On Monday of this week, I was invited to speak at a meeting of the Kingdom Way Homeschoolers in Wadsworth, Ohio. It was held on the Wadsworth campus of the The Chapel, which was a wonderful venue. The auditorium had really excellent acoustics, and it had a nice, open feel to it. The back wall of the stage had a modern design on it, and the design was backlit with different colors. Once the technical support person (who was superb) put up my presentation, a young lady then changed the colors of the backlighting to match the color scheme of my presentation. I thought that was a very nice touch.
The title of my talk was Why Homeschool Through High School…and How to Get It Done. In the first part of the talk, I went through some data that indicate students who are homeschooled through high school are better prepared for the future than their traditionally-schooled counterparts. In the second half of the talk, I went over some “nuts and bolts” related to homeschooling at the high school level. I discussed the basic subjects that should be covered and gave some suggestions regarding how you might cover those subjects.
This particular talk was a bit longer than most of my talks, because I covered a lot of ground in it. However, the large crowd was very patient and seemed to enjoy the talk. As is typically the case, I took questions at the end of the talk, and they were quite good. There was one in particular that really got me thinking. A gentleman asked about apprenticeships and trade schools. Since my talk was focused on university preparation, I thought he was asking me to talk a bit about what to do with students who aren’t university-bound. I told him that just as I am a fan of having university-bound students take a few classes at a local college or a few AP classes to give them a preview of what university will be like, I also am a fan of having non-university-bound students do apprenticeships or take classes at a local trade school to start career exploration.
That really didn’t address his question, however. He wanted me to specifically compare the two. For a non-university-bound student, which would be better: some sort of apprenticeship or taking classes at a trade school? I had never considered that before, and I told him as much. However, I was happy to “think out loud” for him.
Thinking specifically of a homeschooled student who isn’t ready to graduate from high school, I see advantages and disadvantages to both. If you set up some sort of apprenticeship where the student spends time working with someone who is already skilled at a trade, I would think that the student would get a much more accurate view of what it’s like to work in that trade. After all, a trade school is an artificial environment, while working with someone in the actual profession provides a much more realistic view. Also, I would think that in the one-on-one kind of training that exists in an apprenticeship setting, the student would be more likely to pick up the enthusiasm that his or her mentor has for the trade.
On the other side of the coin, a formal certificate or degree from a trade school usually opens up more job opportunities. As a result, taking a few classes at a trade school while you are still in high school will give you a “head start” towards getting the degree or certificate, and that will probably translate into getting started on your career path sooner. Generally, the sooner you get started on your career path, the sooner you will start working your way up the ladder, etc., so the more opportunities you will have later in life. Now, of course, not all situations require trade school certification, so this might not be the correct analysis for every student or every trade.
In the end, which would I choose? If my little girl had not been university-bound, what would I have done with her? I think I would have tried to set her up in some sort of apprenticeship. While classes in a trade school might “jump start” her career, I think the real-world experience and the possibility of picking up her mentor’s enthusiasm for the trade would be more beneficial. However, I would not say that this is the right choice for every student or every trade.
Regardless of what you might think of my answer, the question is well worth pondering!