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Everything posted by dereksurfs

  1. Thanks everyone for your feedback. It's interesting how these programs vary so much state by state. After reviewing some of the local options in Clark County, speaking with school district staff and considering the state wide programs we're leaning more toward either: 1. Independent Home Based Instruction with the option to take some courses at the local high schools or college through RunnnigStart. 2. Attend public high school with the option of taking college courses through RunnnigStart. While the ALEs are a nice option, we don't really like the more rigid plans. Things are pretty much prepackaged like school-in-a-box with more limited curriculum choices, online vendor options, etc... In addition to all of that, our middle daughter who is a freshman said she would like to try full-time public high school. Although my wife is less thrilled with the idea than I am, we're considering letting her give it a try. At the worst she'll have had the opportunity to decide if he likes it or not. Then she can always return home if its truly not for her. We still have some time to talk to her about these options before next fall. But she's been talking about it more and we don't want to force her to stay home. Homeschooling high school is challenging enough even when the child wants to do it. It worked well for us oldest son. But we had greater flexibility including the ability to start college his freshman year which was a nice way to ease into taking college courses. Our youngest daughter is still in middle school and will be in 8th grade next fall. We're more inclined to continue with independent homeschool in her case until high school. She will probably watch what big sis' discovers as she tries part-time or full-time public HS. Thanks again for your insights,
  2. Hello, We are planning a move to Washington State and I have been trying to understand the various educational options. We currently homeschool our three teenagers. Our oldest is a high school senior and attending CC almost exclusively this year (free via DE) with the exception of one online course. We also go through a public charter called Ocean Grove for our middle dd which is technically public school 'at home.' They provide a credentialed teacher we meet with regularly who reviews our curriculum along with work samples. Though we are given a lot of freedom with regards to curriculum selection from an extensive list of approved vendors. The curriculum cannot be religious and must be reviewed first. We can still use religious content on our own if we wish. The program provides ~$3000 per student per year for books, materials, online classes, music lessons, PE, etc... It sounds like WA may have similar options only they go by different names following their own state laws/regulations. The thing I don't really see is a 1 to 1 equivalency for the public charters we have here. I've read a bit about Alternative Learning Programs (ALE) / Parent Partnership Programs (PPP) which have 'some' similarities. Though it appears there are also some significant differences as well. This is what I've noticed so far and please correct me if I'm missing something. There seems to be two primary ALE/PPP options: 1. ALE/PPP through the local school district which is basically an extension of that district but at home - like distance learning. However, there is also a physical campus where students take certain classes. This may vary a bit by district. 2. An online 'for profit' accredited school, the largest are through K12 Inc. such as Washington Virtual Academy. These have been getting some very mixed reviews showing sub-par outcomes post graduation. Both of the above seem more limited in scope modeled after specific curriculum with fewer options than our charters. The 'for profit' model uses K12 curriculum which we're not at crazy about nor do we want to be locked into simply one vendor. For the local public options we're planning to move to Clark County/Vancouver area. So they have one called Vancouver Home Connection which has its own local classes within the district. These seem more prescribed with a sense that the education plan is already mapped out following their own predetermined curriculum if you know what I mean? Lastly, regarding RunningStart, the main difference between what we're doing now with our son who start college part-time as a freshman seems to be that one must wait until their junior year. Then it seems a student can either attend CC full-time or part-time through the umbrella public high school and it will be fully funded. Does this sound correct? Of course there's the Home Based Instruction route with the option of taking some public classes part-time like band, etc... That one seems fairly straitforward and also the only one which is truly homeschooling by the state's legal definition. Thanks for the help. Derek
  3. Its good to know the PSAT isn't as heavily weighted, apart from NM scholarships. That's good news for ds17 since it was not his strong point. Thanks for all the helpful information. Unfortuantely, all the rest of it seems very relative, subjective and variable which makes its hard to get a true sense of real costs beyond the basic college calculators. Most of those do not take into account the number of scholarships a school will give to a particular student who they may be trying to attract - the more holistic, real world picture or bottom line. I guess its one of those things where you never really know until you apply.
  4. Our son learned Java at home first going through some free online tutorials. Then he took a Python and Java course at our local CC and did really well.He would like to pursue a major in CS after enjoying these initial courses along with his Mindstorm robotics programming. I looked at Edhesive a while back even when it was free and was not terribly impressed by it given so many other great options for learning programming. IMO, the teacher's ability to convey programmatic methodologies and logic in a way that makes sense to young learners is much more important than the latest books, curriculum, etc... At this stage the primary goal is to light the spark of interest in programming vs. simply taking another AP course. I'm also a software engineer and Java programmer by profession. Of course its nice to have another AP on the books or the latest and greatest Java 9 soon to be 10 whiz bang features. But things are continually evolving while many of the fundamental building blocks remain the same. And the fundamentals are really what they are learning at this stage - how to think in computer logic. Later on once in the workforce, if that ever happens, they will dive into all the nuances of the latest API calls which will have changed dramatically by that time anyway. So my recommendation is to find a Java teacher he can relate with and helps to fan that flame of interest in actually learning to program. Then the rest will follow more naturally. That is, unless this is simply a get 'er subject and then move on.
  5. Hi, This has been a very odd junior year for DS17 with regards to standardized testing. He is generally a very good student who is not great at standardized test taking. They have been a real struggle. This is mainly due to being a perfectionist and running out of time which we've been working on. The results have been so-so PSAT scores. After two attempts, the last and best was 1380. He was really hoping to break 1400. However, he just received his SAT scores which really surprised us all at 1540. Although it was grueling for him, he did well given it not being his strength. With these disparate results (PSAT vs. SAT), I wonder what they really mean when being considered for merit based aid? We really can't afford private schools unless significant merit $$ is offered. I will say that his so-so PSAT score was still high enough to qualify him for the National Hispanic Recognition Program. And his GPA is high with all A's in his AP and dual enrollment courses. Any thoughts on SAT vs. PSAT appreciated. I must also mention we are not set on attending private schools. But scholarships are something we need to consider regardless of where he attends. Thanks,
  6. FairProspects, Thanks so much for sharing your family's experience growing up in Corvallis. We are really looking forward to visiting the town and campus this summer. Our oldest DD has just told us she might want to attend public high school which scared my wife, initially. But we've heard generally good things about the two public high schools in Corvallis. So we are a bit more inclined to allow her to go that route if its what she wants after homeschooling her entire life. Plus, she can always come home if she hates it. ? I'm curious if you would ever consider living there again? Or do you feel its too small now relatively speaking?
  7. Bocky, I was just reading about UO's new $1-Billion Science Center they are starting to build. Thanks for the heads up on that effort. The Knight's made a huge donation which is awesome! The focus of the center seems very much on life sciences at least initially. Apparently they want to partner with OHSU School of Medicine for some of their research efforts. One of the odd parts for me as well as some reviewers is that they still have no school of engineering which is a vital part of STEM research. Although OHSU is primarily a medical school, for example, they also have programs in Biomedical Engineering as well as Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. I wonder if UO will plan something like this in future phases, perhaps, once they establish their initial programs within the center? I'm sure they will have a lot to do in terms of hiring new staff and planning once the center is built.
  8. Thanks for posting your recent experiences, Bocky. Your husband's perspective seems similar to what I've read so far. Since we're not interested in the large UW Seattle campus experience we're considering the other viable options for STEM students. One of the interesting things about UW Bothell is that students get a smaller, more personal college experience while still having access to resources of the main Seattle campus. They can even take some classes there if they want to. In addition, they have a very good record for placing graduates in local companies with many internship opportunities available. Plus, the UW degree looks the same basically for all graduates regardless of campus attended. Is there a reason you guys didn't visit one of the UW satellites? I'm not sure about language programs though since we haven't really looked at those. Regarding Oregon options, we really like OSU so far. From all the research we've done it seems like a good fit for our son. Corvallis is definitely a place we will be visiting and even possibly consider living once we check out the campus and town. Yes, we know its smaller. We've lived in everything from large cities to smaller towns and enjoy certain aspects of small town living. We currently live in Monterey which has ~ 28K residents and love it! However, we have adjoining towns which make it 'feel' bigger. In addition, we're ~ 1-1.5 hours from the Bay Area when we need big city things like international airports, etc... So there isn't any sense of isolation or living out in the 'boonies.' ? That's interesting to hear about UO and STEM donations. They are less known for things like engineering or computer science. However, I'm glad to hear they've received new funding. OSU is growing quite a bit as well including their nationally recognized robotics program which drew us to the school initially. Our son loves anything to do with robots. Oregon has a number of those smaller well regarded private LA colleges. They are expensive though I know they can also offer scholarships depending on the student, major, etc... Does your DD have any preferences so far? Our middle DD 'may' be interested in a language program at some point. Though its still too early to tell.
  9. Thanks, Ali, Yes, CA UCs are crazy, crowded and the STEM majors are even harder to get into for local students with good grades. Plus, we like the idea of a college town where we could live and at least some of our kids go to school locally to save on room, board and other related expenses. I have a follow-up question since you seem local to the campus. Do you by chance homeschool in the area or are your kids in public schools? We are a homeschool family and haven't found too many homeschool groups in and around that area. We may also consider the local public high schools or Running Start program through ALO/Corvallis Hill High. Any thoughts on the homeschool landscape there? Thanks,
  10. This gives me hope for our dds. They both dislike math. Yet many science majors they might otherwise be interested in have higher math prerequisites such as Environmental Science.
  11. Wow, big switch to paleontology! I actually switched majors more times than I care to count. That is also why CCs are a great place for young college kids to explore their interests at a much more affordable price. By the time they are ready for university they will have a better idea of what they want to pursue... at least in most cases. Regarding WUE and transfers, yes, some schools we've looked at do not offer it such as Western Washington University (WWU). In addition, they are only allotted '2 years' of reduced tuition as opposed to 4 years. So finishing on time is still important. Though CC certainly helps defray those overall costs.
  12. Yes, that is one of our concerns with WUE as well. Many degrees end up taking longer than 4 years especially when you factor in career exploration and major changes which is 'very' common among students at this age. Add to that unforeseen complications such classes not being available when needed or impaction and there is the greater likelihood of 5+ years. Anything beyond the 4 years and costs skyrocket which some families are not able to absorb especially with multiple kids in college.
  13. Greta, just curious what she switched to? Did she stay in state or is she using WUE somewhere else?
  14. Hi Yvonne, Long time no talk. It looks like our sons are winding down at WHA and getting ready for college. Its kinda funny that WHA is in TX as well. Just curious what your son's major will be? Has he been open to states in other regions for a while now or is this something new? Our son has made it clear he wants to stay on the west coast. So we're focusing on schools over here.
  15. Yes, this is definitely college specific.In fact, one of the larger schools we are looking at has both types of campuses. UW Seattle at 46K students has these very large classes while its satellite campus, UW Bothell, has the opposite. This benefit is actually one of the discriminators it advertises in offering smaller class sizes. The students get instruction from actual professors who they can interact with rather than TAs in recitations, etc... at the larger campus. "The only unusual thing about the Bothell extension of UW is that the class sizes are smaller. This is better for me individually because every class is more intimate (with a class size of about 40 people) and getting to know professors (and having them know you by name) is more common. I like this style of class much better than a 200+ person hall lecture at the Seattle main campus." -- Paige Class: Junior "University of Washington has many incredible departments and experienced faculty, but the class size in the undergraduate level makes it extremely challenging due to the average sizes of 400-500 students. This vast size causes a disconnect between professors and students. I have heard many complaints from fellow classmates about the lack of communication with the professor. Another side effect of the large class sizes influences the curve based grading system. Because the classes are so large, there is a large possibility that a student will not get the desired grade due to necessity to maintain grades above everyone else." - David Class: Junior Sure, those aren't 'every' class at the big schools. However, it is enough to create an unpleasant experience and impression on many first time college students. There are those who simply do not like that type of environment. I remember taking my first classes at UCLA during the summer after graduating high school. I hated it much to my father's dismay as an alumni. So I think this varies student to student as well. But it is a significant complaint among students, not just a perception. I can find and quote many examples. Suffice to say its a real problem.
  16. Hi, I'm also interested in these schools since we're in the similar boat as the OP living in California. However, in our case we're considering a move to the PNW and therefore not limited to WUE schools. Unfortunately most of the top schools on our list do not participate in WUE which include UW and OSU. The top Oregon school on our radar is OSU due to excellent STEM and research opportunities. Its one of only three in the US with land, sea, space and sun grants (Cornell and Penn State are the only others). The school is also known for its engineering school and has a great robotics program which our son is very interested in. The only knowledge I have of the school is through online research however. Though we would like to visit this summer if possible. Does anyone have impressions, experiences or knowledge of OSU? I know its located in the small college town of Corvallis. The student body is also on the large size with 30K+ students. Interestingly, the campus isn't huge (400 acres) for a population of that size. Though I've heard from one student that the number is higher due to their eCampus which might account for this at least in part.
  17. Reviving an old thread. Is there still an Oregon group on here? We're planning a move to the PNW and I would like to hear from some parents. Thanks, Derek
  18. Yes, I had to email the admins to restore my account which eventually got fixed. They had a lot of bumps during the migration process to the new site.
  19. There are lots of tough financial decisions to consider as kids approach college age while parents are preparing for their retirement. We've wrestled with these same issues as have our friends. One co-worker has 10 kids and his wife doesn't work. Their kids need to fund their own college in that case and they some how figure it out. The notion that our kids should go off to a U away from home their freshman year simply because it would be nice or their friends are doing it just cut it for us. Why pay 3-4X+ more in tuition plus room and board simply for an experience? If the money was there and it wasn't a financial burden then great, why not? Otherwise it seems excessive and unnecessary. All the GEs including English 101, etc... can be done at the local CC level. I was just reading interesting comments on a college site last night from students at the U where our son is considering attending. They were answering a question about things they would have told themselves as a Freshman if they had known. One of them was exactly this. That they could much more easily take their GEs at a CC with smaller class sizes from instructors vs. TAs in 200-300+ auditoriums at the larger Us and save lots of $$ in the process. The university professors teaching these large lower division classes do not have the time nor patience to cater to the needs of all of their students - enter the TAs. Is that really worth paying a premium for or going into greater debt over? Maybe in some cases for certain 'special' priveledges. But in many cases its not, IMO, when considering the big trade offs. For us its simply not worth it. Either way they will end up with degree from the same school and no one will ever care that they took GEs at a CC. In fact, if it ever comes up in a conversation post graduation most will congratulate them for saving money. Now if there are significant scholarships that's a different story financially speaking. But many times, even modest scholarships still leave a lot to be covered by the parents (EFC) or loans. Its not worth risking your financial stability during retirement for that, IMO. Have you considered living closer to the school to save even more on room+board+travel+misc expenses?
  20. Jean, What are your thoughts on UW Bothell itself in terms of academic, research and internship opportunities? I've heard good things about the campus overall. In terms of traffic, our son would live on campus or nearby off campus. So that won't be as big of an issue. It looks like WA is investing heavily in UW Bothell with plans to expand housing and campus facilities as well. I think it has a bright future if they plan and execute things right. We looked at living near the school at one point but ruled it out because we do not want to live in an area that crowded. Plus, the COL/housing has exploded in and around the Seattle area similar to where we live now in CA. We prefer less impacted regions of the state. In terms of environment, UW Bothell and OSU seem opposites in many ways. OSU is more of that classic college experience in a small college town (Corvallis). There are still many things to do especially if one loves the outdoors. Salem, Eugene, the coast and the mountains are all within ~ an hour drive. While UW Bothell is very close to Seattle and has more of that big city kind of experience and overall exposure. The close proximity to large companies and university-industry collaboration is a huge benefit for UW-B students. I've heard students have no trouble finding internships or jobs upon graduation because of this. These are more of my impressions based upon online research since we don't actually live there nor have we visited yet. We have visited WA and OR many times but not these specific campuses nor their towns. We are planning a trip out soon to check things out. It will most likely happen this summer due to school schedules, etc...
  21. Kai, We're CA natives and actually looking for the 'opposite' experience of our current overcrowded and heavily impacted UCs and more popular CSUs. With ridiculous class sizes, difficulty getting classes needed to graduate on time, majors of interest or research opportunities, there are many families looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Granted some of our friends still make it work, but the conditions in our better schools are not for us. IMO, CA is in many ways its own worst enemy with our beautiful weather and reputation for good public U's. People flock to our state like no other from all over the world. As a result, we find the conditions we are currently in with massive over crowding and under funded schools. They simply can't keep up with the demand. That's why many students look out of state to less impacted regions like the PNW. UW Seattle is actually the most 'CA like' campus which is a big turn off to us. We don't want another UCLA/UC Berkeley type experience with over crowding, cutthroat competition, etc... I'm not saying that environment is bad for everyone. It just doesn't fit our families' educational goals or preferences. That's why we actually like the lessor known or up and coming schools which provide more opportunities to a wider range of students. OSU is a perfect example of this. Most folks outside the PNW don't even know about it in a 'name dropping' sort of way. And that's fantastic for a number of reasons. For example, OSU is only one of two land, sea, space and sun grant research institutions in the U.S. This provides an incredible amount of research opportunities for its faculty and student body in programs which are 'not' impacted. Students get to know their professors and can find interesting research projects to participate in even at the undergraduate level. UW Bothell is another example of WA finding creative ways to deal with the over crowding of their main Seattle campus. Unlike our UCs, UW has satellite campuses under the same larger umbrella of the 'main' campus. Students from the satellite campuses can even take courses at the main campus (within limits). And some of the same instructors actually teach at both campuses. The students all graduate with a UW degree. So while certainly not perfect, OR/WA universities do provide for some unique opportunities not present in other states like CA. Then there is the beauty of the PNW which is an added bonus for outdoor nature lovers like us. ;)
  22. Hi Jean, Thanks for input and sharing your experiences. I have a few follow-up questions regarding UW. Do you know anyone who has attended UW Bothell? We are more interested in that campus since it offers smaller class sizes, isn't as crazy competitive for STEM programs such as computer science. Plus the students have a better chance of interacting with and getting to know their professors. I've heard UW Bothell has some great internship opportunities as well with local companies close by. The downside would possibly be more of the commuter nature of the campus. However, our son is not at all interested in Greek life or the party scene. Most of his social network comes through friends from church or college related clubs. Regarding Seattle Pacific and many of the other Catholic/Christian schools, we certainly wouldn't mind having that aspect. Yet I don't think its necessary either in the college setting. In addition, the biggest detractor for us high is the very high price tag for what one gets - basically, the ROI. Tuition can be 4x higher or more. And at that point I really have to ask is it 4 times better than a public U especially since these schools are not well known for STEM nor research with their primary focus on liberal arts. With regards to scholarships, have any of you heard of the terms 'vanity scholarships' or 'cocktail scholarships?' Basically, many of the over inflated private schools offer a lot of smaller scholarships relative to the overall cost of attending. Research has shown that when they offer parents and students 'something' they are more inclined to want to attend. Parents can brag about little Johnny getting offered scholarships from XYZ U. However, the cost still ends up being higher than an equivalent public U. That's not to say that all scholarships are small or trivial, just the smallish ones are more common at some of these schools. If overall cost of attendance is $60K/year (and rising) and the school offers us $25k in scholarships, that's still too high given we have three to put through college. Even if it ends up being the same cost as the public U, would the ROI be as good as let's say UW Bothell or OSU? I guess that would depend a lot on the student's major and academic goals. Derek
  23. Our oldest is a junior and he is very STEM directed. He's leaning toward computer science right now and enjoying those classes at our local CC. We're looking at western WA/OR colleges and not so interested in the eastern side. We also have limited funds as a donut family financially - make too much for need based aid. So we want good public options. Depending on our leaning we will live on one side of the border vs. the other. In terms of schools we're considering a variety. For WA we'll looking at UW Bothell. That is the fastest growing U in WA with a good reputation overall. We don't want an over crowded, highly competitive school like UW Seattle for him. We're also looking at OSU which is very well regarded for STEM. They have excellent research opportunities even for undergrads to participate in through their Honors College. He's potentially interested in going on for graduate work. And its not as cutthroat as UW Seattle. PSU has an Honors College that looks interesting. Though it has very mixed reviews as a school overall. WSU Vancouver may be a consideration as well as WWU if we live in WA. Lastly, Western Oregon U may be an option for our girls depending on their major. They are still too young to really know. Derek
  24. Hello, I am looking for parents in WA and OR who can share their experiences. Specifically as your kids approach college or have attended college what are your thoughts of the schools? What are some challenges you've faced. etc..? We currently live in CA and are considering a move to the PNW. Our teens are quickly approaching college age and I am looking at the schools, specifically the public colleges. Thanks,
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