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Pam in MA

Who is requesting course descriptions?

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I've seen a lot of discussion about writing course descriptions, but now that we're getting into the application process, it is not clear to me who is requesting these. I don't see it on the Common Ap, just a list of major texts used. Am I missing something?

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I'm kind of curious, too. My first three graduates never needed them for the state universities and one private university that they applied to. My fourth is applying to the Naval Academy, and I had to write 4 years worth of course descriptions this summer for him. It really wouldn't be hard to do them each year as you go, but waiting until senior year made it quite a challenge.

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Some colleges do specifically ask for information relating to courses.

 

And some colleges do not seem to care about the information.

 

However, I have had two college admissions people from tier 1 schools tell me (one in a social situation, one as we dropped ds2 off at college last week) that they do not accept many homeschoolers simply because most homeschoolers do not give the admissions people enough information to make an informed decision about the student!

 

Also, we were seriously pursuing merit aid. We will provide any information that makes our child a stronger candidate and so increases the likelihood of our child receiving merit aid!

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Some colleges do specifically ask for information relating to courses.

 

Also, we were seriously pursuing merit aid. We will provide any information that makes our child a stronger candidate and so increases the likelihood of our child receiving merit aid!

 

:iagree: When my oldest was applying several years ago, the requirements for homeschoolers seemed to vary quite a bit across the schools he applied to. Some asked specifically for a detailed syllabus and books used, others didn't ask for anything special. Since we were using the Common App, I decided to come up with one format of transcript/course descriptions that met all the different requirements. What I settled on (and was accepted by all 8 schools) was a 1 page transcript with course titles and grades followed by an 8 page document of course descriptions, one for each course. Each course description contained 3 - 5 sentences describing the course followed by a list of the materials used. I also included a list of lab supplies for the science courses so they could see that we did a lot of real lab work at home.

 

While it was a pain to pull all of this together, I think it really highlighted the uniqueness and depth of my son's education much more than just a list of courses with grades. IMHO, anything you can do to explain your student's background better can only help his/her chances at admission & merit aid.

 

Brenda

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From The University of Rochester Site:

 

Basic Requirements:

To supplement the basic application components, home educated students must submit a comprehensive description of the program of study (including syllabi with textbooks, where applicable) a complete list of all literary texts completed, the method of instruction (specifically for laboratory sciences) and assessment (written essays/multiple choice examinations, homework, etc.), and a personal statement reflecting on the value of the home schooling experience. Most students who successfully gain admission to the University of Rochester have completed four years of English, four years of mathematics, four years of history/social studies, three years of laboratory science, and three years of foreign language study.

 

They want a course description. You can't meet these requirements with the boxes listed on the Common App HS supplement form.

 

Our document has a table of contents that lists the name of the course and the type of instruction:

 

Classic Literature I: 19th Century

Homeschool Course with Support from The Teaching Company DVD Series

 

Algebra II

DVD Supported Textbook Course: Intermediate Algebra - Cengage Learning

 

French III

Online Course: The Potter’s School - Barbara Starosciak, Instructor

 

American Literature to 1880: LIT-2XX

Community College Course: Dual Enrollment, XXX Community College

 

Then there is a detail section for each course. Each course has a blurb about the course content followed by these sections:

 

Materials Used

Method of Evaluation

Final Grade

 

Courses with more accountability - dual enrollment through the college - are short. Courses with moderate accountability - online courses with outside instructors are moderate in length. Courses with no outside accountability are longer. Dd is interested in the sciences; her science and math course descriptions are very thorough. Lab materials are listed etc. The entire document is twenty-one pages long. This child has solid test scores and will have taken college-level courses in all the major disciplines by December. So the Course Description document serves as one additional support to the transcript.

 

I use a pdf compiler program to combine the Excel-generated transcript with the Word-generated Course Description document. The entire twenty-two page pdf is uploaded to the transcript section of the Common Application - see the Guidance Counselor section.

 

I reference the pdf pages following the transcript on the Homeschool Supplement (See the Course Description document that follows the Transcript). We use textbooks as launch pads. The HS Supplement form improperly reflects the work my kids have done. However, the Course Description document is lengthy. Most of the length is generated by the format. It is extremely easy to scan it and walk away with a good understanding of our high school program. I don't expect anyone to read it. I expect that most admissions counselors will scan it, read about one or two courses in depth and toss it in the round file. It is a supporting document. They are interested in her test scores, her college classes, her recommendations, and her essay. Aside from that, they want info about our ability to pay. The Course Description document, like all supporting documents, exists to confirm or contradict the test scores and non-mommy grades. Think of it this way: the admissions folks know that there are as many flavors of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. When you say "Algebra II" on the transcript, they just want to know what you mean by that. They have an idea of what "Algebra II" should mean. They just want to know if your definition agrees or contradicts theirs.

 

Have fun filling out the forms. The good part? The first time is the hardest. Once it's done, it's done. :001_smile:

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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My dd is just beginning to think about applications. One of her choice schools is a better public university. When contacted, they said they don't require descriptions, but that anything we could provide to put her in a better light would be welcomed and considered with her app.

 

We'll be sending descriptions whenever possible, even if they are not required.

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None of the engineering schools on my daughter's short list require course descriptions. None of them are Common App schools either, so we don't have to deal with that.

 

There was only one school that listed additional requirements for homeschooled applicants, but when I contacted them for clarification, they informed me that given my daughter's stats (especially with her dual enrollment GPA), we don't need to worry about it. The additional requirements were mainly for transcripts they couldn't verify.

 

I guess we'll see. I have descriptions written up, just in case.

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Janice :huh::eek::leaving:

 

We've been contemplating homeschooling high school for dd12 but, oh my gracious, I'm returning to my little seventh grade bubble right now!

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Janice,

thanks a lot for taking the time to explain how you dealt with it practically. I have course descriptions and explanations, but did not know what to do with them; your explanation how to attach it in the common app was very helpful.

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I'd include them in a general packet to the school. My best sources indicate that schools rate a students academic course of study on its own (not in terms of the student compared to others in the school). It is in your student's best interest to get a school that does this to rate your student's course of study as high as possible.

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So far, we have had two smaller, private LOCs request course descriptions. We also had a meeting with a public university rep who said that course descriptions were very helpful in being to see/compare the rigor of the classes.

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Yes, some schools don't care. We use the Common App when ever possible because it makes it easier for the profs who are sending recommendations. They upload once, and they are done.

 

When using the Common App, you need to provide the info to match the most "needy" school. All of the other schools probably ignore the detailed Course Description document. I suspect they glance at it and shrug.

 

Peace,

Janice

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No worries. ;)

 

One step at a time. And remember, most schools don't need the document. You might consider keeping it once you start high school though - even if you don't need it in the end. It becomes part of my process every year. It's not a BAD thing to reflect on each course as we wrap it up. And it's a nice document to keep as we begin each school year too. Goals are good. :001_smile:

 

Peace,

Janice

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Hi! Waving.

 

As a side note - THANK YOU for the Physics syllabus on the other thread. I haven't downloaded the Google docs, but I plan to. Physics isn't on our list for this year, but we will be doing it next year. So THANK YOU!

 

And you're welcome about the notes. I forget how unclear everything was before I walked my way through this for the first time.

 

I would be happy to help anytime. (I am just trying to pay it forward. The gals on this board helped me SO much when I was trying to figure this out for the first time.) Just ask.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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a 1 page transcript with course titles and grades followed by an 8 page document of course descriptions, one for each course. Each course description contained 3 - 5 sentences describing the course followed by a list of the materials used.

 

This is what I did too. I didn't ask if they wanted it. I just sent it in with the transcript (hardcopy), to everyone I sent the transcript to (academies, colleges, Congressmen, etc) None of ds's schools required the Common App and no one asked for any further details.

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I didn't ask if they wanted it. I just sent it in with the transcript (hardcopy), to everyone I sent the transcript to (academies, colleges, Congressmen, etc) None of ds's schools required the Common App and no one asked for any further details.

 

We also sent the course descriptions in with the transcript and other guidance counselor material (hardcopy) w/o asking the colleges directly whether they wanted them or not.

 

While none of the colleges my kids applied to required course descriptions officially, several mentioned that they would be welcome in the case of homeschoolers, either on their websites or when talking to admissions officers on campus or at local college road tours.

 

I still have the notebook that I kept when dd was applying to college in 2009-10. I'd scribbled that Caltech said for homeschoolers, "additional info is OK," Princeton said "the more you document your homeschooling, the better," and Rochester wanted course descriptions w/syllabi & texts. Olin wanted a whole portfolio of high school work (she ended up not applying there).

 

Dd's course description document was 13 pages long, organized by subject area. She had a lot of math courses at home and also through AoPS; two pages were filled just with summer math camp course details. Science also took up a lot of space since we included lists of experiments performed & lab equipment used. Like Brenda in MA, I wanted to be sure that they realized she'd done a good job on labs at home.

 

Most of our course descriptions were just a few sentences long. They included a list of topics covered, textbook used, and (if applicable) outside instructor/school.

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All seven LACs my son applied to wanted course descriptions. We created a PDF document with a transcript and the course descriptions and uploaded it to the Common App. Our flagship state U requires extra testing of homeschoolers, but no course descriptions or transcripts (except from outside sources like a community college), and does not use the Common App. However, when I talked to the Honors College there, they said to send everything we had as admissions is very competitive and they want as much information as possible when evaluating homeschoolers.

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