As the parents of four always homeschooled students, the oldest in college and the next a high school senior, we wanted to share our experience with college preparation. We’ve narrowed down this broad topic to three areas that we feel are consistent with any student wanting to further their education at the college level. These three areas are college admission requirements, time management and emotional readiness.
First, in order to be considered for college admission, a student must have a high school transcript. We learned what high school course requirements are needed for our child’s transcript by knowing our state’s homeschool laws. Every state has their own laws regarding homeschooling (required courses, hours, standardized tests, etc.). This will be your student’s minimum requirements in order to obtain their high school transcript. For more information regarding homeschool laws please go to HSLDA’s website.
College admission testing (ACT and SAT) is also a requirement during the high school years for college admission. It is important to be familiar with what tests are available and the timeline of when your student can take these tests. There are many resources to help your student prepare for success with college admission tests. It is helpful to know all of this in advance so your student is prepared and does not miss out on any opportunities. https://www.collegeboard.org/ (SAT) http://act.org/ (ACT)
The higher the test score your student achieves the more eligible they are for scholarship money. It is never too early to plan and learn about financial possibilities to help with the costs of college. Most college websites offer lots of information regarding many types of scholarships. Also, it’s important to make sure your student is a competent writer since they will be writing essays when they take the ACT/SAT and when filling out college applications.
If you happen to have an idea of what college your student is interested in then you can always browse that college’s website and or even call their admission’s office with questions regarding that college’s admission requirements. The more discussions you can have with your student regarding their interests helps with the process of choosing a college. A lot of colleges accept AP courses, CLEP testing and dual enrollment credits from high schoolers that took these classes while in high school. Feel free to call the colleges you are interested in and ask.
All of our children are competitive swimmers and knowing if your son/daughter would like to participate in NCAA sports is part of preparing your student for college. Our daughter did not want to swim in college and she was confident that she wanted to study Theology. Knowing this made it is easier to narrow down our college search for her. She received a full-ride academic scholarship to the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
Our next college student absolutely knew he wanted to swim for a NCAA Division I school and study business. He recently committed to the University of Utah and was offered both academic and athletic scholarships. The NCAA has mandatory guidelines that need to be met in order for a student to be eligible to participate in Division I and II sports. Being aware of the NCAA homeschool checklist at the beginning of high school was super helpful. We were able to keep him on track for NCAA eligibility by knowing the requirements for college athletes. For more information go to NCAA’s website.
Second, time management is huge when preparing for college. The sooner you can start practicing this life skill the easier it will be for your child to adjust to their college schedule. Having good time management disciplines will help your son/daughter to be confident with their study habits and be successful in achieving their goals in college.
Starting in high school we introduce our children to their own personal planning tool. We prefer a paper planner. This is something that they are in control of (not the parent). In the beginning, we consistently meet with them in order to make sure they are properly using this valuable tool.
We teach them to write down all assignments and tests on the date it is due. Often, we are discussing with them how to prioritize and use their time wisely. They learn to plan out their daily/weekly time in order to reach their deadline date. Also, our high schoolers have learned that it is good to schedule in small breaks when studying. It helps them to get some fresh air, move around, get their blood pumping throughout their body and rest their mind so that they can recharge. Then they can refocus and be more productive with their time. This cuts down on periods of frustration, especially with boys! Implementing a good daily routine and having more movement throughout the day equals productive boys!
A common daily conversation in our house is what they need to get done for that day which leads to looking out into that week’s plan. Our children are competitive swimmers which require them to train 5-6 hours a day. Their level of swimming also involves a lot of travel for competition. It is understood in our house that academics come first so they learn quickly to manage their time with school work in order for them to go to the pool each day. If they don’t get their training in then their results in the pool suffer. Therefore, time management is key!
Our high school boys are enrolled in Kolbe Academy Online high school courses. This program has helped tremendously in learning this important life skill of time management. They attend scheduled “live” online classes. They are held accountable for class participation, assignments, papers, tests and full communication with their online teachers. Kolbe Academy is very professional and has been wonderful preparation for college.
Thirdly, an advantage to homeschooling is having less exposure to the negative behaviors that go on outside our home. We are able to encourage good behavior and move along with less distractions. Being able to block out certain behaviors which would otherwise involve negative peer pressure.
We are able to introduce topics at our pace and have conversations with our children as things come up and as they are ready for it. Homeschooling has allowed our kids to mature at their own pace and grow in confidence with who they are becoming. This security with themselves allows them to go to college better equipped. Therefore, allowing them to make better choices for themselves when they are in the college environment (peer groups, college activities, social events, etc.)
Throughout high school there are certain classes we make sure our kids take to help prepare them for college. Such as:
- Speech and Debate class (in a group setting, not online)
- “Foundations in Personal Finance” by Dave Ramsey
- “Theology of the Body for Teens”
When preparing for college, it’s helpful if both parents are supportive and engaged in the process. Knowing what you are preparing for is helpful. Research college information as much as possible and as early as you can so that you are prepared to assist your son/daughter. The college prep process can be overwhelming so the more time you have to research and learn about it, the better.
Everyone’s college preparation process will be different for each family and each child. Ask lots of questions and enjoy the process of helping your child into adulthood. Surrounding yourself with other homeschooling families that are preparing for college is a great support system. Good luck and may God bless you on this journey!