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I'll be honest, this is the part that scares me most about homeschooling high school. I did not attend college and it's been eons since I graduated. I've read a lot on the technical details, but I'm looking for hints on the subtleties.

 

At this point my son has two very diverse interests, physics and video editing/special effects. He's not currently aiming for Ivy, preferably we'd like him to attend college instate (MO), but that's subject to change. As are his interests.

 

However, I'm doing some footwork. I'm checking out state colleges that might offer a degree in his interests. I'd like to show him some options and what they require as part of his prep for high school. He's an average student. He'd probably do better at a smaller college, but again I know a lot can change in 4 years.

 

In my quest to find what is out there I'm feeling overwhelmed. How do I know what is a "good" school? How do I know if a school is respected for the particular department ds desires? Asking around won't do much as our academic circle of influence is small. I'm on the hs2college yahoo group and I can google, but... any other tips would be helpful.

 

Also I'm finding some schools seem to put you in classes for your major right away, a few seem to require a lot of core classes. What are the pros/cons of that?

 

What about video/digital arts programs? Maybe I'll do a spin off on that, but I see film programs, communication programs, degrees for animation. For instance the film/video program for our local college is tied in with the theater program, but ds has no interest in theater. I'd rather he find a school where the programs were more defined.

 

Is it too soon to order information from colleges? That would be mainly for me right now. I do better looking through printed information than online.

 

I just want to make sure I'm aware of the options as he expresses/changes/solidifies his desires. Off to cook...

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The most useful thing we did was to actually visit colleges. You can sign up for a tour and information session, even with a freshman, and they'll hand you all kinds of printed information! You and your ds won't know what to look for until you've already done some looking, so start with whatever is close to home and visit a big school and a small one.

 

Colleges That Change Lives is a book that was really helpful. There are the big guides such as Fiske, which you can buy or find in your library or leaf through while at B&N. The US News "top 100" issues weren't so important to me, personally, but it is useful in at least getting to know the names of some schools that are otherwise off your radar.

 

The amount of core classes varies from school to school. Some students have no clue what they want to do and core classes are a good way of trying on different disciplines. Other kids are so myopic in their interests that the core classes help them to become well rounded. Almost every small LAC (liberal arts colleges) we visited requires a writing intensive freshman seminar course, which may last for a semester or for the whole year. Some don't require science majors to take a foreign language.

 

For now I wouldn't worry too much about specific departments. Just get a feel for what different campuses are like, let him see the list of academic requirements for applicants. You can focus more on departments and specific programs the spring and summer before senior year.

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The most useful thing we did was to actually visit colleges.

 

I completely agree with this.

 

When my daughter was a freshman, we hit the college booths at our state fair and some homeschool conventions. Shortly after that, we started visiting colleges. Through those visits, my dd started to get a sense of what she wanted. This year, she's gotten more focused about what she wants to do (chemical engineering), which has helped us narrow the search even more.

 

Getting in touch with colleges and talking to admissions directors early in her high school career really helped me create a four year plan and testing timetable that keeps as many doors open as possible.

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The most useful thing we did was to actually visit colleges.

I completely agree, also! You learn so much by visiting schools. Don't stress over developing a perfect list of schools. Just start visiting schools that hold *some* interest. By getting out and asking the questions you've posed here, I bet you'll be surprised at the responsiveness of the staff and faculty at most colleges and universities.

 

Good luck! :)

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Yep. It stinks, but you'll survive. Visit colleges to see what they're like. Read Colleges That Change Lives to help you get an idea of other factors to considers when looking at colleges. If you have A LOT of spare time check out college confidential. Your local school district should sponsor a college fair at least once if not twice each year. It is a good place to pick up brochures. Remember to breathe. Remember that this is your son's future, not yours so let him be the one to get excited about it. After all my hard work, my son picked a college I'd never even heard of. Even though he'd applied to and been accepted at all the ones we'd agreed that were his top X choices. He had the audacity to go somewhere that wasn't on my list. :001_huh: Seriously. You spend a dozen or so years in school teaching them to think for themselves... Oh wait. sorry, back to your problem. You'll be fine.

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Yep. It stinks, but you'll survive. Visit colleges to see what they're like. Read Colleges That Change Lives to help you get an idea of other factors to considers when looking at colleges. If you have A LOT of spare time check out college confidential. Your local school district should sponsor a college fair at least once if not twice each year. It is a good place to pick up brochures. Remember to breathe. Remember that this is your son's future, not yours so let him be the one to get excited about it. After all my hard work, my son picked a college I'd never even heard of. Even though he'd applied to and been accepted at all the ones we'd agreed that were his top X choices. He had the audacity to go somewhere that wasn't on my list. :001_huh: Seriously. You spend a dozen or so years in school teaching them to think for themselves... Oh wait. sorry, back to your problem. You'll be fine.

 

:D Thanks, I look into those.

 

I've used your son as an example for ds. He'd love to visit Japan, so I'm keeping my eyes open for schools with study abroad programs. I'd probably freak out if he told he wanted to go to school in Japan full time, but I've discussed your son's experience to show him the possibilities.

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In my mind right now, it is THEIR life and THEIR responsibility - I can be there as a *support* in the process, somebody to discuss financial and legal issues with (and perhaps veto particular choices based on those criteria), somebody who can take them places or at least help with some of the organizing aspect - but I refuse to do THEIR work in terms of taking the initiative. I believe it is THEY who should independently and off their own free will inform themselves of the options, weigh their personal costs and benefits, figure out what paperwork is necessary and how to handle it, do all the communication with their chosen universities, etc.

 

The reason why I emphasized "right now" is because my eldest is roughly your son's age (14 going on 15), so it may truly be that I am underestimating the challenge and the real need of parental involvement in the process beyond emotional support and discussions on what are we willing / able to finance and what not.

However, recently we have decided, having our eyes wide opened by some life skills stress, to gradually start holding our daughters responsible for all of their "formalities" in life in general. At this point as minors it is still not possible to have them fully independent in this camp as they still need parental signatures for most of that, but the goal is to push them in that direction, especially for things which should be important to THEM as it is THEIR life and THEIR educational choices we are talking about.

 

Our personal preference is for professionalism at the tertiary educational level rather than "well-roundedness" with core classes, as we believe general education is what one should have acquired before university. YMMV.

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In my mind right now, it is THEIR life and THEIR responsibility - I can be there as a *support* in the process, somebody to discuss financial and legal issues with (and perhaps veto particular choices based on those criteria), somebody who can take them places or at least help with some of the organizing aspect - but I refuse to do THEIR work in terms of taking the initiative. I believe it is THEY who should independently and off their own free will inform themselves of the options, weigh their personal costs and benefits, figure out what paperwork is necessary and how to handle it, do all the communication with their chosen universities, etc..

 

My DD is the same age, and I really do not feel that she would have the expertise to find the school that offers the best academic program in her chosen major because she simply does not know what kinds of things to look for and what questions to ask. I do not think most 14 year olds would even know how to start the process of finding out. So, delegating this responsibility to my child may teach responsibility and communication and research skills which are all valuable things - but it might not necessarily lead to the best possible outcome.

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My DD is the same age, and I really do not feel that she would have the expertise to find the school that offers the best academic program in her chosen major because she simply does not know what kinds of things to look for and what questions to ask. I do not think most 14 year olds would even know how to start the process of finding out. So, delegating this responsibility to my child may teach responsibility and communication and research skills which are all valuable things - but it might not necessarily lead to the best possible outcome.

If you are mature enough to be out there on your own, IMO, you are mature enough to handle the process of getting there. They are 14 now when they are beginning to consider their options, but several more years will pass before they get to decide and start applying. A lot of maturing happens in those few years, I believe.

 

Most of our friends' children dealt with the process pretty much independently, INCLUDING the children who went to study abroad in incompatible scholastic systems and had to deal with credit transfers, grade translations, health insurances abroad, language requirements, visa bureaucracy, and so forth. Their parents were there as emotional and financial support, but really did not do their job for them, from what I have seen. The research, the communication with the universities and the entire application and post-application process was their DC's responsibility.

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How do I know what is a "good" school? How do I know if a school is respected for the particular department ds desires? Asking around won't do much as our academic circle of influence is small.

 

Also I'm finding some schools seem to put you in classes for your major right away, a few seem to require a lot of core classes. What are the pros/cons of that?

 

 

Is it too soon to order information from colleges? That would be mainly for me right now. I do better looking through printed information than online.

 

 

I am with you one the scared part - being the guidance counselor is much harder than being the teacher, IMO.

It is not too early to ask for materials from schools you may be interested in. It is also not too early to start visiting schools. I would recommend that you do not limit yourself to the campus tour, but make an appointment to visit the particular department your son is interested in, talk to the chair and a few professors, and, if possible, to a few students. To judge whether a department is good I would ask:

 

 

  • about job placement after graduation

  • what percentage goes to grad school and where (do they get into selective grad schools? Do they get prestigious fellowships?), what GRE scores they have?

  • are classes in their major taught by faculty members or grad students? Large or small classes? Lectures vs recitations?

  • what opportunities for academic assistance are provided? (help sessions, learning centers, tutoring)

  • how large is the choice of different upper level classes to specialize (a drawback of small departments is that the selection of upper level classes will be very limited)

  • what opportunities are available for undergraduate research? (if he decides to go into physics, he should definitely choose a research university to study. First, it offers him undergrad research opportunities; second, doing research gives the faculty members a different perspective on their teaching.)

  • what opportunities are available for internships, summer research, etc; what fraction of students is participating

  • talk to students to find out what they have to say about the teaching: are the professors enthusiastic? Large/small classes? Challenging? Listen to what the undergrads have to say about their department. Is there a feeling of cameraderie, or is it cut-throat competition?

  • look up the faculty members online to get an idea of their standing in the community. Publications, grants, conferences. Does not tell you about their teaching abilities, but about the expertise and reputation.

 

These are just a few things I can think about top of my hat.

 

 

As to your last question: I would prefer a school that limits "general ed" requirements and lets the students focus on their major. I see high school as a time to go for breadth and general education and would prefer the college time to be spent focusing on subjects related to the major. Time is at a premium. I'd much rather my student has time to take more higher level classes in his major and do research than him being unable to do that because he needs to take too many hours in unrelated subjects. Your philosophy may vary; I come from a culture where university is focused on a specialization and high school takes care of the general educational breadth.

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Their parents were there as emotional and financial support, but really did not do their job for them, from what I have seen. The research, the communication with the universities and the entire application and post-application process was their DC's responsibility.

 

I agree that the kid can and should do the research and collect information and communicate with the schools - but I do not think it is reasonable to expect a 14 y/o to know what questions to ask and what information to consider. In my other post, I quickly tried to come up with a few things I, as a person familiar with university, would ask to decide about the quality of a department.

Would most 14 y/olds have a clue? I highly doubt it. So, I see it as my responsibility as a parent to guide the process.

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In my mind right now, it is THEIR life and THEIR responsibility - I can be there as a *support* in the process, somebody to discuss financial and legal issues with (and perhaps veto particular choices based on those criteria), somebody who can take them places or at least help with some of the organizing aspect - but I refuse to do THEIR work in terms of taking the initiative. I believe it is THEY who should independently and off their own free will inform themselves of the options, weigh their personal costs and benefits, figure out what paperwork is necessary and how to handle it, do all the communication with their chosen universities, etc.

 

The reason why I emphasized "right now" is because my eldest is roughly your son's age (14 going on 15), so it may truly be that I am underestimating the challenge and the real need of parental involvement in the process beyond emotional support and discussions on what are we willing / able to finance and what not.

However, recently we have decided, having our eyes wide opened by some life skills stress, to gradually start holding our daughters responsible for all of their "formalities" in life in general. At this point as minors it is still not possible to have them fully independent in this camp as they still need parental signatures for most of that, but the goal is to push them in that direction, especially for things which should be important to THEM as it is THEIR life and THEIR educational choices we are talking about.

 

Our personal preference is for professionalism at the tertiary educational level rather than "well-roundedness" with core classes, as we believe general education is what one should have acquired before university. YMMV.

 

He has a lot of growing to do yet. Also because our lifestyle and location he may not see all the possibilities available to him. Ultimately the decision will be his.

 

Budget is a big issue. At this point he's going to need aid. I also want to show him that his study habits over the next four may could make the difference between his ideal college and the affordable one. He is currently unmotivated by grades. I think right now I just want him to see how big the doors of opportunity can be if he applies himself.

 

My DD is the same age, and I really do not feel that she would have the expertise to find the school that offers the best academic program in her chosen major because she simply does not know what kinds of things to look for and what questions to ask. I do not think most 14 year olds would even know how to start the process of finding out. So, delegating this responsibility to my child may teach responsibility and communication and research skills which are all valuable things - but it might not necessarily lead to the best possible outcome.

 

Thank you. I feel it's my responsibility to at least point him in a direction when he comes to me with questions. Right now *I'm* doing the learning.

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If you are mature enough to be out there on your own, IMO, you are mature enough to handle the process of getting there. They are 14 now when they are beginning to consider their options, but several more years will pass before they get to decide and start applying. A lot of maturing happens in those few years, I believe.

 

 

 

Right now ds is pretty laid back. I truly think if I told him he had to attend the local college he'd accept our decision and stick to it. He's also very opinionated on these he's passionate about. I want to be a worthy devil's advocate when the time comes.

 

I am with you one the scared part - being the guidance counselor is much harder than being the teacher, IMO.

It is not too early to ask for materials from schools you may be interested in. It is also not too early to start visiting schools. I would recommend that you do not limit yourself to the campus tour, but make an appointment to visit the particular department your son is interested in, talk to the chair and a few professors, and, if possible, to a few students. To judge whether a department is good I would ask:

 

 

  • about job placement after graduation

  • what percentage goes to grad school and where (do they get into selective grad schools? Do they get prestigious fellowships?), what GRE scores they have?

  • are classes in their major taught by faculty members or grad students? Large or small classes? Lectures vs recitations?

  • what opportunities for academic assistance are provided? (help sessions, learning centers, tutoring)

  • how large is the choice of different upper level classes to specialize (a drawback of small departments is that the selection of upper level classes will be very limited)

  • what opportunities are available for undergraduate research? (if he decides to go into physics, he should definitely choose a research university to study. First, it offers him undergrad research opportunities; second, doing research gives the faculty members a different perspective on their teaching.)

  • what opportunities are available for internships, summer research, etc; what fraction of students is participating

  • talk to students to find out what they have to say about the teaching: are the professors enthusiastic? Large/small classes? Challenging? Listen to what the undergrads have to say about their department. Is there a feeling of cameraderie, or is it cut-throat competition?

  • look up the faculty members online to get an idea of their standing in the community. Publications, grants, conferences. Does not tell you about their teaching abilities, but about the expertise and reputation.

 

These are just a few things I can think about top of my hat.

 

 

As to your last question: I would prefer a school that limits "general ed" requirements and lets the students focus on their major. I see high school as a time to go for breadth and general education and would prefer the college time to be spent focusing on subjects related to the major. Time is at a premium. I'd much rather my student has time to take more higher level classes in his major and do research than him being unable to do that because he needs to take too many hours in unrelated subjects. Your philosophy may vary; I come from a culture where university is focused on a specialization and high school takes care of the general educational breadth.

 

Thank you, all of that is most helpful. I do think he will do better in a major focused school. He will end up a fairly well rounded high school education.

 

:lurk5:

 

Awesome thread idea, Paula. I'm in the boat with you.

 

You can hang out with me and Jean. We'll hold hands and cross the road together, or the river, whatever the case may be. :grouphug:

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I agree that the kid can and should do the research and collect information and communicate with the schools - but I do not think it is reasonable to expect a 14 y/o to know what questions to ask and what information to consider. In my other post, I quickly tried to come up with a few things I, as a person familiar with university, would ask to decide about the quality of a department.

Would most 14 y/olds have a clue? I highly doubt it. So, I see it as my responsibility as a parent to guide the process.

No, not at 14. But they will not be applying at 14. At 14, they do not even know for sure what they want. At 14, all of these discussions are theoretical yet.

 

But at 17-18? It is "only" their educational path and future professional life we are talking about! They are not "children" at that age! When are they supposed to slowly start getting "into" what their field is about if not before making college decisions? :confused:

 

These questions are all searchable online, and I would certainly expect a person who is considering applying to some universities to even ask WHAT TO ASK, contact alumni and people from the field, critically read all the information they get about various schools. I would not expect parents to guide the process - though certainly to be there to bounce off ideas. But the ideas which come from the child, if you get what I mean, rather than from the parent.

 

(I do repeat that maybe I am deluding myself and maybe this is a lack of experience speaking through me. :) )

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These questions are all searchable online, and I would certainly expect a person who is considering applying to some universities to even ask WHAT TO ASK, contact alumni and people from the field, critically read all the information they get about various schools. I would not expect parents to guide the process - though certainly to be there to bounce off ideas. But the ideas which come from the child, if you get what I mean, rather than from the parent.

 

(I do repeat that maybe I am deluding myself and maybe this is a lack of experience speaking through me. :) )

 

IDK, that's why I'm asking. I want to know the information on the schools for myself. Will my ds be able to articulate the pros and cons of a certain school at 18? I hope so. But I'm not going to take his word for it completely, I'm going to do my own research (most likely without his knowledge). He tends to get hyperfocused on one thing. If that is true at 18, will be able to rationally looks at ALL the information? IDK.

 

For me, it is a matter of being informed from the parental end. We may also be looking at this from two paradigms. Neither dh or I are college graduates, we don't have what I would consider an academic lifestyle. I can't sit around and discuss books or ideas with dh, so those conversations take place with ds. Dad is for fun and James Bond, and learning "manly" things like lawn maintenance and construction. I do think that lack might come into play in his enthusiasm about pursuing information on higher education. Hopefully his passion for HIS goals will override that.

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No, not at 14. But they will not be applying at 14. At 14, they do not even know for sure what they want. At 14, all of these discussions are theoretical yet.

 

 

Children are different. At age 14, my DD knows exactly what combination of subjects she wishes to major in. She wanted to study one of these subjects since she was 6, and has now slightly shifted focus. She is taking extra classes pertaining to this combination. Knowing my child, I would be extremely surprised if she should change her mind.

Two years from today she will have completed the application process and may already have received an offer. All thinking, informing, visiting and choosing will have to take place in the next 18 months.

 

These questions are all searchable online, and I would certainly expect a person who is considering applying to some universities to even ask WHAT TO ASK, contact alumni and people from the field, critically read all the information they get about various schools. I would not expect parents to guide the process - though certainly to be there to bounce off ideas. But the ideas which come from the child, if you get what I mean, rather than from the parent.

 

No, I don't fully understand what you mean. If *I* am an expert in the field and KNOW what things to ask, I do not see why my kid should have to ask around in order to find out what to ask, and maybe even get worse advice than I could give. Why is my expertise worth less than some random stranger's just because I am a mom? I am also a professional.

As I said before, a student can certainly gather the information - but can he evaluate it? For example: if I know which journal is a prestigious journal and which one is fluff, am I not to tell my child and give him this info to evaluate publication lists? If I know what is a good grad school and what is mediocre, am I not to tell him?

I honestly do not see how a child can come up with ideas what is important to ask, and how to evaluate the answers, if he does not have an adult who can help. So, why does the adult have to be a stranger, and not a parent?

If I see what kinds of criteria people use for college choice, I am scratching my head, because most of the factors have very little to do with the academic quality of the department where the kid wants to major. Most of the information that is readily available through the schools is about things which, in my opinion, are completely extraneous. The admissions departments of the universities are certainly not giving unbiased information.

 

Ideally, the student would have to contact faculty members in his desired major at different universities and ask them whether they would encourage their own son or daughter to study at their own university in their own department. I suspect that many professors would be wary of answering this question honestly when asked by a complete stranger, let alone put the response in writing ;-)

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My DD is the same age, and I really do not feel that she would have the expertise to find the school that offers the best academic program in her chosen major because she simply does not know what kinds of things to look for and what questions to ask. I do not think most 14 year olds would even know how to start the process of finding out. So, delegating this responsibility to my child may teach responsibility and communication and research skills which are all valuable things - but it might not necessarily lead to the best possible outcome.

 

:iagree:

 

No, not at 14. But they will not be applying at 14. At 14, they do not even know for sure what they want. At 14, all of these discussions are theoretical yet.

 

But at 17-18? It is "only" their educational path and future professional life we are talking about! They are not "children" at that age! When are they supposed to slowly start getting "into" what their field is about if not before making college decisions? :confused:

 

These questions are all searchable online, and I would certainly expect a person who is considering applying to some universities to even ask WHAT TO ASK, contact alumni and people from the field, critically read all the information they get about various schools. I would not expect parents to guide the process - though certainly to be there to bounce off ideas. But the ideas which come from the child, if you get what I mean, rather than from the parent.

 

(I do repeat that maybe I am deluding myself and maybe this is a lack of experience speaking through me. :) )

 

I have to disagree with you. It's too late to start planning at 17/18. You need to start planting those seeds now, and working with your child now.

 

Elegantlion, I think you're on the right track.

 

The true job of a Guidance Counselor is just that, guidance. DH and I were both let down by our HS counselors as well as our parents. The HS Guidance Counselors were more impressed with the fact that we wanted to go to expensive out of state schools than what was best for us financially or career path wise. Our parents thought it was the job of the counselors and us to iron all that out. Now, here we are, 15 years later with obscene student loan debt and degrees that could have easily been gotten at less expensive, state colleges. DH never even went to work in his degree because it was a dying industry in the 90's but no one bothered to tell him that (especially not his college). When he graduated, there were no jobs to be had, and he couldn't take on any more student loan debt to change majors. His diploma has always helped him, but he has had to rely on on the job training, something that's not easy to come by now.

 

Based on our experience, and the reality of college expenses, it IS our job to guide our child through this experience, and help them maneuver through the mine field. Let's not forget, colleges and universities want your child's money. They are out to make money and they are out to seduce your student. Their job is to convince them that this is the ONLY way to get the degree they want and that no other school will do. Nevermind that the cost, the degree, the job market and your child's capabilities. We went to college 15 years ago when anyone could go and get a student loan, and the economy was flowing freely. Imagine how hungry they are for your money now! Our dd is 12 and we're already researching, planning and talking to her about High school and college. We're partnering with her to help her realize how important the next 6 years are to her future, and to motivate her through High School.

 

Blessings!

Dorinda

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If *I* am an expert in the field and KNOW what things to ask, I do not see why my kid should have to ask around in order to find out what to ask, and maybe even get worse advice than I could give. Why is my expertise worth less than some random stranger's just because I am a mom? I am also a professional.

You did not mention your child wants to major in your field. :tongue_smilie:

 

Of course that things change then; but for many parents, that is not the reality. I do not think that the parents should not talk to the children, but that the initiative should be taken by the child, not the parent. Rather than you sitting a child down and explaining what you know, having the child sit YOU down to explain to them what you know, treating you as a legitimate knowledge resource, along with all the other knowledge sources they are researching by themselves. Rather than having a parent research the options and sit the kid down, it should be the other way round.

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I have to disagree with you. It's too late to start planning at 17/18. You need to start planting those seeds now, and working with your child now.

At 14 years old?!?!

 

How am I supposed to be "working" with them? :confused:

Our eldest has a different fit every year. Her interests have been all over the place, from music to law. The only thing I can really do at this point is to give her the gift of TIME to figure out where she wants to settle - and it is exactly those few years she has left before university. I cannot even fathom burdening her with the observations about university *brought up by me* at this point (whatever is brought up BY HER is a different issue, of course) - the kid has just completed the application process for a high school abroad. How am I supposed to bring up university while she has barely started lycee? I have NO CLUE whether she is going to graduate high school at home (and, if so - in what country, language, academic tradition will she be formally tested and get her exit exams in?), whether she will stay abroad for Bac, whether she will want a seminary year before university or a year off to travel, so many options are before her she graduates high school! Is it really a good idea to burden a 14 year old with any of that yet? Why cannot we start discussing that lightly in her pre-last year of high school, or even the last year of high school, or even later, if her maturity to settle down kicks LATER (really, what is bad with taking a year off before college, especially if you have an already accelerated child?)? Why not go through life one stage after another and first focusing on doing this stage, i.e. high school, well, then by the end of that road considering seriously where to continue? I am not saying being generally informed is a bad thing, but if the child is not quite ready to settle down on any path yet, why rush her? Why not let it come naturally, TO HER, in HER timing, the beginning of the process concerning HER future?

 

Our middle daughter is quite different and a lot more consistent in her interests, but even for her, the university has not really been on her radar yet.

 

They are still... kids. :confused: Very smart and accomplished kids, but ultimately, why would one even spend years upon years researching this issue? It just seems so weird to me to start, at the beginning of one stage of life, thinking about and researching the next. I think that transition should happen more... organically, somehow. Letting kids focus on high school and their interests now and then waiting to see THEIR initiatives regarding their further life choices?

 

Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

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EsterMaria, when do students apply to universities in Italy? In Germany, you finish high school first, and then apply AFTER you have finished 12th grade. The situation in the US is completely different, as students apply fall of their 12th grade year.

 

I have NO CLUE whether she is going to graduate high school at home (and, if so - in what country, language, academic tradition will she be formally tested and get her exit exams in?), whether she will stay abroad for Bac, whether she will want a seminary year before university or a year off to travel, so many options are before her she graduates high school! Is it really a good idea to burden a 14 year old with any of that yet? Why cannot we start discussing that lightly in her pre-last year of high school, or even the last year of high school, or even later, if her maturity to settle down kicks LATER (really, what is bad with taking a year off before college, especially if you have an already accelerated child?)?

 

Because there are some hoops to jump through that are on a time line.

Students have to take the PSAT in 11th grade precisely (not in 10th, and not in 12th) to be eligible for National merit scholar.

We need to plan for enough SAT2's to satisfy the most picky schools (which demand FIVE) and spread them out over the years. The student must have taken every necessary standardized test by September Senior year.

APs are offered only on fixed dates in May. (So, most students have 10th and 11th grade to do the exams. Exams from 12th grade are too late to be a factor in the admission decision.)

Some SAT2s are offered only in November. (DD did not get in this year to take the exam she wanted because it was full; so she has exactly ONE more shot next year November for her to take it.)

How can I plan my student's high school years, their courses of study, the scheduling of their standardized tests, if I do not start thinking about university in 9th grade???

 

Why not go through life one stage after another and first focusing on doing this stage, i.e. high school, well, then by the end of that road considering seriously where to continue? I am not saying being generally informed is a bad thing, but if the child is not quite ready to settle down on any path yet, why rush her? Why not let it come naturally, TO HER, in HER timing, the beginning of the process concerning HER future?

Because if they want to go to college right away, they need to have applied early senior year, which means they must have researched and chosen in 11th grade.

Because if there is even the possibility that they might be interested in, and have the potential to be admitted to, a selective university, their high school education must be planned so that it satisfies this university's requirements. Waiting until 12th grade only to realize that the kid would have needed a class in xyz is too late. I don't want to ruin her chances of admission because *I* did not do my job and found out all that is necessary NOW.

Edited by regentrude
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Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

Hmmm...could it be that there are assorted facets to which posters are responding?

 

When I saw your first post, I thought about my son's own college application experience. While he owned most of it, I did not expect him to book his own flights for college visits, for example. Sure, he could have done this but with school work, applications, testing, etc., it seemed reasonable to give him a hand. Perhaps you live in a more transportation friendly culture?

 

Most students who attend college from our rural NC community either go to the local community college or the regional state university. A few may go to UNC-CH or NCSU. Many of these students have no idea of the world of opportunities that is available. This is very different in the New England town where we spend part of our summer. Here residents and visitors tend to be highly educated and motivated. Teens share information on college visits and their academic experiences. These teens may need less assistance in determining what school may be a good fit.

 

Our son did his own research on the professors and academic opportunities in his field at various colleges. But there are so many colleges and universities in this country! He welcomed advice from a family friend, a retired high school counselor, who put previously unknown schools on his radar.

 

Perhaps some teens are more sophisticated than others? My son would not have understood the nuance of data sets, for example. They make more sense to me as both a college grad and former academic.

 

Further, the US does not have a common curriculum. Parent educators must insure that their students meet minimal requirements for the various colleges to which their students might apply, knowing that "minimal" may be insufficient. Colleges themselves in the US are not uniform in the standards they impose on applicants!

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Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

I hear you as far as letting kids work from their own initiative, in order to seek out info. on universities, opportunities out there, figuring out their own interests, etc. (at least that's what I think you are advocating for).

 

What I hear Paula asking about, though, is similar to my own questions/insecurities. I am similar to her in that I never went to university, and neither did my husband. After a not-so-great high school experience I worked in menial store jobs, volunteer work, and office jobs until I had children. I had NO CLUE about other options. Guidance counselling at my school consisted of the counsellor trying to talk me into going to college because I got "good grades" - I knew nothing about figuring out my assets, my interests, etc.. I do remember reading career books in the school library, but always landing on things such as cosmetology school because I just didn't know how to do further research on anything else in those books. Blame it on my whole experience of being spoon fed but not truly educated or taught how to learn.

 

Fast forward to homeschooling, and doing this WTM thing. Reading these boards alone has opened my eyes in only the past five years or so (and I'm 43) to the fact that there is a whole WORLD of study and work options out there. I mean, I remember looking through all the university catalogs that arrived in my mailbox when I was 16-17 years old, and nothing stood out to me as interesting. The only things I remotely found interesting were nursing school and being a phys. ed major (why phys ed, I have no idea now - the thought bores me to tears). Everything else was just "blah" to me. And no one was helping me. I enjoyed some of my after high-school experiences, but looking back, I felt like a failure with no direction. Nothing solid, just drifting from one opportunity to the next.

 

So, I read these boards, and read about interesting things that some of you women are studying, have studied, are working in, and get excited about; and that rubs off on me. It gives me hope. Hope for my kids, and hope for me to do something more interesting someday. With purpose (I am not dissing my homeschooling my kids right now - that is very purposeful).

 

So I completely understand where Paula is coming from. We who have not had the types of experiences that so many women on these boards have had, educations you've had, careers you've had, academic circles you've been a part of - we are terrified!!! :D (There was a poll on the GB the other day about what educational experience people here had had - I was rather intimidated to find out that those with Bachelor's degrees were in the majority - it gave me a moment of thinking, "why do I think I can do this classical education thing??") So anyway, people like Paula and me are going to be extra careful to make sure we know how to guide our kids over the high school years, balancing that with letting them take initiative where they are able - but we are going to make sure we know as much as we can about what's out there. Because *we didn't know and we didn't know how to find out.*

 

So, Ester Maria, I'm with you in spirit as far as letting our kids develop their own initiative and doing some research of their own. But we (or maybe I should just say "I") are working out of my own insecurities, to make sure that at least *I* do know some things if my kids come to me with questions. I do agree with the ideal you are presenting, though.

 

Does that make sense?

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Many of these students have no idea of the world of opportunities that is available. This is very different in the New England town where we spend part of our summer. Here residents and visitors tend to be highly educated and motivated. Teens share information on college visits and their academic experiences. These teens may need less assistance in determining what school may be a good fit.

 

I think it's ironic that my high school was two or three hours away from there, in another part of New England. A little pocket where I never experienced these types of conversations. And I was in the top 10% of my class and considered one of the "smart kids!" I'm not bitter about my high school experience or anything....:lol:

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EsterMaria, when do students apply to universities in Italy? In Germany, you finish high school first, and then apply AFTER you have finished 12th grade. The situation in the US is completely different, as students apply fall of their 12th grade year.

 

 

 

Because there are some hoops to jump through that are on a time line.

Students have to take the PSAT in 11th grade precisely (not in 10th, and not in 12th) to be eligible for National merit scholar.

We need to plan for enough SAT2's to satisfy the most picky schools (which demand FIVE) and spread them out over the years. The student must have taken every necessary standardized test by September Senior year.

APs are offered only on fixed dates in May. (So, most students have 10th and 11th grade to do the exams. Exams from 12th grade are too late to be a factor in the admission decision.)

Some SAT2s are offered only in November. (DD did not get in this year to take the exam she wanted because it was full; so she has exactly ONE more shot next year November for her to take it.)

How can I plan my student's high school years, their courses of study, the scheduling of their standardized tests, if I do not start thinking about university in 9th grade???

 

Because if they want to go to college right away, they need to have applied early senior year, which means they must have researched and chosen in 11th grade.

Because if there is even the possibility that they might be interested in, and have the potential to be admitted to, a selective university, their high school education must be planned so that it satisfies this university's requirements. Waiting until 12th grade only to realize that the kid would have needed a class in xyz is too late. I don't want to ruin her chances of admission because *I* did not do my job and found out all that is necessary NOW.

 

:iagree:

Exactly what I would have said. And, unfortunately, money is a HUGE factor. If you need scholarships, you have to start NOW. This country still bases a child's student loans on the parent's income. This is one of the biggest scams on students. Students AND parents are responsible for those loans. My parents basically "funded" my college via student loans and had no idea how many they had taken out when I graduated. I was on the hook for the loans, because I had signed the ppwk with them, but I really and truly believed they were paying for SOME of it. It turns out I was wrong. We are being honest with our dd. We have told her we don't know how much we'll be able to help her financially, so we're starting to talk scholarships and savings. We will not co-sign loans for her, so she'll have to work to help. All things she needs to know now instead of as a Jr or Sr.

 

Blessings!

Dorinda

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I .

 

Fast forward to homeschooling, and doing this WTM thing. Reading these boards alone has opened my eyes in only the past five years or so (and I'm 43) to the fact that there is a whole WORLD of study and work options out there. I mean, I remember looking through all the university catalogs that arrived in my mailbox when I was 16-17 years old, and nothing stood out to me as interesting. The only things I remotely found interesting were nursing school and being a phys. ed major (why phys ed, I have no idea now - the thought bores me to tears). Everything else was just "blah" to me. And no one was helping me. I enjoyed some of my after high-school experiences, but looking back, I felt like a failure with no direction. Nothing solid, just drifting from one opportunity to the next.

 

So, I read these boards, and read about interesting things that some of you women are studying, have studied, are working in, and get excited about; and that rubs off on me. It gives me hope. Hope for my kids, and hope for me to do something more interesting someday. With purpose (I am not dissing my homeschooling my kids right now - that is very purposeful).

 

So I completely understand where Paula is coming from. We who have not had the types of experiences that so many women on these boards have had, educations you've had, careers you've had, academic circles you've been a part of - we are terrified!!! :D (There was a poll on the GB the other day about what educational experience people here had had - I was rather intimidated to find out that those with Bachelor's degrees were in the majority - it gave me a moment of thinking, "why do I think I can do this classical education thing??") So anyway, people like Paula and me are going to be extra careful to make sure we know how to guide our kids over the high school years, balancing that with letting them take initiative where they are able - but we are going to make sure we know as much as we can about what's out there. Because *we didn't know and we didn't know how to find out.*

 

 

I totally agree. Same experience. I met my guidance counselor once, to transfer a class. They never brought up college, my parents were no help. The only thing I wanted to do in college was only available at a university that cost 3 times the normal rate. We couldn't afford that, so I quit trying. My mother admitted recently that she wishes he had pushed me a little harder to go to school. I'm 44, just for point of reference.

 

I do feel sometimes I've managed a "settle for" existence because I had no one showing me how to achieve my goals. I suppose that is the bottom line, I want ds to have an opportunity to achieve what he wants out of life. For ds (because of his interests) that could be determined by which college he attends. Which college he attends could be determined by how hard he is willing to work over the next 4 years, due to our budget and the ability to get accepted. He's a big picture guy. He may not put in the extra effort in school because I tell him it will make a difference, he needs to see that for himself. I have ONE child, ONE time to get this right. I refuse to let any door be closed to him because I didn't the legwork to understand the process before the information was needed.

 

Homeschooling is my job. I approach it with a job mindset because that works for me. In any job I've had, I've been trained for all the what ifs before they were even needed. I see being the guidance counselor as no different. I may be starting earlier than some, but I'm also starting from a position of ignorance, so I need to work harder and smarter.

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Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

I think there are multiple issues at play. When it comes to studying, doing their work, exploring careers/fields, helping select courses in high school....those are the responsibilities of student (yet, even then, when it comes to sorting through high school course selections, they need guidance)

 

However, understanding the different qualities of education offered at various institutions and how those will impact future careers/graduate school, balancing cost vs. potential pay, etc......no, I do not expect them to sort through those sorts of issues on their own. I want to be discussion w/them over these topics b/c they will have impacts on their futures.

 

ETA: after seeing Colleen's post above, I have to completely agree. Dh and I are the products of public university; a very good one, but it was just the option that was expected to be selected. These boards and Kathy in Richmond in particular have really opened a whole world of opportunities for our younger kids that we probably would never have considered. (As an example......yep, our oldest went to the state technical university. ;) Our youngest ds is thinking on a much different scale.)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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EsterMaria, when do students apply to universities in Italy? In Germany, you finish high school first, and then apply AFTER you have finished 12th grade. The situation in the US is completely different, as students apply fall of their 12th grade year.

Italy is like Germany ;), but our daughters will not necessarily study at the Italian universities.

Because there are some hoops to jump through that are on a time line.

Students have to take the PSAT in 11th grade precisely (not in 10th, and not in 12th) to be eligible for National merit scholar.

We need to plan for enough SAT2's to satisfy the most picky schools (which demand FIVE) and spread them out over the years. The student must have taken every necessary standardized test by September Senior year.

APs are offered only on fixed dates in May. (So, most students have 10th and 11th grade to do the exams. Exams from 12th grade are too late to be a factor in the admission decision.)

Some SAT2s are offered only in November. (DD did not get in this year to take the exam she wanted because it was full; so she has exactly ONE more shot next year November for her to take it.)

How can I plan my student's high school years, their courses of study, the scheduling of their standardized tests, if I do not start thinking about university in 9th grade???

But do you not *separate* in your mind these things from the university application process? Of course that your child will take certain exams to verify certain level of knowledge, so taking the SAT2s and APs, is a part of the picture. But would you not want your child to take those *anyway*, university or not, for the sake of the diploma credibility (assuming you issue your own grades rather than have the children institutionally tested)?

So yes, those tests are something to count with; but perhaps you do not even have to specifically tailor the course of studies to take particular tests. SAT2s measure typical high school level of knowledge (and, if you ask me, many APs as well) - you can take them in "standard" subjects which you would cover anyway as a part of general education, right? Besides, I bet your children have or will have the skills to pass more than five of them anyway - and on the College Board website they actually claim that most of those tests are available in SEVERAL months a year? That is more flexible than DELF/DALF examinations, for example, and more flexible from most countries' exit exams. It seems to me that you just have to treat it that way: as a type of exit exams, but spread throughout the years rather than taken all in one cycle.

Because if they want to go to college right away, they need to have applied early senior year, which means they must have researched and chosen in 11th grade.

But do you not think that, IF they already wish to go to college right away, THEY will take the initiative to have researched and chosen in 11th grade and apply on time? I am still confused as to why would a parent research years in advance, at the very beginning of the high school path, with the child's interests possibly still very flexible. Why not have a solid, broad base of studies (as you do), take the exams as they come and as you finish each class, take that PSAT in the 11th grade, and about that time starting to be more serious about everything, seeing if there is something to make up for while there is still time, etc.? Why start with all of that in 9th grade, as opposed to 11th?

 

Besides, the world has changed since our admissions' times - now with the internet, much of the searching is MUCH more rapid.

I know that people who plan carefully and start planning early are getting into selective universities - but so are our friends' children who start fairly late and STILL end up in selective American universities if they set their minds to it in 11th-12th grade, WITH all the added fuss of language examinations and things like that (one boy did have to wait a year though because he applied late, but he had a blast - spent a year with a combination of work and travel). Because of that, I did not think that one necessarily HAD to start researching those things so early. I fully understand why would people prefer to err on the safe side, though.

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At 14 years old?!?!

 

 

Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

One of the issues is that our home schooled kids will be in competition for scholarships and spots at universities with kids who have professional guidance counselors working at their schools. We don't have ready access to the same resources that a dedicated college guidance counselor would have.

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At 14 years old?!?!

 

How am I supposed to be "working" with them? :confused:

Our eldest has a different fit every year. Her interests have been all over the place, from music to law. The only thing I can really do at this point is to give her the gift of TIME to figure out where she wants to settle - and it is exactly those few years she has left before university. I cannot even fathom burdening her with the observations about university *brought up by me* at this point (whatever is brought up BY HER is a different issue, of course) - the kid has just completed the application process for a high school abroad. How am I supposed to bring up university while she has barely started lycee? I have NO CLUE whether she is going to graduate high school at home (and, if so - in what country, language, academic tradition will she be formally tested and get her exit exams in?), whether she will stay abroad for Bac, whether she will want a seminary year before university or a year off to travel, so many options are before her she graduates high school! Is it really a good idea to burden a 14 year old with any of that yet? Why cannot we start discussing that lightly in her pre-last year of high school, or even the last year of high school, or even later, if her maturity to settle down kicks LATER (really, what is bad with taking a year off before college, especially if you have an already accelerated child?)? Why not go through life one stage after another and first focusing on doing this stage, i.e. high school, well, then by the end of that road considering seriously where to continue? I am not saying being generally informed is a bad thing, but if the child is not quite ready to settle down on any path yet, why rush her? Why not let it come naturally, TO HER, in HER timing, the beginning of the process concerning HER future?

 

Our middle daughter is quite different and a lot more consistent in her interests, but even for her, the university has not really been on her radar yet.

 

They are still... kids. :confused: Very smart and accomplished kids, but ultimately, why would one even spend years upon years researching this issue? It just seems so weird to me to start, at the beginning of one stage of life, thinking about and researching the next. I think that transition should happen more... organically, somehow. Letting kids focus on high school and their interests now and then waiting to see THEIR initiatives regarding their further life choices?

 

Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

Count me in on thinking your way. By focusing too much on the future we lose something precious today. It's not worth it to me. Is it easy to fret less? No. It takes effort (for me anyway).

 

With homeschooling, we are so wrapped up in our children's futures because I'm sure many of us worry about homeschooling potentially costing us something negative. In school, a guidance counselor does not have as vested an interest in a child as a parent does. That can be good and bad. By having a parent as a guidance counselor, it can intensify life for a kid and maybe in not so good a way. It can be an enormous amount of pressure for a young teen to always have to hear about college, test scores, AP exams, SAT 2s, PSAT, ACT, SAT... And I would think that perhaps some of this worry may be coming from the parent's insecurity as to their ability to help their child reach the goal of college admission with scholarships, etc. It can be a huge stress on a kid if we project our worries about the outcome of homeschooling onto our child--not saying anyone or everyone does that, but I know I have to keep myself in check.

 

Far better IMO to allow children the luxury (and should it really even be a luxury or just the normal course of things?) of enjoying 9th and 10th grade at least (and I'm not talking about a light schedule but am referring to not obsessing over college and tests yet). Do I think about these things? Yes. Do I do some research into tests and when to take them, etc.? Yes, sure. But if a child is doing high school well (as you state above EM), shouldn't it be manageable to fit in some SAT 2s, AP exams, and test prep without making it seem so overwhelmingly critical? I would hope so and if not, then so be it.

 

IMO it is okay if a kid ends up at community college first if those fat scholarships don't roll in.

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But do you not think that, IF they already wish to go to college right away, THEY will take the initiative to have researched and chosen in 11th grade and apply on time?

 

The number of universities and colleges is daunting here in the U.S. When my daughter, who went to a public school, applied for colleges, her guidance counselor was able to match her to schools neither my daughter nor my husband or I would have considered. For example, I knew nothing about Swarthmore which was a school the counselor suggested and almost the one she chose.

 

All of my kids' schools have begun some type of college planning in 9th grade. That is not to say that the student needs to make a firm decision about a major -- not at all; it's more that the student needs to take certain classes if considering applying to particular schools.

 

I would expect my child to work with the guidance counselor and complete the application, though.

Edited by MBM
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But do you not *separate* in your mind these things from the university application process? Of course that your child will take certain exams to verify certain level of knowledge, so taking the SAT2s and APs, is a part of the picture. But would you not want your child to take those *anyway*, university or not, for the sake of the diploma credibility (assuming you issue your own grades rather than have the children institutionally tested)?

 

 

No, absolutely not.

I have enough confidence in the education we give our children that I would NOT make them jump through hoops and take standardized tests if it was not mandatory for admission to the universities they are considering.

Or in other words: I would not have to worry about "diploma credibility" if my kids did not want to attend a selective school.

 

So yes, those tests are something to count with; but perhaps you do not even have to specifically tailor the course of studies to take particular tests. SAT2s measure typical high school level of knowledge (and, if you ask me, many APs as well) - you can take them in "standard" subjects which you would cover anyway as a part of general education, right?

 

I would cover the material anyway, but I would not have to consider timing (taking a test two years after subjects was studied is not a good idea), test format (drilling for the particular kind of exam) and content details.

 

Besides, I bet your children have or will have the skills to pass more than five of them anyway - and on the College Board website they actually claim that most of those tests are available in SEVERAL months a year?

 

The SAT2s are available several times a year, but NOT the language tests which are offered only once a year. The AP tests are offered once a year only.

Looking at the tests, I would find it really hard to take them cold turkey just from having studied a subject at some point in high school. Scheduling the tests close to when a subject has been finished greatly reduces the amount of time necessary for test prep drill. Time, which I feel can be spent better on studying some other subject.

 

And again: knowing that my student needs to have taken those by the end of 11th grade is something I need to know early on.

 

But do you not think that, IF they already wish to go to college right away, THEY will take the initiative to have researched and chosen in 11th grade and apply on time? I am still confused as to why would a parent research years in advance, at the very beginning of the high school path, with the child's interests possibly still very flexible. Why not have a solid, broad base of studies (as you do), take the exams as they come and as you finish each class, take that PSAT in the 11th grade, and about that time starting to be more serious about everything, seeing if there is something to make up for while there is still time, etc.? Why start with all of that in 9th grade, as opposed to 11th?

 

 

For instance because I would have no idea what the universities want to see: my ideas of a complete course of studies may not be what certain schools want to see.

If I had not started to research already , I would not even know that there are subject SATs and that the schools want to see them and that we should take them as soon as we finish a course (we already dropped the ball in 9th grade and have only two more years).

 

Because, if my student is interested in a selective school, it does not only take rigorous academic studies, but also volunteer activities and extracurriculars - something we can not start finding out in 11th grade.

 

I am extremely grateful for all I have learned on this board and through other research, because, coming from a different country, I would have been utterly unprepared for the hoops one has to jump through that have nothing to do with academic content (that's the easy part).

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One of the issues is that our home schooled kids will be in competition for scholarships and spots at universities with kids who have professional guidance counselors working at their schools. We don't have ready access to the same resources that a dedicated college guidance counselor would have.

Is the role of a guidance counselor so crucial, though?

 

In many countries there is no such person at schools - secondary school is treated as one epoch of your life, university as another, and secondary schools do not ensure that you learn about your options, it is considered entirely your own business. And YET there are children who get into competitive universities, and even competitive universities abroad (including the prestigeous US universities) - with NO guidance counselors, NO parents who did detailed research, completely out of their own initiative, going to embassies alone to inform themselves, doing their own research with parents mostly as a support, to bounce off ideas, but quite "passive" in the whole process. That is why it makes me wonder whether this kind of early planning or counceling is even... necessary. :confused: It just seems to me that in the end good kids still end up at good schools, whether you stress during those four years or whether you take it a bit more easy. Maybe I am wrong. In any case I am a bit panicked by this thread :lol:, but I am still trying to reason with myself and with why I still feel I am not doing anything wrong right now.

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Far better IMO to allow children the luxury (and should it really even be a luxury or just the normal course of things?) of enjoying 9th and 10th grade at least (and I'm not talking about a light schedule but am referring to not obsessing over college and tests yet). Do I think about these things? Yes. Do I do some research into tests and when to take them, etc.? Yes, sure. But if a child is doing high school well (as you state above EM), shouldn't it be manageable to fit in some SAT 2s, AP exams, and test prep without making it seem so overwhelmingly critical? I would hope so and if not, then so be it.

 

 

It is precisely because I do not want my child to feel overwhelmed by looming all-important tests that I prefer to research our options and spread the tests over several years.

IMO, it creates a much more relaxed situation if my student takes the ACT early in 10th grade, does well, not exceptional, and can retake it late in 11th with the goal of improving the score, but can relax in the knowledge that, in a pinch, the score will suffice for admission to a good state school - rather than scrambling at the last minute in September of senior year with only one single shot at a good score.

 

I got my wakeup call when, trying to register for a language SAT2 six weeks prior to the test date, DD was unable to get into any test location closer than a two hour drive. I had not researched this thoroughly enough, had not found out that they tend to be full, had not encouraged her to register months in advance, had not even considered it the year before. She has one more opportunity to take this test next year. I fully take the blame and will do everything to make this my last screw-up in the whole process.

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Far better IMO to allow children the luxury (and should it really even be a luxury or just the normal course of things?) of enjoying 9th and 10th grade at least (and I'm not talking about a light schedule but am referring to not obsessing over college and tests yet). Do I think about these things? Yes. Do I do some research into tests and when to take them, etc.? Yes, sure. But if a child is doing high school well (as you state above EM), shouldn't it be manageable to fit in some SAT 2s, AP exams, and test prep without making it seem so overwhelmingly critical? I would hope so and if not, then so be it.

 

IMO it is okay if a kid ends up at community college first if those fat scholarships don't roll in.

 

Yes, kids should be allowed to be kids. Much of what I'm discussing is stuff that will happen on the admin side of school, outside of ds's realm. I panic less when I am well-prepared.

 

My ds is not a natural test taker. As Regentrude stated I don't believe standardized testing necessary unless it is for admissions purchases (thinking SAT2, APs).

 

Again, I don't see this guidance prep taking an inordinate amount of time, but I do think it's something *I* need to start now. Then I'll be comfortable with handling it when the time comes.

 

I wouldn't be heartbroken if ds decides to go to community college, but I would be upset if that is the only option he sees available to him.

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Is the role of a guidance counselor so crucial, though?

 

In many countries there is no such person at schools - secondary school is treated as one epoch of your life, university as another, and secondary schools do not ensure that you learn about your options, it is considered entirely your own business. And YET there are children who get into competitive universities, and even competitive universities abroad (including the prestigeous US universities) - with NO guidance counselors, NO parents who did detailed research, completely out of their own initiative, going to embassies alone to inform themselves, doing their own research with parents mostly as a support, to bounce off ideas, but quite "passive" in the whole process. That is why it makes me wonder whether this kind of early planning or counceling is even... necessary. :confused: It just seems to me that in the end good kids still end up at good schools, whether you stress during those four years or whether you take it a bit more easy.

 

First: the number of schools in the US is huge, and the differences are incredible. This is a good thing because it means there will be the right school for every student - but it makes it very hard to figure out which one that is. (In Europe, there are much fewer universities, the differences are not as large, and it is quite easy to find out where to go).

 

Second: there are big name schools which are just good and a good student who applies and gets in is doing fine. Then there are good schools of which I have never ever heard, despite working at a US university for ten years. When I talk to colleagues, I get recommendations for places of which I have never heard the name.

 

Third: a good student will most likely get into a good school, agreed. And any good school will not be a huge mistake. But will that be the best school he could have aimed for? Will it be the best school for his chosen major? Will it be the best school for his abilities?

I am not at all worried about "getting into college" - I am considering an optimization problem: which school is the best fit for my student's ability and personality and chosen major(s).

DH and I are working in academia, have PhDs, and find this a difficult problem to research. Maybe it is easier if the student does NOT yet have a concrete idea what he wants to do: pick any good school, and take it from there. If, however, you have a student who knows precisely what fields he wants and who wants to go where he gets the best education in this field, it is more complicated. (And if the student has her heart set on a double major and you have to optimize the quality of TWO programs in TWO departments, it gets very tricky)

 

ETA: There are factors which you can not get from rankings and the internet, and much depends on the student. Just as an example: if I were asked to recommend a certain school for a student interested in my subject, I might wholeheartedly recommend it to a solid, good student, because he would get a solid, good education in this subject. I would, however, discourage a brilliant, extraordinary student, from attending that very same school for that very same major, because he would need more than that, he would need the extraordinary education this school could not offer him.

Edited by regentrude
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Is it easy to fret less? No. It takes effort (for me anyway).

For me too, I am mostly the "err on the safe side" type of person as well, so everything that Jane, Colleen and others wrote before DOES resonate with me quite strongly if I try to put myself into that perspective. I also fully understand the feeling that one wants to ensure they did whatever they could do - I consider it normal and fair.

 

But there is just something about this debate which stills rubs me the wrong way, so to speak, and I cannot seem to let go off that feeling. I think too great an importance is being given to OTHER people, rather than the student him/herself.

Far better IMO to allow children the luxury (and should it really even be a luxury or just the normal course of things?) of enjoying 9th and 10th grade at least (and I'm not talking about a light schedule but am referring to not obsessing over college and tests yet). Do I think about these things? Yes. Do I do some research into tests and when to take them, etc.? Yes, sure. But if a child is doing high school well (as you state above EM), shouldn't it be manageable to fit in some SAT 2s, AP exams, and test prep without making it seem so overwhelmingly critical? I would hope so and if not, then so be it.

I tend to view it that way too.

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EsterMaria, when do students apply to universities in Italy? In Germany, you finish high school first, and then apply AFTER you have finished 12th grade. The situation in the US is completely different, as students apply fall of their 12th grade year.

 

 

 

Because there are some hoops to jump through that are on a time line.

Students have to take the PSAT in 11th grade precisely (not in 10th, and not in 12th) to be eligible for National merit scholar.

We need to plan for enough SAT2's to satisfy the most picky schools (which demand FIVE) and spread them out over the years. The student must have taken every necessary standardized test by September Senior year.

APs are offered only on fixed dates in May. (So, most students have 10th and 11th grade to do the exams. Exams from 12th grade are too late to be a factor in the admission decision.)

Some SAT2s are offered only in November. (DD did not get in this year to take the exam she wanted because it was full; so she has exactly ONE more shot next year November for her to take it.)

How can I plan my student's high school years, their courses of study, the scheduling of their standardized tests, if I do not start thinking about university in 9th grade???

 

Because if they want to go to college right away, they need to have applied early senior year, which means they must have researched and chosen in 11th grade.

Because if there is even the possibility that they might be interested in, and have the potential to be admitted to, a selective university, their high school education must be planned so that it satisfies this university's requirements. Waiting until 12th grade only to realize that the kid would have needed a class in xyz is too late. I don't want to ruin her chances of admission because *I* did not do my job and found out all that is necessary NOW.

 

See, these are the things that give me palpitations because I have no personal experience with all of this. I did go to university but it was 30 years ago and I did not do any of these tests etc. Some of that may be because I was applying from overseas and did not have access to all of them.

 

I want my children to have OPTIONS. This is partly why I believe so strongly in providing a strong liberal arts (and sciences) education in high school. But that strong educational base isn't enough if I don't help my child continue on to higher education. Now financially, unless my dc got full ride scholarships, the Ivies would be out of our realm but there are still a lot of other options out there that I want to be available to my children.

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First: the number of schools in the US is huge, and the differences are incredible. This is a good thing because it means there will be the right school for every student - but it makes it very hard to figure out which one that is. (In Europe, there are much fewer universities, the differences are not as large, and it is quite easy to find out where to go).

 

Second: there are big name schools which are just good and a good student who applies and gets in is doing fine. Then there are good schools of which I have never ever heard, despite working at a US university for ten years. When I talk to colleagues, I get recommendations for places of which I have never heard the name.

 

Third: a good student will most likely get into a good school, agreed. But will that be the best school he could have aimed for? Will it be the best school for his chosen major?

I am not at all worried about "getting into college" - I am considering an optimization problem: which school is the best fit for my student's ability and personality and chosen combination of two majors.

 

DH and I are working in academia, have PhDs, and find this an incredibly difficult problem to research. Maybe it is easier if the student does NOT yet have a concrete idea what he wants to do: pick any good school, and take it from there. If, however, you have a student who knows precisely what fields he wants and who wants to go where he gets the best education in this field, it is more complicated.

(And if the student has her heart set on a double major and you have to optimize the quality of TWO programs in TWO departments, it gets very tricky)

 

:iagree:

 

Another factor that weighs on the college search is money. Do you stay in state and go to the inexpensive state flagship university? If you go to a private school do they offer merit aid or only need based aid? And if it is a private college, is it solvent?? The endowments of many small colleges were hit hard by the recession, just as these schools were in the midst of ambitious building sprees.

 

You can wait until your child is a junior to start this research, but I don't recommend it! I speak from experience here, too. My youngest ds was all set to stay in state taking the well-worn path of many homeschoolers before him. But in April he changed his mind, with my encouragement and blessings, because of the dismal fiscal situation of the California higher education budget. (It is especially grim here with tuition up 200% in the last few years, course offerings and departments chopped, research libraries closing. Top faculty are leaving, lured by better pay and conditions at other schools, and friends who teach in the system are recommending teens to head out of state.)

 

There was so much to learn, most of which Regentrude has already detailed. I did much of the initial research into schools so I could set the initial parameters for him, most importantly the financial parameters. There were considerations of size and majors, and ultimately the challenge of finding a small liberals arts school that is strong in the physical sciences. He made the decision on where to apply, he handled his interviews and has been the one making phone calls to the admissions department. But he would NOT have found the schools he is applying to without my active help.

 

The book Crazy U is an entertaining and quick read about one parent's experience in the college admissions process. The author is a journalist who goes behind the scenes during the year his son is applying to college. I'd start there, to get a handle on the huge industry that is the college application business in this country, then read Colleges That Change Lives or Looking Beyond the Ivy League. Then you will understand why a typical teen needs a guidance counselor in this country!

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In any case I am a bit panicked by this thread :lol:, but I am still trying to reason with myself and with why I still feel I am not doing anything wrong right now.

 

OK, you are one of the LAST people here that needs to panic, woman! :lol: Just trust me on that one! :D I am sure you are not doing anything wrong. YOU have a necessary perspective that I do not have. You will be able to help your kids when needed, whereas I have to prepare myself to be able to help when needed.

 

Much of what I'm discussing is stuff that will happen on the admin side of school, outside of ds's realm.

 

Yes, this.

 

Although, I'm encouraged by Violet's and Ester Maria's reminders to not project my worries *about doing my job, not about how my kids will do,* onto my kids.

 

But there is just something about this debate which stills rubs me the wrong way, so to speak, and I cannot seem to let go off that feeling. I think too great an importance is being given to OTHER people, rather than the student him/herself.

 

You must mean about the idea of a "guidance counselor" in general, and not Paula's particular situation, correct? I understand the idea you are talking about (I think), but I don't think it's what Paula is talking about, really. Thanks for putting yourself in her (and my) shoes and understanding.

 

You know, EM, if you started a separate thread about your ideal, I'd be interested to read more about what you are talking about.

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At 14 years old?!?!

 

How am I supposed to be "working" with them? :confused:

Our eldest has a different fit every year. Her interests have been all over the place, from music to law. The only thing I can really do at this point is to give her the gift of TIME to figure out where she wants to settle - and it is exactly those few years she has left before university. I cannot even fathom burdening her with the observations about university *brought up by me* at this point (whatever is brought up BY HER is a different issue, of course) - the kid has just completed the application process for a high school abroad. How am I supposed to bring up university while she has barely started lycee? I have NO CLUE whether she is going to graduate high school at home (and, if so - in what country, language, academic tradition will she be formally tested and get her exit exams in?), whether she will stay abroad for Bac, whether she will want a seminary year before university or a year off to travel, so many options are before her she graduates high school! Is it really a good idea to burden a 14 year old with any of that yet? Why cannot we start discussing that lightly in her pre-last year of high school, or even the last year of high school, or even later, if her maturity to settle down kicks LATER (really, what is bad with taking a year off before college, especially if you have an already accelerated child?)? Why not go through life one stage after another and first focusing on doing this stage, i.e. high school, well, then by the end of that road considering seriously where to continue? I am not saying being generally informed is a bad thing, but if the child is not quite ready to settle down on any path yet, why rush her? Why not let it come naturally, TO HER, in HER timing, the beginning of the process concerning HER future?

 

Our middle daughter is quite different and a lot more consistent in her interests, but even for her, the university has not really been on her radar yet.

 

They are still... kids. :confused: Very smart and accomplished kids, but ultimately, why would one even spend years upon years researching this issue? It just seems so weird to me to start, at the beginning of one stage of life, thinking about and researching the next. I think that transition should happen more... organically, somehow. Letting kids focus on high school and their interests now and then waiting to see THEIR initiatives regarding their further life choices?

 

Now I am worried as I seem to be the only one on this side of the debate here. Can it be that I that off in thinking this way? :confused:

 

Yes. It's no easy task for an experienced guidance counselor to help direct the student towards appropriate colleges, let alone for us as parents, and to expect our children to do it all on their own is unrealistic IMO. Even if I know nothing about the field my dd is interested in, I will certainly find out as much as I can about it as it pertains to different universities and different programs of study. That is the most important self education I can do during my dd's high school years - again IMO. When you add to that needing to research scholarship opportunities and helping them to plan their high school course load in preparation and ... IMO they can use all the help they can get. We search out mentors, but so far I'm the only guidance counselor she's got, so I'll certainly try to do my best. I join the others who find this the most challenging aspect of homeschooling. :tongue_smilie: But honestly, I think I'd still need to be on top of these things even if she were attending "regular" school as the counselors there are trying to help so many students and don't have the time to give each the individual attention they really need.

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if the child is not quite ready to settle down on any path yet, why rush her? Why not let it come naturally, TO HER, in HER timing, the beginning of the process concerning HER future?

 

:iagree:

 

Elder dd had clear ideas, knew exactly what & where. That was easy.

 

Younger dd has been disinterested. Pushing for a decision would have been counterproductive. So I required a general, balanced course of study based on requirements for selective colleges. Now (in her senior year) she's finally figured out what she's interested in studying.

 

She has the pre-reqs for some (although not all) of the schools she considered. If she doesn't get in, she can cover the other requirements as a super-senior or apply to another program after 2 years of college.

 

Our children mature at different rates. Isn't it one of the benefits of homeschooling that they can be allowed to do so?

 

jmho

~Moira

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Our children mature at different rates. Isn't it one of the benefits of homeschooling that they can be allowed to do so?

 

jmho

~Moira

 

I agree and I'm certainly not putting him into a box. I do believe part of my job as parent and educator is to put value to his current interests. If he's interested in X that could be studied here (insert name of college), and could lead to a career in XY. If his interest changes, great, not really an issue, it is HIS life not mine.

 

However, at 14 I had some distinct interests that no adult took seriously. By the time I hit 40 I realized I still had interest in those topics. If any adult had shown me how I could have achieved those goals, I might have pursued them with more fervor. I do also work to make sure my experience does not color my actions, but it does drive me to be more informed and encouraging.

 

ETA: And again I plan to do a lot of this stuff without ds' involvement at the forefront. I can swim like a duck, gliding on the surface, padding my feet like crazy underneath the surface of the water. :)

Edited by elegantlion
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Yes, kids should be allowed to be kids. Much of what I'm discussing is stuff that will happen on the admin side of school, outside of ds's realm. I panic less when I am well-prepared.

 

My ds is not a natural test taker. As Regentrude stated I don't believe standardized testing necessary unless it is for admissions purchases (thinking SAT2, APs).

 

Again, I don't see this guidance prep taking an inordinate amount of time, but I do think it's something *I* need to start now. Then I'll be comfortable with handling it when the time comes.

 

I wouldn't be heartbroken if ds decides to go to community college, but I would be upset if that is the only option he sees available to him.

 

I'm sorry, Paula. Instead of replying to your original post, I focused strictly on Ester Maria's post because it resonated with me and I guess my response was not exactly on topic with your original post. I agree that as homeschool parents we have a big responsibility when it comes to stuff like this. I agree with your approach that much of it should be outside of the child's realm--at last earlier on in high school. I just know from my personal experience that it's kind of a hard thing to do, balance being a guidance counselor and parent all in one.

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It is precisely because I do not want my child to feel overwhelmed by looming all-important tests that I prefer to research our options and spread the tests over several years.

IMO, it creates a much more relaxed situation if my student takes the ACT early in 10th grade, does well, not exceptional, and can retake it late in 11th with the goal of improving the score, but can relax in the knowledge that, in a pinch, the score will suffice for admission to a good state school - rather than scrambling at the last minute in September of senior year with only one single shot at a good score.

 

I got my wakeup call when, trying to register for a language SAT2 six weeks prior to the test date, DD was unable to get into any test location closer than a two hour drive. I had not researched this thoroughly enough, had not found out that they tend to be full, had not encouraged her to register months in advance, had not even considered it the year before. She has one more opportunity to take this test next year. I fully take the blame and will do everything to make this my last screw-up in the whole process.

 

My comments really weren't meant to discourage doing our research as homeschool parents and planning. I guess I was just trying to caution that sometimes in our eagerness to do right by our kids and make sure homeschooling is successful, we can go overboard and that this can cause unnecessary stress for kids. Like I said, I have to keep myself in check.:blush:

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This has been an interesting thread. Here are my 2 cents:

 

I believe it is my job as the guidance counselor to research colleges that will be good fits for my children. My kids do not have the experience to do this research on their own. I think that as a general rule, the more selective the college your child wants to attend, the more the guidance counselor has to plan ahead.

 

My oldest has the standardized test scores to apply to the most selective schools. However, from all that I have read, high stats are not usually enough to gain admittance to the most selective schools - extracurriculars play a huge role as well.

 

My husband and I sat down with our son at the end of 8th grade. We explained to him that if he had his heart set on attending one of the most selective schools, in order to increase his chances of acceptance, he would need to ramp up his extracurriculars. He made the decision not to increase or add to his extracurricular activites. He realizes that his chances of being accepted to the top schools are slim to none, but I feel that as the guidance counselor, I did my job by researching and presenting my son with his options early enough in his high school years for him to make the necessary changes to his hours spent outside of school if he had been determined to increase his chances of acceptance at one of these schools.

 

Also, imo, the SAT subject exams test a very specific body of knowledge. I believe it is my job as the guidance counselor to determine which SAT II's my children will take (they will not be taking the same tests) and to make sure that our homeschool class covers the material that will be tested on the SAT II exam. My son took his first SAT II last year as a freshman - something that I would not have known he should take if I had not planned/researched ahead of time.

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