A student’s high school program should prepare him or her for the particular field of study that will be pursued afterward – such as at the college level, in a technical field, at a school of Fine Arts, or in an apprenticeship program. If no further education will be pursued, preparation should focus on particular job skills. Therefore, the courses included in the student’s high school years should be determined by what is to come after high school. As a certain school, college, or university is considered, the particular entrance requirements of each should be researched. Each school has its own required high school units, and by determining the requirements, parents can tailor the student’s high school program to maximum effectiveness. For example, if the student will be pursuing a field in mathematics or the sciences, it would be helpful to include as many math or science courses as can be covered during the high school years. If the student is going into an arts area, higher math and science courses may not be a good stewardship of time and effort. Instead, focus could be on courses that would develop skill and knowledge for that particular art.
Competitive colleges and universities choose students based on college entrance test scores, transcripts, and ability in the desired field of study. Schools of fine arts desire students who have developed a level of proficiency in their particular area. Home educated students have the opportunity and ability to gain unique and individualized competencies.
Home educated students in West Virginia are not required to meet state graduation requirements because they are exempt from the public school attendance requirements and, therefore, its policy requirements. That is also why a public school diploma is not issued by the state of West Virginia. However, if a student chooses to attend a college or university within West Virginia, entrance requirements are often based on graduation requirements for public high schools. Generally, the following high school credits (determining credit hours explained below) are required for college entrance:
- 4 credits of English (including grammar, composition, and literature)
- 4 credits of college preparatory mathematics – Three units must include Algebra I and II and Plane Geometry plus an additional math unit. Select majors may require a fourth math considered to be higher than Algebra II
- 4 credits of social studies (including U.S. History)
- 4 credits of science (ALL units must be laboratory science; recommended units include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, and Environmental Science)
- 2 credits of a foreign language, must be the same language. American Sign Language is acceptable for this requirement
- 1 credit of Fine Arts – Recommended units include: Music, Band, Art, Theater, Dance, Drama, and Performance
- 2 credits Electives
- 1 credit Physical Education
- 1 credit Health
- 1 credit Arts
- 1 AP Course recommended
Typical year-long course work in a single subject constitutes one credit (150-180 hours). Lab science courses lean toward the 180 hour range, while regular academic subjects may be closer to the 150 hour range. Single credit courses usually average 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 36 weeks of learning.
A subject that requires one semester or half a year to complete earns one-half credit (60 hours). These are often economics, civics, or elective courses. Quarter credits can also be issued for approximately 30 hours of work.
Some courses may not utilize a standard high school curriculum (home economics, engine repair, landscaping, animal husbandry, etc.) and, therefore, hours will need to be tracked. Elective full credits are usually at the 120 hour range.
If the student is enrolled in courses at a community college, the credits are determined differently. A one semester college course is equivalent to a one year high school course. For example, if a student takes a course and earns 3 college credits, that would equal one high school credit.