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

Links, Links, and More Links (Resources for the high school years.)

Information is available at our fingertips, but finding (or re-finding), a resource on-line is often time consuming and aggravating. Let me make this a little easier for you by posting often used links for preparing your students for a successful high school experience! Feel free to share these links (or this article) with your friends and/or on social media!

Testing materials:  Any test prep will help with all of the college exams to some extent so even if the program is an ACT prep, it will also help with the SAT and CLT in many areas. ACT is the only test to include science, but the student’s scientific knowledge is not being tested, rather the student’s ability to analyze the data provided is what is tested.
Test prep books:  Princeton Review (publisher)
Test prep programs:
College Prep Genius (There are many testimonials from parents and students on their FB page. Impressive!)
Use the code bryan to save $3 a month, making the cost only $12 a month! 36U ACT Prep is offering prospective Bryan students a free note-taking guide workbook ($20 value) with their 6 months program ($65) or $10 off a note-taking guide with a monthly subscription ($15/mo). To take advantage of the offer, enter the code BryanLionsNT when you register at
ADA Accommodation information is here. All three college exams offer accommodations for students diagnosed with disabilities.
Books to help plan for the high school years (written by Cheryl Bastain):
Ebook: The Journey is a free ebook with information on transcripts, testing, scholarships, dual enrollment, and more. Scroll down to the ebook inquiry.
Programs to consider:
TeenPact is a four day government class that takes place in the capital city of each state.
STOAUSA and NCFCA are two Christian homeschool speech and debate clubs. Find a club near you and visit. If you can volunteer to be a community judge at a tournament you will not only be appreciated, and fed well, but you will be amazed at what you observe.
FAFSA form (fill this out in October of senior year).

Video presentations:

Conquering Post-Holiday/ Winter Doldrums

alex-michaelsen-4jcZiXH63fM-unsplashLast August (or September) the new school year began and everyone was excited and off to a good start. Fall soon arrived, and the cooler weather was invigorating. And then, before you knew it, it was time to celebrate Thanksgiving and then Christmas! (This year, with Thanksgiving being celebrated so late in the month, these two holidays fall almost back-to-back.) After Christmas the fun and excitement wains and the clean-up begins! Before you know it, the new year will begin and it’s time to get back to the books, resuming a regular schedule. For some families this transition is easy and exciting (particularly for those who function much better on daily routine), while for others — well, let’s just say they’d rather stay in bed with a good book, putting things off for another day or two.  If you fall into the later category, this article is for you!


In order to avoid mid-year burn out, it will be helpful to intentionally plan ahead. Realizing that you are in control, and knowing that your attitude and actions are important to returning to a semblance of organization while maintaining joy is a great first step! We all know that if mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.

There’s no need to jump from holiday mode to school mode in a single day. Find time to be alone to pray and prepare yourself before starting back to a full schedule. One of my regrets is not communicating my plans (and/or my heart) to my children, assuming they would somehow know exactly why I did the things I did with pure motives, centered around what was best for them. Take time to explain your plans for getting back on track and encourage your kiddos to be invested in the process without complaining. You may want to ask for their ideas to may make this process easier! Start off slowly, perhaps beginning with a morning time routine as you read, sing, pray, and discuss plans for returning to your academic schedule. If possible, begin re-acclimating to your academic schedule a week or two before co-op begins (if part of a co-op). For older students who are involved in outside classes, getting back into a routine the week before will be helpful for them as well. When I organized co-ops, I purposefully did not begin the co-ops until late January, allowing for time after Christmas to get back into the swing of academic schedules.


Be sure to plan for fun with events such as field trips, or watching documentaries or movies that enhance academics. Reinstating a schedule does not mean you have to be strict. Be unpredictable now and then. Change the times or location for study (outside, parks, etc.). Add exercise to your routine (jump rope, obstacle courses, bike rides, etc.) If family members get sick, slow down and do what needs to be done to restore health. Schedules are tools we use to organize our lives, but sticking to a schedule should not take precedence over necessary interruptions or unforeseen opportunities.  Burnout is often caused by a parent’s obsession with sticking to a schedule (or a particular curriculum) whether it is working for their family, or not. Be flexible. Re-evaluate and make changes that will restore joy to everyone!

Getting back into the swing of things after a holiday can be stressful so be proactive and make plans that will enable a smooth, and joyful, transition. You will be glad you did and I am fairly certain your kiddos will be glad as well.






Choosing a College

student planning visitSome students know from an early age exactly which college they plan to attend and they never waver! Others are not so sure they even want to attend college. Many students are open to looking at all options and would appreciate help narrowing down their choices. Choosing a college is not a decision lightly made and many agonize over this decision, yet armed with the right questions, the fields can be narrowed down to two or three top choices by a student’s junior year in high school.

Below is a list of questions to consider when choosing a college. Following this list of questions will be a suggested time-line of events for high school students who are headed to college and, lastly, when you are visiting colleges, a list of suggestions is included to make the most out of student making listyour visit.

Depending on how many colleges your student is considering, it may be worthwhile to set up a spread sheet with each category listed in columns to easily compare information acquired.

Questions to help narrow the list:

  • Does the college offer the intended major? (If the student is undecided then find out of the college offers career counseling to help the student choose a major.)
  • What is the size of the college? Number of students? Student to faculty ratio? (Your student may know whether they prefer a smaller college or a large university. If they are not sure, include colleges of all sizes in your original list as long as they fit the other criteria.)
  • Secular or Christian? If Christian, which denomination or is it non-denominational?
  • If Christian, is church required? Chapel offered? Dress code? Curfews?
  • What is the housing situation? Are there dorms and, if so, what are they like? Are students required to live on campus? What are the room and board costs?
  • What scholarships are offered and do they stack? Academic, athletic, music, theater, sibling, ministry, need based, out-of-state, etc.
  • Does the college host specific scholarship events? (Bryan College hosts a scholarship event each semester for seniors who have been accepted and who qualify. An additional $500 to $2,000 is offered and, the winner of an essay contest receives full tuition.)
  • Does the college require testing for either admission or merit scholarship?
  • Which tests does the college accept? SAT, ACT, and/or CLT? Do they super score?
  • Are there unique opportunities? ( For instance, Bryan College offers a tuition free master’s degree to students who attend Bryan College out of high school and graduate with a 3.5 GPA.)
  • Does the college host specific and/or personal visit days and, if so, how does one register for a visit?
  • What is the cost for tuition, room and board?
  • Does the college accept federal funding? Military benefits?
  • Is there a difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition? If in-state is lower, is it worth having the student become a resident of that state either before attending or while attending?
  • For students who plan to attend an in-state college, are there state grants for which the student is qualified? (In Tennessee there are several grants that provide money for college, but students must plan ahead in order to qualify.)

Time-line of events (flexible depending on the goals and schedules of each family)

Ninth  and tenth grade:student goals

  • Begin discussing areas of interest and majors which pertain to those interests.
  • Take the CLT10 (offered 2 or 3 times a year).
  • Take the PSAT in October as practice.
  • Begin discussing college options.
  • Discover in-state grant opportunities.
  • Attend college fairs.

Eleventh grade:

  • Take the PSAT in October for possible National Merit Scholarship.
  • Take either (or all) the ACT, SAT, or CLT exam. More about testing here.
  • Attend college fairs.
  • Begin narrowing college choices and find out if they super score exams.
  • Begin visiting colleges.
  • Consider dual enrolling.
  • Raise test scores by taking prep courses and take practice tests.

Twelfth grade:

  • Attend college fairs.
  • Continue visiting colleges.
  • Apply to top college choices.
  • Apply for state grants and independent scholarships.
  • Take part in scholarship opportunities.
  • Fill out the FAFSA October 1st, or soon thereafter
  • Attend scholarship events

25659875_1917257178288593_1346852226346834466_nCollege visits:  The best time to visit a campus is when classes are in session, but try to avoid exam week, if possible. You can visit when classes are out of session, but the visit will be better if that can be avoided. Being on campus while students are on campus and being able to sit in on classes are experiences that weigh heavily on the decision making process. In order to make the most of a college visit, call the department of admissions and find out if the college has a visit coordinator on campus. Ask when the visit days are available (you may be able to find this information on the college website). Ask to attend classes and talk with faculty. Tour the campus. Eat in the cafeteria. Observe current students and, if you have the opportunity, stop and talk to the students. Meet with the admissions office and financial aid. Ask about the application process and scholarship opportunities. Be prepared with questions to ask so you get all the information you need.

Additional opportunities to consider: Many colleges offer sports camps, fine arts workshops, conferences, concerts, talent shows, plays, and summer camps. If one of the colleges your student is interested in offers an opportunity that resonates with your student, sign them up and get them on campus! What better way to get a real feel of what it’s like to be at the college, then to attend an event on campus? Students who attend camps during the summer often meet their future roommates! Bryan College offers all of the opportunities mentioned including a Summer Institute that highlights four academic tracks!

With proper planning and purpose, finding a college does not have to be overwhelming or stressful. If Bryan College fits your needs, we would love to have you come and visit! Happy hunting! 


Dual Enrollment Mistake to Avoid

studentsMany homeschooled students take dual enrollment classes, earning both college credit and high school credit at the same time. This is a great option assuming your students can handle college level classes, keep up with assignments, and pass the class. However, in addition to student readiness, there are additional facts to consider before proceeding.

In some states dual enrollment classes are offered tuition free so parents may be tempted to have their students enroll in college classes whether the students are ready for college level classes, or not.  Since the classes are free they assume they have nothing student disappointedto lose. However, that is not the case. If a student fails to pass a class with a certain GPA there will be negative consequences. Many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. These grants are lost if a student does not earn a high enough GPA in the class and, in some states, there is no way to regain the dual enrollment grant. If a student takes a class and does poorly, then losing the opportunity to continue taking college classes during high school for free (or at a discounted price) could be a costly mistake. Not only does the student lose the grant, but the parent could then become responsible to pay for the failed class out-of-pocket.

Also, be aware that your students’ college record will follow them whether they pass the class, or not. The college GPA might, or might not, follow your student depending on whether they go on to attend the college where they took the dual enrollment classes. In most cases, if your student takes dual enrolled classes at a certain college and then goes on to attend that same college after high school, the GPA will follow the student. On the other hand, if your student takes dual enrollment classes at a college different from the college they end up attending, the credits may transfer, but the GPA may not (wiping the GPA slate clean). When students earn college credit, but receive low grades, not having the GPA transfer would be beneficial, but for the students who receive high grades, having a GPA that does not transfer would be a disadvantage. Regardless of whether the GPA transfers, or not, the college record of a failed class will be included in your students’ record unless the student retakes the class and passes it.

sharon-mccutcheon-552616-unsplashAcademic scholarships for freshmen are often determined by the students’ GPA and earned test scores (ACT, SAT and/or CLT). High school students who have a high GPA prior to taking DE classes could lower their GPA if they perform poorly in college classes. If a GPA is lowered to the degree that scholarships are reduced (or lost), then the “free” classes were not free after all.

When students sign up for dual enrollment classes the college will treat them as an adult and you will, more than likely, not be notified in any way of your child’s progress. Students can sign a FERPA release so that you can be notified if there are concerns, but colleges will not be in contact with parents otherwise. And, even with a signed FERPA on hand, the school may not initiate any communication with the parent. You and your students should have an understanding, beforehand, so that you are not caught unaware of poor performance.

As stated above, many of the states that offer free, or reduced, dual enrollment classes often have stipulations that have to be met in order to continue receiving free (or reduced tuition) classes. Be sure you weigh the advantages and know whether your student is ready for college classes or not. Stay on top of the situation so that you are not surprised by a failing grade when it’s too late to do anything about it. The advantages of taking dual enrollment classes are huge for the students who pass the classes, but costly for those who do not pass the classes.

eye with worldviewBecause I homeschooled my students for 32+ years I have many friends who finished their homeschooling adventure long before I finally finished. One of the often heard regrets has to do with allowing high school students to attend college classes on a secular campus. The environment that students will be exposed to on a secular campus will be far different than the environment of a Christian campus. Yes, I am well aware that there are students on Christian campuses who do not live Christ-like lives but, hopefully, that will not be the norm. Not only should you be careful about the curriculum used on secular campuses (especially the literature assigned), but the worldview of the instructor could make a huge impact on your student, especially if he or she is an atheist with a pronounced agenda to debunk Christianity. Parents should not be sheltering their students 24/7, but they do need to be careful about putting students in certain situations before they are mature enough to handle those situations. Taking online courses may be preferable to on-campus classes, but if the courses are taught at a secular campus, then the material might conflict with your beliefs (depending on the class). Most homeschooling families have been so careful about making wise academic choices that it is surprising at how quickly many enroll their students in secular classes simply because of financial considerations. Please do not think that I am saying a parent should never allow students to take classes at a secular institution. Several of my children took both dual enrollment classes at secular campuses and two earned degrees from secular campuses. This is not a black-and-white, always do this or never do that conversation. You know your child better than anyone so prepare, plan, and pray that you will have the ability to steer your students on a course that is best for their future.

I put together a short video presentation on dual enrollment here.

If you would like to talk more about dual enrollment, in general, or about dual enrollment at Bryan College specifically, set up an appointment via email!

Introduction to Personal Finance: A Must for Every Teen

Copy of Copy of StheD_OrientationDon Blanton, co-author of the book Personal Economic Model, has designed a three hour college course that will help students understand everything they need to know about the financial world. Using visuals that are interactive, this course takes you from questioning, “Why work?” to helping your student plan wisely to lead a productive and responsible life from high school graduation to retirement (and past retirement age for those who do not choose to retire).

Luke Morris, who has taught this class on campus for Bryan College, has more to say about the class in a short video here.

This Introduction to Finance is different from most financial programs in that the course includes access to a variety of financial calculators designed by Blanton, a test to help the student discover their strengths and weaknesses, and the acknowledgement that a wisely used credit card and certain loans are not always a bad thing (he also explains how students can do this correctly).

Many  homeschooling families include financial classes in their students’ high school schedule yet most of the classes available do not include college credit! After students complete their sophomore year of high school, as long as they have earned a 3.0 GPA or higher, they can dual enroll with Bryan College and take on-line classes four times a year (fall, spring, and two summer sessions) with a $200 scholarship per class! (For Tennessee residents the scholarship does not apply until the TN DE grant is used.) Earning college credit while taking a class that prepares a student for life after high school is a win/win!

This course includes videos, access to financial calculators and software, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes and tests. Dual enrolled students with Bryan College need not be on the computer at a specific time of the day, allowing each student to determine their own schedule as long as assignments are completed on time.

Donald L. Blanton is the owner and president of MoneyTrax, Inc., a company dedicated to the development of innovative communication tools for professionals in the financial services industry. MoneyTrax, Inc., was founded in 1994, and has gained national recognition for its unique and easy-to-use client-centered financial software through the Circle of Wealth® System. Don is a nationally sought-after seminar speaker, addressing the top financial planners in the country who utilize his unique communication style and tools to work with their individual clients.

Out-of-state students receive a $200 scholarship per class. Tennessee students receive the same scholarship once the DE grant is used. Connect with Bryan College’s Dual Enrollment to find out more! If you would like a code to waive the application fee for dual enrollment, email me at


Scholarshipped to be a Peacemaker? Check out Bryan College’s Martial Arts Academy

Bryan College’s Martial Arts program offers scholarship potential for future students! David Holcomb, the director of the program is a 5th Dan Isshinryu instructor. The Martial Arts Academy provides an opportunity for incoming students to receive scholarships starting starting at $1,000 and going up based on the students’ level of ability and need.

Why Martial Arts at college? I’m glad you asked! Students who are age 18 and up are being shaped by their choices, challenges and environment. Joining the academy will test the student as a person. 99% of the time the fighting aspect of a martial arts skill is not what a student will use (but when it is needed the student will be prepared). Part of a students’ training at the academy will include learning to have eye-to-eye conversations while standing firm on their beliefs. Students who are accepted into the academy will receive scholarship funds and, in return, they will be expected to train from between 6 to 11.5 hours each week year around. The students will train towards a black belt. They will take part in a series of tournaments and they will represent the college as a team in the community. Current black belts will be honored and will train towards a second black belt in Isshinryu Karate.

Who can join the academy? Students with zero experience, a little experience, or advanced experience can apply to the program. The 2022 class includes all levels of belt rank from white belt through to black belt.

Are there particular majors required that qualify a student to be a part of the academy? No, a student can choose any major and still be a part of the academy, but the Criminal Justice major is a great fit for those who plan to work in law enforcement or who plan to join a organization such as the CIA or FBI.

Many times people get hurt because they protect themselves the wrong way. They often over-react to a threatening situation. With training and experience students can learn how to defend themselves in threatening situations. Part of this training includes understanding the importance of patience and self-control in such situations. Many of the lessons learned in the academy will relate to the students’ faith, their relationships, and their confidence. The students will learn to become peace makers, even when walking into conflict. Even though the training involves punching, hitting, and kicking, the students will learn how to live life together well. Progressing as a Christian while in the academy is very important to Coach Holcomb. Philippians 3:14 is a verse David will often quote:  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Many skills are taught in the academy including learning how to do a basic wrist release! Here is a video teaching that skill. The Bryan College Martial Arts Facebook page includes additional videos you may find interesting!

What is Isshinryu and which type of martial arts experience qualifies a student  for this academy? As mentioned, a student can come into this program without any experience. All of the martial arts are a type of Karate, and a student with any form of experience whether it be Isshinryu, Jiu-Jitsu, or another form can join the academy and continue to advance in the art in which they are experienced.

Thomas Land, who recently graduated from the Martial Arts Academy, says, “Looking back at my life, there are three big decisions that greatly impacted who I am today. One is accepting Jesus as my Savior. Two is taking martial arts and, three is attending Bryan College.”

Below is the emblem David designed for the Bryan College Martial Arts Academy. Bryan College’s motto is “Christ Above All” and the mission statement is “Educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.” Take a look at the explanation for each component of the emblem.

martial arts Patch_Explained

For more information, check out the Facebook page for the Academy. This page includes updates on events as well as videos to watch. Follow the academy on Instagram. 

Making College Affordable — How Your Students Can Increase Scholarship Awards and Take Advantage of Additional Opportunities

a-l-l-e-f-v-i-n-i-c-i-u-s-468838-unsplashThe largest college scholarship amounts awarded to students are generally academic scholarships. In light of the that, having your students do whatever they can to increase their academic scholarship is a worthy goal. In addition to college scholarships, there are often additional grants, programs and events that come with funds for college. Below are a few suggestions to consider in order to make college affordable.

Convincing your students to be intentional about test prep is not as easy as it sounds. Studying beforehand and being rested and refreshed the morning of the test is very important. Earning top scholarship dollars for college while in high school, however, will enable students to attend the college of their choice, graduating with little to no student debt. Unfortunately many high school students want to enjoy the high school experience without being bothered  with thinking about (much less preparing for) college. As nice as that may sound (to the student), the reality is that the students who plan and prepare during high school are the ones who can afford their college of choice, making the college experience more affordable and enjoyable.

Most colleges grant academic scholarships based on the highest test score earned prior to a student being enrolled at the college. Even if the last test taken was a lower score than a previous test, colleges will usually award the scholarship based on the highest score andrew-neel-308138-unsplashearned. (You will see the words “generally,” “usually,” and “often” because this information may vary with each college.)

Some colleges super score college exams which means they will take the highest score earned in each section across numerous test dates. This is beneficial to students who take these tests multiple times, but not all colleges super score and those that do may only super score one of the college exams and not the others. Hopefully, if your students are looking for scholarships then they have also narrowed their top college choices. Find out which exams, if any, the college super scores because it might be to your students’ advantage to take that particular exam multiple times.

If you are not aware, there is now a third college exam in addition to the ACT and the SAT that is accepted by more than 140 colleges. Most of the colleges accepting this test CLT logofor admission, as well as for scholarship awards, are Christian colleges, but not all. This exam is the CLT (Classic Learning Test). For more about testing, check out this article.

The best way to prepare your students to earn academic scholarships is to provide opportunities for the students to test at an early age. The PSAT can be taken years before the junior year (which is the year this test determines National Merit Scholars). CLT has a CLT8 and a CLT10 that students can take for free, from home. The CLT10 comes with scholarship potential as well. Students can take multiple practice tests for free on-line or on paper (via books that give test prep information while providing practice tests).  Once students reach the 11th grade they should take at least 2 of the college exams (and taking all 3 may offer even more advantage). Some students prefer one test over the others, earning higher scores as a result. Encourage your students to take each exam at least one time in order to find their best option.

Spending money on test prep materials often brings a great ROI (return on investment). 36 University is an affordable on-line prep for the ACT. The cost is $15 but when registering, if the code “bryan” is used then the student saves $3 per month. There is no contract or number of months required for enrollment. Another prep many students userawpixel-761474-unsplash is College Prep Genius. The founder of College Prep Genius, Jean Burk, has children who threw away bags filled with full scholarship offers. She is a great resource and often speaks at educational (and homeschool) conventions. Regardless of which college exam the student decides to take multiple times, prepping for any of these tests will more than likely increase scores on any of the exams. In other words, prepping for the ACT may very well enable the student do better on the SAT and the CLT. This article will provide more information on scholarships, including links to independent scholarship opportunities. And this article includes a list of independent scholarships. Word of advice, if you apply for outside scholarships then set up a new and separate email address because you will be bombarded with emails.

Another way to increase scholarship awards is to attend scholarship events when offered. Not all colleges sponsor these events, but when they do it is well worth finding out the criteria for qualification, deadlines, expectations, and all applicable details. Bryan College hosts a scholarship event each semester for seniors who have been accepted to Bryan who have scored a minimum ACT 21 (or comparable SAT or CLT). The event is free and each student who attends will receive anywhere from $500 (minimum) to a full ride. Opportunities such as these are ones your students will not want to miss.

Qualifying for scholarships that stack will increase award amounts as well. Find out which scholarships are offered by the colleges your students are considering so that they can be awarded every scholarship for which they qualify. Be aware that academic and athletic scholarships do not stack at all colleges. If a student accepts an athletic scholarship and then gets injured, he/she might lose the scholarship. On the other hand, if an athlete chooses the academic scholarship over the athletic scholarship and he/she does not maintain the required GPA then that scholarship will be lost. If you decide to attend a college where scholarships do not stack, start talking with your students regarding their priorities in college.  A thoughtful decision on priorities will help determine which scholarship opportunities to take.

Another way for your students to earn additional college funds is to make sure they qualify for state funding opportunities if they plan to attend college in their state of residence. Students in Tennessee have the ability to qualify for multiple state grants, but in order to do that they must be aware of the requirements for each grant in time to qualify. Homeschooled students often have additional requirements than students enrolled in pubic or private schools so if you homeschool your students, be sure you are aware of the qualifications.

Make sure you fill out the FAFSA in October of the student’s senior year. Many times fafsascholarship money is first come, first serve so being in the pool as soon as possible is a definite advantage. If your student is a senior and you have not done this, do it soon!

Many colleges also have work study programs, providing work for students with financial need so that they can earn money working on campus each semester. Also, after the completion of the freshman year, colleges often offer scholarships for ambassadors, resident assistants, and additional positions not open to freshmen. In addition to these programs there may be opportunities to join leadership programs or academies that come with scholarship potential. Your students should spend time looking at the opportunities of each college they are interested attending. Having discussions with admission counselors and financial aid counselors is advised as well.

Unless your student is already a senior in high school, do not wait until the senior year to begin planning for college. No one likes debt so the sooner you and your students plan and prepare, the better! If your student is a senior, there is still much that can be done to make college affordable. Be sure you find out from the student’s top college choices which programs and events are time sensitive so that you do not miss out on any opportunities for increased funding.

Students are inclined to make a final college choice based on finances. How much will be awarded and how much debt, if any, will be incurred. That decision may be impacted by colleges with additional opportunities that, in turn justifies a higher expense (or more debt). For instance, students who attend Bryan College after high school that graduatebryan graduation 1 with a 3.5 GPA can then earn their masters degree tuition free. That’s a huge advantage and one that will end up saving a student a lot of money. Every college is similar in many ways, but no two are exactly alike so be sure to find out everything you can about the colleges your students are pursuing.

Planning and preparing for college with intention can make the experience much more affordable and stress-free (okay, maybe not stress-free, but less stressful) than you can imagine!





Seniors, If You Are Headed to College, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!


I love it when teens attend my workshops with their parents so that I can tell them, to their faces, that if they are headed to college they need to be intentional about planning ahead. After homeschooling my nine children I am now the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College and I cannot tell you how often I see seniors in high school miss out on great opportunities due to being uninformed, lazy or, worse of all, not caring about the consequences of their lack of action. Don’t be that student. Below I will list areas where you need to be informed and proactive.

  1. Take college exams seriously. The highest scholarships offered by most colleges are generally the academic scholarships! Preparing to raise your score is like having a full time job in light of the dollars one can earn with a great score. Don’t be afraid to spend a serious amount of time and money preparing for these exams.
  2. Consider taking all three college exams in order to increase scholarship potential. Find out more about the ACT, SAT and the new CLT here.
  3. Take your GPA seriously. If you are dual enrolling, make sure your grades are as matthew-sleeper-124918-unsplashhigh as possible. Scholarships are tied to the GPA as well as to the college exam score.
  4. Take advantage of opportunities in the community to serve and help others. Whether scholarships you are pursuing require that, or not, it will be a great addition to your portfolio.
  5. Narrow down your top college choices by the senior year. Visit and apply to those colleges. In order to find out what all you qualify for, as well as to find out if there are additional scholarship opportunities available, it is important to be accepted to the colleges you have chosen.
  6. If you have not taken any dual enrollment classes at a college, do so! Not only will you earn college credits affordably, but these classes will help you learn to improve your study habits and manage your time well.
  7. Add classes the senior year that will help prepare you for life. Classes such as personal finance, time management, college writing, and speech and debate!
  8. Research scholarship opportunities and take advantage of as many as possible!

Being intentional and prepared will help you avoid the mistakes made by many homeschooling families. Not only that, depending on how successful you are at earning a great GPA, along with high college exam scores, college can then become affordable!

Bryan College is very homeschool friendly and they have an affordable dual enrollment program, offering out-of-state scholarships to juniors and seniors in high school. Bryan dmytro-ostapenko-59494-unsplashalso offers a tuition-free Master’s degree to students who come to Bryan after high school and graduate with a 3.5 GPA. And, of importance to seniors, Bryan College hosts two scholarship events per year (one each semester) for qualified seniors who have been accepted to Bryan, allowing them to earn an additional $500 to a full ride for attending and participating.

Download this free e resource to help you plan the high school years! If you would like to receive more information on Bryan College, either via email or snail mail, send a request to:




Do Not Repeat My Mistake (The importance of speech and debate.)

debate2After homeschooling my nine kiddos for 32+ years, one of my regrets is not getting involved with a speech and debate club until my 5th child was in high school. We homeschooled co-op style, using unit studies, and we required our children to give presentations weekly and, as a consequence, my children developed public speaking skills. My oldest daughter even won a state-wide speech contest in high school and received a $1,500 scholarship. But debate? We didn’t include debate until a Christian, homeschool speech and debate conference came to our town and I attended a session on the importance of teaching debate skills.

Prior to this, several of my friends had traveled out-of-town to attend one of these conferences and, upon their return, they would say, “Pat, you need to get to one of these conferences.” I should have listened to them. But I didn’t. Finally, the conference came to our town and I signed up to attend along with the oldest child at home at that time. To say that I was blown away would be an under-statement. When I attended the workshop for parents I quickly became convinced that this was something we had to add to our children’s educational experience. I found out the students would learn how to:

  • Debate both sides of certain issues                          stoa champions
  • Research reliable information in order to defend a position
  • Spot false logic (and not use it),
  • Follow the “flow” of the debate
  • Be comfortable wearing business attire
  • Be respectful, humble, and kind
  • Be students with integrity

That’s a short list. Students gain so much more during their involvement with speech and debate. What they learn about current events, history, politics, government, the world around them, and more cannot compare to textbook learning. The ability to begin, carry and hold conversations regarding important issues is a huge benefit (and a skill not often seen honed by teens).

There are several Christian homeschool debate leagues and clubs. Some homeschoolers choose which league to compete with yearly depending on the speech opportunities and the debate resolutions (those change each year to a certain extent). Other students choose a league (and a club) and stick with it throughout high school. And, there are students who compete in multiple leagues. The top homeschool leagues are STOA, the NCFCA, and ICCI.

During the fall teams study, prepare, practice and attend practice tournaments. In the winter they begin seriously competing at events. By the spring the top notch students have qualified for nationals and then in late spring, or early summer, they compete at a national event.

debate1If you have never been involved in speech and debate then I would highly recommend you either visit a club or volunteer to be a community judge at a tournament (or both)! If you live in an area where there are no clubs near by, it may be worth traveling to find out more so that you can start your own club. Becoming a part of a speech and debate club became a non-negotiable parental mandate in our home. As mentioned above, I did not not require my children compete unless they wanted to, but if had to do it over, I would probably make competition a requirement, at least for one year. (And, from what I hear, most students who compete, rarely discontinue competing.)

Look up the speech and debate leagues mentioned above and check to see if there is a club close to you. Consider traveling out of town, if necessary, to be a community judge at a competition. If that doesn’t convince you to have your students join the speech and debate world, I don’t know what will!