler looking at this option, here are a few tips on preparing and applying for a technical or trade school and what to expect.
Depending on the state you’re located in or even the school you plan to attend, there are quite a few steps you will need to take in order to enroll. I would suggest starting no later than two months before the semester begins. Most tech or trade schools begin classes in January, June, and August but will sometimes offer programs outside of the regularly scheduled semesters. Just be aware of your school of interest and their starting dates, specifically the dates surrounding your degree or program of interest.
6 Steps to Prepare for Tech or Trade School
The very first step you will want to take is figuring out which school you want to attend. It is imperative that you narrow it down to no more than three schools you’re interested in. Some things to look out for when choosing schools:
- Are they fully accredited? Meaning, is your degree going to actually be worth something once out of school?
- Do they require homeschool students have a complete GED (HiSET) test? If so, is there a specific score needed to get in?
- Do they accept homeschool transcripts in place of a GED/HiSET? If so, this is a much nicer choice and most likely means they are homeschool friendly.
- What is the cost per semester/program? Can you get scholarships as a homeschooler through the school?
- What are the perks they offer with my program/degree of choice?
- What company would I be interested in working for and does that company have a setup with the school, where you can get classes for free through that company? OR does that company have a specific program they prefer you complete from that tech/trade school?
Once you’ve narrowed down the schools, locate their application for admission (most are online these days) and submit it ASAP. If you are shooting for a more difficult school to get into, start much earlier than two months out. However, most tech/trade schools are easier to get into and can take as little as ten days for acceptance letters. The waiting is the hardest part. Once you have received your acceptance or rejection letters, it’s time to choose which school you will officially be attending.
Once you’ve chosen the school, fill out the FAFSA online (if you’re looking to use financial aid of any kind). www.fafsa.gov. If it doesn’t have the .gov at the end, do not fill it out on that site as it’s a scam. You will need the federal school code and you can usually search it by school name and state on the site. Be sure to add the school you’re attending onto the FAFSA so they get the information sent to them. If possible, have the FAFSA submitted no later than April 1st of each year as you are eligible for extra grants if you do. You are able to put more than one school on the FAFSA, so, if you think there’s any chance your first school of choice could fall through, add your second and third choices on as well.
Your next step is to have an official copy of your HiSET/GED sent to the school or to yourself. Once you receive it DO NOT open it or unseal it as it will no longer be seen as official if you do so. If it’s not needed, awesome skip that step but you will need to print out an official copy of your homeschool transcript covering all of your high school years. Be sure to check your specific state’s requirements as far as specific hours/credits needed in each subject area in order to be counted as officially finished with high school.
After you’ve completed all of these steps, call to setup an admissions appointment ASAP. Each school has their own little requirements so they will fill you in on the details of what you will need from there in order to officially be enrolled. Some things to bring with you to the appointment just in case:
- a birth certificate
- driver’s license or official photo ID
- social security card
- a debit/credit card or checkbook
- come dressed up as some have you take a school ID photo right then
Once enrolled, you will have a few more things to do such as paperwork, buying books, registering for classes, getting immunizations if required by the campus, etc. Always be ahead of things and don’t wait until the last minute.
The first semester is always the hardest, don’t give up, it gets much easier from there. You will usually spend no more than two to three semesters at a technical or trade school unless you choose a quick two-year degree. So, it’s worth the effort to get a good kick-start into a nice career early on in life.
What trade school preparations did you find the most challenging?
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