Next stop: University
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: College/University on 28 Mar 2009.
So your homeschooled child is nearing the end of his or her journey. What next after high school? Is it going to be SAT or O Levels? When do you actually start planning for college entrance exams?
Our son Ethan signed up for SAT after a year of preparation and took the exams as a private candidate at Metropolitan College in Subang Jaya. However, homeschoolers are increasingly turning to IGCSE O Level as the door to college. Here’s one mother’s story. In a letter to an enquirer, she writes about her homeschooled children’s preparations:
My son sat for his iGCSE O-levels last year. He took 6 subjects, i.e., Add Math, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and English. We are in the midst of sending in our applications to local universities. We had problems filling up their forms which require info on schools and activities in school, especially with the semi-government unis. We had to meet the person-in-charge and explain that Philip is a homeschooler. Praise God, we have His favour and so far, the responses have been positive.
Just some random sharing with you on our experiences with local unis:
1. You need to sit for your iGCSE in one sitting, minimum 5 subjects.
2. Minimum of 5 Cs for entrance into uni, so take 1 or 2 extra subjects. Choose your subjects wisely.
3. Add Math, Physics & Chemistry are important for Engineering (I mention this because our son applied for this)
4. Co-curricular activities are not necessary as uni acceptance is mainly based on merits (but do keep the children active in co-cu – it’s good for them).
5. The iGCSE Bahasa Malaysia paper is irrelevant in Malaysia. Since you still need to take Bahasa Kebangsaan (BM), Pendidikan Moral and Pengajian Malaysia in a local uni, don’t give up on Bahasa Malaysia. BM competence up to Year 6 is fine.
6. Actively seek out the administrators to clarify your position as a homeschooler.
On our preparations:
We started out our homeschool with a mixture of AOP, Sonlight, Singapore Math plus lots of random stuff. We had loads of FUN when the children were below 13. We probably did written work only 3 days a week each day for about 4 hours a time. Other times were occupied with non-academic activities.
We then switched to the local syllabus for Science & Maths (Secondary 1-3). It sets the foundation for iGCSE. We took the past year’s PMR Science & Maths papers to gauge our son’s grade competence. It’s a blessing that Science & Maths are currently taught in English so the cost of materials is relatively low. If you need help, try the local tuition centres near your area.
Our son did Maths, Biology, Physics, and English on his own. I helped him with Chemistry & Add Maths. We downloaded the syllabus from the British Council’s website, as well as exam papers, answers and marking schemes from freeexampapers.
Then he took 6 months of tuition for Physics with some conventionally schooled SPM students. He studied by himself most of the time and we bought books from Singapore for him to practise. Did lots of past year papers too. Because, our son studied on his own we allowed him to take his time and we did not hurry him. We only registered him for his exams when he finished his syllabus with 6 months to spare in order to revise past years’ papers. It wasn’t too stressful as he took a few years to prepare at his own pace.
Oh, another thing: don’t be too dependent on tutors for every subject It’s not healthy; the ability to persevere and to be resourceful is a very precious process.
There are a few ways a homeschooler can take to further his or her education. Not everyone will prefer the path this mother has taken. But this is where the appeal of homeschooling lies: you are free to do that which works for your child and your family. Whether it is SAT or iGCSE or perhaps a non-academic route, there are more choices and more opportunities today than ever before.