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Join us at our upcoming speaking engagements:
January 13, 2018: Family Homeschool Connections (Richmond, VA)—Diane Kummer
January 13, 2018: CHEC High School and Beyond (Castle Rock, CO)—Carol Becker
January 27, 2018: Forsyth Home Educators (Winston-Salem, NC)—Carol Becker
April 12-14, 2018: MACHE (Rochester, MN)—Diane Kummer
April 19-21, 2018: CAPE (Albuquerque, NM)—Diane Kummer
April 27-28, 2018: NCHEA (NE)—Carol Becker
Don’t miss our informative new e-books, now available from the HSLDA Store!
Develop a Plan for High School is the first in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers how to choose courses, assign high school credits, evaluate coursework, and improve time management for you and your high school student.
Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript is the second in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? HSLDA’s recorded event High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality features sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement! Purchase it at the HSLDA Store.
The College Search and Application Process
|Dear Friends,||September 7, 2017|
As the school year begins, many parents have questions about the college application process and how to narrow the college search among so many options. We want to help you start this process early, keep on track each year, and finish with confidence. If your teen is a senior this year and applying to college is at the top of the to-do list, then you will find this information timely. This process includes choosing a college prep academic plan, investigating prospective colleges, updating documentation yearly, and applying to colleges.
Choosing a college prep plan
Academic preparation for college begins in the freshman year. You can view these samples of four-year college prep plans (average, strong, and rigorous) and notice that each varies in academic intensity. Also consider the selectivity of the colleges to which your teen plans to apply. Then decide which plan best aligns with your teen’s academic skills and future goals.
Take time to discuss course options and pencil in proposed courses on a four-year plan form. This overall plan can be adjusted to ensure that your teen meets the course requirements for admission to various colleges. HSLDA members may speak directly with an HSLDA High School Consultant, who can help you tailor a high school college prep plan to suit your teen’s specific goals.
Taking the types of courses found on a college prep plan helps teens develop the study skills, independent work ethic, research proficiency, and time management skills necessary for succeeding in college.
Investigating four-year colleges and universities
Deciding to apply to a four-year college or university as a freshman is a big decision, so we encourage you to have many discussions with your teen about career goals, degree benefits, educational costs (tuition, room, and board), and other factors. These discussions can also guide your teen to have reasonable expectations for financial assistance and explore other avenues of financial support.
To begin the college search and selection process, help your teen determine the parameters that are important, such as location, cost, size, possible majors, campus housing, average financial aid awarded, or other personal considerations. Next, search online for recommendations of colleges that match your parameters:
- U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings and Lists
- U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
- Best Value Schools
- Recommended college search engines
- Other resources for finding the right college and navigating the admissions process.
Once you have collected a list of colleges to investigate, ask your teen to research the colleges’ admission requirements for freshmen. Admission requirements generally include particular courses, a cumulative GPA, and college entrance exam (ACT, SAT, or CLT) scores. Some colleges may require several SAT Subject Tests. Notice whether a college has several majors that interest your teen because changes in major that necessitate transferring to another college may be costly in both time and money. Your teen can create a spreadsheet to keep track of each college’s minimum requirements, majors offered, tuition costs, worldview, number of students, and other important categories for comparison.
Because college expenses are substantial, you may need to eliminate an institution that far exceeds your family’s financial resources or that would require your teen to assume too much debt. Some colleges may not be options unless their financial aid package includes a sizeable grant or work study opportunity.
Considering community colleges
Teens who are undecided about college majors, want to save significantly on tuition costs, would prefer not to take college admission exams, or would struggle to meet minimum admission requirements also have options for college. They can begin general education courses at a community college (sometimes referred to as a two-year college).
Community colleges require prospective students to take a placement test at an on-campus test center—usually the Accuplacer. This assesses students’ reading, writing, and math skills. Some community colleges now accept SAT or ACT scores in lieu of placement tests. Academic advisors use these test scores to determine what courses freshmen can enroll in, so the better a teen scores, the more course options he or she will have.
After completing some or all general education courses through a community college, a student transfers to a four-year college or university to complete his or her bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree. Make sure you visit the admission page for any four-year college of interest to understand the college’s stated policy on acceptance of transfer students. The destination college’s transfer policy can help you select courses and determine the number of credits your teen should earn prior to transferring to a four-year college or university. Certain in-state universities participate with community colleges to grant automatic acceptance to students who maintain required GPAs while attending the two-year institution.
Applying to four-year colleges and universities
Before beginning the college application process, we strongly recommend that you prepare the following records:
Because the transcript shows the student’s academic course record, it verifies that an applicant has met a college’s minimum course requirements. Extracurricular activity sheets help students fill in the activities section of an online application.
Course descriptions come into play when students apply to selective colleges (including all of the U.S. military academies), compete for sizeable scholarships, or seek to qualify for Division I, II, or III college athletics (NCAA).
Every college has an online application form that students must complete. Plan at least a two-week window to complete each application. More than 700 colleges accept the Common App, so use it to apply to one or more of the participating colleges. The Common App has been significantly updated for 2017, and this tutorial explains some of the important changes. Also, look over the Common App FAQs.
Many colleges require student essays as part of the application process, and the College Board offers guidance to students on the importance of these essays. Writing on extracurricular activities is a good choice for one or more of these essays. Here are the 2017–18 Common App essay prompts.
Some colleges require letters of recommendation. Select teachers who know your student’s academic abilities well. Although some colleges will accept a letter of recommendation from a homeschool parent, it helps to provide at least one recommendation letter from an outside instructor, if possible. HSLDA members can read about what comprises a good recommendation letter. The College Board also provides helpful tips to letter writers.
Read more about the types of application deadlines: early decision, early action, regular decision, and rolling admission. To help you stay on top of the application process, consider using this college application timeline.
The college application process requires much planning, so use the resources and guidelines we’ve outlined as you develop your teen’s college prep academic plan, keep good records of your teen’s academics and extracurricular activities, search for colleges that meet your parameters, and then encourage your teen to complete college applications early to meet application and financial aid deadlines.
Join us next month as we look into ways to help teens develop time management skills.
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants