College without “college prep?”

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  • CrystalN

    I am down to my last child and feel like my whole style has to change now that my baby is entering high school. Family together studies will look so different now. Not sure the SCM history curriculum makes sense for just one high school student. Do I still read aloud the family book to one teenager? Or do I instead read aloud some HS selections?

    I dont want to switch to textbooks and I HATE all the curriculum coined “college prep.” Particularly the literature killing analysis. But I do believe his child may be headed for college. Any success stories about using SCM curriculum as-is for college bound students.

    Hi Crystal, Those are genuine considerations, I have been there before.

    We have used SCM for the last 15 school years and I too am on my last high schooler. She is in 10th grade and our oldest graduated last spring–how does time go so quickly!

    SCM as-is prepared my oldest well for her college experience. Her senior year she chose to take dual-enrollment courses at a local college. Her admissions support staff as well as her professors were all over-the-top impressed with her as a person and student. She far exceeded her college-student classmates in integrity and academics so much so that one professor voluntarily wrote a letter of recommendation for her post high school path options and personally invested himself into our college applications process with another local university where she now attends.

    It was a bit of a challenge to always get all of our SCM work in due to working around dual-enrollment, her part-time job and her business; some days I had to make choices of what we let go of for her. The only textbooks we used were the ones for science and math recommended by SCM. Most of the time I did require the studying and testing portions for college-prep. I use these with my 10th grader who so far is not leaning to college, but I prepare regardless. A lot can change from age 15 to 18. It is perfectly fine if my youngest chooses to not go the college path, but I’d rather have prepared well than to have any regrets.

    At the university my oldest now attends she was encouraged to apply for

    their Presidential Scholars and Honors Scholars programs for scholarships and was awarded both. When applying for the Presidential one, there was a personal interview process between her and their admissions department. When it was over and time to come get me from the lobby, they kept saying how impressed they were with her. They were impressed with her answers to their questions, but one in particular of “If she were president for a day, what would be the main policy she would implement,” and her reply was that she would make a time for all people to have a daily nature walk. That was her favorite part of our days.

    Her CM education has really shaped her into a well-rounded and confident young woman who knows how to speak well, stand firm on things of truth, hold intellectual conversations about things that matter, and she cares about a great many things and people. Taking the time to use SCM’s scheduled readings of the Bible and Bible studies, Ourselves and The Holy War, as well as all the other great selections for history prepared her for the mass peer aspect. Even though she does have few friends, by choice due to her observations, she has been able to not be swept away by common social mishaps and “college culture,” because she has been given a firm foundation. She is thriving in her studies, her professors have noted how she learns and presents herself well, and she stands out among her school’s department leadership.  She is thankful for her education now. She always loathed narrating, but now says it is basically the heart of her time there and recognizes its powerful influence in her ability to do well there.  Even if she had not chosen to pursue college, SCM has allowed her to discover who she is, and has shaped her and her relationship with God, others, nature and herself.

    In regards to our one baby left in our home school, I wondered how odd or hard it may be to continue doing the family subjects together just her and I. They are still just as rich and meaningful. There have been a handful of times this year that I’ve had her read the family portions of history on her own and ask for her narration, but mainly we do those together for the relationship building between us, and so it’s not one more thing on her independent work schedule.

    In the high school years, depending on your time and student’s readiness, you can hand over the literature readings to them; we still read those together for now since my 10th grader is growing in her more-difficult-reads confidence. While I haven’t personally utilized it yet, we also carry a new series in our bookstore called Great Book Discussions that offer a CM approach to literature reading and discussion for high school literature with great reviews on it!  You may already have them, but my favorite go-to resources for helping me gain confidence and assurance of path for high school are Your Questions Answered: High School and, Know and Tell: The Art of Narration, both of which can also be found in our bookstore.

    Enjoy these last years!


    Hi Crystal! I am a former poster who still checks the forum from time to time. I have two grown children, one is a diesel mechanic and the other is in college. I believe CM is college prep! With a good math program and science program of course!

    We used CM methods for all of our homeschooling years and my son did very well in trade school and my daughter is doing very well in college. My son had to write a lot of essays for trade school and learn a lot of physics and he excelled, was in fact at the top of his class. His instructor said he wrote the best essays he’d ever seen.

    My daughter is excelling in college and all of her professors have been very impressed with her work ethic.

    I didn’t use SCM exclusively, just some of their components. I think it is a wonderful program and a great choice if you want to continue with it. It seemed to me, too be best suited to family study. If you really like it, I would just switch out the family read aloud for something better suited to his age and keep on trucking. 😊

    If it doesn’t seem right for you or your son, you should feel free to pick and choose what works for your family. I didn’t use a history or literature program for the most part. We just read through great books to fit the subject areas and my kids narrated and turned one written narration a week into a formal essay. We  mostly used Apologia ( the old editions) for science and Math U See and Teaching Textbooks for math.



    Thank you both for you replies. I start getting panicky. My oldest graduated last year and is taking a gap year. He will probably do trade school since academic subjects were never his thing. He is the creative hands-on type. My daughter is a junior this year and I am completely freaking about her next step. She doesn’t want to go to college either, wants to be a writer, wife, and mother. My youngest will be a freshman and he is more the engineering mind. I want to be sure he is prepared in case college is in his future. We are quite behind in math (my fault not his) but I know he can go faster through MUS, he is quick with learning the concepts. I have never really used a writing curriculum, though I have spent gobs of money on them. So once again I am wondering how to teach an essay.  My oldest took a semester of IEW at out coop, it was a brutal experience for him. My daughter just writes, but hates narrations and has never written an essay. She is constantly writing notes, poems, or working on her book. My youngest does lots of narrations.

    What did you guys use to teach essays? Is there a concise, quick way?  I keep waiting for ULW 4 to come out…


    I used IEW with my son. Once he knew how to write an essay, I just had him turn 1 written narration a week into an essay.

    My daughter was a very natural writer so I ran her through Hands On Essays and then did the same with having her turn one written narration a week into an essay.

    They are both excellent writers and can turn out a 500 word essay very easily and quickly after so many years of practice. Their peers in public and private school would only write a few essays a year and were always surprised that my kids had to do so many but since they were already doing written narrations, it just wasn’t a big deal to turn one a week into a formal essay.

    I did sometimes give them a prompt from their readings so that they could write different types of essays. For instance, for a compare and contrast essay I had my daughter write an essay arguing which Jane Austen hero was the best one., Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightly.

    I also had her do a couple of research papers so she would be familiar with them as well but we didn’t spend a lot of time on them.

    Writing an essay really isn’t that complicated. It can feel intimidating but once you realize how simple it is, it’s quite easy to work into a Charlotte Mason education.




    Melanie! I am happy to see you here!  I learned so much from you here through the years!

    Crystal, to respond to part of your post, I understand your feeling! My oldest went to college and has done wonderfully!  We weren’t 100% SCM, but followed much of it.  But my oldest was very academically minded!  Now I have 4 more to go, so I am feeling the anxiety as well since they are all different!

    But as far as using SCM history, we have made it work by just swapping out the family books with a “spine” on their level and keeping most of the additional book list.  So a highschooler reads from a spine book depending on which time period they are in, and then an additional book each day.  We have used the Narration Notecards to make the written narrations more of an essay.

    I think following SCM is excellent college prep!  We have swapped out different resources for things that suited us better, but their recommendations for high school are solid!  The Great Book Discussions that they are working on will ease many parents’ minds in the area of literature.  But everything else is covered in my opinion.  We add a little bit of logic and an informal study of world religions and cultures for high school.

    In my mind, the priorities for college prep are:

    1. Read and understand hard books.  Easily handled in a CM education

    2. Learn to take notes and study for tests, which can wait until the last year or two of high school.

    3. Write and communicate well, through continuous narrations.  Practice the essay and research paper in the last year or two.

    4.  Time management.

    5. Possibly spend some time doing test prep for SAT, ACT, or CLT for scholarship opportunities.  But it doesn’t have to be long and can be free online.

    6. Solid math instruction if going into a science or math related major.

    7. And probably most important: know how to get help when needed…asking a professor, internet search etc.  This skill goes a long way!


    And I read Stacy’s response after I posted and love and agree with all that she had to say!!


    and I forgot to answer about what to use to teach writing.  I have also spent lots of money collecting writing curriculum that never works!  A few that I actually like though are Wordsmith Craftsman for 10th-12th grade.  It can easily be spread out over 3 years.  I also purchased 7 Sisters middle school essay curriculum and used a few lessons just to get my 15 year old started.  We have never used a writing curriculum all the way through though.  They hurt my brain! 🙂  I just use a few lessons to get the idea behind writing an essay and then we practice.  The Rod and Staff English books have simple, clear writing lessons in books 6-8 that I have used successfully also.

    For my recent senior, we enrolled her in Liberty University Online dual enrollment just for the “remedial” English Composition class.  I did that for 2 reasons: to get her used to college work and to cover the basics in essay writing that we had missed.  It was an 8 week class, and I think it went well for her.

    For the research paper: I really like CLE’s research paper light units.  Very clear steps without being complicated.  We only did 1 or 2 research papers during 11th or 12th grade.


    Hi KeriJ!😊


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