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College application - supplementary documentation


regentrude
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Having some time off over the summer, I would like to get a head start on DD's college application for the coming fall, so that things don't become too crazy when the semester starts.

I am aware I must have:

  • transcript (in the works; I update on an ongoing basis.)
  • counselor's letter (no idea, not even started)

and I would like to also submit:

  • course descriptions
  • reading list
  • homeschool philosophy

I have kept good records over the years and have just to pull things together and delete extraneous information to get the corse descriptions done. It is actually a wonderful feeling to see those course descriptions and to see assembled all the things we studied over the past three years!

If I use a textbook, is it OK to copy the publisher's course description if I attribute it to the publisher's website? I am using AoPS for math and would like to just use their course descriptions of their online classes - we only use the book, but cover exactly the same material.

Reading list - check. Have to go through, reformat, kick out frivolous books.

Homeschool philosophy: I have started, but am not entirely sure what I am doing. I want to explain that we hs for academic reasons, and give a basic overview over our education plan and curriculum selection, without going into too much detail.

 

Anything else I am not thinking of?

Thanks so much. I have learned so much from all of you.

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Hi Regentrude,

 

This is what I put in my course description document, followed by a closely adapted version of the AoPS course description.

 

Mathematics

 

All of the student’s High School Mathematics studies have been completed via online classes at The Art of Problem Solving, excepting AP Calculus BC. As described on their website, “The Art of Problem Solving mathematics curriculum is specifically designed for outstanding math students in grades 6-12, and presents a much broader and deeper exploration of challenging mathematics than a typical math curriculum. The Art of Problem Solving texts have been used by tens of thousands of high-performing students.†The following course descriptions are taken directly from the AoPS Website.

 

I'd be happy to share my dd's other application documents with you, if you think it would be helpful. It helped me to read various examples when I was trying to gather my thoughts about the whole process.

 

~Jen

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This is what I put in my course description document, followed by a closely adapted version of the AoPS course description.

Mathematics

All of the student’s High School Mathematics studies have been completed via online classes at The Art of Problem Solving, excepting AP Calculus BC. As described on their website, “The Art of Problem Solving mathematics curriculum is specifically designed for outstanding math students in grades 6-12, and presents a much broader and deeper exploration of challenging mathematics than a typical math curriculum. The Art of Problem Solving texts have been used by tens of thousands of high-performing students.†The following course descriptions are taken directly from the AoPS Website.

 

Thank you, Jen. This is pretty much what I did, too ;-)

 

I'd be happy to share my dd's other application documents with you, if you think it would be helpful. It helped me to read various examples when I was trying to gather my thoughts about the whole process.

 

Thanks, that would be extremely helpful. I think I am quite OK on the course descriptions, but am not sure about the school profile and guidance counselor letter. I'd be grateful for anything you'd be willing to share.

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I'm listening in on this thread. My older kids applied directly to schools on paper applications or online via the school's website. Next yr will be my first time with the Common App and let's just say that "App" for me stands for apprehension!!

 

Course descriptions and transcripts are not a problem. I have never written a counselor letter nor a school philosophy for a college application before. I really just don't even want to think about it!

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Are you planning to upload all of your counselor paperwork or mail it in? My kids did their part online, but both times I snail-mailed the guidance counselor stuff.

 

If you do decide to mail in your package, then I'd recommend adding a cover letter to the top of the packet delineating the contents: "List of Materials Enclosed" and "List of Materials Sent under Separate Cover" (the latter being LORs, outside transcripts, and SAT/ ACT score reports)

 

The School Profile and the Counselor Letter (which gets attached to the Secondary School Report) were the toughest parts for me, too. :tongue_smilie: The way I looked at them was that the Profile described my school (the general philosophy & HOW we went about schooling), while the Counselor letter emphasized the WHY. The letter was much more of a personal argument for homeschooling that particular kid & how he/she developed throughout the years.

 

I tried to use the School Profile to our advantage. I left out sections that are commonly found in public school profiles such as demographic data of the surrounding community, when I didn't see how that would help my kid. Instead I had these sections:

 

Front side:

1.Statement of homeschool philosophy (short - only 5 sentences: "Our primary motivation for homeschooling is....We believe that homeschooling provides....Our goals are to .... By doing xxx, we hope to yyy...Homeschooling also provides our children the time to ...)

2.School history (how long, # students, what older sibling is doing now)

3.Educational Partners (ie, teacher qualifications) Parents' backgrounds & short blurbs about PA Homeschoolers, AoPs, EPGY, etc,..any outsourcing used.

 

Back side:

1. Curriculum (biggest section; a paragraph for each main subject area describing our general approach to each subject (reading, discussion, problem solving, or ??; tutorial or outsourced or independent; subfields that received special emphasis or extra time). I referenced specific sections in the course descriptions to give them pointers to more info where appropriate)

2. Grading and Credits (a short summary of how we graded math/sci versus humanities/arts; grading scale; statement that we don't weight grades)

3. Testing (short summary of standardized tests taken; average scores across both students for SAT, ACT, AP)

 

The counselor letter is always both the hardest and the most rewarding piece for me to write. I write LORs all the time for my students, but doing the same for my own kid felt really, really weird. I didn't want to come across as a braggy mom, nor did I want to sell them short. I thought about adjectives that described my child (thinking first of their myers briggs types helped me get started), & then I tried to brainstorm specific instances in his/her life that illustrated those characteristics. Each time, I included one thing that particular child had struggled with over the years, too, and how they worked to overcome it. I tried to give a balanced view of strong and weak areas, just as I would if I were a 'real' teacher & not the mom. I remember that Stanford was interested in hearing about the advantages AND disadvantages of homeschooling, so I had to make sure that was included, too (and you can paint disadvantages in a positive light sometimes...something that didn't work about homeschooling, such as finding a community of peers equally excited about learning, can be used to show why they are eager now to attend college)

 

I started the counselor letters by describing what brought us to the decision to homeschool that child & some of that child's history. Then, the main part of the letter was woven about those personal characteristics. I took about three qualities and developed a paragraph for each using the most illustrative examples that I could come up with. I detailed some of their accomplishments, highlights of their high school years, and favorite experiences in light of how it helped them grow not only academically, but also personally. You know the old saying "show, don't tell"...I tried to follow that philosophy. The letter ended with something generic like "Dd will thrive in the xxx environment at a college such as zzz. She is ready to move on and needs xxx in order to pursue her dream of xxx"

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Reading list - check. Have to go through, reformat, kick out frivolous books.

 

Do NOT kick out what you consider "frivolous" books... we had admissions folks tell us(him) they liked the great variety of books my guy had read from unabridged classics (like Les Miserables) to popular "stuff" (like Enders Game) and everything in between. Most want well-rounded students, not just general "elite" books showing just a "studious" student. His book list was LONG (he was my reader) and interviewers could pick anything on the list to discuss (a couple did).

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A bunch of useless data for homeschoolers - average grades, average SAT scores, percent going to college, etc. but they wanted one anyway. I PM'd you an example.

 

 

How would you have that data for homeschoolers? :confused1: Did the college want the averages just for your kids?

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For those of you who have already gone through the process, how detailed were your course descriptions? For example, did you include the books your child read in 9th grade within the 9th grade English course description, or did you simply have a master book list that stated all of the books read across the subjects for all 4 years?

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In addition to what has been already mentioned, we submitted an "Activities Sheet" for each of my kids.

 

My kids have all been HEAVILY involved with "strange" extra-curriculars that need a bit of explanation. In order to showcase those activities, we submitted a 3-4 page Activities Sheet grouping the activities in some vaguely coherent order and then listing time commitment, years involved, title/position, and then the actual description of the activity, with details, awards, etc.

 

The model for our Activity Sheet is in Michele Hernandez's fantastic book, "A is for Admission."

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My course descriptions were ~10 pages. I included the teacher's name, where the course was taken (PAH or Scholars Online or the local CC, etc.), and then a several sentence description. I always listed the textbook if we used one for that class. For books with a large reading list, I listed samples by such phrases as "Shakeseare plays including ....." and "essays such as ....." I specifically listed the major works but tried to list the minor ones by implication rather than by roster.

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For our one kid who builds, we also submitted a portfolio of sorts. He works with his hands and has built some amazing stuff. Since he is headed into engineering, that is relevant to college and we wanted to showcase those skills. (He is building these widgets on a national / internationl level -- describing him by focusing solely on his academics would be like describing Steve Jobs while not mentioning the word "computer"!)

 

For the portfolio, dh and I assembled pictures of some of his various projects and accomplishments related to them. We put them in a vaguely coherent order and then had ds write a explanation/story to accompany the pics -- probably no more than a sentence or two per page. Then we took the thing (~20 pages) to Kinko's and had it printed and bound.

 

The portfolio was not only a hit with college admissions people; it was a fun "show-and-tell" item at his graduation party!

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For those of you who have already gone through the process, how detailed were your course descriptions? For example, did you include the books your child read in 9th grade within the 9th grade English course description, or did you simply have a master book list that stated all of the books read across the subjects for all 4 years?

 

 

We skipped course descriptions on the recommendation of a couple of adcoms. They told me they only needed them if a course was unusual. If one were doing Alg 2, Pre-Calc, Chem, History of Art etc, they were ok with just the name as they knew what the course was. Test scores backed up knowledge in many cases. We didn't have any unusual classes. This is not the case with some (many?) homeschoolers.

 

Our book list was simply a list divided by years and included both books read for a class (not text books though) and pleasure reading.

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Following advice from fellow boardies (and significant help from Kareni), I created a one page transcript and an eight page course description/book list organized by subject. In addition to a general class description, I mentioned texts, Teaching Company lectures, Great Books, not so Great Books, etc. I used different fonts to indicate whether the course was homegrown, at the CC or from a virtual program.

 

The hardest part for me were the counselor letter and school profile. Here is a link to an older thread with several useful comments on the school profile in particular.

 

Good luck!

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Do NOT kick out what you consider "frivolous" books... we had admissions folks tell us(him) they liked the great variety of books my guy had read from unabridged classics (like Les Miserables) to popular "stuff" (like Enders Game) and everything in between. Most want well-rounded students, not just general "elite" books showing just a "studious" student. His book list was LONG (he was my reader) and interviewers could pick anything on the list to discuss (a couple did).

 

 

:iagree: My daughter insisted on listing ALL of the books she'd read in high school, including the fluff. I was a little wary at first, but the list DID show her personality well! In the end, I think that only helped her. Her list was six pages long & organized alphabetically by author.

 

 

For those of you who have already gone through the process, how detailed were your course descriptions? For example, did you include the books your child read in 9th grade within the 9th grade English course description, or did you simply have a master book list that stated all of the books read across the subjects for all 4 years?

 

 

Dd's course description document was seven pages front and back. A good chunk of that was detailing science labs (since all of them were done at home w/o outsourcing) and summer/extracurricular math classes (adcoms might not know what going to a math camp entails).

 

Each course had a short one-paragraph description. Standard courses such as Algebra 2 simply had a textbook listed and nothing else. If the course was from AoPS, Write@Home, etc, I just used the course blurb from the provider's website. Textbooks (& important readings for English & Social Science classes) were included, & outside teachers & schools were noted.

 

In addition to what has been already mentioned, we submitted an "Activities Sheet" for each of my kids.

 

My kids have all been HEAVILY involved with "strange" extra-curriculars that need a bit of explanation. In order to showcase those activities, we submitted a 3-4 page Activities Sheet grouping the activities in some vaguely coherent order and then listing time commitment, years involved, title/position, and then the actual description of the activity, with details, awards, etc.

 

The model for our Activity Sheet is in Michele Hernandez's fantastic book, "A is for Admission."

 

 

Yes, dd also had a similar resume/activities/awards sheet modeled from that Hernandez book. Some schools (Stanford comes to mind here) did NOT want to see resumes, though, so it was omitted in those application packages.

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I tried to use the School Profile to our advantage. I left out sections that are commonly found in public school profiles such as demographic data of the surrounding community, when I didn't see how that would help my kid. Instead I had these sections:

 

Front side:

1.Statement of homeschool philosophy (short - only 5 sentences: "Our primary motivation for homeschooling is....We believe that homeschooling provides....Our goals are to .... By doing xxx, we hope to yyy...Homeschooling also provides our children the time to ...)

2.School history (how long, # students, what older sibling is doing now)

3.Educational Partners (ie, teacher qualifications) Parents' backgrounds & short blurbs about PA Homeschoolers, AoPs, EPGY, etc,..any outsourcing used.

 

Back side:

1. Curriculum (biggest section; a paragraph for each main subject area describing our general approach to each subject (reading, discussion, problem solving, or ??; tutorial or outsourced or independent; subfields that received special emphasis or extra time). I referenced specific sections in the course descriptions to give them pointers to more info where appropriate)

2. Grading and Credits (a short summary of how we graded math/sci versus humanities/arts; grading scale; statement that we don't weight grades)

3. Testing (short summary of standardized tests taken; average scores across both students for SAT, ACT, AP)

 

 

 

Kathy,

 

I really like how you describe how you set this up. I want to make sure I understand #1. Are you saying that in addition to individual course descriptions for each class on the transcript that the school profile includes a general philosophical approach for each category of courses? For example, would it include the philosophy behind the hows and whys we created the literature studies that we did and reasons behind why we choose AoPS while the course descriptions would stick strictly to the actual course content? I have included the way grades were generated in the course description. Would the profile be a better location for that? What happens when different subjects have different approaches for grading (or not grading since I only give pass/fail grades for French since I can't grade conversational abilities fairly?)

 

Thanks!

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I want to make sure I understand #1. Are you saying that in addition to individual course descriptions for each class on the transcript that the school profile includes a general philosophical approach for each category of courses? For example, would it include the philosophy behind the hows and whys we created the literature studies that we did and reasons behind why we choose AoPS while the course descriptions would stick strictly to the actual course content?

 

My hope was to use this section to provide a quick summary of our homeschooling choices.

 

I really doubted that any adcom would take the time to wade through all the course descriptions in detail, so I looked at this as a way to highlight the important stuff & give pointers to the details if they wanted to follow up on any area.

 

So in a nutshell, yes, each subject area briefly addressed the hows and whys. For example, in math, I stated that dd self-studied with my supervision, since I was comfortable checking her work. But, since math was her primary interest, & since she enjoyed collaboration with others, we supplemented heavily with AoPS involvement and math team participation (and I listed a few specifics).

 

For a subject like writing, I wrote that it was developed across the curriculum, from writing about literature, to expository report writing, to developing good mathematical proofs, to her yearbook editor jobs at camp. Then I stated that this was an area where we outsourced (mentioning Write@Home and PA homeschoolers briefly) in order to further her writing development.

 

Yes, you should definitely write about your home-designed lit courses! You want to highlight what makes your school special. :)

 

I have included the way grades were generated in the course description. Would the profile be a better location for that? What happens when different subjects have different approaches for grading (or not grading since I only give pass/fail grades for French since I can't grade conversational abilities fairly?)

 

Well, I did not provide any grading details in the course descriptions. On the Profile, my grading section simply stated that course grades in math, science, and foreign language were objectively computed based on tests and problem sets, while humanities and social science classes were subjectively graded using a mastery scale of A= high mastery, B= above avg, C= satisfactory.

 

I did not have anyone ask me for any more than that. Mommy grades are probably the least important part for homeschoolers IMO.

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My hope was to use this section to provide a quick summary of our homeschooling choices.

 

I really doubted that any adcom would take the time to wade through all the course descriptions in detail, so I looked at this as a way to highlight the important stuff & give pointers to the details if they wanted to follow up on any area.

 

So in a nutshell, yes, each subject area briefly addressed the hows and whys. For example, in math, I stated that dd self-studied with my supervision, since I was comfortable checking her work. But, since math was her primary interest, & since she enjoyed collaboration with others, we supplemented heavily with AoPS involvement and math team participation (and I listed a few specifics).

 

For a subject like writing, I wrote that it was developed across the curriculum, from writing about literature, to expository report writing, to developing good mathematical proofs, to her yearbook editor jobs at camp. Then I stated that this was an area where we outsourced (mentioning Write@Home and PA homeschoolers briefly) in order to further her writing development.

 

Yes, you should definitely write about your home-designed lit courses! You want to highlight what makes your school special. :)

 

 

 

Well, I did not provide any grading details in the course descriptions. On the Profile, my grading section simply stated that course grades in math, science, and foreign language were objectively computed based on tests and problem sets, while grades for humanities and social science classes were subjectively graded using a mastery scale of A= high mastery, B= above avg, C= satisfactory.

 

I did not have anyone ask me for any more than that. Mommy grades are probably the least important part for homeschoolers IMO.

 

Thanks for taking the time to type that out. I think I will take this approach and keep the course descriptions more limited in scope. The outsourcing part I have never included as a descriptor, simply listed, so that I will change as well. I think especially for AoPS I need to explain who/what they are.

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To keep from repeating myself when doing the philosophy, the school profile, and the letter of recommendation, I tried to focus on different aspects for each of the documents. In the philosophy, I focused on our educational goals for our children. In the school profile, I explained the structure of our homeschool. For example, I explained why I did not issue grades and that we kept a daily school hours (more or less). In the lor, I focused on the particular child, explaining why we chose to homeschool him and which bits of the goals in our philosophy he had met especially well. I also tried to give evidence that he would be able to do college-level academics. I put the philosophy at the beginning of the school profile when I actually sent the paperwork to colleges.

 

We sent some combination of the following to each college:

Cover letter with list of what was being sent

Application (unless online)

Homeschool suppliment (if school had one)

Transcript (one side of one page)

Community College transcript

(Had community college also send his cc transcript directly to college)

(Had college board send SAT scores directly to college - also on transcript)

Copies of four letters (one for each year) from school district giving us permission to homeschool (for financial aid)

School profile (included how graded, how assigned credits, philosophy, and how structured daily work)

Parent/teacher Recommendation (in lieu of guidance councelor recommendation)

(Community college guidance counselor recommendation sent directly to college)

(Had other letters of recommendation sent directly to college)

Partial Reading List

Course Descriptions/Narrative Assessments (in lieu of grades)

Application Essay

Scholarship Essays

Scholarship Application

Activity Sheet (this had photos of some projects and some travel journal entries)

 

Nan

 

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The counselor letter is always both the hardest and the most rewarding piece for me to write. I write LORs all the time for my students, but doing the same for my own kid felt really, really weird. I didn't want to come across as a braggy mom, nor did I want to sell them short. I thought about adjectives that described my child (thinking first of their meyers briggs types helped me get started), & then I tried to brainstorm specific instances in his/her life that illustrated those characteristics. Each time, I included one thing that particular child had struggled with over the years, too, and how they worked to overcome it. I tried to give a balanced view of strong and weak areas, just as I would if I were a 'real' teacher & not the mom. I remember that Stanford was interested in hearing about the advantages AND disadvantages of homeschooling, so I had to make sure that was included, too (and you can paint disadvantages in a positive light sometimes...something that didn't work about homeschooling, such as finding a community of peers equally excited about learning, can be used to show why they are eager now to attend college)

 

I started the counselor letters by describing what brought us to the decision to homeschool that child & some of that child's history. Then, the main part of the letter was woven about those personal characteristics. I took about three qualities and developed a paragraph for each using the most illustrative examples that I could come up with. I detailed some of their accomplishments, highlights of their high school years, and favorite experiences in light of how it helped them grow not only academically, but also personally. You know the old saying "show, don't tell"...I tried to follow that philosophy. The letter ended with something generic like "Dd will thrive in the xxx environment at a college such as zzz. She is ready to move on and needs xxx in order to pursue her dream of xxx"

 

 

I love this approach, and starting from three characteristics is a great idea! I, too, write LORs for my students, and I am struggling with the right "tone": do I want to sound professional and matter-of-fact, like I would for any other student - or should my tone reflect that I am writing about my own child?

 

I would have no problem highlighting another student's achievement, but it does feel like "bragging" when I am the mom. I wonder how admissions people see this...

 

I am also struggling with the "overcoming difficulties" aspect, because to be honest, my DD never had any difficulties to overcome. I mean, sure, she had to work hard, but she succeeded at everything she tried, and our path has been rather linear. But that's not what they want to hear, right?

The disadvantage of homeschooling was precisely the community of peers- but there were none in teh public school either. We solved the problem by getting her into university classes as early as possible, and I was going to spin this: she is a total people person and thrives in a class, so it made a lot more sense to go for dual enrollment than for self-studying towards AP exams.

 

Arrgh. This is hard.

 

One last question: is the term "perfectionist" fraught with negative connotations?

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I love this approach, and starting from three characteristics is a great idea! I, too, write LORs for my students, and I am struggling with the right "tone": do I want to sound professional and matter-of-fact, like I would for any other student - or should my tone reflect that I am writing about my own child?

 

Yes, it's MUCH harder. Give me someone else's child any day! I do think that you need both the professional and the personal parts. When I write LORs for others, that seems to get the best results.

 

I would have no problem highlighting another student's achievement, but it does feel like "bragging" when I am the mom. I wonder how admissions people see this...

 

I suppose that they have a chuckle or two over some of our applications...

 

I am also struggling with the "overcoming difficulties" aspect, because to be honest, my DD never had any difficulties to overcome. I mean, sure, she had to work hard, but she succeeded at everything she tried, and our path has been rather linear. But that's not what they want to hear, right?

The disadvantage of homeschooling was precisely the community of peers- but there were none in teh public school either. We solved the problem by getting her into university classes as early as possible, and I was going to spin this: she is a total people person and thrives in a class, so it made a lot more sense to go for dual enrollment than for self-studying towards AP exams.

 

Maybe there's a story in moving & adjusting to a new way of life in the US?

 

For my quiet & reticent ds, the struggle was getting out of his shell & connecting more with others. He'll always be on the quiet side, but he learned to overcome a lot of his reluctance by attending out-of-state summer camps, where he blossomed tremendously (did a momma's heart good to see!) and also via his scouting experiences, where he took a course in public speaking and stepped up to the plate in various troop leadership roles.

 

For my outgoing but extreme VSL dd, the struggles were speech articulation and any kind of memorization. The first two years of public school were making her feel dumb, with all the emphasize on math facts speed drills and spelling tests. She had to work hard on her speech (and of course her first name contains only the two consonants she struggles to pronounce, ugh!), and also extra hard on learning how to memorize, but she compensates well for that by strong reasoning ability.

 

Yes, I'd suggest addressing why you chose outsourcing via real college classes (over AP, etc) for your daughter. I did just that (but other choices, other reasons!) in my counselor letter, in the beginning part where I described the reasons for homeschooling & the child's general academic history.

 

Arrgh. This is hard.

 

:grouphug: It is, but you're smart to be thinking of it this summer while you still have lots of time!

 

One last question: is the term "perfectionist" fraught with negative connotations?

 

That could be the issue you address, but I'd probably name it something like "striving to give 1000 per cent in everything she does" instead, and I'd talk about how she grew in "time management and life balance" via her experience in early college.

 

Now...regentrude, will you help me with my final E&M exam? Just kidding! I'm on the honors system to tackle this baby alone (MITx 8.02) Back to electromagnetic wave problems and Maxwell.... :laugh:

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Maybe there's a story in moving & adjusting to a new way of life in the US?

 

Except that she was four years old when that happened, LOL.

 

For my quiet & reticent ds, the struggle was getting out of his shell & connecting more with others. He'll always be on the quiet side, but he learned to overcome a lot of his reluctance by attending out-of-state summer camps, where he blossomed tremendously (did a momma's heart good to see!) and also via his scouting experiences, where he took a course in public speaking and stepped up to the plate in various troop leadership roles.

For my outgoing but extreme VSL dd, the struggles were speech articulation and any kind of memorization. The first two years of public school were making her feel dumb, with all the emphasize on math facts speed drills and spelling tests. She had to work hard on her speech (and of course her first name contains only the two consonants she struggles to pronounce, ugh!), and also extra hard on learning how to memorize, but she compensates well for that by strong reasoning ability.

 

Thanks for the examples. I still can't really think of anything - except maybe that she had a very low frustration tolerance as a young child, because of her perfectionism, and while she has not outgrown the latter, she has certainly made great strides in her ability to deal with making mistakes and improving through practice. Hmm, that might be an idea. It does not really matter that that happened in elementary school, right?

 

 

Yes, I'd suggest addressing why you chose outsourcing via real college classes (over AP, etc) for your daughter. I did just that (but other choices, other reasons!) in my counselor letter, in the beginning part where I described the reasons for homeschooling & the child's general academic history.

 

Yes, this is something I will definitely include - to explain the conspicuous absence of AP scores for a student of her caliber.

 

That could be the issue you address, but I'd probably name it something like "striving to give 1000 per cent in everything she does" instead, and I'd talk about how she grew in "time management and life balance" via her experience in early college.

 

Thanks, I'll be careful to avoid the p-word then.

 

Now...regentrude, will you help me with my final E&M exam? Just kidding! I'm on the honors system to tackle this baby alone (MITx 8.02) Back to electromagnetic wave problems and Maxwell.... :laugh:

Are you going to school to get another degree? Or are you doing this just for fun? Good luck on your exam. Maxwell rocks.

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Except that she was four years old when that happened, LOL.

 

LOL. Somehow I thought that your move was more recent than that.

 

Thanks for the examples. I still can't really think of anything - except maybe that she had a very low frustration tolerance as a young child, because of her perfectionism, and while she has not outgrown the latter, she has certainly made great strides in her ability to deal with making mistakes and improving through practice. Hmm, that might be an idea. It does not really matter that that happened in elementary school, right?

 

Yes, that could work. It can be something that changed throughout the years, and it doesn't have to have been completely overcome (my kids certainly didn't overcome their issues 100%). I think that the colleges are just looking to see that the kids know how to deal with the bad as well as the good. Otherwise, they'd get kids coming into MIT, for example, with a history of always being at the top of their class for everything, only to be in for a shock at that environment. In fact, their application (they don't use the Common App) specifically asks for an essay about 'overcoming adversity' for that reason, and it's why my kids & I had to think along those lines.

 

Are you going to school to get another degree? Or are you doing this just for fun? Good luck on your exam. Maxwell rocks.

 

 

Thanks! It's just for fun & self-improvement. :)

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Yes, I'd suggest addressing why you chose outsourcing via real college classes (over AP, etc) for your daughter. I did just that (but other choices, other reasons!) in my counselor letter, in the beginning part where I described the reasons for homeschooling & the child's general academic history.

 

 

Thanks to all the posters who are offering their been there, done that experience.

 

Should we address why we made the educational choices we did for our kids?

 

For example, because extracurricular activities would make it difficult for my kids to take a class at the cc due to their travel schedules, we are going the AP route (despite how much stress it causes me). My kids are also not going to take any of the history APs because we don't necessarily want to explore the same topics that are on the AP syllabus.

 

Should I address the lack of cc classes and history APs somewhere in my documentation?

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Should we address why we made the educational choices we did for our kids?

 

For example, because extracurricular activities would make it difficult for my kids to take a class at the cc due to their travel schedules, we are going the AP route (despite how much stress it causes me). My kids are also not going to take any of the history APs because we don't necessarily want to explore the same topics that are on the AP syllabus.

 

Should I address the lack of cc classes and history APs somewhere in my documentation?

 

 

That was our predicament, too. No dual enrollment here, either, for reasons of time, money, & quality of local offerings. So I explained that briefly using those three reasons in my counselor letter. And yes, the AP route IS stressful on moms, too. Elsewhere in the letter I addressed how the kids *were* socialized well, despite their lack of brick and mortar classes.

 

We also lacked any history exams despite doing lots of other APs. They just were not a good fit for my kids, either. I explained our history approach briefly in the School Profile document, in my Curriculum section under social science. There I wrote how we chose to follow the integrated world history & literature approach outlined in the WTM, (though we did add in a typical government & economics class in grade 12) and the benefits of having time to delve into interesting topics in depth.

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Yes, that could work. It can be something that changed throughout the years, and it doesn't have to have been completely overcome (my kids certainly didn't overcome their issues 100%). I think that the colleges are just looking to see that the kids know how to deal with the bad as well as the good. Otherwise, they'd get kids coming into MIT, for example, with a history of always being at the top of their class for everything, only to be in for a shock at that environment. In fact, their application (they don't use the Common App) specifically asks for an essay about 'overcoming adversity' for that reason, and it's why my kids & I had to think along those lines.

 

 

Talking this through with you is so extremely helpful. I have been pondering your post while accompanying DD to the stable where she rides- and it came to me that dealing with her stubborn, uncooperative horse was THE perfect learning opportunity for her to learn patience, perseverance and increase her frustration tolerance.... I had not thought about this because the worst times, when the horse's behavior caused tears and anger, are behind her, and she has come a long way. I had also not though of this, because through the entire transcript/course description/school profile focus I came to think too narrowly about academics... when so many non-academic experiences can be vital for a person's development.

Thanks for getting me to think in different directions.

 

Thanks! It's just for fun & self-improvement. :)

Sounds awesome! I will be taking a music history class in the fall, twice a week at 8am. For fun and self-improvement.

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Thanks to all the posters who are offering their been there, done that experience.

 

Should we address why we made the educational choices we did for our kids?

 

 

 

I absolutely did - esp since I work in our local public school. I figured it would be odd for a teacher at the school to choose to homeschool their own... I explained my reason for homeschooling (pure academics), DE (what local "good" kids do, but we chose other classes) and minimal AP (more or less discovering we could self-study those and take the tests fairly late in the game).

 

Middle son overcame a bit of adversity - albeit, when he was quite young. He was LD and was in speech + the lowest reading classes throughout K, 1st, and 2nd. He worked hard and overcame it all. As parents, we were told he had to "retrain his brain" for speech and that affected his reading (they had a more scientific explanation, but I latched onto the "commoner" one). When he graduated from the program we were told he is VERY unusual to have been so successful - and that it was good he started speech when he was 4. If it had been later, they couldn't have done as much (brain would have been too formed). Even when earlier, most kids just don't have the drive to make it work. He did.

 

It's that same drive that has carried on throughout his life. He continues to amaze me with his accomplishments. Some are naturally gifted/talented. He has talent too, but he works for his success and understanding. So many do not.

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Talking this through with you is so extremely helpful. I have been pondering your post while accompanying DD to the stable where she rides- and it came to me that dealing with her stubborn, uncooperative horse was THE perfect learning opportunity for her to learn patience, perseverance and increase her frustration tolerance.... I had not thought about this because the worst times, when the horse's behavior caused tears and anger, are behind her, and she has come a long way. I had also not though of this, because through the entire transcript/course description/school profile focus I came to think too narrowly about academics... when so many non-academic experiences can be vital for a person's development.

 

 

Yes! My son had some unusual experiences through 4-H which I highlighted in my counselor letter. I wanted to stress his hands on nature and his ability to make things. It defines who he is.

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That was our predicament, too. No dual enrollment here, either, for reasons of time, money, & quality of local offerings.

 

I have no idea how to determine the quality of our local offerings, however, both the guidance counselor at our public school and the admissions counselor at the cc both said that if a student plans to apply to top-tier schools they recommend the student take AP courses rather than dual-enrollment classes at the cc.

 

Is this relevant information to include as well?

 

I feel like a broken record, but this is a great thread.

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Talking this through with you is so extremely helpful. I have been pondering your post while accompanying DD to the stable where she rides- and it came to me that dealing with her stubborn, uncooperative horse was THE perfect learning opportunity for her to learn patience, perseverance and increase her frustration tolerance.... I had not thought about this because the worst times, when the horse's behavior caused tears and anger, are behind her, and she has come a long way. I had also not though of this, because through the entire transcript/course description/school profile focus I came to think too narrowly about academics... when so many non-academic experiences can be vital for a person's development.

Thanks for getting me to think in different directions.

 

I think that you're onto something good here. :)

 

Your daughter's academic achievements will shine throughout her application, but this is one chance for you to highlight her growth as a person, too. Thankfully, as homeschool guidance counselors, we have the opportunity to do that in the counselor letter.

 

Sounds awesome! I will be taking a music history class in the fall, twice a week at 8am. For fun and self-improvement.

 

 

Music history sounds awesome, too!

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I actually wish I could do these parts of the application for youngest son. There's no way his guidance counselor knows him and his abilitites/strengths/weaknesses anywhere near as well as I do. Since he's in ps, I won't have that opportunity. I think homeschoolers can shine in this area. His other LORs would still come from teachers, of course.

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I have no idea how to determine the quality of our local offerings, however, both the guidance counselor at our public school and the admissions counselor at the cc both said that if a student plans to apply to top-tier schools they recommend the student take AP courses rather than dual-enrollment classes at the cc.

Is this relevant information to include as well?

 

Well, you could say that you chose the classes based on what provided the greatest challenge and also worked within your schedule restraints, and for your son those were AP courses.

 

I said something along these lines: "Dd self-teaches extremely well, so her high school schedule contained many independent-study courses, along with several on-line classes. We felt these classes were more efficient in time and money, more flexible (we were often on road trips for her activities), and more challenging for her than local cc offerings"

 

I tried to paint our choices in a positive light. She would have loved some IRL classes if we could have found any locally that would have worked out time, money, and challenge-wise!

 

I feel like a broken record, but this is a great thread.

 

I'm enjoying this thread as well, and I love hearing everyone's ideas & experiences.

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Wow, I'll second (third?) that -- this is a great thread. I'll be in the same boat this summer ... my older son did the last part of high school in ps, so he was easy ... but this fall my younger son will be applying all over -- in-state public (UCs), out-of-state public, and in- and out-of-state private universities. Plus National Merit ... :willy_nilly:

I know I'll get through it all only with the help of the wonderful boardies here!

 

I'm taking a little break the next few weeks to go with my older son to orientation at the (out-of-state) college he'll attend this fall, then he graduates from public school mid-June, then I'll tackle this stuff. Like Regentrude, I have the transcript & course descriptions under control (in fact I'm very proud of them, heehee! -- many thanks to Kathy in Richmond & Kareni!), but I'm in denial about the counselor's letter, school profile, etc. ... At least -- exciting news flash! -- my son wants to get started on his essays this summer! :driving: So I printed out the prompts for National Merit, Common App, UCs, etc. ... :thumbup1:

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I'm in denial ...

I got through about #7 on this thread. Now I'm going to bury my head in the sand for as long as I can...I hate writing out stuff like this.

 

Aug 14 ETA:  This is such of a helpful thread.  I've taken my head out of the sand.  I'm getting some ideas that will help me elaborate on my initial idea to just write 'college prep' and be done with it. :hurray:

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It all depends where the child is applying to= state schools, in particular, don't want extra material like course descriptions and reading lists- at least not most of them which have so many applications to go through/ I did not do course descriptions. We did do the school profile, counselor letter and whatever else we needed to do for the common application. I have to find out here in AL how we will do this. WE have to enroll in a church school, here but she doesn't have a counselor and each child is still taught by his or her parents. So, if she is applying to colleges that use the common application, I think I will still have to fill out the school form since I haven't heard that the school does that. But I think I will be finding out about this next year so I can start preparing. We still have over a year until she is applying.

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It all depends where the child is applying to= state schools, in particular, don't want extra material like course descriptions and reading lists- at least not most of them which have so many applications to go through/ I did not do course descriptions. We did do the school profile, counselor letter and whatever else we needed to do for the common application. I have to find out here in AL how we will do this. WE have to enroll in a church school, here but she doesn't have a counselor and each child is still taught by his or her parents. So, if she is applying to colleges that use the common application, I think I will still have to fill out the school form since I haven't heard that the school does that. But I think I will be finding out about this next year so I can start preparing. We still have over a year until she is applying.

While general Admissions people at state schools may not want extra materials like course descriptions, Honors College programs might--if your applicant is going that route.

 

Just a heads up.

 

Jane

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state schools, in particular, don't want extra material like course descriptions and reading lists

 

Do check with the particular school.

 

The UVA admissions website is extremely clear that if a given document isn't required, they don't want to see it. HOWEVER, when my son was visiting the school, he asked an ad coun if he could submit a reading list and mentioned that he was a homeschooler. The admissions person told him that since he was a homeschooler, the more documentation he sent in, the better!

 

I do understand that some schools do not want to see extra documentation. But we have had admissions counselors from three different schools tell us that the main reason they don't accept more homeschoolers is that often homeschoolers do not submit enough documentation for them to feel comfortable accepting them. (One that I was talking with socially even mentioned that hs'ers have been highly successful at the school and they would love to accept more, but homeschoolers are often too skimpy with their documentation!)

 

So do check with the college -- and if they say that more documentation is permissable, take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your kid in ways that ordinary-schooled kids can't!

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For those of you who have already gone through the process, how detailed were your course descriptions? For example, did you include the books your child read in 9th grade within the 9th grade English course description, or did you simply have a master book list that stated all of the books read across the subjects for all 4 years?

 

 

My daughter's book list included books from ninth grade through application time. I did not include book titles in our course descriptions, so I also included a textbook list. The book list included both pleasure and assigned reading.

 

Typically how long is the counselor letter? Is there a word count that we need to adhere to?

 

 

I don't believe that there is a required length. The counselor letter I wrote was about one and a half pages. (It was 959 words, I see.)

 

Thanks, that would be extremely helpful. I think I am quite OK on the course descriptions, but am not sure about the school profile and guidance counselor letter. I'd be grateful for anything you'd be willing to share.

 

 

I'd be happy to share my school profile (course descriptions, and transcript) with you or others. Simply send me a personal message with your email address.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Reading through this fascinating thread again, I did have one thought --

 

I would stress the positive over the negative. I can't imagine that explaining why you did NOT do X would be helpful; I imagine the admissions folks want to hear why you DID make the choices you did.

 

I would focus on why you DID choose a certain option and not focus on why you did NOT choose another option.

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The UVA admissions website is extremely clear that if a given document isn't required, they don't want to see it. HOWEVER, when my son was visiting the school, he asked an ad coun if he could submit a reading list and mentioned that he was a homeschooler. The admissions person told him that since he was a homeschooler, the more documentation he sent in, the better!

 

I do understand that some schools do not want to see extra documentation. But we have had admissions counselors from three different schools tell us that the main reason they don't accept more homeschoolers is that often homeschoolers do not submit enough documentation for them to feel comfortable accepting them. (One that I was talking with socially even mentioned that hs'ers have been highly successful at the school and they would love to accept more, but homeschoolers are often too skimpy with their documentation!)

 

Many times I was told that homeschoolers tend to apply with just test scores and mommy grades. That works for many schools... but the upper level schools we talked with said what they wanted to see "success" outside of the home. ACT and SAT are a start, but they wanted to see AP, DE, or even Co-op success as well as non academic extra curriculars. They are looking for students who are likely to succeed at their college. These are the same adcoms that told me course descriptions are not needed if the course is a standard course... They really don't spend oodles of time on any one application, so they want something to show them who the student is. If you have nothing else, then perhaps course descriptions are useful (or, if the courses are not standard courses), but one is better off submitting other things (including, in our case, an extensive reading list that can be looked at quickly along with outside home scores, but many other things mentioned on here would be great options too).

 

Reading through this fascinating thread again, I did have one thought --

 

I would stress the positive over the negative. I can't imagine that explaining why you did NOT do X would be helpful; I imagine the admissions folks want to hear why you DID make the choices you did.

 

I would focus on why you DID choose a certain option and not focus on why you did NOT choose another option.

 

:iagree: I focused on why I chose to homeschool this student more than on why we didn't stay with ps. The overall content is the same (our ps is not up to his capabilities), but keeping the wording positive could possibly help keep a positive spin - esp if the person reading was a ps grad...

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I am also struggling with the "overcoming difficulties" aspect, because to be honest, my DD never had any difficulties to overcome. I mean, sure, she had to work hard, but she succeeded at everything she tried, and our path has been rather linear. But that's not what they want to hear, right?

 

Arrgh. This is hard.

 

One last question: is the term "perfectionist" fraught with negative connotations?

 

When you get this problem conquered, please inform me! I have been blessed with four easy to educate children who thrive on learning and accept and embrace challenges. They succeed out of determination, and frankly, they have not had much to overcome. I nearly made myself nuts doing dd's counselor letters and in the end, opted to have them written by a dear friend of mine who is the principal of a Lutheran K-8 school. She knew dd very well, and dd had provided tutoring services at the school so she was happy to do the counselor letter. We had a commencement type ceremony, after a fashion, and openhouse for dd when she graduated and this dear friend was our special speaker.

 

Now, I'm in a bind. There is a large age gap between dd and ds and over the years, with a move to another location further away as well, she has not been as much a part of ds's life as dd's. She doesn't know his educational and personal circumstances well enough to provide such letters.

 

Sigh....if you come up with a solution to the cunundrum, I.am.all.ears!

 

Faith

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Do check with the particular school.

 

The UVA admissions website is extremely clear that if a given document isn't required, they don't want to see it. HOWEVER, when my son was visiting the school, he asked an ad coun if he could submit a reading list and mentioned that he was a homeschooler. The admissions person told him that since he was a homeschooler, the more documentation he sent in, the better!

 

I do understand that some schools do not want to see extra documentation. But we have had admissions counselors from three different schools tell us that the main reason they don't accept more homeschoolers is that often homeschoolers do not submit enough documentation for them to feel comfortable accepting them. (One that I was talking with socially even mentioned that hs'ers have been highly successful at the school and they would love to accept more, but homeschoolers are often too skimpy with their documentation!)

 

So do check with the college -- and if they say that more documentation is permissable, take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your kid in ways that ordinary-schooled kids can't!

 

 

We heard this through round about channels too when dd was going through the process. So, I never stopped to consider that they might not want to see something. I was VERY generous with documentation, course descriptions for anything unusual, booklists, letters or rec, photo copies of certificates of achievement (her Right Stuff Award) from Space Camp in Huntsville, the magazine article written about some volunteer work she did at a school on a reservation, 4-H Best of Show awards, State Fair Awards, Science Fair awards (I photocopied EVERYTHING), etc. I then picked and chose the best or in some cases, the ones that I thought would be most "lucrative" to a particular school...meaning that MSU saw a lot of the 4-H Best of Show and State Fair awards, but U of M got her letter of rec from a NASA engineer and Right Stuff Award, etc. I just tried to tailor the "presentation" to suit the reputation of the school.

 

I went to "regular" school, but my parents were pretty savvy about the showcasing issue. They made sure that additional documentation went with my APs. I think it helped. I was accepted at all 12 institutions and Oberlin was the only one that wasn't generous with merit aid which meant I didn't attend my top choice school.

 

Faith

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