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    When to start researching/planning colleges?

    Disclaimer: I am definitely a Type A, checklist kind of mom, just so that you know my personality before reading this question.


    As we approach Upper School years, the thought of college is beginning to loom on the horizon.


    As homeschoolers, is there a timeline or approach to follow? Like --- dates to start looking at colleges, dates to start researching scholarships, etc?

    Dorinda, or Jen (formerly) in Japan -- didn't one of you pursue the PSAT and all that? Care to chat about it?
    Plans for 2019-20

    DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
    DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
    DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
    DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
    DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
    DS6 - 5 - MP K

    [url]www.thekennedyadventures.com/all-about-our-memoria-press-homeschool[/url]

    #2
    Re: When to start researching/planning colleges?

    Originally posted by DiannaKennedy View Post
    Disclaimer: I am definitely a Type A, checklist kind of mom, just so that you know my personality before reading this question.


    As we approach Upper School years, the thought of college is beginning to loom on the horizon.


    As homeschoolers, is there a timeline or approach to follow? Like --- dates to start looking at colleges, dates to start researching scholarships, etc?

    Dorinda, or Jen (formerly) in Japan -- didn't one of you pursue the PSAT and all that? Care to chat about it?
    Dianne,

    I am a very similar personality....I LOVE checking things off my list. My daughter is heading into 10th and we only just started looking at colleges. We walked around Norte Dame when we were in South Bend for Mass, and she has been to a few schools around home mostly for swim meets. I have been looking at schools online, but Jen just recently encouraged me to call a couple of admissions offices for more specifics. I think it is still a bit early to really focus on scholarships as they can change a ton in a few years. My daughter has taken the SAT and ACT a couple of times mostly for giggles as we like to say. My mom has been super paranoid for a lack of a better word so I have rolled my eyes and in appeasement done standardized testing for the kids even though Michigan doesn’t require any. I decided in 7th grade for her that if I was going to bother I wanted a test that was going to tell me something. We register for it through Northwestern University Midwest Talent Search, but we don’t take any of the classes they offer. She has not yet taken the PSAT, but I am trying to get her registered this fall. Fall of Junior year is when it counts for national merit, but you will have to find a school to let you sit for the exam with their students. Unlike the SAT you can’t just go online and register. I am still just muddling my way along so I won’t know for awhile if I did it all “right”.
    Dorinda

    DD 15 - 10th with MPOA(Biology, Novel, Material Logic/Rhetoric ), Lukeion (Greek3, Latin 3)
    DS 13 - 8A with MPOA(Third Form and composition)
    DS 10 - 5M
    DS 5 - K with AAR3

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      #3
      Re: When to start researching/planning colleges?

      Hi Dianna and Dorinda,
      I hope we get a chance to discuss this question a bit at SG next week. One thing students should do, starting in 7th grade, is to keep a log of service hours, mission trips, and volunteer work, so that when they are asked those questions on future college applications and scholarship applications, they don't have to recreate the information, dates, and references from memory. Colleges love service. Consider having your 13 year-old register for and begin work on the congressional award, which can culminate in a silver or gold medal at age 18. This service-oriented achievement builds the character of your teenager and sets them apart on a college application.

      I recommend students in 8th grade begin job shadowing. Find a couple of people each year in careers that your child might have an aptitude for and arrange to shadow them for a day. These shadow visits should be recorded in the student's log, and of course the student should write a thank you note following the visit. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource to review when thinking about possible careers.

      Students in 9th grade can begin looking at colleges using the "virtual tour" feature on most college websites. It is a good idea to take your 8th or 9th grader on a few informal college visits (as Dorinda has done), so the student gets a sense of what a college campus is like. A profitable "assignment" would be to research a college each week during the summer and report to the family on the "college of the week" - advantages and drawbacks, based on the student's online research.

      During the summers before 10th and 11th grade, students should spend 2 hours/week (at least) practicing with the SAT practice materials on Khan Academy. After the student takes the PSAT in 10th, their score report will include a code they can enter into the college board/Khan Academy site for a personalized practice plan.

      Students in 10th grade should take the PSAT exam for practice. Taking it in the actual setting is worthwhile, so that when they take it in 11th grade "for real", they know what to expect. Conversely, I think too much early testing can cause a student to get complacent, just when it really counts.

      Students in 10th and 11th grade should make 3-4 formal college visits each year. The most important thing they can do on those visits is sit in on actual classes in the fields they plan to study (Biology 101, Chem 201, Literature 105, History 205, etc) An appointment with a professor in your field of interest is helpful, but the classroom visit is more illuminating. Of course you will take the obligatory campus tour and sit through the obligatory financial aid seminars, but get that student into an actual classroom. Classroom visits need to be set up in advance through the admissions department and (often) the college department head. I would avoid the huge "planned visit days", because they are very crowded and usually consist of a dog-and-pony show where all the most presentable bits are trotted out. Better to visit on an "off day" and get a look at how things typically run. It goes without saying to avoid visits during spring or summer breaks when the campus is empty.

      I recommend two books:
      Where you go is not who you'll be: an antidote to the college admissions mania (Frank Bruni)
      Colleges that Change Lives: 40 Schools that will change the way you think about colleges (Loren Pope, Hilary Masell Oswald)
      The first book provides some perspective on the crazy world of college admissions. The second offers 40 liberal arts schools, organized by geographic region, that are worthy of consideration (though you may not have heard of them).

      My final observation is that the largest financial awards come from the university itself. Don't shy away from expensive private schools, which are often well-endowed and have more money to offer. By scoring well on SAT (or ACT) and writing a great personal essay, your student is in the best position to receive merit money (including departmental scholarships). There are a few private scholarships which pay a lot, but you get more bang for your buck (effort expended) by concentrating your efforts to work with the institution itself and apply for scholarships and awards available within the institution.

      That's my 2 cents' worth. (I serve as college advisor to students at HLS-Indy and am learning a bit more each year!)
      Cindy Davis
      Science and Math teacher at Highlands Latin School - Indianapolis
      ds-25 college graduate: autodidact, working to pay the bills
      ds-23 college graduate: 1st year med school
      dd-21 college senior: Nursing

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