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ByeByeMartha

Common App and Course Descriptions

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Haven't started common app yet so no clue what it looks like, but wondering how homeschool records (transcript, course descriptions, reading list, activities,etc= 50+ pgs) are typically incorporated into the common app. Will it be included as attachments/scanned docs?

Thank you!

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Ok I just found some info (even though it's a bit dated).  I may need to upload in portions if my files are too large. I guess I'll figure that out when we get there.

https://www.homehighschoolhelp.com/one-common-application

https://www.scoreatthetop.com/blog/blog-1/homeschool-students-and-the-common-application

Any other tips/wisdom you'd like to share would be welcomed! 🙂 

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I will upload the transcript and course descriptions as one document in the location the transcript is uploaded.

There is a separate area to upload a resume if colleges will accept that.

In addition, there is a space to list the 10 most important activities the student was involved in and about enough room to write a sentence about each.

This is based on my memory from a couple of years ago and assuming nothing has changed.

Edited by Mom0012
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And coming from someone who has a long list of course descriptions, 50 pages seems like a lot!

I would try to streamline as much as you can.  That is what I am doing myself. 

Edited by Mom0012

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I did not run into file size restrictions this year. I think they fixed that a couple years ago. You can set up an account now to see how things work (there are instructions in a thread somewhere). It was helpful for me to see how the student portion looked, my counselor account, and the recommender one.

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9 hours ago, ByeByeMartha said:

Haven't started common app yet so no clue what it looks like, but wondering how homeschool records (transcript, course descriptions, reading list, activities,etc= 50+ pgs) are typically incorporated into the common app. Will it be included as attachments/scanned docs?

Thank you!

There should be several threads in the pinned motherlode thread.  That will give you not only a how to, but different perspectives on what to include and you you might format it.

I would keep the length manageable.  

Transcript 1-2 pages

Course descriptions 4-10 pages

Profile 1-2 pages

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50+ pages is way too much info. Look at Sebastian's post for appropriate length suggestions. In addition to those, I'd add a 1-1.5 pages long counselor letter, but I can't imagine anything more than 15-19 pages total.

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A little more specifics.  Admissions offices will get everything that the student and the counselor submit.  You will need to create a counselor account in order to upload all of the supporting documents.  One easy way is to have your student "invite" you as counselor through their log in.  That will generate an email to you from Common App that prompts you to create a counselor account.  (You can also create a "practice" student account as an interested counselor.  I found this really helpful.  I used a different email address from what I was using as Counselor, though I don't know if that was necessary.  This practice account let me see the student facing items and investigate what happened when I picked a college or tried to add recommenders.)

You don't need to include information over and over.  The student account will ask about activities, which means that a resume doesn't have to be uploaded unless a college specifically asks for one.  It doesn't need to be added on the counselor side at all (unless you want to refer to an activity in the context of the profile or counselor recommendation).

There are some homeschool specific questions on the counselor log in.  If you covered those questions in course descriptions or your school profile, feel free to redirect the reader to the appropriate document (ie, "See Course Descriptions" or "See School Profile").

My course descriptions included a list of major works used in the course.  I didn't include a separate reading list in the counselor docs.  One college did ask students to include a reading list, so my son uploaded one through the student log-in (I think it went in through the writing supplements section) and included things he read for pleasure and some of what he read for school (fiction and non-fiction, but not textbooks).

I agree with 8FilltheHeart that 50 pages is too long.  You should be able to do what needs done in 20 pages or less.  Sometimes much less.  

There is a lot of good info in the pinned "Motherlode" and I encourage you to dig around there.  You will find good answers to questions you didn't even know you had, and I think it's nice to see differing approaches.  Remember that there isn't one right way to do a transcript (different school districts have different approaches too) or course descriptions.  You want to present a good picture of what your student's experience was, but you also want to be as direct and concise as possible.  Admissions officers spend an average of 15 minutes reading a student application file.  They might spend a little longer on a homeschooler application if the college does a wholistic review.  But they need to be able to see the highlights of the application easily.  Don't give so much that you bury the sense of who your student is in a thicket of details.

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It's 50 pgs long bc each course has one pg for the course description (description of course,  info covered, books/resources used, grading description). If you're familiar with Lee Binz and how she did course descriptions for her sons, we'll, that's what I did. DDs transcript itself is only 1 pg (1 by year 1 by subject)

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1 hour ago, ByeByeMartha said:

It's 50 pgs long bc each course has one pg for the course description (description of course,  info covered, books/resources used, grading description). If you're familiar with Lee Binz and how she did course descriptions for her sons, we'll, that's what I did. DDs transcript itself is only 1 pg (1 by year 1 by subject)

I am familiar with her style of description. I think they include more information than a college admissions officer wants to sift through. I don't think there is as much uncertainty about homeschooling as there was years ago.

One thing you might consider is asking the admissions offices at schools your kid wants to apply to. Ask them what level of detail is helpful.  At one point I  took a rough draft of mine to a college fair and showed it to several reps. You could also ask if you go on any college visits.

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15 hours ago, ByeByeMartha said:

It's 50 pgs long bc each course has one pg for the course description (description of course,  info covered, books/resources used, grading description). If you're familiar with Lee Binz and how she did course descriptions for her sons, we'll, that's what I did. DDs transcript itself is only 1 pg (1 by year 1 by subject)


Lee Binz homeschooled many years ago, and I think some of her opinions are outdated. Colleges are much more familiar with homeschooling now, and few require homeschoolers to jump through extra hoops and provide lots of extra material. Binz also has a vested interest in convincing homeschoolers that colleges need all this extra material, because she sells books and gives lectures on how to write them.

On average, adcoms spend about 15 minutes per application; at a small LAC you might get 20 minutes, at a huge flagship with 50K applications to get through, you might get 7-8 minutes. That includes reading the student's entire application, activities list, main essay, any additional essays, 2-3 letters of recommendation, counselor letter, transcript, school profile, and homeschool supplement. So each of those pages gets about 60 seconds of attention. You can use the counselor letter, school profile, and homeschool supplement to explain how and why you homeschool and to give a strong impression of the rigor and depth of the coursework. There is even a place to list "educational partners" where you can describe outside providers, like Lukeion or Potter's School or whatever. 

I highly recommend setting up a dummy student account and inviting yourself as counselor. Then you can see both the student app and the counselor's portal, and see what goes where (the activities list goes in the student app, for example). I also agree with Sebastian that you should call the schools your student is applying to and ask how much additional info they really want. Many do not want course descriptions or reading lists (e.g., the head of admissions at DS's OOS flagship said they admit lots of homeschoolers and don't need or want any extra material from them). For schools that do want them, try to keep descriptions to no more than half a page each, and you can fit all four math classes on one page (adcoms know what Algebra 1 covers, and they don't care what text you used, or how many quizzes the student took). Even then, that's an extra 12-15 pages of material that most adcoms are not going to do more than skim through very quickly. 

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40 minutes ago, Corraleno said:


Lee Binz homeschooled many years ago, and I think some of her opinions are outdated. Colleges are much more familiar with homeschooling now, and few require homeschoolers to jump through extra hoops and provide lots of extra material. Binz also has a vested interest in convincing homeschoolers that colleges need all this extra material, because she sells books and gives lectures on how to write them.

On average, adcoms spend about 15 minutes per application; at a small LAC you might get 20 minutes, at a huge flagship with 50K applications to get through, you might get 7-8 minutes. That includes reading the student's entire application, activities list, main essay, any additional essays, 2-3 letters of recommendation, counselor letter, transcript, school profile, and homeschool supplement. So each of those pages gets about 60 seconds of attention. You can use the counselor letter, school profile, and homeschool supplement to explain how and why you homeschool and to give a strong impression of the rigor and depth of the coursework. There is even a place to list "educational partners" where you can describe outside providers, like Lukeion or Potter's School or whatever. 

I highly recommend setting up a dummy student account and inviting yourself as counselor. Then you can see both the student app and the counselor's portal, and see what goes where (the activities list goes in the student app, for example). I also agree with Sebastian that you should call the schools your student is applying to and ask how much additional info they really want. Many do not want course descriptions or reading lists (e.g., the head of admissions at DS's OOS flagship said they admit lots of homeschoolers and don't need or want any extra material from them). For schools that do want them, try to keep descriptions to no more than half a page each, and you can fit all four math classes on one page (adcoms know what Algebra 1 covers, and they don't care what text you used, or how many quizzes the student took). Even then, that's an extra 12-15 pages of material that most adcoms are not going to do more than skim through very quickly. 

Yes, this is what I was trying to get at.  I don't think what Lee Binz suggests is bad record keeping. I just don't think all of that needs to go to colleges as part of the application. 

In particular I think there is a risk that for students whose strength is demonstrated outside the academic details the admissions reps will miss the significance of other accomplishments in the pages of info about standard courses.  The way I think about it is that my kids have a story to tell about who they are as students and also as people. I want all of the significant parts of their story to come across and be noticed. I don't want to bury the highlights.

 

 

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I'll add that there is a lot of variety from college to college. Some don't want transcripts and descriptions at all, just test scores. Some have students build a course list within the application. 

Others will want lots of supporting documentation. Some have started asking for applicants to submit a graded paper.  Students doing music, art, and drama applications may need portfolios or lists of works performed. 

It can be hard to state general rules to cover ever situation. But admissions typically spends much less time with each file than you'd expect. Make sure the highlights show.

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On 4/26/2019 at 12:22 PM, Sebastian (a lady) said:

There is a lot of good info in the pinned "Motherlode" and I encourage you to dig around there.  You will find good answers to questions you didn't even know you had, and I think it's nice to see differing approaches...


"College Motherlode" -- see PAGE 2 for links to many past threads on the Common App, and on the general college application process.

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23 hours ago, ByeByeMartha said:

It's 50 pgs long bc each course has one pg for the course description (description of course,  info covered, books/resources used, grading description). If you're familiar with Lee Binz and how she did course descriptions for her sons, we'll, that's what I did. DDs transcript itself is only 1 pg (1 by year 1 by subject)

 

That's interesting because I included all that info, and I was able to fit 3-4 courses on one page.   Can you show us one course description?  Here's one of mine.  (I can't fix the formatting here, but ignore the line spacing.)

AP Statistics

In this course, students are introduced to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Students are exposed to four broad conceptual themes: exploring data (describing patterns and departures from patterns), sampling and experimentation (planning and conducting a study), anticipating patterns (exploring random phenomena using probability and simulation), and statistical inference (estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses).

Partner:  PA Homeschoolers

Instructor: Carole Matheny

Text: The Practice of Statistics by Daren S. Starnes, et al.

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On 4/25/2019 at 12:31 PM, ByeByeMartha said:

Any other tips/wisdom you'd like to share would be welcomed! 🙂 

My tip if you are exclusively looking at Common App schools:  Reduce your margins. The CA will put its own margins on your uploads & shrink your stuff, so you don't need a big margin. I made my margins super tiny on my Word Docs, then made them into PDFs with no additional margins. When I uploaded them, the CA system will tack on margins with the student's CA number as a header. I think I spent an hour playing with all these things- uploading, printing, changing the base document, reuploading, previewing, changing the base document, repeat. 

Do you have one course per page because that makes it easier to see where one ends & another begins or because each one takes a full page? If the former, I suggest condensing the formatting. If the latter, I suggest getting some input on content because you are probably listing too much info for at least some of the classes. Some unique classes could take half a page especially if you list all the books you used. Others, like previous posters said, are more standardized and can fit 4-5 per page.

Edited by RootAnn
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