Home Schooling Dilemma: Parent or Guidance Counselor?
By Home Schooling Dilemma: Parent or Guidance Counselor?
The graduating class of 2009 will be the largest in our nation's history which will increase the applicants to colleges and universities. With the media's focus on admissions, there are more places one can turn for information-from guidebooks to blogs. Parents with homeschoolers have it particularly tough: They need to balance their duties as a teacher, counselor and guardian. You need helpful answers to questions like: should my child take the SAT or ACT? What courses should my child be taking now to create a stronger application later? How do I know if a university is a good fit for my child?
In an effort to clarify the progressively more complicated work of college admissions, I present three crucial tips from former Ivy League admissions officers that will enhance your child's chances of getting into the college of his or her choice.
Map out a high school plan. Document it.
Make sure you're keeping up with the college prep curriculum. Fine-tuning the curriculum each summer simply isn't enough anymore. Instead, create a high school plan that prepares your student early, in either the freshman and sophomore year, for the harder college-level and AP classes of junior and senior year. The earlier your child begins to prepare for these most challenging years, the better a student's chances at excelling in those courses.
Even more importantly than creating a plan is showing your plan to admissions officers. "Calculus" on a homeschooled student's transcript means very little to an admissions officer. You need to give them documentation of tests and homework, cite specific books used in teaching the class, and if possible, even use audio and video recordings of your sessions together. As an added bonus, keeping such meticulous documentation shows maturity and organizational skills.
One way to ameliorate the problem of insufficient documentation is to take courses outside the home. Whether you're expanding your child's academic world with summer school, community college, online course, or AP tests (yes, you absolutely can take the test, without taking the class), opportunities abound to concretely document your child's abilities. Which leads us to our next piece of advice—
Use outside resources to demonstrate your child's strengths. This is applicable in both one's academic life and social life. One concern across-the-board that admissions officers have with homeschooled students is their ability to interact with peers academically and socially. Just writing, "Jimmy is a social kid" won't dazzle an admissions officer's scrutinizing gaze. Participating in outside activities such as Girl/Boy Scouts, club sports teams, or church youth group is an active response to the perpetuated (however incorrect) myth that homeschooled students can't fully adjust to social situations. Your child does not need to have a motley grab bag of activities to keep him or her occupied every night of the week. On the contrary, it's much more important that your child be committed to two or three activities where he or she develops a long-term impact.
As a side note, active outside socialization is not only helpful on paper and as a great way to make new friends, but it's an opportunity for your child to meet an inspiring mentor, someone who could provide him or her with a fresh perspective on—
One significant problem to a homeschooler's application, according to former admissions officers, are teacher recommendations from parents. You, as a parent, have a vested interest in your child. That won't change. Perhaps inconveniently, this interest prohibits you, despite your best intentions, from writing a "fair and balanced" critique of your child. Also, unlike school-based professionals, parents do not have the option to reflect on their child's emotional, academic and social skills, compared to other classmates. To achieve this objective comparison, turn to a coach, pastor, or community leader for strong recommendations.
These few important steps ought to ensure that your children won't have to worry about their intellectual and social abilities being overshadowed by application holes or general misunderstandings. Instead, their applications will stand out for what's on the page, not what's missing.
For more information about preparing your child for college admissions, go to www.applywise.com
How to Best Prepare for Your Standardized Tests
February 1, 2013 – Dr. Kat and Victoria, a former student and now a freshman at Dartmouth, use Session 1 as a guide to discuss how best to prepare for the standardized tests students take junior year.
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