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ShepCarlin

Course Descriptions-lab lists? book lists?

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Still slowly pulling together course descriptions for my 9th (er, I guess 10th grade now) grader. For his biology class...I am realizing it will probably be overkill to list all the labs he did. But do I put a note in the description "lab list available upon request"? I am seeing based on the comments in the awesome MotherLode #2 pin that a brief succinct summary is preferred to a long winded description. On that same line of thinking...what about book lists for fun and assigned class reading (ie Gilgamesh for ancient world history and gobs of fantasy novels for fun reading).  Frankly, I'm hoping that a book list of fun isn't crucial as I did a pitifully poor job keeping a list of what he read this year. So poor in fact, that I have no clue what the child read. I just know that he did read for enjoyment.  

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My course descriptions that I sent to colleges were about a quarter to half a page. I listed the text and main topics covered. Labs were mentioned in one sentence:

For physics "The labs had a strong focus on data analysis and error analysis. ". For chemistry "The labs were performed with lab kit CK-S from Labpaq which, according to the manufacturer, is used with full year college chemistry courses and frequently used with full year regular and honors level high school courses. "

I listed main books covered in the lit&history courses, but did not include a comprehensive book list and did not list recreational reading.

I kept more detailed lists for my own records.

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I listed how many labs she did for physics but I only said "virtual and traditional laboratory techniques are used to obtain, organize, and analyze data" for Chem.

I included novel titles for English classes but did not submit a fun reading list.

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My course descriptions were about a paragraph each including level of the course (regular high school, honors, or college level), course content from the table of contents, method of evaluation (exercises, written essays or research, exams, etc), credit awarded, and grade. I did list out the more impressive sounding labs, especially the dissectons, so science ones were a little longer. I included the main text or resource we used for each course, but not every single supplement because that would get too long. I did give a required reading list for Lit courses only (about 7 or 8 works usually). I did not include recreational reading at all - why would you???

I'm honestly not convinced that they were read by anyone at my son's uni, but he didn't apply to any Ivies.

 

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Here's a couple of science course descriptions.  I pretty much lifted it from the the vendor's course descriptions with some light editing:

AP Biology

AP Biology is a year-long seminar course that covers college-level introductory biology topics in molecular and cellular biology; anatomy, physiology, and diversity of plants, animals, and microbes; and ecology and evolution. Emphasis is placed on the themes that unify biology, including regulation of biological processes, energy transfer, continuity and change, evolution, the relationship between structure and function, emergent properties, interdependence in nature, the scientific process, and the relevance of biology in our everyday lives. Through at-home and virtual lab work, students learn useful biological techniques, gain the ability to design scientific experiments, effectively communicate results, and strengthen their knowledge of material presented in lecture. This course prepares students for the AP Biology exam.

Partner: Stanford Online High School

Instructor: Kristina Vetter, PhD

Text: Campbell Biology by Jane Reece, et al.

 

 

AP Chemistry with Lab

This College Board approved online course not only prepares students for the AP Chemistry exam, it is also the equivalent of a first-year college chemistry course, providing students a strong foundation to support future advanced work in chemistry.  Topics include: mass relationships in chemical reactions, reactions in aqueous solutions, properties of gases, thermochemistry, electron structure of the atom, periodic relationships, chemical bonding, organic chemistry, intermolecular forces, physical properties of solutions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium and solubility, acid-base equilibria, entropy, free energy and equilibrium, electrochemistry.  Students will complete chapter summaries, multiple choice tests, free response tests, study guides and exam review materials, and use short highly-focused video lectures on specific topics.  

Partner: PA Homeschoolers/Chem Advantage

Instructor: Peter Moskaluk

Text: Chemistry by Raymond Chang

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Do we need course descriptions? I was thinking transcript, with a list of texts/materials/labs used recorded so I can provide it if requested. 

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29 minutes ago, sbgrace said:

Do we need course descriptions? I was thinking transcript, with a list of texts/materials/labs used recorded so I can provide it if requested. 

 

It really depends on what colleges your kid is applying to.  I know of schools that really don't care.  They just want to see something that looks like a transcript and some good test scores.

Other colleges care a great deal.  They want to see what homeschool meant for your student.  These schools tend to be those that are more competitive (ie, more people are applying than they will accept). 

I know that course descriptions helped my sons in some cases, because the admissions officers commented on it.  But I also know friends whose kids got into schools without any course descriptions at all. 

My course descriptions are similar to what daijabu posted above.  I do list more texts for history and literature courses.  I don't go over a half page for any of them. 

What I do suggest is to be sure that you are giving a college what it asks for the first time around, rather than waiting for them to ask for it a second time.  Meaning that if their admissions page says that they want an explanation of homeschool coursework, then you include that with the application.  Some colleges have so many applications that they don't have time to give students a second chance.  The more selective the school and the more the student is dependent on merit based scholarships, the more important it is to understand what they are asking for and send it with the initial application.

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8 hours ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

 

It really depends on what colleges your kid is applying to.  I know of schools that really don't care.  They just want to see something that looks like a transcript and some good test scores.

Other colleges care a great deal.  They want to see what homeschool meant for your student.  These schools tend to be those that are more competitive (ie, more people are applying than they will accept). 

I know that course descriptions helped my sons in some cases, because the admissions officers commented on it.  But I also know friends whose kids got into schools without any course descriptions at all. 

My course descriptions are similar to what daijabu posted above.  I do list more texts for history and literature courses.  I don't go over a half page for any of them. 

What I do suggest is to be sure that you are giving a college what it asks for the first time around, rather than waiting for them to ask for it a second time.  Meaning that if their admissions page says that they want an explanation of homeschool coursework, then you include that with the application.  Some colleges have so many applications that they don't have time to give students a second chance.  The more selective the school and the more the student is dependent on merit based scholarships, the more important it is to understand what they are asking for and send it with the initial application.

Good point!

I'm curious though ... at what point during the admissions process did you actually speak to an admissions officer about your son's application? I spoke to admissions at a college visit to ask what they wanted to receive from homeschooled students and then he applied through the Common App and he heard he got accepted via an impersonal email. I kind of got the feeling they wanted us to stay out of it other than the online application, so we did. I would have loved the opportunity to speak with a specific admissions counselor about my son's application! So I'm curious how that came about for you ...

Edited by Momto6inIN
Eta this wasn't anywhere close to an Ivy, but it was for CS at Purdue which has only a 35% acceptance rate, so fairly competitive

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12 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

Eta this wasn't anywhere close to an Ivy, but it was for CS at Purdue which has only a 35% acceptance rate, so fairly competitive

Apparently the first CS program in the country, though, and very well thought of! Congrats!

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2 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

Good point!

I'm curious though ... at what point during the admissions process did you actually speak to an admissions officer about your son's application? I spoke to admissions at a college visit to ask what they wanted to receive from homeschooled students and then he applied through the Common App and he heard he got accepted via an impersonal email. I kind of got the feeling they wanted us to stay out of it other than the online application, so we did. I would have loved the opportunity to speak with a specific admissions counselor about my son's application! So I'm curious how that came about for you ...

 

I’m wondering how much this matters anymore, now that most schools take Common or Coalition App. As the counselor, I’m going to submit only one set of documents to my students application, right? And then the student checks off what schools to submit the application to, and the school can choose to look at the course descriptions, or not. 

 

As to course descriptions, I’ve been keeping up with them since ninth grade. My descriptions of the AP courses are super short, because they are all from outside providers that have accreditation and an approved syllabus. I figured the admissions people all know what a particular AP course includes. I did put a note about labs, because I wanted to make sure they knew that we did them. I was more specific for courses from more obscure outside providers and our homegrown courses. I did list all books read for history and literature courses, but never considered a free time reading list. I remember seeing years ago that some did that, but I thought the idea behind that was more along the lines of documenting what your student was doing if you took a more unschooling approach. I assume that many kids in regular high schools are also reading outside of class requirements, and they don’t send a book list. If there is a significant and high intellectual level interest reflected in this reading, I figure it can come out in achievements, the counselor letter, or essays. 

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3 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

Good point!

I'm curious though ... at what point during the admissions process did you actually speak to an admissions officer about your son's application? I spoke to admissions at a college visit to ask what they wanted to receive from homeschooled students and then he applied through the Common App and he heard he got accepted via an impersonal email. I kind of got the feeling they wanted us to stay out of it other than the online application, so we did. I would have loved the opportunity to speak with a specific admissions counselor about my son's application! So I'm curious how that came about for you ...

First CS at Purdue is pretty awesome. 

My second son had two admitted students days that the admissions readers came out for.  Both remembered something about his application.  One made an unsolicited comment about how the level of detail in the application package gave them a good sense of what he'd done.

I've also been known to take a copy of transcript and course descriptions to college fairs and ask reps there if it is the detail level they are looking for.  I specifically say that I'm not looking for them to review and give admissions chances right there, but to say if they would want more or less info.  

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4 minutes ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

First CS at Purdue is pretty awesome. 

My second son had two admitted students days that the admissions readers came out for.  Both remembered something about his application.  One made an unsolicited comment about how the level of detail in the application package gave them a good sense of what he'd done.

I've also been known to take a copy of transcript and course descriptions to college fairs and ask reps there if it is the detail level they are looking for.  I specifically say that I'm not looking for them to review and give admissions chances right there, but to say if they would want more or less info.  

That's awesome!

The rep I spoke to pre-admission didn't even know that hs'ed students in Indiana don't necessarily get a diploma or transcript issued by anyone other than the parent. She told me I just needed to tell his supervising school to send his transcript. She was ... less than helpful 😉 She probably wouldn't have known what to do if I'd whipped out my course descriptions lol!

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7 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

That's awesome!

The rep I spoke to pre-admission didn't even know that hs'ed students in Indiana don't necessarily get a diploma or transcript issued by anyone other than the parent. She told me I just needed to tell his supervising school to send his transcript. She was ... less than helpful 😉 She probably wouldn't have known what to do if I'd whipped out my course descriptions lol!

There are admissions reps with decades of experience and others who just graduated from college. I try to distinguish between a lack of experience and a lack of welcome. 

Sometimes I have asked if they have a dedicated reader for homeschooled applicants. Sometimes even if they didn't, the regional rep I was talking to would also read the application, so I could get a card and follow up with what the state requirements were. 

I have found that colleges in states with a lot of home study charter schools can assume that is the standard way to homeschool and be less familiar with Independent homeschoolers. 

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2 hours ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

First CS at Purdue is pretty awesome. 

My second son had two admitted students days that the admissions readers came out for.  Both remembered something about his application.  One made an unsolicited comment about how the level of detail in the application package gave them a good sense of what he'd done.

I've also been known to take a copy of transcript and course descriptions to college fairs and ask reps there if it is the detail level they are looking for.  I specifically say that I'm not looking for them to review and give admissions chances right there, but to say if they would want more or less info.  

Taking transcripts and course descriptions to college fairs is a great idea!

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4 hours ago, Penelope said:

 

I’m wondering how much this matters anymore, now that most schools take Common or Coalition App. As the counselor, I’m going to submit only one set of documents to my students application, right? And then the student checks off what schools to submit the application to, and the school can choose to look at the course descriptions, or not. 

 

As to course descriptions, I’ve been keeping up with them since ninth grade. My descriptions of the AP courses are super short, because they are all from outside providers that have accreditation and an approved syllabus. I figured the admissions people all know what a particular AP course includes. I did put a note about labs, because I wanted to make sure they knew that we did them. I was more specific for courses from more obscure outside providers and our homegrown courses. 

 

The CA allows you to even submit multiple transcripts.  I used those fields to upload my main transcript and then an unofficial transcript PDF from each of PAH, SOHS, and CC.  If I had had more space I probably would have uploaded my course descriptions separately as another transcript, but at some point I ran out of places to upload different transcripts, so I ended up appending some of them together into fewer documents.  (I became more acquainted with editing pdf's than I had anticipated.)  

I agree that admissions ppl are familiar with AP courses, and from what I hear, may even be familiar with PAH in particular.  Plus, the scores earned on those respective exams will also speak to the rigor of the class.  

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:53 PM, ShepCarlin said:

Still slowly pulling together course descriptions for my 9th (er, I guess 10th grade now) grader. For his biology class...I am realizing it will probably be overkill to list all the labs he did. But do I put a note in the description "lab list available upon request"? I am seeing based on the comments in the awesome MotherLode #2 pin that a brief succinct summary is preferred to a long winded description.

Here's a course description I wrote for my daughter ~

Chemistry (with Lab)

This course introduces the student to basic concepts in general chemistry. The course covers significant figures, units, chemical formulas and equations, the mole concept, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, thermodynamics, kinetics, acids and bases, redox reactions, solutions, atomic structure, Lewis structures, molecular geometry, the gas laws, and equilibrium.

 (Class taken at home in 10th grade.)  Awarded 1.00 credit.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:53 PM, ShepCarlin said:

...what about book lists for fun and assigned class reading (ie Gilgamesh for ancient world history and gobs of fantasy novels for fun reading). 

I sent a reading list with my daughter's college application paperwork (i.e., transcript, counselor letter, profile and course descriptions). We sorted her list into categories such as:

Fiction

Non-fiction

Essays

Fantasy (a favorite genre of hers)

Latin works (This included authors such as Ovid and Catullus as well as books such as Virent Ova! Viret Perna! by Dr. Seuss, Ferdinandus Taurus by Munro Leaf, and Asterix Olympius by Rene de Goscinny. Since she was planning to major in Latin and/or the Classics, we thought this showed her interest.)

We included titles and author names but also shortened the list by having items such as: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy plus six sequels.

We did not include everything she had read for pleasure in high school -- for example, we did not include any manga (though she had read an abundance) nor did we include Calvin & Hobbes or Zits. We did include titles that had been assigned reading.

I also included a list of textbooks used since I did not include book titles in her course descriptions.

When my daughter looked over her reading list, there were a number of books whose contents she no longer remembered clearly. Many of these she had read in ninth grade. She elected to eliminate them so that she would not be put in an awkward position. We imagined an interviewer looking over the list and saying, "Oh, Vaguest, Dimmest Memories is a favorite title of mine. What did you like best about it?" And, yes, she was asked about some of her reading choices when she interviewed.

Regards,

Kareni

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