The Common Application, which has been simplifying college applications since 1975, has rolled out a new version of its application, christened CA4, effective August 2013. Applicants planning to enter college as freshmen or transfer students in the fall of 2014 should be aware of these changes. Homeschooling parents, take note, particularly if you have already worked with the Common App in previous years and are expecting it to be the same. It’s not!
As a homeschooling family, chances are, the biggest question you hear (right after “What about socialization?”) is “How will you prepare your student for college?” Now that our two students are college graduates, I can use the clarity of hindsight to look back on our own journey and highlight the top ten principles that worked for us. Though every family is unique, these basics form a useful foundation for most homeschoolers traversing the college prep path.
Classic writer’s block is that crippling paralysis that strikes when we’re expected to come up with eloquent, edifying words—typically, under a time limit. But a different kind of writer’s block can strike homeschoolers seeking to meet the demands of high school level writing. Clearly, writing skills are vital for college preparation as well as for life, but for some, just trying to get started can bring on that vexatious paralysis. However, with a little forethought and the courage to just “plunge in,” you can successfully teach writing to your teen.
Traditionally schooled students get to walk into a classroom and take a course for which someone has already done the hard work of planning it—but which has the drawback of being “one size fits all.” For homeschoolers, designing courses takes some work and ingenuity. However, with the proper knowledge and perspective, students and parents can work together to come up with a course of study that will be equivalent to (or better than) an honors level course at a traditional school—and that fits the student’s needs and abilities.
Three main steps will start you on your journey: Research Your Requirements, Optimize Your Options, and Customize Your Courses.
Senioritis. Though it may not be listed in your physician’s medical dictionary, it is a real malady that traditional students, parents, schoolteachers, and counselors recognize and even come to expect. In a classic case of senioritis, a student begins to lose focus, motivation, and “drive” for completing work with excellence as graduation approaches. In mild cases, students may simply feel a reduced motivation to finish their work—especially once college acceptances are in and the remainder of high school seems to consist of “going through the motions.” In extreme cases, however, students may actually receive D’s and F’s in their courses.
Whether homeschooled or traditionally schooled, high school students have one thing in common: their dread of college entrance exams. Homeschooling parents, too, may be intimidated. To begin with, our students generally take fewer standardized tests than do traditional students. Additionally, whether fair or not, colleges may place more emphasis on homeschoolers’ test scores and less on their transcripts. Thus, students may believe that they need good test scores to “prove” themselves to colleges.