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.

Standardized Testing…

Standardized testing can be a very controversial topic within the homeschooling community. Some look at the homeschool standardized testing as a way to see where our children are at… others view the tests as intrusive and simply a means to impinge on our privacy.

As a previous teacher, I do take the standpoint of using these tests as a means of determining where my children are. I enjoy seeing if they are at or above their “typical” grade level… which most of the time they are above grade level… to me it is a way to do a little “victory dance.” I can see that my goals and objectives are being met, and my children are exceeding the states’ expectations.

If you are interested in getting your child tested there are plenty of options. You can contact your local school to see if they allow homeschoolers to test with their students, you can contact a local private school (these tend to be more accomodating to homeschoolers and charge a reasonable fee), or you can locate a private testing agency. Whichever route you choose, please realize that this is simply a single test, and not an all inclusive indicator of your child’s learning. Simply use it as a single tool. One that can help the parents see what they need to be doing, and one that can help the student see how they can improve.