Homeschooling Your High Schooler with Heart Series: Part 1 – Certificates: A Higher Ed Option Worth Considering for Your Teen

/ / - College, Blog, High School

You wear so many hats as a homeschooling parent: instructor, referee, maker of disciples, cook, driver, nurse, life skills coach. Hats off to you! As your teen begins to resemble the adult he or she will very soon become, you add the important hat of guidance counselor. You know the skills and interests of your child and suggest career paths to consider. You share your knowledge of the reality of life. You combine his or her interests with your realistic perspective. You urge your child to search Scripture while you search Scripture yourself to offer the very best advice for the future. 

Will your son work right after high school? He could hit the ground running without debt, but you may wonder if he will have enough knowledge and skills for a successful and satisfying career. Will your daughter attend college? She could invest in her future, but sometimes you worry about the burden of debt or that she is still uncertain of a major. 

What if there is another option—something in between? 

Maybe your teen would be interested in earning a certificate. Have you checked into them? Many colleges and universities offer certificates currently. A certificate is not a degree but an achievement earned by taking a small number of set college courses focused on a specific skill, interest, or field. In other words, a certificate is some college without a long-term commitment. Think of a certificate as somewhere between a few college courses and a college degree. Here are many reasons why a certificate may be a worthwhile option for your teen.

  • Online availability: Many certificates may be earned online, making them an option for either post-high education, or, in some cases, even an option to pursue during high school. 
  • Immediate pursuit of interests: Students are able to begin their higher education in a field of interest right away, without having to take core classes like math, English, science, or history—courses they’ve likely recently taken or are taking during high school. 
  • Low time commitment: Four years (or more) of college can be daunting to some, especially if a student is uncertain about a course of study. Certificates can be completed in a much shorter time period.  
  • Low investment: Four years (or more) of college tuition can be daunting as well, especially if a student is uncertain about a course of study. Certificates can be earned for a much lower monetary investment. 
  • An introduction to a field: With low time commitment and low investment combined, a certificate allows students a taste of a field of interest, especially if they are uncertain about obtaining a degree in that field. If students wish to pursue the field further and to a greater extent, a certificate provides a head start as some of the coursework may be applicable towards a degree.
  • An introduction to college-level work: Coursework for certificates are actual college courses, offered by many colleges and universities. While working towards a certificate, students get the experience of taking higher ed courses. 
  • Simplified admissions process: Many colleges and universities simplify the admissions process for certificate seekers. 
  • Flexibility: Many certificates can be earned without prerequisites and at a flexible pace. Though there may be requirements for how much time the certificate must be earned within, in general, certificates are a flexible option. A student may continue to finish high school while pursuing a certificate, or a high school graduate could potentially work while earning their certificate. 
  • An advantage on a resume: After completing the required coursework, a certificate is awarded, and your student will have earned a meaningful and impressive achievement to include on a resume. 

What do you think? Could a certificate be in your teen’s future? You can search for “undergraduate certificates” on websites of colleges and universities that you are familiar with. You can also check the Homeschool College Directory from The Old Schoolhouse® for homeschool-friendly institutions that may offer certificates. Check the colleges listed there like Appalachian Bible College, Calvary University, Emmaus Bible College, Vincennes University, and others. Visit their websites and see if the certificates offered are possibilities for your student. You’ll find certificate options for Biblical studies, TESOL, virtual assistant, entrepreneurship, and more. 

While you’re working as your child’s guidance counselor, researching certificates and all things higher ed, consider having your homeschooled teen participate in the National Academic Homeschool Competition too. It’s a virtual competition that prepares homeschoolers (and their parents) for college. You can find out more at

Best wishes while planning with your guidance counselor hat on. Your search for certificates may even inspire you to try on another hat—that of a student. Maybe you’ll discover a  certificate to pursue for yourself! As you anticipate next steps for your family, lean fully on the word of the Lord: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8, ESV)

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).