Previously I wrote a blog post on preparing your students for college. Some students are convinced that they are not going to attend college when, in fact, they discover later that college is, in fact, needed for the career they plan to pursue. This is one of many mistakes students make that could easily be avoided. Read on in order to avoid the mistakes made by Christian homeschooling parents and their high school students. This post addresses students who attend a four year college. In general, attending a community college lessens both the preparation needed for admission as well as the need for top scholarship dollars.
Mistake #1: Not preparing for college. It is better to be prepared and not need college then to find out your students do need/want to go to college and they missed out on opportunities and experiences that would have made the transition to college easier and more affordable.
Mistake #2: Waiting until the senior year (or the summer after) to begin choosing a college. Discovering 2 or 3 colleges of choice should be done before the senior year so that students can take every advantage afforded them as prospective students. It is recommended that they visit the campuses and ask pertinent questions in order to find out what all needs to be completed in order to be accepted at the top colleges of their choice. Yes, I put colleges – plural. It is not unusual to apply to several colleges in order to receive financial aid packages, allowing you to compare apples with apples. Also, it is important to find out which college exams each college accepts, if they want to the writing portion included, if dual enrollment hours will transfer, and/or if the college accepts CLEP or AP credit.
Mistake #3: Not allowing students to be invested. Homeschooling parents are notorious for being over-involved in their students’ lives (been there, done that). I understand, but the more ownership your students take towards their future, the better things will go! On the other hand, if your child is apathetic and you know at some point he will regret that, do what you can to encourage him to be pro-active about his future! I often teach workshops on preparing for college and I encourage parents to bring their teens to the workshops with them. The more teens are aware of the opportunities and experiences available to them, as well as discovering ways to make college affordable, the more invested they become.
Mistake #4: Not being aware of the scholarship potential. For years I had no idea that the PSAT test score is what determines National Merit Scholarships. (Even semi-finalist can earn a full ride to Bryan.) This is an affordable test that 9th and 10th graders can take, but the score that counts is the score earned the junior year. There are four different types of scholarships: Federal, State, college and independent. Do your research. The more a student earns in scholarship funds, the better!! A student in Tennessee can earn at least three different grants from the state if qualified! Bryan College has scholarships for homeschoolers, music, theater, Martial Arts, honor students and more! Our athletic and academic scholarships stack (and we had the #1 fishing team in the nation last year). Bryan College hosts two scholarship events each year (one per semester), and each student who attends receives a minimum of $500 in additional scholarship funds up to a full ride. Don’t miss out on scholarship opportunities! There are two highly recommended affordable prep sites that many homeschooling families use for these exams. One is 36 University and the other is College Prep Genius. Also, be sure you fill out the FAFSA in October of your student’s senior year.
Mistake #5: Not taking college exams seriously. For years I did not place an emphasis on these tests because I did not believe that they are accurate indicators of how well a student will do in college. I still maintain that belief, but I now realize that the highest scholarships are often awarded to those who achieve high scores on these exams. As a result, my older children received less scholarship funding than they could have earned had we put more emphasis on excelling on these tests. Once I accepted this fact, I began spending more time preparing our children for these tests. The ACT and SAT have been the two tests available to students for many years, but now there is a third college exam, the CLT, that over 100 Christian colleges and a few secular colleges accept! Here’s a post that shares more on college testing.
Mistake #6: Assuming you can’t afford a private college. Yes, college is expensive. Yes, there are states that offer college tuition-free to students. However, a free education could be quite costly depending on the out-come. One regret I hear often from Christian parents is sending a student to a secular campus. That is not to say that some students won’t do well on a secular campus, because they can excel there as well (three of my nine will graduate from a secular college). As Christians, we want our students where the Lord wants them. Oftentimes, decisions are made simply on financial concerns without even pursuing enrollment at a private college. I understand! If you had told us (as parents of 9 without spare change) that any of our children would attend and graduate from a private college we might have laughed, but that’s exactly what has happened with several of our children and they have graduated (or will graduate) without student debt. The scholarships offered by colleges can be quite large, especially if they have scholarship events (such as the ones Bryan offers) that include additional scholarship awards!!
Mistake #7: Dual enrolling on a secular campus during high school (not for every student, but for some). Many states offer free dual enrollment opportunities to high school students. In many states, for the students to take advantage of this offer they have to attend a secular college (but not always.) In Tennessee there is a dual enrollment grant and students are able to choose the schools they want to attend, including Christian colleges. Dual enrolling can save a lot of money by allowing students to earn college credit while still in high school, but it is not without dangers. Here’s a post that talks more about this issue. If your students’ only option for taking dual enrollment classes is with a secular college, then you may find that on-line classes are preferable to taking classes on campus.
Mistake #8: Not taking advantage of assistance offered by umbrella organizations. Yes, many families are signed up to homeschool independently, but if you use an umbrella organization find out what is offered, particularly for high school students. In addition to providing needed transcripts, there may be additional options worth pursuing. For instance, Home Life Academy charges a $50 fee only for high school seniors and paid only once during high school years. This covers transcripts (up to one year after graduation), diplomas (cover not included), reviews and counseling during the senior year.
Being aware of this information by the time your student begins high school will help you better prepare for your students’ life after high school! Plan ahead so that you will not miss opportunities and later have regrets! If you have not downloaded the free e resource I put together to help plan for the high school years, you can do so at the e book inquiry found on this page. Research, plan, prepare, and enjoy the high school years without repeating mistakes often made by homeschooling families!
(By the way, that top photo is my son, Matt, holding a nephew at his graduation from Bryan College and in the picture of two girls, the gal on the left is my daughter, Courtney, who graduated from nursing school and now lives in Uganda as a missionary.)