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About JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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  1. Service Academies are very competitive. I don't think they look for applicants with a particular passion or kids who are well rounded. I think they have a set of criteria and look for kids who meet all the criteria or exceed it. They end up with plenty of those to choose from. That fact should not persuade anyone from applying. Research should begin as early as an interest is expressed. Course and exam selection in high school will factor into it, athletics (both team and personal fitness are huge), extracurricular activities and leadership are also important. This is one set of applications that requires the applicant to set out a plan for meeting all the requirements in a timely fashion and follow through on that plan. There are some who feel that completing the application early is important and gives the applicant more chances to be admitted, being recruited by a sports team would also increase one's chances. Also, one little talked about source of a nomination is JROTC units. Some of the nation's top units are permitted a limited number of nominations for their students. Physical Fitness-being able to clearly explain your personal fitness regimen to an interview board is important. Especially as a homeschooler with out significant sports team experience. Also not that the physical fitness exams and expectations are not the same for each academy or ROTC program. There are slight variations even with regard to what is a correct pull-up. If you are considering multiple service options you need to prepare for and be able to properly execute all the different options. These programs are not looking for kids who barely meet minimums, they are looking for solid fitness scores. Navy/USMC ROTC-If you have a kid considering the Navy or Marine Corps be aware that you cannot apply to both. You must choose between Navy and Marine option. While it is the same application there are different requirements, different physical tests, etc. There are also different requirements during your college years. ROTC Interviews: If the ROTC program you are applying to requires an interview from an ROTC instructor do try to set this up as early as possible. It can be helpful to interview with an officer at the school you most want to attend. ROTC is a long process that often begins at a recruiting station with someone trying to persuade you to skip college and just enlist. The applicant will need to learn how to navigate that politely to get to the next step. Also, in our experience, there isn't much transparency with the application process. You will learn each step after you complete the previous step. Don't assume that this is easy to complete at the last minute. Leave plenty of time. It is also important to apply early, ROTC scholarships are given in cycles and by completing your application before the first cycle you have the possibility to be considered in later cycles as well. Some elements of the application will need to be updated such as transcript and test scores, and the fitness test may need to be repeated. Universities may not have ROTC units for every service branch. You need to check and be sure that the school you are interested has a unit for the service branch you are interested in. You will need to list the schools you are applying to on your ROTC application. Be aware that your child will have to pass medical exams to be selected. They need to be prepared to discuss anything in their medical history that is out of the ordinary and how that problem has been resolved. It may not be your family doctor(s) who perform this exam. It will probably be someone contracted by the military and you will be notified where to go. In short, set up a personal fitness plan in high school, plan a solid academic program that would lead to successful college admission, look at the service branch you are interested in and check their academic requirements (math, science, and foreign language will take the most long term preparation), and finally, be involved in your community, look for opportunities to practice leadership skills. All of this said-if this is a deeply held desire of your kid, do the research and apply. Being homeschooled isn't a bar to successful admission to any of the programs that lead to commissioning in the military.
  2. I didn't want to dissuade you from W&L, it is just one of those schools that should be on a warning list for homeschoolers to prep early. If we can be of any help in answering questions about VMI please don't hesitate to get in touch. Best of luck to your daughter through this whole process!
  3. My son is a classmate of retiredHSmom's son... I think this is a great description of the school. My son has be prospering there and they have a very solid, thought out, organized program that encompasses the entirety of the students lives. One that at the beginning is not always obvious but in the end it all makes sense. It is a very spartan and challenging life style. Students support and respect those who give full effort, in the classroom, in their duties, in their conduct, and on a team (ETA-I re-read this and realize that it sounds like the students expect people to be on a sports team, this would be inaccurate. If you are on a team then you give it your best effort.). Those who cannot commit themselves to this lifestyle struggle far more than those who commit and see it through. VMI is not for everyone and they make a huge effort to point this out to applicants; not to deter them or to imply that they are not capable but rather to be sure that they understand what they will experience and are prepared. That said I see many exciting things happening in classrooms and academic departments that can often be found only at a small liberal arts college. Students participate regularly in international study opportunities, undergraduate research, conferences and symposiums, community service, and academic, athletic, and military competitions (outside of NCAA). For Washington and Lee, please check their homeschool applicants information early. My daughter considered them a couple years ago and we found it impossible to meet their admissions criteria before the end of her junior year. (I just peeked and it seems the same, scores from 5 SAT2 or AP exams, 2 outside teacher recommendations, on campus interview...) Being overseas at the time and not planning for all these exams prior to the end of junior year made it too difficult (I'm not sure they accepted AP exams then). It was one of the most challenging schools to even complete the application for as a homeschooler, the service academies were easier. It is a beautiful campus, I can only imagine their facilities are amazing. If at all possible I would try to visit Lexington while both schools are in session. It is nearly impossible to get a true sense of what they are like when the campus is empty during the summer. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask, if I don't know the answer I'll ask my resident expert.
  4. Older kiddo has a 9-5 internship over the summer. But at least weekends are free to have fun with the family (not always the norm with summer employment). Younger kiddo will be home for about half the summer, ROTC and working "orientation" at his school takes up the 2nd half.
  5. My kids both run mid/late August (starting between the 15th and the 20th) and end mid May (again 15th-20th). Keep in mind the freshman orientation period. Each school has its own system. Some run a week or so before the first day of class, while others pick a random 3-5 day period during the summer to bring students to campus. In my experience, the small schools have orientation just before class and the very large universities run sessions in the summer. Sometimes, at the schools with summer sessions, they will allow out of state students to attend orientation closer to the first day of class so that they needn't make multiple trips to campus. Students coming from abroad typically have their own orientation programs in addition to the regular program.
  6. One of my college kiddo's had no idea what this past semester's grade would be. Despite giving weekly assignments the professor never returned them. The professor then mismanaged the online system and lost all of kiddo's work. Asked kiddo to please email all assignments. Kiddo emailed them. (Prof either lost or deleted said email.) Prof emails kiddo last week of class and says I'm flunking you, you never turned any assignments in. Kiddo says not only did I turn them in, I emailed them all to you as requested. Kiddo forwards said email with Prof's original response and all assignments. Profs response. "Ok." Prof then repeatedly down grades kiddo's assignments because the kid kept making the same mistake every week (subjective liberal arts course, not STEM or Foreign Language or even grammar issues where it would be more evident) but kiddo never knew because Prof said nothing in class and never returned an assignment during the semester, just graded everything at the end. (Kiddo came out of it with an ok grade, had there been the appropriate feedback on the first assignment, the repeated error would have been corrected and subsequent assignments would have had better grades, leading to a probably great grade. You can't fix what you don't know is broken and sometimes there is no way for a student to work out what is broken on their own.) In my opinion it is awfully difficult to expect progressive improvement from a student when you never return an assignment, never go over the assignment in class, and generally provide no timely feedback. Students cannot read the professors mind, there has to be feedback/constructive criticism if there is to be growth and improvement.
  7. I think submission season for the following year typically begins in August. Although I haven't checked the website this year. For their published syllabus there should be a check box to say you are using one of the samples, if not there are instructions on how to submit using a published or sample syllabus.
  8. I think it depends on the school and the requirements. Every where is different. Look at requirements vs rewards. DD is happy with her Honors College selections and enjoying the course work and knowledge that she can add it to her resume or grad school applications. However, many of her friends dropped honors due to scheduling and time commitment conflicts. Most still have the GPA but arranging the extra work became to much. DS was an entirely different story. He opted not to consider honors college, he has lots of other pressures with classroom work and other obligations that would have made the pressure of honors college work/GPA requirements just over the top. (My opinion not his-he just said no from day one. Maybe he had better foresight.) He also wouldn't have had the same payoff as DD.
  9. I think I would add that either in the spring of junior year or over the summer before senior year, those considering Service Academies or ROTC scholarships begin preparing their packets, seeking nominations, and contacting the appropriate recruiters. Some of these groups begin the selection process as early as late August or September. Also, if you have college students that are interested in summer internships, the application process frequently begins a year in advance. They may want to look for applications and deadlines after graduation for the following year.
  10. Very true. My junior interview for several internships over the summer. I can't believe how quickly these get set up!
  11. I have to imagine that a plagiarism checker would have to have an attribution to the original author. Without such an attribution even the original author could not use their own work, which they should be entitled to do. FWIW my kids used either the same essay or a modification of an essay for several applications. Just be sure that you get more than one set of eyes on that essay to check for references to specific schools/programs/locations that should be changed, ie a reference to the advantages of living and learning in Smalltown when the essay is going to the uni in Bigcity.
  12. It really depends. My parents could never come, it wasn't a 3 day weekend for them and I was half way across the country. I was never devastated by their lack of attendance. I've gone for DD the last two years. There really isn't much going on but I'm involved in a parent's group on her campus so that is when we hold our meetings. In reality, as long as we made it down one weekend for at least a day trip prior to Thanksgiving break to take her out for food and catch up live an in person, I'm not sure it would matter to her which weekend we came. This year we are all headed to DS for his parent's weekend. That comes with football, tailgating, taking him out after the game. He's at a military college and its his first year. Liberties and privileges are few. Parent's Weekend comes with the potential for expanding those a bit for a day or two while parents are in town. We are going to support him and be there. For those kids whose parents are too far away, we'll help provide food at the tailgate, take kids out to dinner or back to our hotel as needed. The families are very good about supporting friends and roommates whenever possible. If you can't make it perhaps you could help with making some fun. Can you send some funds or a gift card to cover a better than fast food meal that weekend? Could you offer to pay part of the dinner bill if roommates parents took the kids out? Finance pizza and a movie rental for your kid and some friends? Send a special care package?
  13. Having gone through this process twice, I can say with confidence it was different each time. First kid applied to many schools and most of them Common App, but kid number two applied to a small handful of schools of which only one was Common App (so we skipped that and went with the school's own application). No matter which route you take I think there are a few keys: 1)Apply early. You can then return to focusing on family, high school, and having fun together before they depart for that shiny new university. Plus, if there are questions or problems in the process then you have time to fix them. If a test score is required (ie SAT/ACT) then I would plan on having the application in as soon as you have a test score. 2) If things haven't changed, Common App will make available their essay topic before they open in August for application season. This gives your kid time over the summer to work on that essay. 3)Build a solid and easy to understand transcript. Include key words like "official transcript", "expected graduation date", "weighted" or "unweighted" GPA, be sure to include contact information, credits granted, credit totals, and a notation for which courses have been weighted. If you find extra room on the page include major test scores-SAT, ACT, AP, and so on. Remember this is not where to list extra curricular activities. There will be a place for that. 4)While it is not absolutely necessary and may go ignored at some schools, I am a firm believer in preparing course descriptions. A brief paragraph on what was included in the course and major texts used. This would also be a great place to reference any outside instructors (ie co-op class, online class, community college class, etc.) While many schools didn't mention this document, between my kids, we did have several who expressed their gratitude for it as it made them able to understand what the kids had studied and at what level. I think it helped not only admissions committees but scholarship and merit aid committees as well. 5) The counselor letter is a great place to complete the picture they have of your kid from other documents. This is the place to extend and elaborate, not just reiterate. This is where you have the opportunity to explain any circumstances that may not be obvious elsewhere. No where else to discuss how your kid has been running marathons for the last 5 years and how this level of training has impacted their character? You can add it here. 6) Approach your recommenders early in the year and follow your applications closely to be sure they have responded. Give sufficient time but sometimes a gentle reminder is necessary. Be prepared to hand recommenders copies of your transcript and student resume or list of extracurriculars, awards, and activities. They may want to see this to help them frame their letter. 7) Be sure you change names, college names, and amend any information as necessary in your generic template. Nothing worse than a letter to Harvard that in the body discusses how much you've always wanted to attend Yale. Also be sure you actually answer any questions asked directly in the application. Not all schools have a generic set of question. Some want specific pieces of information either from the student, "counselor", or recommender. ? Get in the habit of having your kids be the ones to make contact with the admissions department with questions not you. My contact was strictly conversations about financial aid or how to best supply a document (ie mail vs. email). (Fun fact-the numeral eight followed by a closed parenthesis becomes a smily face with sunglasses. I did not know this and I can't make it stop. It's an 8-as in the eighth point on my list. No secret, weird message.) Relax and breath. Most importantly best of luck to all of this year's applicants! I have sent two through the process and one to go, but not for another 7 years. I think by then everything will have changed 5 times, at least! ?
  14. Do you have to visit? Nope. After that it depends on your kid. I had one who wanted to visit everywhere and one who did a visit at their top choice school and dropped in on a friend at another school (nothing official with the admissions department). The downside-some schools do place great emphasis on an in person, on-campus interview. Some schools add up the numbers, how many times did you go to their booth at a college fair, visit campus, stay overnight, attend an alum/admissions event, etc. Some schools do use these statistics when determining admissions and merit aid. Yes, I understand how difficult it is to do this as an expat family. We used up a considerable amount of time during trips home to do this. We made one 24+ hour (one way) trip to attend two scholarship events that ended up providing significant financial benefit to one kid. In short, it really depends on the school. Do your research and find out if the schools you are interested in care about on campus interviews and are visit tally-ers. If not, then you can do what best suits your family and applicant. If they are, you might make time or have the applicant engage with them on how to express interest since the normal "signs" aren't an option for you. Upside-they usually love international applicants! Best of luck and safe travels!
  15. At the top of the transcript I listed both weighted and unweighted GPA. On the back I and in my counselor documents I explained how I defined weighting. I'm sure any answer will be fine as long as you explain what happened.
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