Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was taking nature walks, giving spelling tests, and teaching phonics lessons. Now I have entered a different season as I have three kids in college; two on target to graduate this coming year. A part of me is sad to see the early years gone, yet this is an exciting time of anticipation as I see my children grow into adulthood.
Prepping for Entrance
There are several things parents can do to help their children in the journey to college years. For example, working on writing skills has been advantageous for college entrance essays and standardized testing. Taking advantage of a homeschool speech and debate club in our area has proved to help our sons immensely, giving them more confidence in their speaking abilities as well as helping with interviews at colleges. Additionally, logging service hours and keeping track of extracurricular activities has been beneficial for their college resume. In addition, making sure our children were well-prepared for standardized testing was very helpful. High scores on these tests can turn into scholarship dollars. There are also websites, such as Fastweb or Scholarships.com that are helpful in finding various scholarships available.
Getting a head start toward college credit is also helpful. Dual credit courses (taken either at a community college or online) or AP courses will also prove to save some money and time and help your student become acclimated to college classes. Dual credit courses are courses taken at a community college or online through a university that can count toward college and high school credit. Keep in mind a semester college class will count as a full year of high school credit. Another option is AP (Advanced Placement) courses which are rigorous high school courses in specific subjects. After completing these courses, students can take an AP exam at a local high school or college. If they earn a score of at least a 3 or higher (depending on the college’s requirements), most likely the score will count as college credit.
Interviewing Your Potential College
We began researching early with our children and in the process learned a great deal about colleges and universities. Starting these visits ahead of time helped tremendously. Choosing a few universities and scheduling visits early in their high school years made the process a lot less stressful their senior year. We have found a typical college visit usually includes a tour, an interview, a session with admissions and/or financial aid, attending a couple of classes, and possibly, a night in the dorm. My husband and I have also had extensive conversations with our children about their future and what they desired in a university. Having these conversations helped sort through their thoughts as they began thinking about universities they might be interested in attending.
These are some questions for your students to consider as well as ask the prospective university:
- Do they desire to be close to home?
- Is class size important as well as being able to have frequent interaction with professors?
- Are the university’s values consistent with your students’ values?
- What are the entrance requirements for home educators?
- What is the culture of the dorm life? Are there other options available?
- How many students obtain jobs after graduation in their specific field of interest?
- Are there opportunities for research and internships?
- Are the academics strong in their primary area of study?
- What activities are available in their specific interests (example: scholastic club, jazz band, dance team, basketball, track, etc.)?
- What scholarships are available?
- How many dual credit hours can a student have without being considered a transfer student and still be eligible for freshman scholarships?
- Will the dual credit courses or AP courses taken transfer to the university?
Of course, these are just a few of the many questions we brought with us on visits. As we began our adventurous journeys to a few colleges of interest, my children started seeing a vision for their future. Talking to older friends that had recently been through the college application process was also very useful.
Building for the Long Term
During these college visits, we realized our children would be forced to make daily decisions on their own. We became aware that the single most important preparation we can give our children is to help them develop the character they need to make wise choices. That character preparation for “life after homeschool” was one of our most important investments.
Each of our children was blessed to find the right college “fit”. It was well worth taking the extra time to schedule visits and evaluate what the universities offered in light of each of their personalities and goals. Our children have thoroughly enjoyed their experiences during these years and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for them after they finish this season of their lives.