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Posts posted by Mom0012

  1. I think one of the really difficult things to determine as a home-school parent is where my children fit in on an academic scale. I have test scores to help me, but I am always left feeling that with only 2 students, I really can’t make comparisons. My ds was well above the 75th percentile with his ACT score at most of the schools he applied to and I was still really worried that he was going to struggle. And he hasn’t at all. His school has turned out to be a great fit for him. My dd is applying to a different level of colleges for the most part, but trying to get a grip on which ones are truly a good fit for her is a challenge for me. In the end, it is her decision. I’m just trying to make sure she has some good options and I do really feel as though she is starting to feel as though she does.

    • Like 3
  2. 17 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:


    The only problem with that is that sounds like she'd be jumping into a whole new life and taking super hard classes all at the same time.  A lot of kids on the PennState parents page are really struglling becuase they chose to skip over some GenEd's and move up a level or two in math.  Meanwhile they're figuring out where to eat, where to get water (sounds silly but my son had to figure that out!), where to shop, where everything is, taking tours, getting to know people, trying out different clubs, getting sick and taking care of themselves while sick for the first time (also where the health office is, pharmacy, etc.), then there are career fairs and college - specific events....

    If you don't take any GenEd's and all you have is 300 level classes, well...that's pretty tough and not necessarily advisable.  

    I may have misunderstood what the program is about but it sounds different than an Honors program, where they take allt he GenEds but with an "H" i n front and are with like minded kids, have an Honors building, group events, or smaller class sizes etc.


    16 minutes ago, Lecka said:

    Sometimes students who were top students in high school, are very burned out when they get to college, and it takes them a little while to get more engaged again.

    I knew several students like this when I was in college, who had graduated from a very prestigious program, but they were exhausted their Freshman year.  

    CalmingTea, I agree with you about not overloading during freshman year. It is a time of big change without adding in a too heavy academic load. I encouraged my ds to only take 12 credits starting out and would encourage my dd to do the same so that she has time to develop friendships and figure out what she wants to get involved in. We will have to see what happens and what her options are in the end. One of the things she does not want in college is to be in a pressure cooker. We had originally decided not to look at W&M because of that and then changed our mind and decided to investigate it further. 

    I know it will all work out, one way or the other. 🙂 We’re just trying to weed through her options and see where she feels the fit is best so we’re not scrambling to figure things out once she knows where she’s been accepted. We will definitely investigate further at that point.


    • Like 2
  3. 9 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:


    Does the school with the unengaged kids have an Honors program? They often get to take Honors only classes, have Honors first year seminar or something like that as well as other perks and social as well as academic events.

    They have a Scholars program that allows you to skip over the gen ed requirements. That was the first thing we looked up when we got home. You can’t apply for it, though. You are chosen for it. So, maybe she would be a candidate for that. I would think so, but who knows for sure. We are definitely going to hope for it, though.

    • Like 1
  4. I started my counselor letter by thinking about the things that really stand out about my kids. First, I generated a list of specific memories that really stood out in my mind about each of them. Then I did some free writing about those memories. Then, I put it away for a week, continuing to think about it and both times, a number of interactions occurred between me and each of my children that brought new things to light that I wanted to include. Once I was done brainstorming, I looked at what I had written and tried to see what it was that I was saying was special about each kid, At that point, I knew what the main qualities were that I wanted to highlight and I then knew how to introduce them in my opening and used that to structure the rest of the letter.

    Starting with specific events and free-writing about them was a great way to start for me. This wound up being the meat of my letter — stories, examples and quotes.

    • Like 4
  5. 27 minutes ago, wintermom said:

    There are all kinds of ways to add challenge to one's education. For example, study topics that are related to interest area and will be helpful in the future, such as statistics, critical thinking and research methods. Study in a foreign language internationally. Work too many hours at a part-time job so you are swamped with course work. 😉 


    Yes, this is a kid who always challenges herself and I doubt that will change when she’s in college. There are lots of ways she can do that.

  6. 5 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

    At this stage, I wouldn't settle for that (moving on instead of expecting material which will challenge & excite her). This looking stage is about looking for the ideal along with the possible. When all the packages & acceptances are in is the time to face reality of what is possible.

    Does she have anywhere on her list that has a masters/doctorate program in the classics? Because she might start at the 300 or 400 level in Latin & move into graduate level classes if the school allows it. I'd have that on a list to ask about if I was her. 

    I agree on the "reality" front hitting once you are settled in. I will say that my kid found her sitting in on one class to be pretty representative of where she did end up going (in a positive way).

    Yes, a number of the schools she is applying to have graduate programs in the classics, including UVA. And I am hoping that if she is accepted to UVA, we can get back for her to sit in on an upper level class just to alleviate her concerns. She said she knew that maybe she should feel happy that it seemed like college was going to be easy, but that’s not what she wants.

    I do think she’s possibly going to find W&M more of an academic fit, but we will see. I honestly think she can be happy anywhere and UVA is a great school in so many ways. We are lucky to be in Virginia and to have these options available to us.

    • Like 1
  7. 1 minute ago, wintermom said:

    I would think that if you dd wants to be academically engaged as well as engaged in college social/community activities she'll be able to do as much or as little as she wants. I doubt that there will ever be an entire college of students exactly like everything she thinks she wants in her mind right now, but there will always be students with similar interests in certain areas. And when she gets in there with a full-time course load, navigating student housing life, her vision and ambitions will change a little. Reality will set in pretty quick about what is actually possible.

    Yes, I’ve given this same advice to others so I understand your point. She was pretty shocked that the students seemed so unable/unwilling to engage in any level of analysis because there are so many top students at the school. I did tell her that it may be that she will have to take responsibility herself for what she wants to learn. And that she may have to look at college as more of a means to an end. I think part of the issue is that she’s been completely spoiled by Ms. Turscak’s Great Books class at CLRC and the amazing students that are in that class with her. I suggested that maybe she should continue with that class even at college. And maybe she should.

    All I can say is that I will be so happy when I know where she is going to college.

    • Like 2
  8. 19 hours ago, Corraleno said:

    I don't think you can tell a lot about a university from sitting in on a single class, especially if it was an intro level class with a lot of freshmen who might just be taking it as a GenEd. And even if it was a higher level class, you never know what might be contributing to the lethargy (half the class just bombed the first quiz and are bummed out, prof is not very engaging, there was a big campus event the night before and everyone is tired, etc.). DS had a few GenEd classes that were pretty lame, but his lower level Honors classes and all of his 300 & 400 level classes in his major have been challenging and the students were definitely engaged. There's no shortage of top students at both UVA and W&M, so I'm sure your DD could find her tribe at either one and I wouldn't let a single class visit put her off applying to UVA.

    She’s definitely going to apply and we feel happy and fortunate to have this school as a viable option for her. This was a lower level class, so she is fully aware that it may just be because of that. There were no upper level Latin classes being held the day we were there (which is what she likes to sit in on). She has sat in on classes at quite a few schools at this point and the only one she’s found a level of engagement that has matched her own so far was Hillsdale, which we have pretty much eliminated for a number of reasons. But even that class, which was an upper level Latin class that she sat in on as a sophomore, was covering material she had already studied.

    At one point, I had suggested to her that maybe she’s already had her college education in the classics and she might want to move on to something else.  I do wonder if this is part of the problem?

    • Like 2
  9. Does anyone here have a student at either of these schools that would be willing to share how academically engaged the students are? And not from the standpoint of grades, but how much they actually care about the learning process? And if they are happy and satisfied with their life outside of academics?

    My dd is looking at both of these schools and is worried one will not have the academic engagement she wants and that the other will require her to spend all of her time on academics.

     We visited the University of Virginia recently, and my dd liked the school. She’s attended programs there over the summer, so she was already familiar with the campus, which is absolutely beautiful,  She has been wanting a smaller LAC, so she was surprised about how positive she felt about the school while we were visiting. She likes the energy of campus, and the school spirit, tradition and history. She likes that students are heavily engaged in activities outside of academics. At the end of the day, though, she sat in on a class, and was discouraged that she knew far more about the material and had more to add to the discussion than the students taking the class. In other words, the class was below the level of classes she’s already taken. She also found the students in that particular class fairly apathetic about the discussion. The hope is that it was just this particular class.

    She is going to sit in on some classes at W&M and and I’m thinking that she may find the academic engagement she is looking for there, but she also doesn’t want to spend all her time studying and working on academics either. She wants deep engagement in the classes she is taking, but doesn’t want her whole life to be about academics. The W&M campus does not appeal to her as much as UVA’s, but it was pouring the day we were there before and that likely has impacted her perception of it.

    We would love to get more of an inside scoop from anyone who is more familiar with these schools.

    • Like 1
  10. I really like DO’s programs but, for me, only with the self-grading option. I like to give immediate feedback on math problems and I find it takes too long to get the work graded by him, IMO.

    My dd used his alg 2 to quickly review and solidify her skills and then used his precalculus and calculus. I think his lectures are good and there are plenty of practice problems, so the precalc class is good preparation for AP calculus. I bought the solutions guide to go with the SULLIVAN text that he uses for the precalc course and would be happy to send you those books (as well as my advanced Spanish Literature readers!) if you decide to use his course and would like them.

    • Like 2
  11. My dd has worked on Spanish independently since her AP class ended a couple of years ago and has made a lot of progress this way.  She basically uses Spanish 121 for conversation practice and for correcting papers that she’s written in Spanish. She reads a book in Spanish and then writes a paper for it. Since her goal was to have very strong everyday conversational skills, we decided to have her read pop psychology books like Outliers, for example. At one point, she was listening to News in Slow Spanish (which we had a subscription for — but I think you can download the podcast for free). There are also some programming on Netflix or Amazon prime in Spanish so that she can work on her listening skills.

    I really think regularly reading books in Spanish has furthered my dd’s language skills more than anything else she’s done. She did get a really solid foundation with Sr. Leven, though.

    If your dd’s grammar skills are not rock-solid, you could use an app to solidify those.

    • Like 3
  12. 38 minutes ago, HollyDay said:


    Business math (different from "regular" high school math, geared more toward real life math situations like interest, loans, banking, etc)

    Home Ec

    Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

    Health and Nutrition/PE



    I like the idea of a computer applications class and I know Fundafunda has had one of those in the past. This is an area that can be easily overlooked in home-schooling. I think a lot of kids in the public schools get regular practice with PowerPoint. My ds got some in his Spanish class with Senor Gamache and it’s been helpful to him in college, but we definitely could have done more in this area.

    • Like 1
  13. 14 hours ago, Farrar said:

    How about a light art history course focused on something specific? There are some Great Courses possibilities.

    Or, not coding but in the computer arena... how about an Adobe Photoshop class? Or how about The Animation Course?

    One of my friends knocked out her son’s PE and art credits during his senior year by making him walk on the treadmill while watching the Great Courses art history lectures. It was a real positive thing for him because he really enjoyed the lectures, but it also got him more physically active.

    • Like 4
  14. I like the idea of a personal finance class, especially if your dd is working. If she isn’t, I might wait on that. I’ve used the Dave Ramsey program with my kids. I don’t agree with everything he has to say, but I like that he gets across the idea of budgeting, the importance and benefits of taking advantage of compound interest for long term savings and the risks of debt. It opened the door for lots of discussions about the topic between me and my children. Plus, it got us to the bank to set up adult bank accounts with debit cards and to open up investment accounts. Making a budget really made my son start to understand real world expenses and what it would take to live comfortably. My kids each had been working for awhile, saving and paying some of their own expenses — phone bill, car insurance, some entertainment, gas. This made the program much more relevant to them.

    I do wish I had thought of doing photography with my ds during high school because that’s actually the only art form I think he would have enjoyed. I’d love to do something like that with my dd as well, but I don’t think it’s going to happen just because her schedule is already full.

    • Like 1
  15. Academic honors — National Latin or Greek exam, writing contests, academic convention awards - like Latin Convention, speech and debate awards, AP Scholar awards, National Merit 

    I don’t know enough about the congressional award to say if I would put it in that section, but I have listed all my dd’s awards on the bottom of her transcript, There were a couple of big ones she earned prior to 9th grade that I can’t put in the awards section because of the timing, but they are right on the front of her transcript.

    • Like 1
  16. I haven’t seen a college ask for an “other” recommender in place of a teacher. I think you are right to follow up with them and see how they would like you to handle this. Two of my dd’s teacher recommenders were from online classes, but these were small classes where they got to know her well. One of the teachers taught her for 4 years and the other was for a writing-intensive discussion based class where the teacher to get to know her just because there was so much interaction.

  17. As I did, lol.  

    Many of the questions I’ve asked over the last year could have been easily and more thoroughly answered on the Collegedataverse website alone. Questions about whether it was worth applying ED vs RD on a school-by-school basis, questions about direct admit nursing programs, questions about similar colleges, etc, etc. Lots of good stuff in that pinned thread. I’ve been doing this the hard way.

    • Like 2
  18. My dd had wanted to take the Spanish with listening test because she scored higher on practice tests with that than the reading only one, It’s been a while, but I know I was thinking it had to be a Walkman-type of device and while I had a couple of those around the house (from the 80s!), none of her worked reliably any more. When I looked for similar devices on amazon, they all had extremely poor reviews for reliability. In the end, I felt there were too many things that could go wrong with the listening test, so we went with the reading one, I read many university world language SAT 2 placement/credit requirements and even contacted the Spanish departments at a few schools to see whether they preferred one test over the other and none of the schools that I looked at did.

    If I were going to pursue a listening test, I would call the school and get clarification from whoever administers the test about exactly what type of device you need and how the test is administered. 

    • Like 1
  19. 4 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

    Ok - I do have a few thoughts on this.  My kid just launched to college this fall.  He is high stat/high ability and applied to a wide range of schools.  He did end up at a school where he is above the 75% stat wise.  We visited like 20 schools.  He applied to 10 or 11 I think.  

    When you are talking about large public universities (my kid is at one), I think you have to consider a few things

    • The average income of a student's family is lower, and in some cases MUCH lower than private schools at a large private university.  Especially those that are reasonably generous with need based aid (especially for residents).  The average incomes of the schools my kid applied to swung by more than 80K per year.  There is a direct correlation to high income to high standardized test scores.  Higher income kids have better access both to educational environments that are focused on this type of achievement AND the financial ability to prep and prepare and for those types of tests AND tend to have very supportive families.  I think it can be intereresting to look at that when you compare test scores of schools.  NYT has it out on the net for just about any school  Google "College name average family income" and it's typically one of the first links to come up.
    • There are many many students at these schools.  So the average ACT scores at my son's public U were 27-32.  There are 40,000 students there.  That means there are 10K students that are high stat walking around.   That's more than many elite schools. There's not one type of student at large public universities.  I think fit is much more important at small schools.  
    • A public school will be more willing to give an offbeat lower stat applicant a shot.  If they can't cut it, they will leave.  So graduation stats will look worse between those kids that really aren't ready and kids for who don't really have the financing to get through (and I think more schools are trying to fix this).  But some of those students will rise to the top too.  
    • Many of these schools have honors programs available and may get special access to faculty and opportunities.  My kid actually got the most personal attention during the admissions process from a large public. 
    • Stats and students can vary widely by program.  At our own state's flagship, the education program's average ACT scores are 23 to 28.  But the science and engineering program's ACT scores are 30-34.  Looking at the whole school's stats may not be necessarily meaningful and not every school publishes individual stats like that.  Like my kid's school comp sci program ranks in the top 15 in the country.  I could speculate most of the kids in that program are higher stat and now that my kid is there taking a comp sci class I'm seeing hand wringing about the rigor of that course work on parent boards.  
    • We found as we dug in deeper, we were often more impressed by faculty at a large research university potentially in a larger metro/city than faculty at a smaller, possibly more rural school.  Regardless of stats or ranking of the schools.  
    • Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting 20 minute video out about the advantages at being toward the top of your class in college

    Anyway, in a nutshell, yes I absolutely think a high stat, high achieving kid can not only be just fine but do great and have amazing opportunities in a large public university.   

    This is great !

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