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of colleges which require a lot more information from homeschoolers than public or private schooled students? How much is too much? Textbooks used, course descriptions, etc. when none of that is required from others - is that something you would readily do or would you cross it off your list? Does this type of requirement indicate a school which is not very homeschool friendly and should be avoided, or is it fair to request this info? Curious what you think.

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I put textbooks on the transcript and included course descriptions automatically but don't think they should require them. There is as much variety in b&m schools as there is in homeschools.

 

If the school requires other stuff (SAT Subject tests, the Homeschool Supplement, etc) that I didn't plan on volunteering, I crossed them off the list.

 

You probably don't even want to look at the NCAA requirements.

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Since homeschooling is extremely diverse in motivation, philosophy, and educational value, I am very glad when a college indicates that they are interested in seeing details about our homeschool.This gives me a chance to explain the strength of our educational program and make them better understand why and how we homeschool. I believe that providing these materials strengthens my student's application and increases her chances of admission - rather than the university lumping all homeschoolers together in their mind.

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Since homeschooling is extremely diverse in motivation, philosophy, and educational value, I am very glad when a college indicates that they are interested in seeing details about our homeschool.This gives me a chance to explain the strength of our educational program and make them better understand why and how we homeschool. I believe that providing these materials strengthens my student's application and increases her chances of admission - rather than the university lumping all homeschoolers together in their mind.

 

I'm with Regentrude on this. I prefer to be able to expand on what we do here and what my kids have accomplished. We had an opportunity with her application to U of M to include book and curriculum lists, course descriptions in depth, include our educational philosophy, attach extra letters of recommendation from individuals such as dear friends that are PS teachers, the principal of the school where I once taught music and science, 4-H leaders, etc. all of whom could attest to the rigor of our program. This paid off in spade for her. She was accepted at all 12 uni's she applied to, but three of them wanted more information which allowed us to really show off her accomplishments and those three uni's came up with far more merit dollars than the others. I'm convinced it was due to the added information.

 

I know some see it as "discrimination", but I really believe it is an opportunity to stand out from the pack and with a record number of students seeking admission to US colleges and universities, many of whom are not expanding the sizes of their freshman classes due to budget constraints and loss of donor dollars in this sluggish economy, there is more competition for spots and for those merit awards. So, I think parents should embrace the chance to play up their student's strengths.

 

The only ones we did cross of the list were those that required SAT II's of homeschoolers and would not accept our kids AP's in exchange. Getting SAT II's in our rural, midwest area is a nightmare and the cost is prohibitive. In many cases we have to drive three hours one way just to get to a testing facility for that subject. It's crazy. So, that is an automatic NO-GO for us at the present time.

 

Faith

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It is a balance. As others have indicated you can use this as your opportunity to shine. Show the level and depth your student has worked at.

 

On the other hand there is a moment when it is discrimination and just hoop jumping, and quite honestly I'd walk away.

 

Here's a great example of a mom who fought against that mentality when it tried to block her child's enrollment: http://www.secular-h...fect_union.html

 

On this forum there have been some threads about impossible to meet standards at state unis in Pennsylvannia.

 

http://forums.welltr...tter-from-pitt/

 

http://forums.welltr...-confusion-now/

 

http://forums.welltr...d-advice/page__

 

http://forums.welltr...e-med-he/page__

 

You also need to keep in mind that schools can now build a pretty good track record of high schools around the country based on students who apply from them and are admitted. So they know what the school's students are capable of. With home schoolers there really is no track record. If I am honest about it, I doubt I want one. I don't want my children compared to others who haven't worked as hard or pushed the academic envelope as hard as we do (and I'm betting that there are others who feel the same way about me).

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With home schoolers there really is no track record. If I am honest about it, I doubt I want one. I don't want my children compared to others who haven't worked as hard or pushed the academic envelope as hard as we do (and I'm betting that there are others who feel the same way about me).

 

Absolutely!

If I compare our academic program to every single homeschooler I know IRL, the last thing I want is having my student lumped in with the crowd and simply labeled "homeschooler".

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Good points Regentrude and Faith, but honestly I'd be perfectly fine with lumping away if it means less busy work and hoops. :tongue_smilie: I guess I'd prefer if they stated it in such a way that it was recommended, but not required. Then we'd all have the choice. I just know from what I read here of what goes on in some public schools that their course descriptions and texts used don't in any way show the rigour of their courses, or more accurately the lack thereof. It all sounds good on paper, but students with a pulse can get a B and those who hand in homework an A. Not all schools, but some. Or maybe there should be a loophole for those who present enough outside verification of grades or test scores or ...

 

Candid, thank you for the links - I'll check them out. I know what you're saying about comparisons, but I doubt that those who aren't doing much for high school are going to have students competing with those who have. They'd have to have learned something to do well on standardized tests or to do well in outside courses.

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You also need to keep in mind that schools can now build a pretty good track record of high schools around the country based on students who apply from them and are admitted.

 

Harvard might but there are lots of colleges no one from the local high school has ever applied to.

 

Small, rural or private high schools do not have this record at most colleges in the country.

 

Even within a school, some teachers are harder and more thorough than others, which is not reflected on transcripts and therefore, not on the high school's "track record".

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It all sounds good on paper, but students with a pulse can get a B and those who hand in homework an A. Not all schools, but some.

 

 

This is why,imo, gpa is becoming less meaningful in the college application process. I don't think gpa was ever really relevant for a homeschooler, but it appears it is also becoming irrelevant with the traditionally schooled student as well:

 

This quote is from an article in USA Today:

http://www.usatoday....erages/1947415/

 

"Admissions officers at some of the nation's most selective colleges, who are now sending acceptance letters for their fall freshman classes, say they barely look at an applicant's GPA."

 

This article supports my conversations with a handful of admissions officers: I have been told that a student's standardized test scores and the student's transcript carry far more weight than a student's gpa.

 

I don't have a problem with providing detailed course descriptions and reading lists. I would cross a school off the list it required homeschoolers to get a GED.

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InTGWN, yes it shouldn't be required. And I thoroughly agree about different teachers as it's the same at the college level.

 

I guess I wouldn't have a problem with the texts and course descriptions being required for homeschoolers if the public and private school applicants were also required to provide the same information. Can you imagine how many fewer applications the school would get?

 

A GED requirement is an automatic pass. :glare:

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I'm with Renentrude and FaithManor on this. I look at it as an opportunity to shine. I included course descriptions with texts and books read with my son's transcript. Every school we talked to told us how helpful that was. If a college wants that information from a public school or private school, they can get it from the school guidance department since they are the ones who are releasing the transcript. It would not go back to the student. I know that our public high school has much of that information available online.

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[/size]

 

Harvard might but there are lots of colleges no one from the local high school has ever applied to.

 

Small, rural or private high schools do not have this record at most colleges in the country.

 

Even within a school, some teachers are harder and more thorough than others, which is not reflected on transcripts and therefore, not on the high school's "track record".

 

But high schools do have a standard profile that the college can require as part of the admissions package. This would include information on school demographics, course offerings, AP test results (often in general terms) and the percentage who attend 2 and 4 year universities after graduation. It would include mean SAT statistics, often listed relative to the state and national mean. It would give grading scale and class rank background. So there would be context for an applicant, even if no one had applied to a specific college before.

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InTGWN, yes it shouldn't be required. And I thoroughly agree about different teachers as it's the same at the college level.

 

I guess I wouldn't have a problem with the texts and course descriptions being required for homeschoolers if the public and private school applicants were also required to provide the same information. Can you imagine how many fewer applications the school would get?

 

A GED requirement is an automatic pass. :glare:

 

I see it as a trade off. I expect that they will consider the transcript that I write up for my high schooler, even though I'm not a certified teacher and the school has not been inspected or accredited by any outside agency (other than annual test scores to demonstrate proof of progress).

 

I cannot provide class rank for my kids. They are both top of their class and the anchormen.

 

Grades and designations like honors have less meaning when they are only based on a group of two students. So I'm not providing a whole lot of the information that schools typically would use to assess a student.

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I don't have a problem with providing detailed course descriptions and reading lists. I would cross a school off the list it required homeschoolers to get a GED.

:iagree: A school that requires a GED from a homeschooler is a huge honking NO! The message they send me by requiring it would be that they have no respect for Dd, Me or homeschoolers in general.

 

A school that requests course descriptions and textbook/resource lists sends the message they intend to take Dd seriously/holistically and will be looking beyond SAT/ACT performance to something USNews and World Report fails to evaluate about schools they rank.

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[/size]

 

Yep, we had to fill those out too. But our "school" doesn't provide that much less info than the new private school down the road with 30, none of whom have graduated yet.

 

True enough. But I think they be looked at carefully too. Certainly differently than a school with decades of reputation.

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:iagree: A school that requires a GED from a homeschooler is a huge honking NO! The message they send me by requiring it would be that they have no respect for Dd, Me or homeschoolers in general.

 

A school that requests course descriptions and textbook/resource lists sends the message they intend to take Dd seriously/holistically and will be looking beyond SAT/ACT performance to something USNews and World Report fails to evaluate about schools they rank.

 

I'm of a similar mind. And while I have come around to being ok with needing to provide some outside quantifies, I would have little patience for a school that required higher scores for homeschoolers.

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You also need to keep in mind that schools can now build a pretty good track record of high schools around the country based on students who apply from them and are admitted. So they know what the school's students are capable of.

 

One admissions counselor told us that his college asks students from unknown high schools in other regions of the country for extra information as well. Colleges want to get to know students. If an applicant is from Podunk High, there is no known track record.

 

Like others, I took the admissions process as an opportunity to sell my son as someone who followed a different yet rigorous path.

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A homeschooling mom friend of mine was upset because some universities were requiring

SAT Subject Tests of homeschoolers but not of other students. DS is interested in some of these

universities, so we are having him prepare for the SAT Subject Tests.

 

I am grateful for this. We looked at the SAT Subject Test in Physics. It seems like the

bare minimum that you should know for an Algebra-based Physics class.

I guess my initial reaction was "There are tests to prove DS knows his stuff? Oh, good!"

 

I can understand being upset at GED nonsense from universities,

or requiring higher ACT/SAT scores from

homechoolers than from others, or at discrimination like the stuff in several of the previous posts.

I definitely don't like it if universities are being unfair like that or if they treat you badly.

 

But why wouldn't a homeschooler want to prepare for the

SAT Subject Tests? They seem pretty basic. They seem like good preparation regardless of

college applications, a sort of guideline.

(On top of your regular textbook, not instead, of

course.)

 

(Disclaimer: the lady PP who lives far away from SAT Subject Test-giving centers of course

has a reason I understand. If you don't have physical access, then you can't help it. And of course

if the cost is prohibitive that is also a reason I understand too well.)

 

Please be gentle in replying--I would truly like to understand.

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But why wouldn't a homeschooler want to prepare for the

SAT Subject Tests?

 

Please be gentle in replying--I would truly like to understand.

 

 

I am having my kids each take three SAT Subject Tests. However, I feel that if a university requires SAT Subject Tests, it should require them from all applicants, not just homeschoolers.

 

I get that universities don't trust "mommy" grades, but frankly, they shouldn't trust grades from traditional schools either. A friend's son bombed (scored in the single digit percentile) on the SAT II in Chemistry after receiving an A+ in his honors chemistry class at our public school. Yet some colleges would just assume that my friend's son mastered high school chemistry based solely on the grade he received, while the grade my son received from his online class would not be "trusted."

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Absolutely!

If I compare our academic program to every single homeschooler I know IRL, the last thing I want is having my student lumped in with the crowd and simply labeled "homeschooler".

 

 

 

Sadly - with one exception - this is true in my case as well.

There is a reason for the academic bias against homeschoolers. We may not like it, but it's reality. I wish they didn't feel the need to ask for more, but really can't blame them for wanting it.

 

Things are certainly improving as far as colleges go (from what I've been seeing), though, which is a good sign all around.

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I am having my kids each take three SAT Subject Tests. However, I feel that if a university requires SAT Subject Tests, it should require them from all applicants, not just homeschoolers.

 

I get that universities don't trust "mommy" grades, but frankly, they shouldn't trust grades from traditional schools either. A friend's son bombed (scored in the single digit percentile) on the SAT II in Chemistry after receiving an A+ in his honors chemistry class at our public school. Yet some colleges would just assume that my friend's son mastered high school chemistry based solely on the grade he received, while the grade my son received from his online class would not be "trusted."

 

 

This is a good point. I agree--they should require SAT Subject Tests of everyone,

because schools can vary a lot, and within a school teachers can vary too, and As don't

mean much unfortunately unless you know the person.

 

(Non-homeschooling moms should have their own kids take the tests anyway to ensure the

school is actually teaching their children enough--or maybe I am betraying what kind of

non-homescholing parent I would be if I were one!)

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I get that universities don't trust "mommy" grades, but frankly, they shouldn't trust grades from traditional schools either. A friend's son bombed (scored in the single digit percentile) on the SAT II in Chemistry after receiving an A+ in his honors chemistry class at our public school. Yet some colleges would just assume that my friend's son mastered high school chemistry based solely on the grade he received, while the grade my son received from his online class would not be "trusted."

 

 

I get that, and it does make logical sense and is "fair". Most likely - this will become the norm soon. I just don't think the colleges have caught up with the problems in the PS's with standards yet. Well - I'm sure some have, but not all of them.

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(Non-homeschooling moms should have their own kids take the tests anyway to ensure the

school is actually teaching their children enough--or maybe I am betraying what kind of

non-homescholing parent I would be if I were one!)

 

:iagree: but sometimes I don't think the parents really want to know how the school is doing.

In my friend's case, rather than concluding that the teacher did not actually teach her son high school level chemistry despite awarding an A in the class, she blamed the test itself because apparently the test worded the questions in a way her son had never seen before. :confused1:

 

I also have a couple of friends in my district who have concluded that their children who have received nothing but A's all four years of high school are poor test takers when they score in the low 20's on the ACT. I don't understand how you can receive nothing but A's throughout high school and be a "poor test taker." In these cases ,imo, the kids are not poor test takers, the school curricula was not rigorous enough to prepare the kids for the ACT. Yet, I have never heard a parent question the school's academic program.

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I am grateful for this. We looked at the SAT Subject Test in Physics. It seems like the

bare minimum that you should know for an Algebra-based Physics class.

I guess my initial reaction was "There are tests to prove DS knows his stuff? Oh, good!"

 

But why wouldn't a homeschooler want to prepare for the

SAT Subject Tests? They seem pretty basic. They seem like good preparation regardless of

college applications, a sort of guideline.

 

 

We do tests, because we need the scores for validation and to satisfy application requirements - but I am aware of one big drawback: it forces the course to be designed to cover precisely what is covered on the test, and to build in time to prepare specifically for the particular style of questioning.

I may have different goals and learning objectives for my student, and I may choose to select different material to include in the course. Just because some committee decides what to put in the SAT2, it does not mean that this is the holy canon of material and the only way to design a course in the subject.

My DD took my two semester college physics class and finished on top of the class. However, that did not translate into a great SAT test score - because some topics that were tested had not been included in the course (for a variety of reasons) while others had been studied in more depth. (Yes, we did use a test prep book)

 

Also, some students simply do not test well. The tension and anxiety surrounding a high stakes test where much rides on a single exam can be enough of a reason to limit standardized testing.

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Great topic for discussion! Sometimes I see homeschool parents writing off colleges that have additional requirements on the assumption that these colleges don't like homeschoolers and their kids won't get in. Often, but not always, this is a mistake. Sometimes colleges just lack a clue about homeschoolers but it doesn't mean it is a bad college or that it won't be a great place for your child to go. Here are a few thoughts:

 

1. Homeschoolers who don't test well are at a disadvantage. That's just a reality. Most admissions officers do not take a homeschool GPA seriously. Even though we all know there is rampant grade inflation - GPAs still matter a lot. In surveys of college admissions officers GPA (GPA overall and GPA in challenging courses) are still two of the very top factors considered. So if your kid doesn't have a GPA, that means admissions is looking for other information to consider which the majority of the times means a greater weight on testing (and a greater weight on the GPA in dual college courses if the student has taken any). Some kids test great and it is to their advantage that testing matters so much, but that is not all homeschoolers. Earlier in the thread someone made a reference to SAT subject tests being easy and not a big deal - that's certainly not the case for all kids. Those tests tend to be taken by the best students and it can be really tough to pull top scores on them. If you know your child doesn't test well, start as early in high school - there's a lot that can be done earlier to help compensate for this even if their scores can't be raised.

 

2. Sometimes the assumption that homeschoolers are being asked for more information isn't entirely accurate. Rather, it is the case that schools have already provided this information elsewhere as part of their accreditation and requirements for the state.

 

3. Homeschoolers aren't the worst off! (this may not be a popular sentiment). There seems to sometimes be some buzz among homeschoolers that we have it so bad compared to public and private school applicants. and this is just not true. As college planner I work with a diverse mix of students - primarily homeschooled, but also some private and public. The teens who have it easiest are those who go to really good elite public and private programs that have a good reputation with colleges and have well put together curriculum and school profile. The group that is at the biggest disadvantage are students who go to less well developed private and public programs that aren't known and don't understand what it takes to get into a selective college. This includes some private school accrediting programs that some homeschoolers use. Homeschoolers who are totally independent have a lot more responsibility and work to do - but they also have more freedom and opportunity to help their student really shine. Yes, it is work, but there are also some distinct advantages.

 

4. Many college homeschool policies need serious revision: As I explained above there are reasons why colleges will ask for some different or additional information from homeschoolers. What I'd like to see are more colleges adopting really flexible policies that provide many options for verifying and supporting the student's record. This requires an understanding of the diversity of approaches to homeschooling and not everyone has that. Here's an example from Duke of a quality selective college homeschool policy that recognizes that diversity.

 

Unfortunately many policies are not so flexible. Here are examples of a couple of more ridiculous policies:

Washington and Lee wants five SAT subject tests from homeschoolers and only two from other applicants.

U Mass Amherst doesn't seem to understand how homeschooling works and wants a GED, letter from the school district or homeschool association.

 

As I said earlier, I would not entirely write off all schools with undesirable policies without further investigation because sometimes these policies are bad just because somebody didn't understand homeschooling, not because they really don't want to accept homeschoolers. There may be more "wiggle room" that it first appears or there may not, but you can't really tell that just from reading the policies.

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1. Homeschoolers who don't test well are at a disadvantage. If you know your child doesn't test well, start as early in high school - there's a lot that can be done earlier to help compensate for this even if their scores can't be raised.

 

Barbara, your entire post was helpful, but I want to ask you about this part specifically. My dd who is a rising hs freshman typically scores above average on standardized tests, but not top scores. She is not aiming for the Ivies or even a very selective Tier 1 school. The school she wants to go to right now is an out-of-state, large state university. I am hoping she considers other options, but her grandparents, her aunt, and I all attended this university. She's been raised to love it and to dislike our own state's university (they are rivals). Plus our state schools are not generally friendly to homeschoolers. Sigh. Anyway, we have not had the means to save for her college, but make too much to expect any meaningful need based finacial aid that is not a loan. The out-of-state tuition plus room and board would run $30,000 - $35,000 at this school. Not doable! I think she is going to have to be a NMF with multiple 5's on APs to earn significant merit based aid at this school. What is it that can be done early to compensate for less than perfect scores?

 

I originally began homeschooling my child in 3rd grade because of the "teaching to the test" that was so pervasive in our local schools. I am so disappointed that we are going to have to abandon our homeschooling philosophy and basically do nothing but teach to the test for the next four years.

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Melabella -- some ideas for you. I was JUST at a great series of sessions on SAT/ACT prep, scholarship search, and financial aid sessions!

 

 

re: SAT testing

Invest in a good SAT prep class or private tutor. Several hundred dollars spent here can garner you thousands later on by helping your student score well. The course instructors and tutors who specialize in SAT/ACT testing know all the tips and ins-and-outs to boost your student's testing ability. That also limits how much time you have to "waste" on "teaching to the test" to just the 5-8 weeks prior to testing.

 

 

re: college financial aid planning

The college financial aid planning session I attended was by the HEFAR Group -- completely free college planning info, as they hope you will later use their other financial planning services. And they do NOT contact you unless you ask them to -- no sales calls and they do not put you on a direct mail list of any kind. I do NOT work for them or gain anything by saying this -- just suggesting you might get online and see if they can give you some specific tips to help you with your college financial aid planning.

 

The key according to the talk they gave has two parts:

 

1. When you fill out the FAFSA, fill in 10 colleges on the list of who you want the FAFSA sent to -- regardless if you only plan to attend 1 school. If the school only sees their name, they will have NO motivation to give you a bigger/better award package. Also consider actually applying for the freshman year to 1 or 2 schools that are very competitive with your first choice, and compare the financial aid packages -- use that as leverage to show your first choice school and see if they will adjust and beat the competition's offer. OR, you may find your student will be better off with the competition if they are willing to give more aid! (You have MOST leverage as an incoming freshman for using competing financial aid packages in your favor.)

 

2. To get more need-based scholarships and grants, you must lower your EFC # on the FAFSA. The way to do that is to understand what raises the EFC is this, in this order:

- student's income

- parent's income

- student assets

- parent's assets

 

Get any trusts, bonds, educational savings, and any other assets OUT of the student's name. If legally/fiscally possible, and if grandma is trustworthy, temporarily, for the duration of college, put assets in grandma's name, as grandma's information is NOT included on the FAFSA. If there is no trustworthy outside relative, then at least put it in the parent's name -- or in the name of a sibling who won't be going to college at that time (as non-college siblings also do not appear on the FAFSA).

 

Your home is never counted as an asset that could be used for paying for college, so if you have a piece of property or second home or cabin, etc., refinance and transfer as much equity to your primary residence (which will NOT be counted as an asset) and transfer as much debt as possible onto that land or property -- i.e., no equity -- so now your asset of land/cabin/second house has no equity "value"as an asset. This lowers your perceived worth, and hence, lowers the EFC.

 

 

re: Scholarship Search tips

More scholarship tips for you from the scholarship session I attended -- and from a compilation of GREAT tips from ladies on this Board!

 

 

- Check out several colleges/universities and compare what the average SAT/ACT score is. Consider going instead to a school in which your student's SAT/ACT score falls in the top 25% -- even better if in the top 5% or 10% for that school -- as your student is MUCH more likely to be offered MORE merit aid from that school, as your student helps boost the college's scores and makes them look better. ;) College Data: find out how much merit aid a college gives out.

 

And while you're checking out those college/university profiles -- consider dropping those that require excessive extra work for homeschoolers. And instead of AP courses/tests, consider just 2 or 3 SAT Subject Tests, and some dual enrollment at the community college -- or even at the university! That can show a high level of performance, PLUS student doesn't have to take so many classes once in college, which reduces tuition a bit. AND, some areas offer FREE dual enrollment! So high school students can take college level courses for free and get the credit!

 

- Consider reducing # of classes (and thus tuition) at the university. Take a look at CLEP tests -- if the university of choice accepts those, have your student study for and take a number of them that the university accepts in the last 2 years of high school -- reduces amount of coursework for later on in college, and it is done at a MUCH cheaper rate!

 

- Start aggressively looking for and applying NOW for any/all scholarships you can find. Rack up as many of those $100, $250, $500 awards as possible. Smaller awards from local businesses, service organizations, etc. are easier to win because fewer people go for them. Once you get a few good essays written, you can keep recycling them! Also, scholarships that require a project -- such as a poster or video -- take a bit more time, and as a result, fewer people apply for those!

 

Start with some of these: FinAid: "Scholarships for Under Age 13".

 

Practice searching/applying with these national websites and resources:

- FastWeb

- Scholarships 4 Students

- Kaplan Scholarships: Billions of Dollars of Free Money for College, by Gail Schlachter

- Peterson's Scholarships, Grants & Prizes 2013

(see if your library has either of the books)

 

 

- Learn to give them what they're looking for: FinAid article "How To Win a Merit Scholarship"; Money-Winning Scholarhsip Essays and Interviews, book by Gen and Kelly Tanabe.

 

 

Time to start doing some research on the topics of scholarships, college financial aid, AP vs. SAT Subject vs. Dual Enrollment, etc., as you start switching to that "guidance counselor" hat more and more frequently! This is mine ----> :hat: (although some days, it looked more like this -----> :biggrinjester:) LOL!

 

Check out this stickied thread for loads of past threads to start sorting through the AP/SAT/Dual Enrollment/CLEP thing. And I found some great scholarship tips in this past threads: here -- drat, can't find the other 2 right now that were really helpful....

 

 

FINALLY, be willing to be flexible about the school and look for the one that will bring out the best in your DD -- and that may not be the relatives' alma mater! ;) See the book Colleges That Change Lives -- also this website: College Xpress: list of colleges that "go the extra mile to make it financially possible to attend. Also, learn to compare college financial aid packages -- that big state university DD is looking at likely has much fewer $$ to give out, partly due to being a state school, but also more students to spread fewer resources over. Seriously look at smaller private schools -- much more endowment $$, so more aid to give, and a smaller, more intimate -- more personal attention! -- student body and smaller student-to-teacher ratio, can often be both a much better deal financially AND academically! :)

 

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

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Barbara, your entire post was helpful, but I want to ask you about this part specifically. My dd who is a rising hs freshman typically scores above average on standardized tests, but not top scores. She is not aiming for the Ivies or even a very selective Tier 1 school.

 

Hi,

Thanks - glad it helped.

 

Unfortunately, for many students the out of state public university is the most expensive option out there. Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

 

1. Residency - look at the policies carefully. Some states it is basically impossible to ever get to be an instate resident for tuition ever as long as your parents are living out of state. Others are more flexible. So, look at the policy. Could she sit out for a year and qualify? Could she live with relatives for a year and qualify? Could she live with relatives, start at community college, and then qualify?

 

2. Out of state tuition waivers - Some state universities will waive the out of state portion of tuition for children of alumni. It might be worth making an inquiry to admissions now to see. Let them know it is your family tradition and you wonder if the college has any options that might open this school as a possibility for your out of state daughter.

 

3. Targeted work on test prep. Her scores may move more than you expect.

 

4. Build on areas of strength (see below)

 

5. Cast a wider net by looking at more schools - Be honest about what you can afford and what you can't. It is early in this process and she's got a lot of room to change and grow in her interests. Don't make it a big deal but when you can visit other campuses, maybe go to a camp at another college, etc. I understand the desire to stick with the tradition, but you also have to be financially realistic and at the end of the day, you have to do what is affordable. There are a lot of places to get a great education and by the time she's 17 she may be eager to start a new family tradition.

 

Without more personal details I'm just guessing at it but those are a few ideas. It is really a very individual thing, so just giving you a list of general strategies may not help because they may not apply to your child. The best illustration may be an example. I have a "case study of a poor tester" that I have been meaning to write up though so this is a good time. It is from a former client who is now a freshman at a private liberal arts college. In order to protect his privacy I've changed his name to Jim (because nobody is named Jim now!)

 

Case Study of Jim: Jim had an ACT score in the 20th percentile - so below average by a good bit. He didn't want to go to community college and his parents could not pay for a $50,000 a year option. So, here's what we did:

 

Test Prep: We knew that Jim was not a strong tester. No matter the prep he wasn't going to get National Merit and we weren't aiming for anything like that. We wanted to get his scores closer to the 50th percentile. The goal was to get him in the zone where nobody was going to think he needed remedial work and where it wasn't going to keep him out of colleges that might otherwise be a good fit. The first thing we did was changed his choice of test (the ACT was not a great fit for him). We carefully analyzed his previous tests and figured out strategies that would help boost his score. He had to put a bit of work in. It didn't have to rule his life, but he put in on average a couple of hours a week for most of a school year. I'd estimate more than half of what he did had a purpose beyond the SAT. In other words, it was learning geometry he should know and test taking skills that he needed to bring to college. It also improved his confidence with testing which he needed. He ended up just below the 50th percentile which helped him get into the kinds of schools that offered merit and financial aid that he needed. He had to put in the time, but it wasn't too much, and it paid off.

 

(I absolutely agree it is nuts in NCLB that third graders are taking tests when they should be out on the playground - but there is a way to work on some test prep in high school without letting it run a kid's education. The key is to set realistic goals and do effective prep. Try to focus as much as possible on skills that transfer from the ACT/SAT to the college classroom. That way even if scores don't move that much you've still accomplished something important.)

 

Build on Strengths: Jim had a good record with volunteering. I encouraged him to build on that and to apply for a couple of awards that helped verify his accomplishment. He used volunteering as a topic for one of his essays. He came across as who he is - a caring and capable kid with leadership potential. I believe this volunteering is what made the difference for him and it was mentioned in a couple of his merit aid letters.

 

Academics: Jim added a couple of unusual core social science courses which helped him stand out and he took a dual enrollment courses as well. That gave him a lot of depth in one area that nicely complimented his volunteering.

 

College List: We put together the college list really carefully encouraging him to consider some schools beyond the big names. We included options with geographic advantage (and three schools that were tipping to way too many women - and they know they need guys for balance!) At his state university he would have been a below average candidate. They are big, they don't do holistic evaluation so the community service would not register, and they are lousy at meeting financial need. At more mid-tier private colleges he was someone they wanted - an out of state student who would be a community leader.

 

Every student is different, so I know that many of those strategies won't apply to your situation, but hopefully there is some value there. For most students there aren't going to be magic answers that gives them everything they want. Most kids can't pull top 1%tile scores that are the golden ticket to a free education, but many students in the middle can benefit from careful planning and they will find a path to a good education.

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