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.

Positive Changes in College Processes

How the Pandemic Has Affected College Admissions and More

Last spring when the pandemic hit the United States many changes took place almost immediately. Colleges switched to virtual classes, the ACT and SAT cancelled test dates, competitions were either cancelled or changed to virtual events, and graduations, as well as other celebrations, were either cancelled or postponed. These are a few of the negative affects of the pandemic upon life in the US, particularly college life! Understandably, many students were very disappointed with the changes that took place. However, even in the midst of all of these negative outcomes, there have been a few positive changes to celebrate!

WAIVED APPLICATION FEES: Let’s start with the college admissions process. Many high school seniors began contemplating taking a gap year instead of starting college during the a health crises. As a result, many colleges have waived their application fees. That’s a monetary advantage, especially to students who apply to several colleges!

TEST OPTIONAL: Because the ACT and SAT had to cancel so many test dates, many colleges became test optional, using a student’s GPA rather than test scores to determine acceptance and academic scholarships. That is great news for students who have high GPAs yet who do not test well, are unable to test, or who have test anxiety! On the other hand, test optional does not mean test blind meaning that students who have received high test scores are able to submit those scores to test optional colleges. Because the CLT (a third college test option) is an online test, it became a virtual test option for many students, continuing to offer test dates.

VIRTUAL OPTIONS: Since colleges began sending their students home, switching to virtual classes, many professors became technologically savvy, increasing their experience with zoom, video presentations, and more. In addition, colleges began adding virtual tours to their websites. In some cases, students are able to sign up for live tours that include the ability to ask questions throughout the virtual tour! This is a huge advantage for students who live far away from the colleges they are considering. With a virtual tour no-one has to spend money traveling to visit colleges! Virtual tours do not replace on campus tours, but they are a great way for both students and their parents to become more familiar with what certain colleges have to offer.

DUAL ENROLLMENT: Many high schools also switched to virtual classes and, as a result, high school students have enrolled in dual enrollment classes so that they could be earning high school and college credit at the same time. They figured if they were going to be taking all of their classes virtually anyway, they may as well earn college credit.

MORE CONSIDERATIONS: Another benefit to the challenges brought on by the pandemic is that families have become closer, operating at a slower pace, spending time together, and re-evaluating goals and plans for their students. In some cases students are deciding to take a gap year, wanting to wait and see what the future holds. That decision may, or may not, impact scholarships once those students decide to go to college. At Bryan College, gap year students are not penalized unless the students are part of a gap year program that includes college credit and, if that is the case, they would enter as transfer students. When students take a gap year that does not include earning college credit, then they come in as freshmen with all the same offers and opportunities as recent high school graduates. The disadvantage to having so many students post-pone college for a year is that there is now an increased number of prospective students applying to colleges that have limited spots for incoming freshmen. 

RECAP: Not everything as been negative during 2020-2021!

  • Application fees have been waived.
  • Although the SAT and ACT cancelled dates, the CLT went virtual.
  • Many colleges became test optional, using either GPAs or test scores (whichever are higher) for admission and scholarship purposes.
  • Colleges added virtual tours to their website.
  • College professors became more tech savvy when classes went virtual.
  • Many high school students began taking dual enrollment classes.
  • Families slowed down, spent time together, and re-evaluated future plans.

As you have read, in spite of the inconveniences caused by COVID’s entry to the United States, there have been a few positive outcomes as a result!

By the way, if you have seniors in high school interested in joining a martial arts academy, receiving a music or theater scholarship, or want to attend a free scholarship event at Bryan College, earning another $1,000 to $3,000, let me know. Time is of the essence for those opportunities.

Seven Reasons to Consider Homeschooling after Covid19

annie-spratt-ORDz1m1-q0I-unsplashWhether it was in anyone’s plans or not, every family in the United States that has school age children has now experienced a taste of homeschooling. However, to be fair, those of you who were forced into this situation were not able to experience what it is like to be a homeschooling family that has time to plan ahead, order the materials that best suits your students, organize field trips, or take part in the co-ops and enrichment programs that are offered to homeschooling students. Most of you experienced distance learning in a stressful environment. In many situations both mom and dad have been working from home and in between the Covid19 restrictions and sharing computers and WIFI (while arbitrating phone, t-v, and video game usage), the experience has been less than ideal. On the other hand, some of you have enjoyed the benefits of getting to know one another again. You’ve spent quality time together and that’s been great. You may have discovered how quickly your students can get their school work done without having to change classrooms, share a teacher with 20+ others, or wait for disruptions to be handled. There are more than a few families who have been paying quite a bit for private school and some of you are now realizing that if you invest that same amount of money in a creative academic plan (one that could easily include trips to places of interest as well as purchasing equipment to enhance learning) homeschooling might be a preferred choice!

What are the benefits of continuing to homeschool your students? Let me share a few primary reasons that many us homeschool our kiddos.

  1. Homeschooling encourages having a close knit family. I have nine children, all grown now, who are truly great friends. When my youngest daughter was in a near fatal wreck in Texas several years ago 7 of her 8 siblings were there with us court in hospitalwithin 24 hours (coming from TN, FL, TX and CO). Although they did experience their share of sibling rivalry and silly arguments while growing up, they have been there for each other in time of need as well as in time of celebration.
  2. Homeschooling allows for designing an educational program that best fits your student’s learning style, interests, and, in many cases, learning disabilities. You are in control of the materials ordered and used. There are many, many products available to help parents with this process. In addition to a wide variety of materials to purchase, there are also many educational websites, videos and more. So much is offered either for free or at very affordable prices, that almost every family can afford to homeschool.
  3. Homeschooling families have flexible schedules. You can begin when you want and end when you want. You can get up at a certain time and have everyone dressed and ready or you can stay in your PJs until you decide everyone needs to get dressed. Several of our sons participated in Civil Air Patrol and they often conducted search and rescues at all hours of the day and night. They appreciated having the diana-satellite-Aw0mbE5HOJ4-unsplashhomeschooled students in the unit because we were more likely to allow our students to take part in a search and rescue at any hour because we knew they could catch up on sleep or school work at another time. If you homeschool you will not be rushing out the door to get to the school (or to a bus stop) and you do not have to make sure your students are picked up (or brought home) each day, five days a week. No packing lunches (or providing lunch money). You want to take a vacation? Schedule it! If your parents are sick and in need of your help, you and yourdavid-preston-mW2NETqR49A-unsplash children can be there for them. Are there conferences and camps you would like to attend? Schedule it!
  4. Contrary to the age old concern, “What about socialization?” you will discover that one of your biggest challenges as a homeschooling family may be coordinating the schedule of events because you may find that your students will want to participate in athletic activities, music, theater, dance, speech and debate, STEM clubs, Lego clubs, co-ops, and more! Our family homeschooled co-op style and met once a week with several other families where children of various ages learned together. It was a preferred socialization experience when compared to having 20+ eight-year-olds all in the same room, all day. Homeschooled students, for the most part, adapt very easily to a variety of situations.
  5. How well do homeschooled students do in college and/or careers after high school? Glad you asked! The proof is in the pudding. Research shows that the average college exam scores and GPAs are higher for homeschooled students. So many graduation 2colleges have experienced how well homeschooled students do on campus that they seek out homeschooled students. In fact, my position was created at Bryan College for this purpose! When parents are intentional about preparing their students to succeed after high school, and when students are equally invested, the results are often quite impressive.
  6. Outside of the siblings bickering, there is little peer pressure and no bullying when you homeschool. Your students will not be exposed to school shootings. They will thrive in a safe environment. Anxiety, stress, and depression are likely to be reduced.
  7. If you have a child with an amazing talent who needs hours on end of training, practice, competition or performance, then choosing to homeschool is definitely the best option. This is the exception, and not the rule, but it is another great reason to homeschool!

Because of our flexible schedule, homeschooling allowed my children to take part in many additional activities they would not have been able to experience had they been enrolled in traditional school. They have visited foreign countries, campaigned in several states, attended and worked at several different camps, helped the homeless, protested unfair laws, gone to many conferences and conventions, started businesses, volunteered to help with hurricane clean up, and so much more. When a new niece or nephew is born, they try to be there. When a brother or sister is in need, they show up. When grandparents needed help, they were there. Now that my husband and I are getting older, we are blessed by our children’s care for us (their help is usually needed when experiencing technology issues). Although we know that our children are not who they are solely because of our homeschooling experience, we do know that it has made a big difference in their lives. Should you decide to continue to homeschool, talk to your homeschooling friends to find out what programs are offered in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised at how rewarding this choice can be for you and your children!

Stacey and fam

Important Links

 

Blog:  www.patweso.wordpress.com

ADA Accommodations in College

A Third College Entrance Exam? Yes, please!

Child Not Reading? Do Not Stress!

Choosing Courses for a Successful High School Experience

College? Yes or No? If yes, what major?

College Test: All You Ever Wanted to Know, but Never Thought to Ask

Dual Enrollment: A Great Opportunity, but Not Without Dangers

Encouragement for the New Year

Finally Finished and Ready to Share

Finishing the Year Well (or maybe not)

Halloween: Yes, No or Maybe So

Nine Children, Nine Different Paths

Raising Entrepreneurs

Secrets Revealed

Starting the School Year with a Bang or a Fizzle

Summer Reading Plans for Mom

The PSAT and Why it is Important

The What, Who, and Why of the FAFSA?

Write an Essay and Win Four Years Tuition?

Articles written by Pat:

Plant a Seed, Grow an Entrepreneur

Preparing Your Teen for Life

 What Would Happen if You Did Not Teach Your Child to Read?

Ready for Launch: Preparing Teens for Life After High School

Raising Great Communicators the Co-op Way (2002)

Free e-resource for planning your student’s high school years:  www.bryan.edu/ebook

CLT college entrance exam (alternative to ACT and SAT):  www.cltexam.com

Dual enrollment at Bryan College:  www.bryan.edu/de

FREE Master’s at Bryan College:  http://www.bryan.edu/difference

Worldview Initiative Bryan College:  http://www.worldviewinitiative.org/

Bryan College campus visit request (choose a date):  https://bryancollege.secure.force.com/events