After High School?

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Since our oldest is 17 and nearing the end of the ‘high school’ years, we are starting to get questions about where she’ll go to college or what’s planned after ‘high school’.  I believe you never ‘finish school’ and therefore never really ‘graduate’.  Everyone should be always learning and actively engaged in reading, writing, and developing skills.

Instead of graduation as a completion of schooling, I consider it the start of self-directed learning which should continue until death.  So I plan to give our kids a list of books to read as they transition into a completely self-directed learning pattern.  They will write about what they read and continue mathematics until they master integral calculus.

This is a basic education that all adults should have.  I am not completely opposed to an institutional college.  However, since there are only a handful of American colleges that provide this type of education in an environment of Christian discipline, and since all of them are over a thousand miles away from central Texas, our older kids will follow this plan at home. Some may also consider this as a template plan for a ‘gap year’ (or years) between high school and college.

No need to wait until age 17 or 18 to start this.  Our oldest began reading some of these around age 15 and has finished 11 of them well before turning 18.  At a steady pace, the studies can be completed by age 21.  The pace allows plenty of time for other interests and work.  Daughters need a broad focus so they can help their future husband, whatever his calling may be. Sons should work through the list while also practicing vocational skills and building a business. A son gifted with interests and aptitude in a highly specialized field may also require institutional training to fulfill his calling. A daughter may marry a young man still training for a career, but the young man should know his calling and his young wife will help him fulfill it. Daughters and sons should work toward being ready for marriage by age 20 at the latest, preferably earlier.


  1. *Confessions – Augustine
  2. Summa Theologica – Aquinas (P. Kreeft’s abridgment)
  3. Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin
  4. Bondage of the Will– Martin Luther
  5. *Christianity for Modern Pagans (Pascal’s Pensees) – P. Kreeft
  6. *Mere Christianity – CS Lewis
  7. *Orthodoxy – GK Chesterton
  8. *Knowing God – JI Packer
  9. Everlasting Man – GK Chesterton
  10. Three Philosophies of Life – P. Kreeft
  11. Sovereignty of God – AW Pink

General History/Philosophy

  1. Nicomachean Ethics – Aristotle
  2. *History of the English Speaking Peoples – Churchill
  3. *Church History in Plain Language – Shelley
  4. *Escape From Reason – Francis Schaeffer


  1. Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
  2. *Biblical Economics – RC Sproul Jr
  3. *Outline of Sanity – GK Chesterton
  4. Economics in One Lesson – Hazlitt

History – to 1600

  1. *The Apostle – John Pollock
  2. *City of God – Augustine
  3. *Augustine of Hippo – Peter Brown
  4. St. Thomas – GK Chesterton
  5. St. Francis – GK Chesterton

History/Politics – from 1600

  1. Leviathan – Hobbes
  2. Democracy in America – Tocqueville
  3. *Jonathan Edwards, A Life – G. Marsden
  4. *Alexander Hamilton, A Life – F. McDonald
  5. *Federalist Papers
  6. Reflections on the Revolution in France – Burke
  7. *The Law – Frederic Bastiat
  8. *History of the American People – Paul Johnson
  9. *Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift – P. Rahe
  10. *Modern Times – Paul Johnson
  11. End of the Armistice – GK Chesterton
  12. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer
  13. Tempting of America – Robert Bork
  14. 1984 – Orwell


  1. Hamlet – Shakespeare
  2. *Divine Comedy – Dante
  3. *Paradise Lost – Milton
  4. Gulliver’s Travels – Swift
  5. David Copperfield – Dickens
  6. *Screwtape Letters – CS Lewis
  7. Lord of the Rings – Tolkien

Arts, Science, Math

  1. *Mathematics in Western Culture – Morris Kline
  2. *Resounding Truth – Jeremy Begbie
  3. History of Art for Young People – Janson
  4. *Six Easy Pieces – Richard Feynman

How to Finish

All * books are mandatory, but are not necessary to “read first”. Mix it up according to interest. Try not to read consecutively from one section – mix it up. You can have several different books going at once, preferably of different types. You can read more than what is on the list, but should always be actively reading at least one from the list. Read at least 90 minutes a day from one or more of these books. As you read, take notes, prepare summaries, record your thoughts. Weekly, write thoughts/reflections and publish online as a finished article.

Spend 3 hours a week on Math and Science. First, complete Saxon Advanced Math through lesson 77, then Physics the Easy Way, then Calculus (I think we’ll use Calculus for the Utterly Confused) until you master integrals.

You are done when – you understand integral calculus and have all read all the books with accompanying weekly writings OR you are 21 years old (assuming you followed the plan but did not get finished with quite all the books) OR you get married.