Would love some outsiders' perspective on some options I'm considering for my middle dd. We're looking at alternatives to her current school situation.
She turns 15 this week and attends a small rural K-12 school in BC, Canada. We live outside a village of 500, about 90 minutes from a town of 10,000, with no public transit and no other nearby schools. Dd was unschooled until 8th grade, when she decided she wanted to attend school for some course-like structure, outside accountability, a place separate from home with a bit of a learning community, and access to teacher-mentors outside the family. She was well ahead of the curve academically, but it has worked pretty well for her so far.
Nominally she's "in" 10th, though all her academic courses are all at the 11th grade level, and she's a straight-A kid. She plans to apply for pre-med programs at university. She is very diligent and quite mature. I've never done anything to help remind her about assignments or homework, for instance: she juggles it all perfectly despite having lots of extra-curricular complications. She takes her schoolwork seriously and looks after it all herself. With a November birthday, she's young for 10th grade, and so despite the fact that she's easily at an 11th grade level we don't really want her to graduate early. She doesn't have enough elective credits to do so anyway, nor is she in a huge rush to start university. She's happy to wait until age 17 to dive into pre-med stuff.
But ... the current school is just barely serving her needs and after the current crop of seniors graduate she'll have almost no social or academic cohort. The other three juniors are all doing applied stream academic courses. The 10th graders are mostly catty and anti-authoritarian, and there are really only one or two with significant academic aspirations. Electives here are the same four or five choices, offered again and again to a mix of kids from 7th to 12th grade. After she finishes her senior academics next year (by herself, by independent study) she'll have another year in which she could take, say, Calculus and Physics, but like everything else they'd just be on-line courses taken independently; otherwise she'll just be filling in her transcript by taking Foods or Personal Fitness or Art for the fourth or fifth time. And socially she'll be miserable: she hangs out a bit with the seniors now, but has nothing in common with (and a fair bit that's at odds with) the kids in the two grades behind them.
The social situation at the school is pretty dismal. She copes, but it's depressing. Her longest-term friend just moved away this weekend; another friend moved away in August (both in large part due to schooling issues), two other friends graduated last spring. Her brother and her boyfriend are her only two friends there, and they'll be graduating this year.
Two options present themselves. First... have her tough things out at the current school for this year and next, and then have her do an international exchange program during her senior year. She has no significant second-language skills (since her school doesn't offer anything much) so it could be a chance to pick up a language. We could probably afford it -- though we'll also have two in college that year -- and although she's not terribly adventurous yet, she's always thought that it would be fun to travel and live internationally someday.
Second ... starting next fall we could have her live in a town 90 minutes away and attend a larger high school (760 students rather than 34 students) that has academic classes at the junior and senior level, and a much wider range of electives. She could share an apartment with another girl 18 months older who is attending the same school and whose mom stays over two or three nights a week. They're family friends, the girl is a good kid, has the apartment to facilitate her busy extra-curricular schedule, since she lives 40 minutes from school/town. Or my dd could billet with a family or older couple. I could take her in on Sunday evening and fill up her fridge, bring her home Friday, and probably be down once mid-week for my other dd's activities. This larger school is one where most of her wonderful youth choir friends attend, so she's got lots of social connections already. She knows the other town well, as she's been doing activities there at least once a week for a decade or more. It's a safe, friendly, artsy town of about 10,000. The school is highly regarded and the kids seem to love it.
I'm leaning towards option 2 for a few reasons. First, almost two years is a long time to cope in the current school. Second, that's where she's socially connected, not here. Thirdly, given that she'd do most of her Grade 12 sciences next year, it would give her a far more robust pre-university education to do them somewhere that includes access to regular labs.
Dd is over the moon now that she realizes she doesn't necessarily have to spend the next almost-three-years in her current situation, and is excited about both possibilities, kind of overwhelmed by the choices.
Any advice? Any suggestions or cautionary issues I haven't thought of? Obviously there's the basic minimally-supervised-teen-living-alone stuff which we'd have to deal with. We did allow our eldest to live away from home for 12th grade to facilitate her music training. But she was 17.5, being "old for grade." Middle dd will only be 15.5 because this would be one school year earlier, plus she was born at the opposite end of the year. But this would only be 90 minutes away, rather than across the country.
Thanks for helping me think this through.