Degrees, Foreign Languages, and Life Lessons

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I love learning new information. And, I am intentional about sharing that information with parents so they can be empowered and help their learners move closer toward the best, well-informed decisions about their future.

Yesterday I called a college in the State of Florida to get some answers. In the process of talking with an advisor in the Bachelor's Degree office, I learned some new tidbits about degrees and foreign language. The information below relates to all students, unless specifically mentioned as pertaining to homeschooled graduates. 

1. The AS degree is considered a terminal degree. The goal is to provide the graduate with enough career specific content and skills to enter the workforce without continued education.

2. The State of Florida requires 36 General Education semester hours for the AA and BA, but not for the AS. If the student obtains an AS degree and then decides to transfer to another college to earn a BA or BS degree, additional General Education hours may have to be taken in addition to the degree requirements. 

3. The General Education credits required for the AS are reduced in order to make room for career specific content. For example, the AS degree our family is researching requires only one semester of English (as opposed to two) and no foreign language coursework. In addition, College Algebra is not required for the AS of our interest (check the AS of interest as this may vary per career field). 

4. Foreign language is required for AA and Bachelor's degrees in Florida. However, we were personally told by the Office for Students with Disabilities at Valencia this requirement may be waived by an appeal process IF the student with documented disabilities enrolls in a course, demonstrates disability, and successfully wins an appeal for course substitution. When I asked the representative at the college I contacted yesterday about whether an AA appeal would stand should the AA graduate then transfer to a four-year university to continue post-secondary study toward a BS or BA, the advisor said the decision would rest with the institution conferring the bachelor's. At her college, the student would be required to take the foreign language before being awarded the BS or BA.  In other words, the foreign language though waived for the AA, would have to be taken later at the college or university granting the BS or BA. For students with diagnosed learning differences, this question would need to be posed to the Office of Student Disabilities at the college or university granting the BS or BA. This is one of those decisions which could be college specific. (Updated 11-3-2018: Read Florida State University’s policy here).

5. While I had the advisor on the phone, I asked questions about foreign language as this is always a debated topic in homeschooling circles and I want to stay current. How universities handle foreign language varies per institution and policies can change. Therefore, I specifically asked if they accepted high school foreign language credit to waive the college language requirement for the AA. She hesitated and responded, "It depends." I then specifically asked whether two years of foreign language with FLVS would be used to satisfy the college requirement and she said yes without hesitation (which has been our experience with two other home ed grads). All other methods of learning foreign language would be evaluated by the institution. Once transferring with the AA to the institution granting the BS or BA, the high school transcript would re-evaluated, specifically determining where the foreign language was taken. If this could not be validated to their satisfaction, the student would have to take the foreign language before earning the BS or BA, even though the student earned the AA. We personally experienced this with one of our learners. Valencia verified the language was taken in high school (we used FLVS) for the AA requirement and when our son transferred to UCF to move toward the BA, they contacted us and verified our two years of FLVS.  

At the end of the phone conversation, I had several takeaways. The most important takeaway reinforced what I knew: 


High school foreign language decisions follow our learners through the college years. 


Seems weighty. It does to me anyway (and I've graduated three with another two close behind; they are all different). However, this statement doesn't have to keep me fearful that we (parent and young adult) will make wrong decisions. Instead, the information can empower us. With what we know information can be discuss, options can be considered, questions can be asked, and we can weigh future implications to make the best decisions we can at any given time, for each learner. This statement also reminds us that in our temporary inconveniences (not liking an instructor or a delivery method) we must consider long-term consequences (not completing a course may affect us later). 

That's a life lesson which reaches beyond degrees and foreign languages.

It's real-life learning! 

Looking for more information about foreign languages? Consider these blog posts. 

Foreign Language: Questions You Need to Ask

Foreign Language: What Homeschoolers Need to Know

Foreign Language: Which Language

Dual Enrollment? Not So Fast

College Admission Requirements for Home Educated Students

As stated in this post, information changes—sometimes rapidly. Here are some links to updates you may find helpful (updated 11-3-2018).

Florida State University’s 2018-2019 Foreign Language Policy for their College of Arts and Sciences

University of Central Florida Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement (Bachelor of Arts Degree)

University of North Florida’s 2018-2019 Foreign Language Requirement for Bachelor of Arts Degree

University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduation Requirements and CLAS Foreign Language Requirement

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Transferring AP, Dual Enrollment, and CLEP Credits

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Accelerated credit—earning early college credit while in high school—is often referred to as advanced credit or credit exemption. The most common accelerated learning options include dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), and College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment allows learners to earn high school and college credits simultaneously, before graduating from high school. Although dual enrollment can be a great option, it is not the best option for all learners.

Credit Exemption Options

Credit exemption by means of testing is another acceleration mechanism. Examples include AP and CLEP.  Parents and students should be aware that colleges and universities adopt institution specific guidelines for accepting accelerated credit by exam and often post test score and course exemptions on their websites. Knowing what will and will not be accepted can save time and money. 

  • Advanced Placement (AP) equates to college credit if the student takes the corresponding AP exam and scores well. Acceptable scores and the college credit earned with those scores varies from university to university. For example, Stetson University offers a chart stating scores, credits earned, and courses which may be substituted for the earned scores. 
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is sponsored by the College Board. Though some colleges and universities accept all CLEP exam credits--there are 33 tests available--others have specific guidelines as to which exams they will honor. Again, it is helpful to search a university's website to find out the details. 

To find out whether a learner's college of choice accepts dual enrollment, AP, or CLEP, search for a universitiy's transfer of credits statement on the school's website. Most universities devote a whole page to transfer of credit guidelines with links specific to their campus. 

This list may help get you started in your quest. 

Bellhaven University

Clemson University - AP

Florida State University

Georgia State University - AP

Georgia State University - CLEP

Harvard College

Iowa State - AP

Iowa State - CLEP

Kansas State

Kansas University - AP

Kennesaw State University

Louisiana State university

Miami-Dade College - AP

Miami-Dade - CLEP

Miami University of Ohio

Michigan State University

Millersville University -AP

Penn State University - CLEP

Purdue University - AP

Purdue University - CLEP

Rollins College

Seton Hall University

Stetson University

Texas A&M - CLEP

Thomas Edison State University

University of Alabama

University of Florida - AP 

University of Florida - Credit by Examination

University of Florida - Transfer Statement

University of Kentucky - CLEP

University of Maryland - CLEP

University of Massachusetts - CLEP

University of Minnesota - CLEP

University of Montana - CLEP

University of Nebraska - CLEP

University of North Florida

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma - CLEP

University of Tennessee

Wheaton College

Wofford College - AP

Looking for the home education admission requirements for colleges and universities? Check out this blog post. 

Just one more reason why

EVERY. MOMENT. MATTERS. 

even in the high school years!

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

PSAT: Understanding the Scores

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Recently a parent asked me to help her understand the scoring of the PSAT. One of the first questions I asked her was what test her learner took. There are several tests with PSAT in the title (including PSAT8/9 and PSAT10), but only the scores of one test--the PSAT/NMSQT--can be used to qualify for the scholarship. Students usually take the PSAT/NMSQT in the Junior year. There are exceptions to this requirement of which parents should be aware. 

Though we talked about several aspects of the test and scoring, I encouraged her to connect with several reputable sites so she could better comprehend not only the scoring but also the National Merit Scholarship competition. 

First, I pointed her to several online resources which explain the scores of each of the PSAT tests: the Duke TIP identification program, the College Board's explanation of the PSAT8/9, the College Board's explanation of the PSAT10, the College Board's parent tutorial for scoring of the PSAT10, and the Princeton Review's scoring guide. 

Second, I encouraged her to learn more about the NMS competition itself. I pointed her to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's website where she could read about how to enter the competition.

Third, I encouraged her to look over the Student Guide of the National Merit Scholarship Program. This guide is usually sent to school guidance counselors. Because the mom who asked me about scoring was a homeschooling mom, I knew she would be acting as her learner's guidance counselor (of sorts) and thought the guide would be helpful. 

With these resources at her fingertips, the inquiring mom could find the answers which best paralleled the unique questions she had for her learner. Working with hundreds of parents, one thing I have come to understand is that though there are some general questions most parents ask, parents also ask very specific questions based on the individual circumstances of a learner. Perhaps your questions are both general and student specific.

Be empowered! YOU are your learner's best advocate. 

Should Course Codes Be Used on Transcripts for Home Educated Graduates?

A year ago I addressed a common question, 

"Should homeschooling parents use course codes on home-generated transcripts for learners who graduate from a home education program?"

In other words, To Code or Not to Code. 

The question continues to be asked. This post offers example of the information previously addressed. 

The first step in answering the question is understanding what course codes are and why they are used. I encourage you to read the post. 

After reading the hows, whys, and what fors about course codes are used, do your own research. Remember, high school is not a one-size-fits-all experience--though we often want it to be. Wouldn't that be so much easier, too? 

Home School Legal Defense offers a fantastic resource--A Guide for Homeschooling through High School--which includes a sample transcript. 

Another step in the process of answering the course code question is to compare sample transcripts provided by colleges and universities for home schooled graduates seeking admission--as opposed to private or public schooled applicants.  Interestingly, in the research I have done I have yet to find a college or university which requires or suggests home graduates include course codes on home-generated transcripts. Again, the reason points back to why and how course codes are used. 

To help you in your search, I am including links to colleges and universities which offer sample transcripts  for home schooled candidates seeking admission. 

Baylor

http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/69395.pdf

Liberty University

https://www.liberty.edu/media/9930/documents/Homeschool_Transcript.pdf

George Mason University

http://admissions.gmu.edu/freshmen/homeSchoolInfo.asp

Houghton College

http://www.houghton.edu/am-site/media/homeschool-transcript.pdf

Princeton

https://admission.princeton.edu/how-apply/home-schooled-students

Vanderbilt

https://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/assets/pdf/homeschoolcurr.pdf

Covenant College

http://www.covenant.edu/pdf/admissions/trad/homeschool/homeschool_transcript-sample.pdf

Wheaton College

http://www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/AdmissionsAid/Undergrad/homeschool-transcript.pdf

University of West Florida

http://uwf.edu/media/university-of-west-florida/admissions/undergraduate/documents/Homeschooler-Transcript-Requirements-&-Examples.pdf

University of Wisconsin

https://www.admissions.wisc.edu/apply/freshman/homeschooled.php

Cedarville College

https://www.cedarville.edu/Admissions/Home-Schooled-Students.aspx

Knowing what colleges and universities are looking for on a transcript is helpful when creating this important document. Do research. If the college has a home education admission specialist, set up a phone or in-person appointment. Building your tool chest and knowledge base will empower you as you walk alongside your high school learner into the next stage of learning. 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

 

 

 

Foreign Language in High School: Which Language?

In part I of this series we discussed what homeschoolers need to know about foreign language. 

In part II I offered common questions homeschoolers may need to ask. 

In this final part of the series, I will offer insights on how to determine what language to pursue. Again, understand all young adult's, their calling, and their career goals are unique. Not all of these tips will apply to every student and there are likely some you will uncover as you research and walk the journey with your young adult. 

Why do some colleges require more than one year of language? This is a great question! Highly-selective schools will require or recommend more years of language for their applicants. Part of the reason colleges seek more than one year of a foreign language is an understanding that the first year of foreign language is foundational, introductory work. The second, third, and fourth years generally dig deep into advanced conversation, writing, and even analysis. Of course, there are always exceptions to this thought. 

Can the student switch language course of study? Most colleges want two, three, or even four years of language study, often in the same language. Sometimes, however, students will complete one year of one language and then switch to another language. This is usually acceptable IF the student then continues at least two consecutive years (some college prefer three) in the same language. Again, this is an area which is often university specific, so ask questions as early as possible. 

Do colleges have a preference as to what languages are taken? In our experiences, most colleges have no requirements as to which languages they prefer students take. Again, there may be a rare situation out there somewhere, so do your homework! 

Are there expectations as to content of foreign language courses? Colleges know languages are hard. That is part of the reason they require language study. Colleges also expect comprehensive course content. 

What are some factors which could be considered as a student decides which language to pursue? Students who know what career field they want to enter should consider a language which would be beneficial to their future. For example, a student who wants to teach English in a Germany may consider taking a few years of German language. Foreign language is particularly  beneficial to students who plan to work in international banking, law, telecommunications, travel, government, to name a few. With more an more careers spanning the global market, language could be a definite asset. Other common factors in determining which languages students may pursue are future travel plans, family heritage, or personal interest. 

If a student is considering several languages and trying to determine which might be the best choice, consider visiting ethnic restaurants, borrowing foreign language how-to courses from the library, or spending time with people who speak the languages of interest. Or, travel either for pleasure or missions. Being immersed in a language may help with the decision of which language to pursue. 

As the student is choosing which language to study, he or she may need to be reminded that study may become (and often does become) difficult. Learning a language can be hard. In the challenging times, we have had to remind our young adults of the bigger picture. The bigger picture, the goal, often helped our students hurdle temporary difficulties. 

I hope this series has been helpful to you and offered some points to consider as you help your young adult successfully navigate the foreign language trek. 

 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

 

 

 

Transcript Matters: More than One Transcript?

I field a good number of transcript questions each month. In this post, I will address another question I received several times in the past few weeks. 

"What if my high schooler received some credits at the local public school, some through an online venue, and still others through dual enrollment? Do I need to create more than one transcript?" 

Great question. Home educated students have a variety of different environments from which they could possibly learn. Some of these entities are transcript-producing entities, meaning the entity is accredited and provides educational oversight and responsibility for students who take classes through their venue. Others do not produce transcripts (some co-ops and support group opportunities, private instruction and tutoring, church courses and seminars). 

First, it may be helpful to understand what a transcript is. 

A transcript is a permanent academic record which includes all grades conferred to the named student. It represents the student's academic record; a visual summary of the student's high school years. 

As the homeschooling parent overseeing your young adult's learning, you know your learner's academic record in its entirety, both in the home and away from the home. You know when courses were taken as well as which entity provided oversight for each class, whether it was an accredited transcript producing entity or not. You know whether some credits were earned at the local public school, and whether the course included CLEP or AP content, if the corresponding tests were taken, as well as what scores the student achieved. 

Yes, other entities may have conferred grades and credits, but you alone know where and when those grades and credits were earned. The parent-generated transcript you provide not only validates the courses, grades, and credits received directly under your supervision, but also offers employers and universities an overview of course variety and environments from which the student benefited, in and out of the home. Therefore, every course, grade, and credit is documented in one place--on the parent-generated transcript. It will be the parent-generated transcript which alerts any employer or university that they will receive transcripts from other entities.


With four high schoolers, two grads who entered colleges and universities by differing methods and means, we have experienced this first hand. And, we have helped others walk through answering this question as well. In every case, having all courses--no matter where they were taken--documented on the parent-generated transcript was helpful in the admission process. 


How did we denote courses taken outside the home?

First, there must be distinction made. We asked ourselves,

"Was this course taken under the oversight of a legally recognized transcript-producing entity?" 

If the course was taken at such an entity, we flagged the course on the transcript, meaning we added some type of notation super-scripted above the grade. Then we added an explanations of the flags under the grading scale of our transcript. 

Notation explanation as well as grading scale used for courses taken at home

Notation explanation as well as grading scale used for courses taken at home

For example, all of our high school learners completed foreign language online through an accredited source.  I didn't create the course, its content, or grade the work. This was all provided by the online instructor. As the parent overseeing the education of my student (outlined in our state statute), I knew the course was taken and that the source was accredited by the state, and is a transcript-producing entity. I added the course to my parent-generated transcript to provide colleges with the information that the foreign language requirement was met. However, my superscript alerted the colleges that they would be receiving an additional transcript for admission purposes. 

Courses taken in the home as well as outside entities.

Courses taken in the home as well as outside entities.

For some students, there may be several superscripts. I worked on a transcript recently for a student who had taken courses at the local public high school, a private school, an online public school, and a state college. The superscript above the corresponding grades provided admission personnel with a quick, concise picture of where this student had received her high school requirements. 


The parent-generated transcript not only validates the courses, grades, and credits received directly under the parent's supervision, but also offers employers and universities an overview of course variety and environments from which the student benefited, in and out of the home.


If you have questions like the one presented in this post, connect with us. Mike and I would love to help you on your journey. We publish Celebrate High School newsletter for families considering or currently walking the high school journey. You can subscribe to that newsletter below. 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

 

 

College Admission Requirements for Homeschoolers- Part III: Application Paperwork

Great to have you back for post #3 in this four-part series on college admissions.

In part one I talked about preparation. Part two offered insight on admission must haves. In this post, the third in the series, I will look at the details of some of the paperwork colleges may require.  

Admissions paperwork for homeschoolers may differ from public or private schooled applicants. It will definitely vary from university to university. Therefore, being knowledgeable about the potential paperwork which may be needed is helpful as the high school years approach and move forward.

I remember when--eight years ago--my first high schooler was in the midst of applying to his top colleges of choice.

It was August of his senior year. I had researched, been to workshops, talked with moms. Not all I had learned and heard was needed. Yet, as we sat at the computer working on forms and paperwork, I was thankful for pockets full of potential. I remember joking with my son about how I had no way of knowing what cards we would have to play but I was grateful we had a deck from which to choose!

Transcripts. A transcript is a summary--a visual representation--of a young adult's high school academic record. This paper will represent your student, the student's educational experience, and your homeschool. Universities appreciate transcripts which are concise, presented in a clear, easy-to-read format. A professional looking transcript allows universities to take your homeschool seriously, like, "This family knows what they are doing."  

Like mama used to say, "The first impressions matter."

Accurate record keeping provided the information I needed for the transcript, mainly grades, credits, course titles, and test scores. Having all this information in one place helped me pull this document together quickly when a new baby delayed my record keeping and I needed a transcript for a good student driver discount. 

What about format? This question is asked often. After researching (can you tell I like this stuff?) formats, I created a document I knew would meet our applicant's needs and look professional. I've used the same transcript format for all my young adults as well as the young adults for whom I have created transcripts via consultations and evaluations. The format works. "This is the best homeschool transcript we've seen," says one highly-selective university. 

With our transcript template finalized, I simply edit the pertinent biographical information, courses, credits, and grades. This is much easier than starting from scratch every time we add another high school student. Be aware, some universities don't care how the transcript is formatted, others do. Some offer transcript formats on their sites. Flagler College reminds home educated applicants to make sure the person who prepares the transcript to remember to sign the document. Though this sounds silly, I know parents who forgot to sign their transcripts. The document is considered invalid without a signature. 


Finally, the transcript must include the signature of the individual who prepared it.
— Flagler College website

Parents often ask me if I include course codes on my transcripts. I don't.

I offer a detailed reason why I don't on this blog post. 

Course Descriptions. States have standards. High schools offer courses based on those standards. A description of these courses is published on the high school's website. If the college personnel had questions, they could access course content and standards (at least in theory).

Courses taken at home vary from home to home in methodology, structure, and content giving college administrators no standard for evaluation or comparison. This is a good thing, say homeschoolers. I would agree. However, this is the reason college admission officers considering home educated applicants sometimes require course descriptions to accompany transcripts. These short, concise paragraphs allow college personnel to become familiar with the student as well as his or her academic achievements and interests. 

Course descriptions serve two purposes.

First, course descriptions clarify and validate course content. This is especially true when applying to universities which refuse to accept parent-generated honors courses (which happened to us). Once the admission personnel read a course description, determination may be made as to whether the content is equivalent to a traditional honors level course--in their eyes.

Course descriptions also validate a student's academic abilities and achievements. And in some cases (ours included) universities use these course descriptions to determine invitation to honors college or offering of potential scholarship. 

This blog post about course descriptions may be helpful as you research and discover the requirements of your student's top college choices. And, it will help you learn how to put in words the unique and extraordinary learning which is happening in your home.

Reading Lists.This is definitely one of those documents which is not widely requested yet good to be knowledgeable about in case it is needed. 

 Reading lists are not required by all colleges. 

Fifteen years ago a homeschooling mom, who had graduated two students, told me to keep a cumulative reading list for my then middle schooler. Actually, by our state statute, we are required to keep a resources list, so it really wasn't a stretch to continue in high school. However, I didn't really understand why she was so insistent and I questioned her. She told me a story of how one of her graduates was asked to submit a reading list. Not knowing which universities my son would apply to, I decided I would consider her experience and wisdom and keep the list.

Indeed, I needed the reading list. One of the universities to which my son applied required a reading list. WHEW! I was grateful for the wisdom that mom so bravely shared. Only one college required the list. However, I had the list compiled and decided to submit it with every application we sent (those were the "old" days when applications went by mail) because most of the schools he applied to were highly competitive. 

Do we keep reading lists, even though few colleges require them? Yes. Our students keep a cumulative reading list, recording title and author of every high school level (or higher) book read. Why? First, it is required by our state statute, and I don't want to scramble to reproduce what we can fairly painlessly record as my students finish their reading. In our family when our learners begin to read high school level or higher materials, the mantra is

"read the book, record the book, get the credit." 

This simple statement extends freedom for our students to select independent reading and earn credit. Keeping the list not only allows a cumulative reading list to be compiled--by academic year--but gives me a tool from which to cut and paste (integrate) student-selected reads into high school courses. 

Letters of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation are written and submitted by a third party who can attest to the academic accomplishments, work ethic, and personal character of a student. The majority of colleges will ask for letters of recommendation for admission. Each university is likely to request letter from different sources. Be prepared to ask instructors, teachers, band directors, employers, supervisors, pastors, or coaches if needed. Remember, I talked a bit about these letters in post #2 of this series. 

Essays or writing samples. Universities may require applicants to submit essays, writing samples, or personal statements with the admission packet. Essay topics can often be found on the college website or on the college application. Researching and practicing essay writing before actually submitting an application is helpful and recommended. This blog post offers some of the most common essay questions colleges ask. 

Bucknell University requires extra writing samples for home educated applicants. 


Home-schooled applicants submit the same application and testing as other students, but we require additional writing samples.
— Bucknell University website

Some colleges have a word count requirement for their essays. Therefore, high schoolers may benefit from practicing writing within a specific word count. For example, I asked one of our seniors to write a 500 word essay one afternoon during the first weeks of school. He wrote a first draft in the time and word count limit. A day later, we sat and worked through grammar and mechanics, organization and word choice. We followed up with a final draft. The student was motivated because the content mattered. He wanted to attend the college requiring the essay. Win for the application. Win for composition. We made a copy for his English work samples which were shown to our evaluator at the end of the year.

Some colleges ask writing samples from applicants. Amherst College suggests a short writing piece and a research paper. 

Additional paperwork may be needed. For example, Emory-Riddle Aeronautical Univeristy suggests a student resume, though it is not required. University of Pennsylvania requires additional information to be present in the paperwork provided. Their homeschool applicant page states


More information is better… In the Secondary School Report and elsewhere in your Penn application, please share your motivations for choosing a rigorous home school journey. Why did you or your family seek home schooling as an option for your education? Describe your curriculum in detail and tell us how you, your family or oversight group have organized your pursuit of knowledge across core academic disciplines including humanities, math, social and natural sciences, and foreign languages. How has being home schooled helped you grow intellectually and personally or enhanced your opportunities for learning? The aim is to help the admissions committee understand how you have worked to “demonstrate mastery” and “distinguish excellence” across the curriculum. Anything you or your academic supervisor can do to explain and contextualize your educational circumstances can only be helpful in the Penn admissions process.
— University of Pennsylvania website

Each piece of paperwork has its nuances and importance, just as every university has its requirements. This post is simply an introduction to each document a family might be asked to submit with a college application. Families can research their young adults top colleges of choice for specific requirements, especially if those choices include military academies.  I have written extensively about each of these documents--with examples--in my book Celebrate High School which is on sale until October 7.

I hope you will join us for the final post of this series, The Big Picture. 

Celebrate High School: Finish with Excellence
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High school is not a one-size-fits all experience. The journey is unique for every student. Celebrate High School equips parents and students of any educational philosophy with easy-to-follow explanations, ready-to-use examples, and parent testimonials.  

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This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

College Admissions for Homeschoolers Part II: Admission Must Haves

 

"Must haves." 

I know, sounds determinate, like "if you don't do this you won't get in." But stick with me. 

I'm not telling you what to do. That is not the point of this post.  

And, there's no way for me or anyone else to tell you exactly what to do for your high school learner. Only you know your student or his or her unique circumstances.

The purpose of this blog post is to share current information so you can be intentional; equipped to make informed decisions for your high schooler. As a mom who's walked the high school path with four very different young adults and an evaluator/consultant who has worked with many families, I understand what works for one student may not work for another.

However, like it or not

there are definite items colleges will request of all their applicants--public, private, and homeschooled.

Knowing what those items are offers applicants opportunity to prepare and to keep paperwork current as courses are completed, hours are served, and achievements are made. I have learned from experience that although we homeschoolers like to dig our heels in the sand and stand our ground (thinking we should or shouldn't have to deal with certain admission requirements), our dug in heals may leave us stuck with little or no options. 

Test Scores. Like it or not, most universities with a traditional mindset still believe testing helps validate grades on a transcript. Many colleges believe that test scores are especially important for home education graduates because their educational environment is potentially less standardized than traditional public or private schools. On the other hand, some universities are moving toward test optional scenarios (as stated in this Washington Post article)Stetson University is one of those schools.

Stetson University, a test-optional school states


Stetson University values academic achievement, commitment to personal values, leadership, talent, character and initiative above standardized testing. Therefore, submitting standardized test results for admission consideration is optional. Score-optional consideration is an alternative for applicants who feel that their test scores don’t adequately reflect their level of academic achievement and/or accurately predict their potential.
— Stetson University website

Though some schools are now test optional, others are not. Still others offer the applicant to make a choice based on his or her strengths. Homeschooling parents find It best to research and then prepare to meet the testing requirements for colleges of choice, if test scores are an admission must.

Knowing test score expectations allows a young adult to be prepared, to choose a specific test from the options, one which will best complement his or her strengths, and then to study for the special characteristics of that test. Some colleges have the same test score requirements for public, private, and homeschooled graduates. Other universities have stricter standards for homeschoolers and even require additional SAT Subject Test scores. 

Emory University has specific test score requirements for homeschoolers. According to their website


The Admission Committee is happy to receive applications from home-schooled students. In addition to meeting all admission requirements and submitting the required results from the SAT or ACT, we ask that a student who has been schooled at home submit results from three SAT II subject exams—one in mathematics and two of the student’s choosing. Additionally, we require at least one letter of recommendation from someone other than a family member. We also encourage home-schooled students to submit a comprehensive explanation of their curriculum.
— Emory University website

Grades. Universities like grades. Again, this is a traditional educational evaluation method used to place (at least in theory) public, private, and homeschooled graduates on the same plain (whether you agree or not). Knowing whether a college prefers unweighted or weighted GPAs is another aspect of grading with which parents should become familiar. 

Grading in high school doesn't have to be scary. Check out my detailed blog post Grades...in High School. I highlight how we graded some of the most traditional and the most unique courses of our high school journey.

Transcripts. This is another traditional requirement for the applicants and perhaps the most stressful for homeschooling parents. Hence, why some homeschoolers will argue this document is not necessary. However, a large percentage of colleges and universities will have this requirement. Some colleges including Wheaton College, are offering a transcript template on their homeschool admission page. Again, preparation can combat fear. As you build your understanding of transcripts, consider:

  • Most universities want this document on one page; neat, concise and eye-appealing, easy-to-read.
  • The majority of colleges are looking for variety--in content and format. In regards to content, many universities are eager to see depth and individual interests. An unique interest for a student applying as a veterinary medicine major might be Introduction to Veterinary Medicine. Schools will also be looking for the specific courses they require for admission, for example Biology. Class format is important, too. Universities want to know your student can learn and interact in traditional, online, seminar, and hybrid courses. This is why lab sciences and foreign languages are often required for applicants. Overall, they are looking for well-rounded students who will impact their campuses. 
  • Some universities require 16-20 core courses for admission and will offer suggestions on their homeschool admission pages as to what courses they are looking for. Wheaton College is one of those universities. 
  • Be sure the transcript you create contains the information requested by the colleges to which the student is applying. 

University of North Florida requests a transcript containing the standard information required of all applicants, including home educated graduates. 


Home school students must submit transcripts indicating course title, semester, grade, and awarded credit for all academic courses. Official SAT/ACT scores and official transcripts from accelerated mechanisms are also required.
— University of North Florida website

Letters of Recommendation. These documents are required of all applicants, public, private, and homeschooled. And, for some universities, this is the second most important documentation on behalf of the applicant. Letters of recommendation are especially important for the home educated applicant as they offer an unbiased perspective of the student. In other words, though the parent may act as the guidance counselor and write a letter from this position, the university will want a glimpse of the student from a source outside of family. Often a youth pastor or instructor from a traditional setting--online, co-op classroom--a coach, or an employer can offer the information a college is needing. In addition, some colleges will have specific guidelines about who they want to write a letter (clergy, employer, coach) as well as when the letter must be written (an instructor from the student's senior year). Not all colleges require specifics letters to be written, but when they do, be sure to follow their guidelines. 

For example, when our first son applied to highly-selective universities, one of the schools required a letter of recommendation from an instructor during the senior year. Though my son had had teachers in previous years through local co-op classes and individual instruction, his senior year courses were taken mostly through home study. However, he was finishing up a second year of Spanish online. I called the university and asked if a recommendation from his online teacher would be acceptable. They agreed, though I wondered how she could even write a recommendation having never met our son. Her letter focused mostly on his work ethic, academic ability and integrity, and timely assignment submission. All good points none of his other letters addressed. 

Princeton University explains what is important for applicants to consider when submitting recommendations. 


It’s most helpful if your teacher and counselor references come from three different adults who can comment on your intellectual curiosity, academic preparation and promise, and extracurricular involvement. Some home schooled applicants ask a parent to complete the School Report, and they ask others who have known them in an academic context to complete the teacher references. If you have taken any high school or college courses, or had a teacher other than a parent in a particular subject, we encourage you to ask those professors or teachers to write your teacher references.
— Princeton University website

When our high school students ask mentors, supervisors, or instructors for letters of recommendation we encourage them to follow up with a note of thanks and gratitude. I outlined that process in a blog post, The Thank You After the Letter. 

Interviews. Nine years ago when our son began to receive offers for admission and scholarship, interviews were essential if the student intended to accept a Presidential scholarship. Today however, interviews are becoming more popular for admission. Interviews provide a chance for the student to talk about his or her achievements and aspirations as well as offer an opportunity to exhibit proficient communication and interpersonal skills. College personnel want to know what value the student will bring to the campus.  Rice University is one university which recommends a personal interview.

Additional paperwork may be required. Research each college. Determine what types of documentation each university is requiring. For example, St. John's College asks applicants to write an essay for admission. And, Vanderbilt University suggests student submit an optional curriculum chart. Arizona State asks home educated students to submit a lab sciences evaluation. Though a first reaction may be frustration--as it was for me when I had to write essays about our educational methods and grading system--it is wise to step back, breathe, and take a few minutes to ponder the request. After a thirty second pause, the request may not be as bad as first perceived. 

In our situation, though I was initially discouraged that our son's top school required me to write essays, once I started the process, the pondering of our home education methods was beneficial and indeed helpful for us as a family. I was reaffirmed that indeed we had worked hard together and our son was extraordinarily prepared for his next steps. In the end, that school offered our son a Presidential scholarship, four full years paid tuition. 

Once we know what will be required for admission, we can get down to the business of creating the documents and records we need. We'll take a closer look at specific admissions paperwork in the next post. 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

College Admissions for Homeschoolers- Part I: Preparation

High school is an exciting life season. With life after high school on the horizon, students apply for jobs, serve volunteer hours, and practice essay writing, hoping to land their dream job or attend a first choice university.

Parents worry if they have done enough, kept the right paperwork, and poured everything they possibly could into their young adult's minds and hearts.

I have been there. Still am.

Truth be told, even with the experience of four high schoolers (two, soon-to-be three grads), I still have doubts.

For me, one of the best means of alleviating concern as been to  gather knowledge--to be prepared!

This blog series is meant to help you glean answers to common questions you are likely asking.

Will my homeschool grad be able to apply for admission at his or her schools of choice?

Over the past thirty years, homeschooling has grown from a pioneering movement to a popular, viable educational option. It's been proven that homeschooling through high school graduation often provides graduates with essential soft skills colleges and employers seek--problem solving, initiative, self-discipline, work ethic, and time management. Colleges, universities, and employers often find these qualities in homeschool graduates. 

Some colleges pursue home grads. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers an admissions page specifically for homeschoolers. This quote from that page is especially reassuring.


One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, taking full advantage of opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants really shine in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themselves and others, and more.
— MIT website

MIT is not the only university seeking the accomplishments of home-educated young adults.

Bellhaven University in Jackson, MS states on their website


Belhaven welcomes home educated students! Approximately 22% of our current freshmen class was home educated. We encourage home schooled students to consider Belhaven if they are looking for a Christian college that is committed to preparing them academically and spiritually.
— Bellhaven website

Covenant College also admits a significant number of homeschooled grads. In fact, Mike and I personally consulted and evaluated two students who have recently completed their first year at Covenant. 


Covenant College enjoys a large number of home-schooled students in our student body. In fact, our population of students who come to Covenant from a home-school background has risen from 4% in 1995 to 23% today!
— Covenant College website

Colleges are making efforts to become well-versed at evaluating the extraordinary achievements of home educated students working to understand and accommodate the methods home educators use. To that end, universities have begun to hire home education specialists in their admissions departments. Bryan College is one of those colleges

In addition, more and more universities are leveling the field, asking for the same admission and testing requirements from all applicants, public, private, and home graduates. University of South Florida is one of those schools. 


Many of USF’s best students have completed home education programs. As a home schooled student, you must meet the same admission criteria as your peers graduating from traditional high schools, including:
—A comprehensive transcript for the equivalent of grades 9 through 12, including work completed through home school, Florida Virtual School or dual enrollment. You may use our Home School Transcript template to generate an acceptable transcript.
—An official SAT or ACT score with the writing component included
—A portfolio or additional documentation may be requested if deemed necessary to complete an appropriate evaluation for admission
—Additional factors are also considered for home schooled students.
— University of South Florida website

Colleges are also offering practical helps and tips for homeschool graduates on their websites, all in an effort to insure homeschooled applicants indeed feel welcomed. Parents are encouraged to do their research, communicate with admissions departments, and become familiar with requirements. 

College admissions for homeschoolers doesn't have to be scary!

Be Prepared

Many years ago when my first learner was mid-middle school, I began to realize I was--in the not so distance future--going to be wearing another hat--guidance counselor. YIKES! Knowing I wasn't alone on my journey was refreshing, helpful, encouraging. Like many homeschooling parents who had become their high schooler's guidance counselor, I was stepping into the ranks, into good company. 

I was relieved to know what I was embarking on was possible. 

In between diaper changes (I still had littles!) and essay edits, I attended workshops and seminars, talked with admissions counselors and advisers. And, I took time to breathe! Eventually, the high school lingo--credits, transcripts, academic electives, and GPA--became familiar, and I began to feel more comfortable in my budding new role as admission's advocate for my son. That was fifteen years ago! 

I must admit, I felt overwhelmed at times. Being a guidance counselor was a lot of work! And, somehow, like many other moms, I carried the weight of admissions on my shoulders, even when I tried not to and in spite of the moms who told me it wasn't my job to do so.

Toward the later years of his high school journey, I realized being familiar with admission requirements and deadlines for his top five or ten colleges would be just as important as preparing him for standardized tests, accumulating community service hours, and practicing essay writing. Doing a little bit each day, eventually, preparation in these areas--admissions included--helped us create a strong student profile. He applied to five or six universities, several highly selective, and was accepted to all.  

It was all coming together. Good thing! I had another high schooler right one behind.

As I mentioned, one of the most helpful things for us (he and I) to do was to find out what the admissions requirements were for his top college choices. In those days--before bookmarks and Pinterest--we wrote notes and printed pages. Today, I keep a running log of college and university homeschool admission requirements on my blog. It has been a huge help to me and to others Mike and I work with. In fact, it is one of my most popular blog posts--College Admission Requirements for Home-Educated Students. This post may be one of your first stops on the research journey. I hope you find it helpful! 

As read through the webpages, you will begin to find commonalities in admission requirements. I will discuss some of those requirements in my next post, College Admissions for Homeschoolers- Part II: Admission Must Haves.

 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

 

 

Using Living Books in High School for Credit

I am often asked how I design classes for our high school young adults.

Actually, I don't design all their classes, only ones where there is a special interest, an intrinsically motivated independent study, a travel experience which sparks learning, or in a case where we can't find a traditional curriculum fitting our learning goals.

We have used several approaches to formulating classes based on strengths, interests and the future plans of the young adult.

Our oldest son had a great interest and gift for learning history. This was, by my understanding, his favorite subject in school. He read constantly, checking out books at the library and spending saved monies at museum and historical landmark book shops. He outsourced his dad, a public school history teacher, very early. By the time he reached high school, there really wasn't a curriculum available to challenge him. I had to research accelerated reading lists, college course syllabi, and talk with historians to find resources for him. It was a challenge, but a privilege to help him grow yet further in his learning.

With his interest in history, we divided American History into Early American (to 1850) and Modern (from 1850 to present), and World History into Ancient (to the Reformation) and Modern (from the Reformation to present) so we could allow time for him to dig deeper into his interest. I developed literature selection lists for each course, providing him reading suggestions to get him started. His desire to learn history prompted him to seek out additional titles. My motto became, 

"You read it, I will give you credit."

For readers interested in the detail of what we constituted Ancient World History/Survey of Ancient Literature, our reading list (remember it was a springboard from which he could jump in for more) is below.

Please keep in mind as you read through the list, he was a self-motivated reader with an interest in the subject. Not all young adults will share this interest or learning preference. In addition to his independent reading, we used a textbook as a spine of topics. Though he started the year reading some of the text, by the end of the year he was reading more primary source documents, living history selections, and biographical pieces than text. He also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Rome, including tours of several sites inside the ancient city wall. 

This method works for us. I tweak the process with each young adult. Please, don't use what is written here as a comparison for what your student should or shouldn't be doing.

Comparing ourselves or our children to others leads to discouragement and discontent, neither of which are valuable.

Our examples are only intended as encouragement, to give an idea of what worked for us, and what you might be able to create (or adjust) for your high schooler. Our young adult was (and still is) a reader, but your young adult may have an opportunity to intern with a local businessman or a museum curator. Use what God provides for you and pray about how he is preparing your young adult for the future plans He has, not for the ones we best intention.

Our ancient world history/ancient literature list:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles

Antigone, Sophocles

Mysteries of Ancient China, Rawson

Mythology, Hamilton

The Roman Way, Hamilton

The Greek Way, Hamilton

The Death of Socrates, Plato

Ben Hur, Lew Wallace

For the Temple, Henty

The Young Cathaginan, Henty

The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone, Giblin

In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Wood

The Republic, Plato

The Histories by Herodotus

The Eagle of the Ninth, Sutcliff

Anna of Byzantium, Barrett

The City of God, Augustine

I, Claudius, Graves

Claudius the God, Graves

Don Quixote, Cervantes

Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

Sign up for our Celebrate High School newsletter and get a free printable Ancient Literature check-off list.

I am so excited about a NEW  workshop I've added to my conference speaking topics--Keeping High School ALIVE with Living Books. Can't wait to share how Living Books can continue to impact learning all the way through high school.

Check out my speaking topics page. 

*The information in this blog post is not intended as legal or educational advice. It is simply a journal of what worked for us. Parents are responsible to oversee their child's home education.

 

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

High School Made Simple: College Essays for Credit

When the Common Application recently released the essay prompts for 2016-2017, I reminisced about the time my high schoolers and I spent writing and editing college essays.

Those days mattered.

Oh yes, there were frustrations and word blocks. Challenges of putting heart and mind to paper. Thoughts processed and penned; gratitude for life-changing events and people. Indeed, the words were required for college essays, however poignancy and purpose marked milestones, not solely meeting rubric requirements or a grade percentage.

The prompts were real and relevant, personal to the young adult. 

Typically, we spend the Junior year practicing essay writing. 

I found this type of writing practical, useful, purposeful. This writing was significant for pondering but also necessary for college application. Call it high school intrinsic motivation. They worked hard at it. In fact, the time our Juniors spent practicing and polishing essays became a part of their life reflections as well as their English credits.

In addition to the Common Application essay prompts, we also used the supplemental essay prompts from the universities of student's choice. In other words, if the college was on the Top Ten list for our student, we found out what supplemental essay questions might be and began writing. To our delight, the essays were similar in nature. 

When looking for supplemental essay prompts on college sites, the first place we looked was on the application. If we couldn't find the prompts on the application, we would type in "essays for admission" (or something similar) on the site search box. 

Over the twelve years of homeschooling high school, I discovered the most popular supplemental essay prompts to be:

  • Why do you want to attend this school? This question not only offers opportunity for writing practice, but research also. A student can't write a knowledgeable essay of this kind without some degree of research about the university. Focusing on specific, perhaps a renown, faculty member influential in the student's field of study may be helpful. As a high schooler senior applying to college (this speaks to how long this question has been asked) I remember writing about my desire to attend an integrative university where education was not only studied in a traditional classroom setting but also experientially. My university excelled in this area and I wanted admissions to know not only was I aware of their unique instruction, I sought it out!
  • How will you be an asset to our university campus and the greater community? My son chose to answer this question for one of his applications.  In his research, he found the campus had a community outreach similar to one he had been involved in throughout high school. Mentioning this seemed natural.
  • What are your short and long term academic goals? Though this essay may be found on a freshman application it is also popular for specific schools within the university as well as graduate schools. 
  • Describe a person you admire. As my high schoolers worked on this essay, I reminded them it is always better to write about what and who is known and familiar. Therefore, I encouraged them to write about a person who impacted them personally, perhaps intellectually, morally or spiritually. This was another essay chosen by one of our high school young adults, one he was able to excerpt from several times in college and beyond.
  • Tell us about yourself. When working on this essay, we were encouraged to find the unique, something that would set the student apart. Colleges put unique twists on this essay, sometimes asking about a life-changing event or future dreams and aspirations. Some universities referred to this portion of the application as the personal statement. 
  • Why should (university) offer you admission? This question closely resembles "What will you bring to our campus?"  Related, we found one prompt a springboard to another.  

Some universities also require essays for scholarships. Again, this is a great resource for writing prompts in the Junior year. With scholarship essays meaning potential monies toward college expenses, we found this writing valuable time spent.

Colleges often place a word count on essays submitted. This requirement added a practical, real-life element to our writing assignments. Anyone can make a point, answer a question, but within required limits? Practice in this area prepared our high schoolers for college writing where word count mattered. In fact, some professors refuse to read beyond the requested limit. Writing essays within a word count while in high school proved beneficial.

Be aware, some colleges make additional requirements as to font style and size as well as margins and spacing. If the school makes this type of requirement, be sure to follow the request. Again, following these guidelines in high school prepared our students for college assignments in all content areas. 

College essays in our home mattered. Yes, the essays opened doors for admission and scholarship, but their greater good provided an avenue for reflection, personal growth and gratitude. The essays were not just a requirement, but a profitable use of time. 

Those days mattered.

Essays are just one part of the high school paper trail universities often require. For more information on the paperwork schools may request for college admission, join me in my workshop at FPEA Convention, Happy (High School) Paper Trails. 

UPDATE: This session is available on MP3 for purchase at The FPEA Store.

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

Course Descriptions Made Easy

I am a mama with full days, like many of you. I look for simple and manageable. 

Though I am about excellence, I also am about simplifying and streamlining. 

But let's face it, sometimes we have to tackle tough. Course descriptions (CDs), often intimidating, are not always necessary. So, breathe easy. On the other hand, when they are needed, they are usually essential to the admission process. In addition, of all the families I work with, the large majority who were required to submit CDs also received substantial scholarship monies.

That is good news, really! 

So, what if CDs are essential to your student's college admission packet?

Don't panic!

Parents often confuse transcripts with course descriptions. The transcript provides a one-page snapshot of a young adult's high school course, grade, and credit summary. Course descriptions, however, offer short synopses of the learning chapters in your student's story. Ideally, those course descriptions should complement--add value and give clarity--to the transcript document.

Why course descriptions? For students graduating from a public entity, course catalogs (also called course guides or curriculum guides) are available online (used to be paper and had to be requested from the guidance department) and follow the requirements (standards) of that state (or now in many cases, Common Core). Colleges know the set criteria and standards met in the classroom are standard for each course at every school in that state. So, there is no need for each high school to write individual course descriptions for every class for every student. They write one course description--usually posted on their website--for all students, as long as they offer the course.

Home education is different. A sculpture class in one home is likely to look entirely different than a sculpture class in another home. One student may enroll in a sculpture class at a local art studio. Another may have been invited to join an artist for weekly mentoring in a private studio. Yet another student may dual enroll a sculpture class at the local college. The same distinctiveness can be applied to a literature course--each home can choose their own literature selections--or a science course--where the student might be invited to take part in a research project at a local university. There is no standard way to meet course requirements (unless your state dictates differently--this post assumes parents have researched and know the home education statute for their state). Hence, some colleges use course descriptions to assess the depth and rigor of a home education course because they know courses vary for each home school.

Some colleges ask home education parents to write course descriptions.

It is part of their verification process. With the eclectic mix of methods and means home educators utilize, the CDs do bring out the extraordinary opportunities homeschoolers have experienced and embraced. 

I remember the day a college requested I write CDs.

I panicked! 

After a deep breath...

Thankfully, we were early in our high school journey! I could easily remember the exceptional experiences our young adult had benefited from in his courses, variations from more traditionally-taught classes: 10 dissections he completed in Honors Biology at a local co-op. We had also designed courses around independent study, research, and personal reading. 

Additionally, I had been keeping a reading list on the computer. I could cut and paste those titles into course descriptions as needed. 

I was relieved. Since that first request and a total of four high schoolers later, 

I have learned to:

  • Write course descriptions when the young adult begins the course (even if just the bare minimum is known: textbook, reading materials, anticipated experiential opportunities) and add significant educational highlights throughout the year. When I waited until the end of the year to write the whole description, I forgot some of the most beneficial learning blessings he experienced, no to mention getting my head above the project was monumental, or at least it seemed so when I felt I was drowning.
  • Remind myself course descriptions tell the stories of the courses detailed on the transcript. It is the document college admissions personnel will reference as they consider offering admission, need more information to differentiate one student from another and offer scholarship. A course description is not an outline of the course and will be less likely to read if lengthy. Course descriptions are chapter summaries, hitting the highlights, offering the concepts learned, the teaching methods and resources used, and exceptional experiences in which the student participated.

  • Take note of the unusual and unique. Course descriptions are especially important if the parent and young adult are designing unique courses, courses not typically offered on local school campuses or courses not generally taught in high schools, for example Introduction to Equine Science, Survey of the Building Construction Industry, or Care and Concerns of the Elderly.

  • Record regularly. When I don't,  I forget valuable additions. In our busy, full years of adding a Bastian or spending evenings at the ball field, I found it helpful to start a student's course description document and add bullet points to the course titles. Later, when I have time,  I can revisit later and edit into cohesive sentences. Tackling course descriptions in this manner helps me remember important details and keeps me excited about what my young adult is accomplishing. When it is not in front of me, I tend to forget.

Keeping records current saved me time and headache later.

  • Remind myself there are many ways to accomplish learning (this is true even of the state standards- the standard can be met with very different and unique methods). For example, American History. If two of the many learning goals for a high school level American History class are to understand the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the effects on the American people, and to understand the causes and consequences of World War II in the United States and abroad, the learning possibilities of how a student will understand those concepts are vast and plenty. Chapters in a text could be read and summary questions answered. On a family vacation up the East Coast of the United States, the family could visit and tour eight Civil War battlefields and National Parks and compare what actions were taken and who was involved at each location. The student could attend a local WWII veteran's meeting and listen to the stories shared by the members. Perhaps the local library hosts a presentation by surviving Tuskegee Airmen who share their wartime experiences from the perspective of African Americans serving during WWII (actual event we attended and it was AMAZING!). And then there are the plethora of primary source documents and biographical materials which could be read. Not only can the same learning goals be accomplished, but learning with this type of diversity allows young adults of different learning styles to retain information they might not otherwise remember. It is these exceptional and unique opportunities which can be highlighted in course descriptions, should a high schooling family choose to prepare this document or a college require it for admission.

Being intentional about writing course descriptions proved most valuable for courses we designed or courses developed from internships and shadowing experiences. When designing a course, I felt it was important to keep a running log of educational experiences, online resources, and learning resources, just as I would if I were compiling a course as a traditional classroom teacher.

There are blessings to writing course descriptions.

For us, the original course descriptions from my first high schooler could easily be cut, pasted, and edited to the unique experiences and opportunities of the high schoolers who followed. Second, though not all colleges asked for the description document, I sent them anyway. It was done and I wanted officials to have the document should they have questions. I know some parents feel this is a controversial and dangerous precedence for future home educated applicants, but in at least one situation those descriptions placed our young adult in a better position of acceptance in an honors college (because we couldn't document any of his courses as Honors or IB, which most of the applicants had earned). When the descriptions (which included reading materials) were read, the depth and expanse at which our young adult studied most of his courses could be realized. Our homeschool high school experience was just as rigorous as those students who had completed accredited IB programs. Note: Realizing that our student had the ability and desire to qualify for an IB or similar program, I researched the contents and reading materials utilized by these programs and then wove them into our studies. Again, this is our experience, not something I am advocating for every home schooled high schooler.

As we progressed through high school and began researching college admission requirements, I was thankful I had records of courses my student had completed.

Being intentional with writing course descriptions has served us well, in many cases. The work was done as we studied, and saved on the computer, should we need it. We did need it for our first applicant. With our second, because of dual enrollment and then an easy transition to the state college (and eventually a four-year university), the course descriptions were not necessary. On a side note, had our first and second grads followed their aspirations to play competitive collegiate sports (hence registering with the NCAA) having the course descriptions complete would have saved me a huge amount of time filling out their Core-Course Worksheets. Keep in mind as you consider NCAA and course titles, they prefer specific titles. Be aware.

This information (and more) is included in my book, Celebrate High School. which was heavily revised and updated summer 2015.  The revised edition contains every thing in the original publication as well as some new features including middle school sections.  

Join me at FPEA for my workshop, Happy (High School) Paper Trails to YOU!

This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children. 

College Admission Requirements for Home Educated Students

I speak to rooms full of parents--everything from living rooms to convention halls--considering a home education journey for their middle and high school young adults. Most often we talk about specifics and how-tos. However, at some point, usually during a Q&A session, I am usually asked

"What about college admission?"

The answer to the question depends on the status of the student applying.

Home educated in our state means enrolled in the Home Education Program with the county of residence. Those students are home educated students by definition and will apply to colleges as home educated, non-traditional or non-accredited graduates. The term used varies college to college.

In our state if the student chooses to enroll in a private school for classes once, twice, or three or more times a week--or as a place of record--that student is considered a private school student and will apply to colleges as a private school graduate. Some colleges and universities require private schools to be accredited, by the state or by a regional accrediting agency. 

Generally colleges welcome home educated students with unique educational and extra-curricular experiences and varied community service opportunities, but it is always wise to check on the admission requirements of particular schools of interest. I recommend parents and students begin THE BIG COMPARISON--outlined in my book Celebrate High School--when several colleges have sparked a desire for further research. 

Don't assume.

  • Universities are hiring counselors designated to serve home educated students. After reading online admission requirements, make contact with the counselor. Advanced research demonstrates interest and initiative. 
  • A running list of questions may be helpful. 
  • Early research allows parents and students to plan well. Gain the knowledge you need!

Locating the specific requirements for home educated applicants takes time. If your student's college of interest is not listed below, try 

  • typing "homeschool" or "home education" in the search box of the college website.
  • searching "homeschool coordinator" in the search box of the college website.
  • contacting the homeschool admissions coordinator. Colleges and universities are hiring personnel to help their home-educated applicants. 
  • looking for homeschool admission requirements under the heading "non-traditional". Home education is considered a non-traditional method of education by many universities. 

Direct links to information relevant to home-educated applicants:

Agnus Scott College, Decatur, GA

Amherst College, Amherst, MA

Appalachian State, Boone, NC

Arizona State University, Phoenix Area, AZ

Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL

Bellhaven University, Jackson, MS

Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC

Bentley University, Waltham, MA

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Bradley University, Peoria, IL

Bryan College, Dayton, TN

Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH

Central Methodist, Fayette, MO

Charleston Southern University, Charleston, SC

Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CA

Columbia University, New  York

Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, GA

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Emmanuel College, Franklin Springs, GA

Emory, Atlanta, GA

Emory-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL

Flager College, St. Augustine, FL

Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, FL

Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Furman University, Greenville, SC

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Greensboro College, Greensboro, NC

Grove City College, Grove City, PA

Guilford College, Greensboro, NC

Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI

Houghton College, Houghton, NY

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Mercer University, Macon, GA

Messiah College, Grantham, PA

Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC

Montreat College, Montreat, NC

New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM

North Carolina Wesleyan, Rocky Mount, NC (see page 15 of the college catalog) 

Northeastern University, Portsmith, NH

Oblerin College and Conservatory, Oblerin, OH

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Ohio University, Athens, OH

Olgethorpe University, Atlanta, GA

Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, VA

Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, FL

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Rice University, Houston, TX

Rollins College, Winter Park, FL

SMU- Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA

St. Johns College, Annapolis MD and Santa Fe, NM

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Stetson University, Deland, FL

Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University School of Architecture, Syracuse, NY 

  • Syracuse University School of Architecture portfolio requirements

Taylor University, Upland, IN

Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO

United States Navel Academy, Annapolis, MD

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL

University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

University of RIchmond, Richmond, VA

University of South Florida, Tampa, FL

Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL

Yale University

I do not receive any compensation for inclusions on this list. It is completely random--I add to the list as I research and work with families. This list is not intended as endorsement or advertisement; simply as a helpful tool to aid and encourage. 

This list grows and grows. Check back for new additions. 

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This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.