Most of us are quite happy that 2020/2021 is behind us and, although we all experienced more than a few inconveniences during the shut down, now that we are on the other side of it, there are a few resulting changes that we can celebrate! Some of the changes I will share are changes that happened across the board with most colleges, but at least one change listed below is unique to Bryan College (as far as I know) and it is an exciting change!

  1. STATE FUNDING: Apparently during COVID many people played the lottery and states became awash with money that had to be allocated and, at least in Tennessee, both our dual enrollment grant and our HOPE amounts were increased! I am not a fan of the lottery, but if folks want to voluntarily give their money away and if the state wants to share that money with me, I am inclined to be a happy recipient. With these increases Tennessee students can take 30 hours of dual enrollment with us (because we offer a $200 scholarship for classes #6 and beyond) for less than $300 (plus books/fees) and out-of-state students receive a $200 scholarship per class. Email bcde@bryan.edu for more information.
  2. TESTING: Many tests were shut down during Covid because they did not offer virtual options. The CLT is the only college exam that was able to be offered during the pandemic. I hear that both the SAT and ACT are planning to be virtual eventually. The CLT continues to be offered virtually. If you register for the CLT and use the code ‘Bryan20’ you will save 20%!
  3. CLEP: Prior to the pandemic, one had to find a proctored site in order to take a CLEP exam. For residents living within the USA, these exams can now be taken virtually. For those of you unfamiliar with CLEP, these are standardized exams that can earn a student college credit. Bryan College accepts up to 30 CLEP credit hours, with limitations, and they are listed at this link, starting on page 58. Some of these tests (such as foreign language) could grant a student 3, 6 or even 9 hours of credit. 
  4. TEST OPTIONAL: It has always been my personal contention that college exams are not a good indicator of how well a student will do in college. Several of my own children earned 4.0 GPAs in dual enrollment classes, yet they tested poorly. During the pandemic many colleges went test optional and some have stayed that way. Although Bryan college has returned to using a college exam score for merit scholarships, we are technically still test optional because we have an alternative basis for merit scholarship. This will benefit the students who do not test well! Instead of using only a college exam score to determine merit scholarship, Bryan College will now us students’ dual enrollment GPA as long as they have earned at least nine credits with a minimum GPA of 3.0! My youngest three, who were at Bryan a few years ago, would have all earned top merit scholarships had this been the case when they were here. Our top merit scholarship is based on either a 29 ACT/1330 SAT/89 CLT OR a dual enrollment GPA of 3.75. To my knowledge, this is unique to Bryan College. With our lowered tuition, it certainly makes it worth your while to check out the majors we offer!
  5. VIRTUAL TOURS: Visiting the colleges that your students are considering will help narrow your choices and, before Covid, not that many colleges offered virtual tours. Now a days, many colleges have virtual tours on their websites. This should not replace an in person visit, but it is a great starting point when narrowing down options.
  6. ONLINE OPTIONS: Bryan College has offered online classes even before the pandemic. However, not all of our professors were familiar with virtual meetings, yet all of them, out of necessity, had to learn and/or improve their use of technology. Bryan offers online dual enrollment classes four times a year in addition to offering associates, bachelors, masters and a DBA online! Bryan continues to offer residential degrees as well.

As you narrow down your top college choices, check out the requirements for homeschooled students at each college so that you will be prepared to do what it takes to get accepted and, hopefully, awarded scholarships. If your student has a high GPA, but does not test very well, consider Bryan College’s option of using dual enrollment GPA for merit awards!

Here’s one more suggestion for you. If a college you are considering offers preview days, camps, clinicals or scholorship events, have your students attend. These events are great opportunities for your students to become familiar with faculty, staff, and the campus of a college. Bryan College hosts a Summer Institute in July for rising 9th graders through graduated seniors. Students stay on campus, earn an hour of college credit, a small scholarship, and they choose between one of the tracks offered. In 2023 the tracks being offered are engineering (2 different tracks), nursing, creative writing, criminal justice, martial arts, education, performing arts and photography! Bryan College also offers a scholarship event each semester for accepted, qualified seniors. This is a free event and each participant receives additional scholarship funds based on an interview with faculty.

Even though most of us will admit that living through the isolation caused by the pandemic was not what we wanted, the fact that some good changes have come about as a result, slightly redeems the time.

If you would like to be on my email list in order to receive periodic emails from me, send an email to pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

Why Sending Your Child to a Secular College Could Lead to Negative Outcomes

As a Christian parent who has homeschooled your children, you have likely invested significant time and effort in shaping their values and beliefs. You have instilled in them a strong foundation in the Christian faith, and have guided them in living a life that honors God. However, as your children approach adulthood and begin to make their own decisions, you may find that their choices conflict with your Christian values. One such decision that can cause significant conflict is sending your child to a university whose teachings are opposed to your worldview. This is not to say that a Christian who attends a secular college cannot succeed. They can. Two of my sons completed their education on secular campuses for varying reasons, and neither one had a crises of faith. Both were older and married when they completed their education and I believe their maturity contributed to their ability not to be swayed by opposing worldviews or peer pressure. On the other hand, I have quite a few friends whose children attended a secular college immediately after high school with repercussions that were heartbreaking.

Attending a university whose teachings conflict with your Christian values can lead to a crisis of faith for your child. During their time at college, they will likely be exposed to a wide range of ideas and worldviews that may challenge their beliefs. This can be especially difficult for young adults who are still developing their own worldview and sense of identity. If they are not well-equipped to navigate these challenges, it can lead to confusion, doubt, and even a loss of faith.

When the teachings at a college are directly opposed to your Christian beliefs, the result can be a disconnect between your child’s values and their actions. In other words, they may begin to live a life that is inconsistent with the values you have taught them. They may begin to engage in behaviors and activities which are not consistent with Christian values. This can cause significant stress and conflict for both you and your child.

A breakdown in family relationships can happen when a child’s values and beliefs conflict with those of their parents, and that can lead to tension and conflict within the family. This can be especially difficult for Christian families whose faith is often a core part of the family’s identity. If your child begins to question their faith or live a life that is inconsistent with your values, it can cause significant strain on your relationship with them.

Sending your child to a college whose teachings conflict with your Christian values could be a poor choice with negative outcomes, leading to a crisis of faith, a disconnect between your child’s values and their actions, and a breakdown in family relationships. As a Christian parent, it is important to carefully consider the values and beliefs of any college before sending your child there. If you do choose to send your child to a college whose teachings conflict with your worldview, it is important to equip them with the tools they need to navigate these challenges while staying true to their faith. Remember, your child’s spiritual well-being is more important than their academic success, and you don’t want to forfeit one for the sake of the other.

Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment: Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of Earning College Credits in High School

Dual enrollment programs are becoming increasingly popular as high school students look for ways to earn college credits while still in high school. While there are many advantages to dual enrollment, there are also some disadvantages to consider.

Advantages of Dual Enrollment:

  1. College Credit: Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to earn college credits while still in high school. These credits can be transferred to a college or university, saving students time and money on their college education.
  2. Challenging Coursework: Dual enrollment courses are usually more challenging than high school courses, which can help students prepare for the rigor of college coursework. Dual enrollment courses can also help students develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success in college and beyond.
  3. Increased Access: Dual enrollment programs can provide students with access to courses and resources that may not be available at their high school. Students can take courses at a local community college or university and benefit from the resources and facilities available on campus.
  4. Early Career Exploration: Dual enrollment programs can help students explore their career interests and gain experience in a specific field before entering college. This can help students make more informed decisions about their college major and career path.
  5. Cost: Dual enrollment is more affordable and, in some states, state grants cover a lot (if not all) of expenses charged. Tennessee students can take 30 hours of DE with Bryan College for less than $200 tuition (total), plus books. Out-of-state students receive a $200 scholarship per class.
  6. Time Management: Dual enrollment courses can be time-consuming, and students may struggle to balance their high school coursework, extracurricular activities, and college coursework, but the sooner they learn to handle this, the better and, answering to someone other than mom, provides accountability.

Disadvantages of Dual Enrollment:

  1. Not Taking the Classes Seriously: Students who are not careful to pass their classes with good grades may suffer by losing state grants, having to retake a failed class, or having a low GPA on their record.
  2. Faith Under Fire: Taking dual enrollment college classes on a secular campus can present certain challenges and potential dangers for a Christian high school student. One of the primary concerns is the clash of worldviews. Secular campuses often promote a perspective that may contradict or challenge the student’s Christian beliefs, exposing them to ideas and ideologies that could potentially erode their faith. Additionally, the college environment can be more liberal and permissive, with a greater emphasis on personal freedom and experimentation, which may lead to peer pressure or temptations that can steer the student away from their Christian values. It is important for the student to be prepared and equipped with a strong foundation in their faith and critical thinking skills to navigate these potential pitfalls and stay true to their beliefs amidst the secular influences. Regular communication and support from their Christian community and mentors can also play a vital role in helping them navigate these challenges successfully.
  3. Earning Useless Credits: There is a significant risk associated with taking too many dual enrollment classes that may not transfer to a student’s desired college or university. While these classes provide an opportunity for high school students to earn college credit and get a head start on their education, it is crucial to carefully consider the transferability of these credits. If the chosen institution does not accept the credits or has strict limitations on transferable courses, the student may find themselves retaking classes they thought they had already completed. This can result in wasted time, effort, and financial resources. Therefore, it is essential for students to thoroughly research and consult with academic advisors to ensure that the dual enrollment courses they take align with their future educational goals and the transfer policies of their desired institutions. (The same holds true for CLEP credits.)

Dual enrollment programs offer many advantages, including college credit, challenging coursework, increased access, and early career exploration. However, there are some disadvantages to consider as well. It’s important for students and their families to carefully consider the pros and cons of dual enrollment before deciding whether or not to participate. To find out more about the online dual enrollment opportunities at Bryan College, send an email to bcde@bryan.edu. Be sure to let them know if you live in Tennessee or out-of-state.

Why Colleges are Embracing Homeschooled Students: The Unique Perspective and Valuable Skills They Bring to the College Environment

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of colleges actively seeking homeschooled students. In the past, homeschooled students were often viewed with skepticism by colleges, but this perception is changing as more and more homeschoolers excel academically and prove themselves to be valuable members of their communities. Here are some reasons why colleges are seeking homeschooled students:

  1. Unique Perspective: Homeschooled students often bring a unique perspective to college classrooms. These students are typically self-motivated, independent, and able to manage their time effectively. They also tend to be creative problem-solvers who are used to thinking outside the box. This perspective can be valuable in college courses and can contribute to a more diverse and engaging academic environment.
  2. Well-Rounded Education: Homeschooling allows students to receive a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills. Homeschooled students have more flexibility in their curriculum and can pursue their interests in-depth. They are also more likely to have experience with community service, extracurricular activities, and internships. These experiences can help homeschooled students stand out in college admissions and contribute to their success in college.
  3. Strong Work Ethic: Homeschooled students often have a strong work ethic that is attractive to colleges. These students are used to working independently and taking responsibility for their education. They are also typically motivated by a love of learning rather than external rewards like grades or test scores. This work ethic can translate into academic success in college and beyond.
  4. College Readiness: Homeschooled students tend to be well-prepared for college-level coursework. They have experience with self-directed learning, research, and writing. They also tend to have strong study habits and time management skills. These skills are essential for success in college and can help homeschooled students thrive in the college environment.
  5. Dedicated to Learning: Homeschooled students are often dedicated to lifelong learning. They are used to taking responsibility for their education and are more likely to pursue learning opportunities outside of the classroom. This dedication to learning can lead to academic success in college and beyond and can make homeschooled students valuable members of the college community.

Many colleges are seeking homeschooled students and, for this reason, many have hired homeschool counselors. Homeschooled students, in general, bring a valuable set of skills and experiences to the college environment and are well-prepared for academic success. As homeschooling becomes more mainstream and accepted, it is likely that more colleges will actively seek out these students. My position was created at Bryan College as a result of the great experiences the faculty and staff had with the homeschooled students on campus. Our current president, Dr. Mann, is a homeschool dad. Many of our faculty and staff homeschool their children and Bryan College offers a homeschool scholarship!

Why a Private College Offers a More Personalized and Engaging Academic Experience than a State University

Choosing the right college can be a daunting task for students and their families. One of the most significant decisions students have to make is whether to attend a private college or a state university. While both options offer excellent academic opportunities, there are many advantages to attending a private college.

  1. Smaller Class Sizes: Private colleges tend to have smaller class sizes than state universities. This means that students can benefit from more individualized attention from professors and better access to academic resources. Smaller classes also promote more significant student engagement, discussion, and collaboration.
  2. Personalized Attention: Private colleges offer more personalized attention than state universities. The smaller size of private colleges means that students are more likely to receive individual attention from their professors, academic advisors, and other staff members. This can be beneficial when seeking academic guidance, career advice, or extra support.
  3. Higher Graduation Rates: Private colleges tend to have higher graduation rates than state universities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, private colleges have an average six-year graduation rate of 65%, while state universities have an average six-year graduation rate of 59%. Private colleges tend to offer more structured academic programs and greater support services that can help students stay on track to graduation.
  4. Access to Resources: Private colleges often offer more access to resources than state universities. These resources can include state-of-the-art research facilities, specialized academic programs, and more extensive alumni networks. Private colleges also tend to have more extensive financial aid programs and scholarships available to students, which can help offset the higher tuition costs.
  5. Prestige: Private colleges are often considered more prestigious than state universities. Many private colleges have a long-standing reputation for academic excellence, and attending one can provide students with a valuable credential that can enhance their job prospects and graduate school applications.

When comparing colleges, do not let the sticker prices deter you. Increased prices often coincide with increased scholarship awards. In order to compare apples with apples, go ahead and apply to your top college choices so that you can compare award letters.

While state universities offer many benefits, private colleges offer a more personalized and engaging academic experience. Private colleges offer smaller class sizes, more personalized attention, higher graduation rates, access to resources, and greater prestige. Ultimately, the choice between a private college and a state university will depend on the individual student’s goals, needs, and resources.

Going the Distance: Exploring the Advantages of a Four-Year College over a Two-Year College

When it comes to choosing a college path, one option is to attend a four-year university rather than starting at a community college and then transferring. While both options have their benefits, there are several advantages to attending a four-year college from the beginning.

  1. More comprehensive education: Four-year universities offer a more comprehensive education than community colleges. These schools offer a wide variety of courses, majors, and extracurricular activities, which allows students to explore a range of interests and develop a well-rounded skill set. In contrast, community colleges tend to offer a limited selection of courses and programs, which may not provide the same level of depth or breadth.
  2. Greater prestige: Attending a four-year college can also offer greater prestige than starting at a community college. This can be beneficial when applying for jobs, internships, or graduate programs, as employers and admissions officers may place more value on degrees from well-known universities.
  3. Networking opportunities: Four-year universities often offer more networking opportunities than community colleges. These schools typically have larger alumni networks and may offer more opportunities for students to connect with professionals in their field. This can be beneficial when looking for internships, job opportunities, or mentors.
  4. More resources: Four-year universities often have more resources than community colleges. This can include research facilities, libraries, and specialized centers or institutes. These resources can provide students with access to cutting-edge research, technologies, and academic support services.
  5. Greater campus experience: Attending a four-year university can also offer a more robust campus experience than starting at a community college. Four-year universities often have more extracurricular activities, clubs, and events, which can help students build a strong sense of community and develop leadership skills. Additionally, four-year universities may offer more on-campus housing options, which can provide a more immersive college experience.
  6. Monetary benefits: Even though community colleges may be more affordable than a four year college, transfer students lose freshmen scholarship opportunities and, in some cases, the price of two years at a community college, plus the cost of the last two years at a four year college exceeds what it would cost to attend the four year college from the beginning.

While attending a community college and transferring to a four-year university can be a good option for some students, there are several advantages to attending a four-year university from the beginning. Four year colleges offer a more comprehensive education, greater prestige, networking opportunities, more resources, and a greater campus experience. Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend a four-year university or a community college and transfer will depend on each student’s individual goals, needs, and resources.

Disputing a List of Reasons Why Homeschoolers Fail

sad womanA friend sent me an article enumerating reasons that homeschoolers fail. This friend asked me to share my thoughts. As I read the article I wondered how many families will be negatively impacted by this list of reasons for failure. Unfortunately, this article may make parents feel insecure, second guess their experience, or make unnecessary changes. If changes need to be made then, by all means, make the changes that need to be made. However, I have seen families totally change from an enjoyable homeschool experience, to a more structured experience simply because someone questioned whether what they are doing is the best for their student. One year I met a mom who had organized a unit study centered around baseball for the son’s entire academic year. The son loved it. The mom loved it. The dad loved seeing them loving itbaseball but, when the dad made the following remark, he instilled so much doubt that his wife totally changed plans for the following academic year. He said, “That’s great, but what if he’s getting behind?” She second guessed her success and the next year she put her son in front of a computer for a full on-line curriculum. He was miserable, she was miserable and after a little encouragement, she was excited to return to teaching unit study style. (Read this blog to expound on that thought.)

Although the article I read contains information that may be pertinent and worth  pondering, I am afraid that it may cause unrest and dissatisfaction of situations that are working well for particular families. When I asked the friend who shared this article articlehow she felt after reading it, she said, “I read this and got that panicked feeling and started questioning if I did this all wrong or if my kids are behind.” As well intentioned as the author may be, and in spite of the fact that some of the information may be practical and applicable to a certain degree, my immediate thought was that this article will cause more insecurities among homeschooling parents than it will create changes. There are comments worth considering in this article, but I do believe parents need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water simply because an article may point a finger at a particular homeschooling style and declare that as a reason for failure.

The article mentioned defines failure as “not accomplishing an acceptable standard.” yard stick What is an acceptable standard? The article goes on to define that as, “… A level of accomplishment that would be found average or better by an informed  objective  analysis.” Those statements beg many questions such as, “Can one be successful without accomplishing an acceptable standard?” “Who determines what is average or better than average in terms of accomplishment?” Those questions aside, let’s talk about each reason listed for failure.

Failure #1: Inadequate structure, poor organization – failure to establish goals.  jamie andersonSuccessfully completing high school does require intention and goal setting so that students are well prepared for life after high school, regardless of the path that entails. However, elementary and even the middle school years do not need to be structured in a rigid fashion. Establishing goals for high school is a great idea. In an article about Olympic Gold Medal winner, Jamie Anderson, her mom shared that she homeschooled her children by placing a priority on character. She encouraged her children to play outdoors and to pursue their interests. Apparently she has been so successful homeschooling her eight children that Jamie plans to copy what her mom did 100%.  This mom would have been criticized for her lack of structure and perhaps even her failure to establish academic goals, but who can argue with the outcome? She had goals, but one of her goals was to be less structured. It worked for her family.
Failure #2: Not Adapting to How A Child Learns.  This is somewhat important, but children can adjust to teaching methods that may not be adapted to how they learn. After all, when I was in school the entire classroom (24 to 30 students) was taught the same way. Having nine children of my own, I did attempt (somewhat) to address each child’s learning style after I listened to a talk years ago by Cynthia Tobias entitled, “How Children Learn.” To be honest, I was so busy with homeschooling, taking care of babies, making meals, keeping up with laundry, going to multiple church services and handling so many other responsibilities that I probably did not put as much effort into this as others. Regardless, my children (for the most part) did well and have survived. Eight of the nine are married and my youngest (single) daughter is traveling all over the world, working to make life better for many people. 
Failure #3: Switching Curriculum Constantly Although I can see a benefit to consistency, one of the beauties of homeschooling is the freedom to change things up for any  number of reasons. Perhaps what you are using is not working, or something new and excitingcurriculum becomes available.  Our family homeschooled co-op style using unit studies so we used different materials every year.  In this article an analogy was used insinuating that if you have a great cake recipe, you do not switch ingredients or change it up. You stick with what works. The  analogy breaks down when one discovers he/she is gluten intolerant and can no longer make cakes that include ingredients containing gluten. 
home aloneFailure #4: You can’t teach what you don’t know  If I believed that I had to know everything that my children needed to learn, then I would have quit after my children finished third grade. (Although I attended college, what I did not know in terms of what I would be teaching my children was vast.)  As it turned out, I learned right alongside them (without letting them know how little I knew). And, if a certain subject is required, and you feel inadequate to teach that subject, then you find a class, or a tutor, or some other creative solution. You can teach what you don’t know if you are willing to learn right along with your children.
Failure #5: Using tools not intended to be complete (supplements, apps, websites) Well now, this comment will probably step on the toes of many who use supplements, apps, and/or the KHAN academy. These tools can be useful if the parent and/or student understands exactly what is being offered. If there are holes, or gaps in these products, that can be remedied by the parent or student or by another program. The insinuation here is that these free products are too difficult to resist and what they offer may be of little to no value if it is not a complete program. 
Failure # 6: Expecting to educate in too little time  Trying to reassure parents in the past I have been known to suggest that you could try to not teach your child anything up until their senior year and then totally catch them up in the 12th grade. (Many would say thatpocket watch would be expecting too much in too little time, right?) Yet I did that with one of mine. This particular son attended co-ops, but didn’t really pay much attention. So during his 12th grade year I said, “We are doing two things this year, #1 – Studying for the college exam because you need a certain score for the scholarship to Bryan College and #2 – Filling in any gaps and reviewing everything you should have learned up until now.” And, guess what? He did fine. He graduated, married and is running his own business! My youngest son could have cared less about anything academic until his intellectual fires were lit during a co-op his tenth year of high school. Wowza. Did he make up for lost time after that! He began dual enrolling in college classes, carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to graduate college with at least two majors. My mentor told me (this was in 1985) that I should not even worry about curriculum during the elementary grades and possibly even during middle school. She said that what I should do is make learning fun and use natural, every day opportunities to fuel the fire for knowledge. She also said I should read aloud, often. I heeded this advice and I believe that is one of the reasons I enjoyed homeschooling so much! If you teach your child how to find the information they need, when they need it, then they will be life-long learners who will be able to accomplish anything they put their mind to when properly motivated. As Sir Ken Robinson said, “You can’t know everything about everything.” 
street protestFailure #7:  There’s always tomorrow This statement suggests that procrastinators will fail and that lost time cannot be recovered. But, there is (often) always tomorrow and I wish more homeschooling parents would remember that. Years ago, at a worldview seminar I organized, I stayed in host housing and one of the perks to the hosts was allowing their teens to come to the seminar for free, yet the parents did not allow their students to attend because they were behind in their school work. Really? They could have caught up on their school work another day. Instead, they missed out on an amazing six hour seminar that they could have attended for free. After hurricane Katrina hit in 2005,  my 16 year old son went to Mississippi to help with the clean-up.  He stayed there two weeks. Recently he attended a meeting where I was speaking to homeschooling parents and he shared with the group that many more of his friends would have volunteered, but their parents would not allow them to miss school. He then encouraged parents to weigh the benefits of allowing their students to participate in opportunities that arise. The year the State of Florida was killing Terry Schiavo we took a break from all things academic and became very involved with the protest at the capitol, on the streets, and even where Terry Schiavo was being starved (dehydrated) to death. My children learned a lot during that experience. Realizing that no one is guaranteed one more day on this earth, it is commonly assumed that there is always tomorrow. Did you have a bad day today? There is always tomorrow. Did you not get as much accomplished as you planned? There is always tomorrow. Do you want to take a break from academics in order to minister to others? There is always tomorrow. Is someone in your immediate (or extended) family ill and in need of care? There is always tomorrow.
When you come across articles that make you feel unsettled, be careful not to place guilt where guilt should not be placed. Articles that list reasons for failure will never apply to everyone reading the article. For that reason, read the article the same way you eat a piece of steak, chew up the meat and spit out the gristle. If changes need to be made, make changes. If you are enjoying your homeschool experience and your children are thriving, carry on!

Benefits of a Test Optional College

Colleges that are test optional do not require applicants to submit a test score for admission. Some colleges extend that policy to merit awards, being willing to offer merit scholarships based on a student’s GPA rather than a test score. During COVID many colleges became test optional simply because students did not have a way to take the ACT or the SAT. After testing possibilities returned, many colleges discontinued being test optional. Before Covid, Bryan College required both test scores and high school GPAs for merit scholarships. During COVID Bryan became test optional, using either a test score or a high school GPA alone for merit scholarships. This year Bryan College announced that they are now using either a test score or a dual enrollment GPA (minimum 9 credits earned) for merit scholarships. This is great news for students who have high dual enrollment GPAs, but who test poorly. A few years ago my three youngest children were students at Bryan College. As dual enrolled students they made great grades (4.0). However, they were not good test takers so they did not earn the highest merit scholarships. Had we had this policy back then, all three would have earned the highest merit scholarship (based on a DE GPA of 3.75 or higher).

In order to take advantage of this policy, students need to plan far enough ahead so that they can earn at least nine hours of dual enrollment credit while in high school. The higher the GPA, the better. Bryan College also hosts a scholarship event each semester for qualifying seniors who have been accepted to Bryan College. In order to attend the event held in November a senior will have to have a certain test score (ACT 21, SAT 1060 or CLT 68 was the 2022/2023 requirement) or have earned at least nine credits in dual enrollment with a 3.0 or higher GPA. For seniors who have not obtained either the test score or the completion of nine dual enrollment credits, they can make plans to meet requirements during the fall semester and attend the second scholarship event offered at Bryan in February of the spring semester.

Personally, I am not aware of any other colleges offering merit scholarships based on dual enrollment GPAs. I love that Bryan College has embraced this policy.

Homeschoolers can benefit from a college that is test-optional and uses GPA for enrollment in several ways:

  1. It reduces the pressure on standardized testing: Homeschoolers may not have access to traditional testing opportunities such as the SAT or ACT. Even if they do, they may not perform as well on these tests compared to their counterparts who attended traditional schools. A test-optional policy reduces the importance of these tests and allows homeschoolers to be evaluated on their GPA.
  2. It highlights their academic achievements: Since homeschoolers do not have a traditional transcript, their dual enrollment GPA can showcase their academic achievements. If their GPA is strong, it can be an indicator of their ability to handle college-level coursework.
  3. It may level the playing field: Homeschoolers may face bias and misconceptions about their education. A test-optional policy can help reduce these biases and provide a more equitable evaluation process.

Overall, a test-optional policy that considers dual enrollment GPA for enrollment can be beneficial for homeschoolers and provide them with a fair opportunity to not only gain admission to college, but to earn merit scholarships and, at Bryan College, to qualify for an additional scholarship event.

Tennessee students can take 30 hours of dual enrollment classes at Bryan College for less than $200 tuition (total), plus books and fees, and out-of-state students are offered a $200 scholarship per class. For more information send an email to bcde@bryan.edu.

If you have students who have completed their junior year who are interested in attending Bryan College, the sooner they apply the better. There is no application fee. Planning ahead not only saves a student a lot of money (via dual enrollment), but it can also earn the student additional scholarship funds, reducing the overall price of college considerably. I am the homeschool admissions counselor at Bryan College. If you would like to be on my email list, receiving updates and announcements, send me an email: pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu.

One Year Left; Make the Most of It!

Having a rising senior stirs up a variety of mixed emotions from relief (assuming your senior graduates with passing grades), to sadness (it is the end of an era after all), to concern (are they ready for the next step?), to anxiety (can we afford college?). Allow me to help you plan ahead so that you can enjoy this experience with as little stress as possible.

If your students have not narrowed down their top college choices, they should do that right away, visiting each campus in person if possible. Take a tour, attend classes and chapel (if offered), eat in the cafeteria and, by all means, stop and talk with students, faculty and staff when the opportunity arises. Suggestions for questions to ask when choosing a college are listed in this article.

Seniors should also apply to their top college choices if they have not done that yet. If a college does charge an application fee, then you can ask an admissions counselor if there’s a code available that you can use to waive the fee or ask if there’s a period of time when they can apply without a fee. I am a firm believer in ‘it never hurts to ask.’ The application fee has been waived at Bryan College.

By now your students have probably taken multiple college exams (ACT, SAT or CLT) in order to earn higher academic scholarships or to meet state and/or athletic requirements. Unless your students have reached the highest level of academic award at their top college choices, have them continue taking these tests and consider using test prep programs when possible. 36University is an online prep site that many students have used to increase their scores and it is quite affordable (only $12 a month when you register using the code ‘bryan’).

If your students plan to stay in state then, by all means, find out about every opportunity offered by the state, including the amount offered and the requirements for homeschooled students. Many students miss out on these opportunities because they are either unaware of the opportunities or, by the time they become aware of them, the deadlines have passed. If you live in the State of Tennessee, send me an email and I will share the opportunities available to your students. (pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu)

Homeschooled athletes who are planning to play sports in college need to find out what association the college athletic department is under (NAIA, NCAA, NJCAA) so that you can find out the eligibility requirements. Club sports are independent, so the requirements will be set by the college, not the association. Also, find out if your college of choice stacks their academic and athletic scholarships. Many colleges do not allow athletic scholarships to stack with others. If the institution does not stack scholarships, it might be preferable to pursue academic scholarships (if the amounts are similar) since athletes get hurt and could be dropped from certain programs. More than likely, if the scholarships do stack, your students will earn more by coupling the two rather than choosing one over the other.  Bryan College is an NAIA college and our athletic and academic scholarships stack. Bryan College’s club sports are fishing, cheerleading, shooting and martial arts.

Be sure you look at the scholarship information on each college website in order to be well aware of every opportunity offered, especially if the scholarship has requirements that have not been met yet (but there’s still time to meet the requirements). Also, find out if there are additional scholarship events for seniors. At Bryan College we host a scholarship each semester for qualifying seniors. It is a free event and each participant receives additional scholarship funds based on an interview with professors. For the past six years our November Scholarship Event has included an essay contest and one winner receives full tuition for all four years. For two out of the past three years, a homeschooled student has won the essay contest. Full tuition. Four years. Wow!

The FAFSA can be filled out for seniors beginning October 1st, but wait a few days because the site gets bogged down with traffic and is slow moving (or shuts down altogether). But, do not wait too long, because the colleges will wait on the FAFSA information before they offer award letters. There is a tool on the FAFSA that allows you to import your tax information from the IRS. Feel free to use that if your taxes are not complicated. However, if you have bought or sold stocks, borrowed against a retirement account or cashed one in, fill out that information manually. Apparently, if you import the information it majorly messes up the end results. Even if you believe your student will not be awarded any Federal financial aid chances are your colleges of choice will want that information. There are several colleges who do not require the FAFSA be filled out. Most colleges will allow parents to be exempt from this step if it is their preference. The FAFSA results show whether your students will receive a Pell grant (money not required to pay back), will qualify for a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, and/or whether they will qualify for work study. At Bryan College, students who qualify for work study can earn up to $1,000 per semester working on campus. Those students who do not qualify for work study, but who do want to work on campus can usually work in the cafeteria.

Dual enrollment is a great way for your student to earn college and high school credit at the same time, oftentimes for free or at a reduced price. Bryan College offers an out-of-state scholarship of $200 per class and students in Tennessee can actually take 30 hours with Bryan for $258 (write to bcde@bryan.edu for details). Dual enrollment is not without risks and I’ve written an article about that here. If you prefer a podcast over an article, this podcast addresses the same issue. There are several articles pertaining to dual enrollment including which classes to choose, study and time management skills and more on the blog. In order for your homeschooled, Tennessee students to be able to take more than one free class at a time (juniors and seniors), they need an ACT score of 21 or comparable SAT score. (State requirement.) Sophomores, whether in state or out-of-state can take one dual enrollment class per semester at Bryan College if they have a 3.5 GPA.

Attending events hosted by your colleges of choice is a great way for your students to get a better feel of each institution. Find out if they offer summer camps, conferences, workshops, open houses, or athletic clinics and sign your students up. Since COVID, there has been a rise in anxiety among incoming freshmen. It has been noted that the seniors who have attended our Summer Institute (staying on campus a full week) have much less anxiety than the majority. At Bryan College we encourage graduating seniors to attend our Summer Institute for that reason!

Independent scholarships are another way to help make college affordable. I did not realize until last year that there are scholarships available to students who are already enrolled in college! So start applying now and keep an eye out for more opportunities even when you are in college! When applying for independent scholarships, remember to use an email address dedicated to scholarships only (otherwise your inbox will be bombarded). Each month I post a link on the Facebook Page for Homeschool Admissions that gives information on scholarships with deadlines for that particular month. I also send out an email to my contacts that includes these scholarship opportunities. The independent scholarships range from small amounts to very high amounts. Some require essays, others do not. If you would like to be on my email list so that you will receive these monthly opportunities, send an email to me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

Seniors can also earn college credit by taking CLEP tests and now those tests can be taken virtually from home (within the United States). Before you spend money on these tests, check with your colleges of choice to find out their policies regarding CLEP credits. Some colleges will not accept any credits from CLEP while others accept unlimited hours of college credit from CLEP. Bryan College accepts up to 30 CLEP credits and there are specific CLEP credits are accepted. I can direct you to that list if you would like. Speaking of CLEP tests, if you have a child proficient in a second language, taking the CLEP test for a foreign language could help them earn 3, 6, or even 9 college credits from one test!

Let’s talk about choosing courses for your students’ senior year.

  • Choose classes necessary for graduation or that are required by your colleges of choice
  • Choose classes that will help increase your students’ college exam scores if they need higher scores for scholarship or requirement purposes (math, language arts, perhaps Latin). This could include college exam prep classes.
  • Choose classes that will help your child confirm an interest related to a particular major.
  • A one semester college class (dual enrolled) is usually counted as a full year of high school credit so if your senior is lacking in credits, this is a way to increase credits. And, speaking of dual enrollment, taking College Writing (English 109 at Bryan) is a great choice because your students will be doing a ton of writing in college. I highly recommend this class be taken at a Christian college otherwise your students may be assigned to read material that many parents would find offensive.
  • If your students plan to pursue a major such as engineering or nursing, then it is quite possible they will have fewer electives and more hours to fulfill than many other majors so, the more dual enrollment classes they can take, the better. Be sure to look at the four year track of the major being considered because you want the dual enrollment classes to be relevant to the major they are pursuing. For instance, an engineering degree at Bryan College does not require a foreign language so if your students take a foreign language as a dual enrollment course, it will be counted as an elective. Make sense?
  • When your seniors are fairly well set for graduation and have time to take it easy, choose courses and opportunities that they will enjoy! If they haven’t participated in a speech and debate club, I highly recommend that experience. Encourage them to attend TeenPact and other such opportunities offered.

A WORD OF WARNING: If your students take dual enrollment classes, be sure they are prepared not only to pass the class, but to make good grades, otherwise their GPA will suffer and that may result in a loss of academic scholarships. Failed classes can be retaken if there’s time, but that will cost the student in both time and money. Better to pass the class the first time with good grades.

Encourage your students not to slack off and drop the ball, especially when their GPA is being used for academic awards or for opportunity requirements. Planning with intention will help your seniors be well prepared for college while enjoying their last year of high school. Making college affordable will help you enjoy your students’ college experience as well.

Timeline of Events for High School Students

Oftentimes homeschooled students miss out on opportunities because they are unaware of available events as well as the deadlines associated with certain opportunities. Planning ahead will help your students successfully complete high school and be well prepared for life after graduation. Below are suggestions to consider for each grade of high school. There are links included that will direct you to sites with more information or past blog posts that address particular subject matters. Some of the information is repeated in more than one grade and, although it may seem redundant, it allows parents to skip to a later grade if their students have already completed an earlier grade.

General Advice:  

Begin helping the student discover his/her gifts and talents. Discuss classes to include in the high school years.  English, history, science and math in addition to classes that interest the student, encourage character, teach computer skills, and more. Include specialized classes or co-ops that encourage the talents and interests of the student when possible. Be aware that there may be state requirements regarding particular courses necessary for a homeschooled student to earn state grants. In addition, some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s high school transcript. Not all colleges require two years of the same foreign language in high school, but some do. Most expect to see four credits of English, three or four years of math, three credits of science (with at least one lab), and three credits social studies. Many states have added a half credit for personal finance to their suggested guidelines. There are no laws regarding the credits a homeschooled student needs to graduate, only guidelines, but knowing the requirements for state grants as well as the expectations of the colleges your student is considering will help you plan to meet your state’s requirements and the requirements of your top college choices. The state of Tennessee does not require a homeschooled student to take particular classes in order to earn state grants, but an ACT or SAT score is required. Some states may require certain GPAs, test scores and/or community service for grants. The grants often have deadlines for application so be sure you are aware of that information before the student begins his senior year. Bryan College does not have specific requirements for high school courses but, depending on the student’s desired major, certain high school classes may be recommended by faculty members. For instance, if a student plans to pursue an Engineering degree, then taking an increased number of math and science classes during high school will help better prepare the student for that major.

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletic, music, drama, and additional events that may be worth pursuing. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one). STOA and NCFCA are two Christian homeschool speech and debate clubs. One of my regrets after homeschooling my 9 for more than 32 years is not getting involved in speech and debate clubs until my oldest four had completed high school. 

9th grade

Transcripts:  Keep records to be inserted in a transcript including subjects studied along with credits and grades earned. If you would like to use the Transcript Genie offered for free by Bryan College to build a professional-looking transcript (it even calculates and weights grades), go to this link, scroll down and enter your email address. There is also a free eBook called The Journey that you can request and it will provide information on testing, scholarships, and more.

Community Service:  Look for opportunities for your student (and/or the entire family) to participate in volunteer opportunities, ministries, camps, classes, and more. Keep a record of volunteer hours and hold on to any certificates earned.

Portfolio:  Begin collecting and filing documents that provide proof of the student’s participation in community service, mission trips, camps, classes, athletic events, awards, certifications, and more. If your student is featured in an article, add a copy of the article to the portfolio. If your student has work published, include that in the portfolio.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing if possible. This is an affordable test for students offered in October and, in 2021, an additional test date in January was added. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this test several times a year at home, for free, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee.

Summer:  Check out camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships that might interest your student.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities. Making money, although beneficial, should not always be the deciding factor when choosing between opportunities. Students may gain more experience and character growth in volunteer positions.

Dual Enrollment: Look into dual enrollment classes for the 10th grade year. Dual enrollment is a great opportunity as it allows a student to earn both high school and college credit at the same time, but it is not without dangers. Homeschooled students often make a few mistakes pertaining to dual enrollment and this post will help you avoid those mistakes. Choosing which dual enrollment class a student should take is also important.  

10th grade

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college then find out the qualifications for participation in order to make sure your student meets the requirements. Bryan College allows 10th graders to take dual enrollment classes but the requirements are more stringent than the requirements for 11th and 12th graders, so planning ahead to meet those requirements is important.

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

Testing:  Participate in the PSAT testing that takes place if possible. Register your student for the CLT10. Students can take this free test several times a year at home, on a computer, with the parent proctoring. Parents can order the analytics for a small fee. 10th graders taking the CLT10 may qualify for scholarships offered by the CLT. Consider having your student take college entrance exams, particularly if test scores are required for dual enrollment classes. Most colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT. Many Christian colleges accept the CLT.

College Credits: If your student is ready to take college classes, find a college that is a good fit for your student. (Bryan College offers online classes four times a year with out-of-state scholarships.)  Be sure you discover guidelines for dual enrollment because, in some instances, college entrance exam test scores are required. Consider CLEP and AP possibilities for additional college credit. 

Opportunities: Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletes, music, drama, and additional opportunities. Look into Civil Air Patrol and TeenPact. Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one) STOA or NCFCA

Summer:  Consider dual enrollment classes, camps, mission trips, internships and apprenticeships.  A student of this age can often be trained to work at camps, gaining experience, responsibility, and qualifications for potential summer job opportunities.  

11th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college, find out the qualifications for participation.

Preparing for College: Attend college fairs and visit colleges of interest. Take college entrance exams, pinpoint weaknesses and tutor to the weakness. Purchase materials that will help improve test scores. Consider on-line tutoring for test prep such as 36 University (enter code “bryan” and save $3 a month, reducing the price to $12 a month). Schedule campus visits at colleges of interest. Begin with the virtual tours offered online, and visit in person when possible, preferably when classes are taking place so the student can attend classes. Begin applying to colleges of interest when permitted (find out if there are events or times when the application fees are waived). Research scholarship and grant opportunities offered by the state in which you live, the colleges you are considering, as well as independent scholarships. This article gives suggestions for making college affordable.

Testing:  Discover opportunities for taking the PSAT the summer before, or at the beginning of the 11th grade year. It is the score from the PSAT taken during the 11th grade year that qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships. A National Merit Semi-finalist receives full tuition at Bryan College.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Summer:  Consider attending camps that are held at the college your student is considering attending. Request a FAFSA ID for student and parent in order to fill out the FAFSA the senior year.

12th grade

Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity. If you would like to print a diploma for your student, the free e-resource mentioned, The Journey, includes an editable diploma template. None of my nine children have ever needed a diploma. What they did need was a completed transcript.

Continue attending college fairs and visiting colleges of interest unless a firm decision has been made at this time. 

If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment (and college) find out the qualifications for participation early in the year because deadlines are often tied to certain opportunities. If your state offers grants for college, but you know your student will be attending an out-of-state college, then using the college grant (borrowing against it) for dual enrollment will save you money in the long run. Students planning to attend an in-state college may also want to borrow against a state grant for dual enrollment because the cost of dual enrollment classes is often much lower than the cost of traditional college classes.

Make sure all classes necessary for graduation are scheduled to be completed either by participation in class or by testing.  

Apply to colleges of interest. 

Continue earning college credits via dual enrollment classes, CLEP (can now be taken virtually from home) or AP tests (can now be taken from home). Continue taking college entrance exams. As a result of COVID many colleges are test optional meaning they will use a student’s GPA for merit scholarship, without requiring a test score. However, most test optional colleges will accept test scores and use the scores to award scholarship amounts if the exam score increases the amount a student can earn beyond what the GPA entitles the student to be awarded.

Attend scholarship events (when applicable) that take place at the college of interest.  At Bryan College these events take place once during each semester.  These are invitation only events, extended to qualifying seniors who have applied to Bryan College and each participant receives additional scholarship funds of varying amounts based on an interview with faculty or staff.

Be sure your student has developed time management skills. If the student is taking a dual enrollment class or attending a structured co-op then, more-than-likely, the student is honing these skills. This article offers five steps to help students improve their study skills.

October:  Fill out the FAFSA. You may want to wait a few days because the first few days are filled with so many families completing the FAFSA that the site gets bogged down. But, do not wait too long because in certain situations scholarships may be first come, first serve.

November:  Answers in Genesis sponsors a free college expo for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Ark and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship.

Spring:  Be sure all subjects necessary for graduation will be completed.  There may be state requirements for homeschooled students to complete specific courses in order to earn state grants. Some colleges have certain requirements regarding classes that should be included on a student’s transcript. Make sure all requirements are met. Continue taking college entrance exams if higher scores are needed for scholarships. 

Summer:  Consider sending your student to camps that are held at the college your student plans to attend if that’s an option. At Bryan College a senior enrolled at Bryan will earn a small scholarship for attending Bryan’s Summer Institute. A high school graduate can also dual enroll with Bryan College the summer after graduation. If your student plans to live on campus, then he may very well find a suitable roommate while attending the camp.

The earlier you start preparing your high school student for success, the better it will be for everyone involved. However, if you are like I was with my oldest kiddos, and you are late to the game, do what you can to play catch up and make up for lost time. Even though my older students were ill prepared (thanks to my lack of knowledge concerning many of these issues), they did well after high school. Could they have done better or had an easier time getting to where they wanted to go had I better prepared them? Probably, but I was doing all I knew to do at that time. Give yourself some grace and utilize the information that is available to you and your students now that you are aware of the options and opportunities. Feel free to email me at pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.