Getting Ready for College?

I’m sure one of you is in the same situation I am…about to graduate one of my children while trying to help guide her in making decisions about college and her future. Shew. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

One of our major concerns – right behind the graduation and party – is to find a way for her to attend college without costing a fortune or piling up huge student loan debt. When our oldest graduated, she determined that she was going to work and attend college. She also wanted to make sure that she didn’t acquire a bunch of student loans. The same goals apply for our second daughter. We’ve found a few a simple practices help to enable new students to keep these goals.

  1. Do test prep. You don’t have to pay someone to help you with this. A little effort and you’ll be able to find a lot of free online resources that can give you the test prep you need.
  2. Take your ACT/SAT as many times as needed until you score the same score twice. You’ll know you’ve reached a plateau then. However, the more you take the test, the more relaxed you get. This enables you to test more accurately. Make sure that you’ve researched and found out the minimum score needed to qualify for the state scholarship. This is one of the easiest scholarships to get  – so take advantage of it.
  3. Depending on the level of scholarship you were able to reach with your ACT/SAT testing, you  might have to find a few scholarships to top it all off. Let’s Homeschool High School has a great quarterly post that reveals TONS of great scholarships perfect for the homeschooler.
  4. Work. I know it’s popular belief that college students need loads of time to study. Rubbish. I worked a full time job (para pro teacher) and went to school 16+ hours each semester. My daughter worked a full time job and went to school 15 hours a semester. Not only can it be done, but it also requires you to budget not just your money, but your time! I’ve also noticed that it causes the student to be much more appreciative about their courses, their grades, and even the free time that they do get. Try to pay for your classes as you go. For example, make sure that semester 1 is paid for before you move on to semester 2. I know just this year, my daughter’s college opened up a payment plan so that students didn’t have to apply for a loan.
  5. Bottom line – work hard. If you make a little extra effort and try – with your college classes, assignments, tests, and with a job – you’ll be on your way to getting a great education without a lifetime of debt.

SAT Prep – Get in the Groove

As a tutor for high school students, I have noticed over the past several years that students loooovvvveee to wait to the last minute. They even wait to the last minute when they are preparing for the SAT and ACT tests! They come to me in the final few weeks prior to the test and ask me to prepare them. What they are looking for isn’t a tutor – but a miracle worker!!

In fact, preparation for the SAT or ACT tests should begin several years before you actually take the test. High school students should arrange their education and courses with college preparation in mind. Students should examine their high school work to be sure that they are meeting the requirements.

Here are a few points to ponder when evaluating if your homeschooled student is prepared or not:

1) Have you been using a challenging spelling/vocabulary program for your student since 9th grade? You can use great tools like Spelling and Vocabulary City to make this easy. Students should be stretching themselves with each new spelling list. Remember, spelling and vocabulary preparation is a sizeable part of the ACT and SAT tests.
2)Have your students been writing clear concise essays? The introduction of the essay and SAT writing practice should occur at least by ninth grade – I prefer earlier. Summing up essay writing into just a few simple steps: Plan for 5 paragraphs-one introduction – 2 or 3 body points/paragraphs – and one conclusion that restates your 3 body points. An essay should be written from a given theme or question statement. The essay should also be able to be written within 25 minutes, using example from literature, history, and personal life.
3)Are you challenging yourself with math courses? Don’t skimp on math preparation. The SAT and ACT tests mainly use questions from geometry and Algebra II. If your student thought they would take the easy road and just do basic math or accounting they will not score as high as they could have if they challenged themselves in this area. Yes, math can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. There are lots of great math tutorials that will help get these difficult points across.
4)Is your student consistently reading and reading critically? By the time a student reaches high school they should be avid readers. Yet, not just readers but readers that analyze what they are reading and think about underlying themes and motives as well as plot projections. Encourage them to THINK while they read.