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.

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 36university.com.
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:

Scholarship Opportunities

scholarshipScholarships are the best way to make college affordable! The largest scholarships are generally the academic scholarships which are determined by GPAs and test scores received from college exams such as the ACT, the SAT and now the CLT. Being awarded multiple scholarships is an opportunity for high school students to make college affordable without the stress of having to take out huge loans or requiring students to work several jobs while in college. Below are links to independent scholarship opportunities as well as articles that are subject appropriate.

Raising Scores to Earn More Money: When students take college exams seriously then raising their scores in order to earn higher scholarship amounts is a goal that can be reached. Take early tests such as the PSAT and the CLT10 because they come with scholarship potential (and, generally, the more times a student takes a test the more relaxed they will be and they will perform better)! There are multiple free tutorials on-line as well as practice tests available. Two programs that many homeschooling families use are 36 University (register with the code word Bryan and save $3 per month, reducing the price from $15 to $12) and College Prep Genius. Many families have found it worthwhile to invest in preparing their students for these tests by hiring private tutors, or by taking part in test prep classes.

There are several types of scholarships, as follows:sharon-mccutcheon-552616-unsplash

  • State
  • Federal
  • College
  • Independent

State Grants:  Before (or when) your students enter high school, research the grants and scholarships offered by the state in which you live and compare them to the scholarships and grants in the state where the college is located that your students may want to attend (if outside of your state of residence). These scholarships are based on test scores, GPA and/or community service. Students will usually only qualify for state money if they have been a resident of that state during the students’ senior year (or for a year prior to attending college). For some, moving to the state where a college is located in order to qualify as in-state residents and to receive state grants is worth relocating! Knowing ahead of time what is offered will give families time to jump through required hoops or to make a move! We moved back from Florida to Tennessee before my 7th child’s senior year so he would qualify for scholarships specific to the county and to the state. (Bryan College offers a large scholarship to local seniors who attend Bryan and when we coupled that with state and federal grants his tuition was covered.)

Federal Grants: Every student (and their parents) should fill out the FAFSA in October of the senior year. The amount of money a student is eligible for is determined by the EFC (expected family contribution). Some money is limited and distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis so filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible is advised.

boy at boardCollege Scholarships: Almost every college offers a variety of scholarships. Some stack and some do not. Research the scholarship possibilities at the top colleges of your choice to find out what your students might be able to receive. At some colleges the academic and athletic scholarships do not stack. A word of advice: If your student can earn an equal amount with an academic scholarship as with an athletic scholarship, take the academic scholarship. Athletes get injured or dropped from the team and there goes the scholarship. At Bryan College the athletic and academic scholarships stack so students do not have to choose between the two. You might be surprised at some of the scholarships offered by colleges. Because Bryan College is a Christian college, they offer scholarships for students whose parents are in full time ministry. In addition there are scholarships for children of alumni, homeschooled students, and more. Bryan also has a full tuition scholarship for students living in Tennessee whose parents make less than $35,000 a year. Bryan College has scholarships related to music, theater, martial arts, the honors program and more! This is another reason to have your top college choices narrowed down, in order to compare apples with apples once you are familiar with the scholarship possibilities from each school.

Work Scholarships: Many businesses will reward high school students with financial aid for college. If a student is going to have a steady job during high school then finding a company that will help with college would be a bonus. In the past I have heard that Chic fil A, Publix and UPS have such programs, but I have not confirmed that information. If you know of businesses that do this, send me a message or comment on this post!

Independent college scholarships: Before you even begin applying for independent scholarships, set up a separate email address. Why? Because you will be bombarded with emails and offers and your contact information will be shared with other organizations. Is it worth applying for independent scholarships? Absolutely! Every little bit helps. Below are links to get started, but be sure to research your area for local scholarship opportunities that might not be offered anywhere else. Ask friends and family members if they are aware of any local businesses that offer scholarships. It may take some time and effort, but the payoff could be huge. And this article includes a list of independent scholarships. Below is a list of additional links as well as some articles to consider. michael-longmire-689531-unsplash

Scholarship Search Guide

State Scholarships 

Home Education Scholarships

Graduating Debt Free

Scholarship Sharing

Tuition Funding Source

Fast Web

Wells Fargo

Additional Outside Scholarships (Scroll down this page to see numerous additional scholarships.)

bc_9x12Added Bonuses: Check with the colleges you are considering to see if they have any  offers unique to their schools. Bryan College offers students the possibility of earning a tuition free Masters Degree if they come to Bryan after high school and graduate with a 3.5 GPA.

By the junior year in high school students should have a few top choice colleges in mind so that they will be aware of scholarship potential, both from the college as well as the state where the college is located (assuming they will reside there during their senior year). It is okay to apply to several colleges so that one can better compare the offers that come from the financial aid departments. Remember to ask about any specific scholarship opportunities available to seniors. Pursing each and every opportunity available could pay off big time. As we tell our children, “Work hard and sling mud because some of it is bound to stick.” Go get ’em!

 

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

test takingAfter homeschooling my nine children for more than 32 years, I am finally finished!  One of my regrets is not acknowledging the importance of college entrance exams and/or CLEP and AP credit for those heading to college.  For years I was convinced that:

  • College tests are not very good indicators for how well a student will do in college (that opinion has not changed, by the way).
  • Some students who are amazing students may not test well so a great GPA coupled with an impressive portfolio should be adequate for acceptance and scholarship purposed (wishful thinking, but not true for the most part).

Reality hit when several my children were not offered the scholarships that I felt like they deserved (yes, I am one of those mothers) because, whether I agree with this or not, the highest scholarships awarded to incoming college students are usually academic scholarships and those scholarships are almost always tied to test scores.  (When discussing anything related to college policies and practices, one must use terms such as “generally,” “usually,” and “it depends” liberally.)

coffee and calendar

As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I was not aware that the PSAT test is tied to the National Merit Scholarships and, as a consequence, I never had my children take this test.  The PSAT can be taken by students (whether homeschool, private school or public school students) as early as the 8th grade (depending on the school administering the tests). The only year the score counts toward the National Merit Scholarship is the student’s junior year.  The test is given in October of each year (several test dates available) and it is a very affordable test.  My advice would be to have your students begin taking this test as soon as they are allowed.  In the county where Bryan College is located (Rhea County), the public high school will only allow sophomores to take this test early.  In some counties the schools will allow younger students to sign up for the test.  It is a good idea to find a location for test taking in September of each year because some schools run out of test booklets.  Schools may require that your student has an official ID.  If  your student does not yet have a drivers license he/she can obtain an official ID from the DMV for a small charge.  Passports are acceptable forms of ID as well.  By the way, the difference between a National Merit semi-finalist and a finalist is not determined by scores, but rather by jumping through hoops after a student becomes a semi-finalist. The CLT (new college entrance exam, described further below) also has a CLT10 which is free for students to take on-line in April and details regarding scholarship opportunities for this exam are forthcoming. From the CLT website: The CLT10 is an alternative to the PSAT. In terms of academic rigor it is scaled back from the regular CLT (ie, no trigonometry, few level 5 questions). In addition, the CLT10 is free for all students. Although it is free, students who score above a 108 are still eligible for $2,500.00 in scholarship money through CLT’s partnership with the National Association of Scholars

Research shows that many students’ scores increase each time they take a college entrance exam. Part of the reason for this is because the student becomes more relaxed with experience.  Students who are intentional about preparing for (and practicing) these exams increase their scores as well.  Some colleges super score, taking the highest score of specific sections from multiple test dates.

CLT logoThere are now 3 college entrance exams: the ACT, the SAT and the CLT (new test).  Some areas of the country encourage the ACT while others encourage the SAT.  Most colleges will accept either score for admission and scholarship purposes.  The newest test, the CLT (Classic Learning Test) is now accepted at more than 70 Christian colleges.  Bryan College offers the CLT on site with admission and scholarship amounts awarded according to scores earned.  The CLT is taken on-line (no more bubbles), students can sign up without late fee penalties within a week of the test date, and the test scores are received the same day. A comparison article on the SAT vs the ACT is provided by College Prep Genius here. A comparison article of the 3 tests is provided at the CLT site is located here.

Preparing for the Tests!  There are quite a few free options for improving test scores including videos (search Youtube) and practice tests from the official test sites of each test. The books we found most helpful in preparing for the ACT and the SAT are Princeton Review’s Cracking the (SAT) or (ACT).  36 University is a very affordable on-line tutorial for the ACT.  It cost $15 per month with no contract.  When registering if you use the code “Bryan” you will save $3 per month!  College Prep Genius is a program used by many homeschool families and it is a prep site for the SAT and the new CLT as well.  I was amazed at what I learned in five minutes standing at the College Prep Genius table at a college event listening to Jean Burk give tips on the college exams. Although 36 University and College Prep Genius tutor to a specific test most of what they teach applies to all three of the college exams. The CLT has a guide for their test as well.

element5-digital-352048 (1)When should students begin testing?  That depends on the student and on the direction your student is headed.  Many students begin taking practice tests as early as 8th or 9th grade.  Because the tests are not inexpensive ($49+) most parents wait until the junior year to begin taking official tests.  Some schools require a college exam test score for dual enrollment purposes.  At Bryan College a student can begin dual enrolling after the sophomore year without a test score (transcript required showing 3.0 GPA or higher), unless they are taking a math class in which case the student would have to provide a college exam math score of ACT 22, SAT 540, or CLT 22.

Should you have your student’s test scores sent automatically to colleges?  It depends.  (Get use to this phrase because there are no die-hard, set in stone, rules and regulations that apply to anything college.)  In order to encourage my children to be more relaxed and less stressed about taking a college entrance exam for the first time, I told them that no one would see their scores.  The downside to this (at least with the ACT and SAT) is that there is a fee to have the scores sent in at a later date.  These are considerations you need to weigh and the answer may vary depending on each student’s situation.

What about CLEP and AP test credits? Although this blog is primarily addressing college entrance exams there are a few facts about CLEP and AP that you will want to know, such as:

  • Not all colleges accept CLEP and/or AP credits so check with colleges of interest
  • To receive college credit one must pass the exam (pass or fail are the 2 options)
  • Grades are not assigned to the credits earned by testing for credit so GPAs are not affected (although I did have a parent shared with me that one college assigns a “C” grade to CLEP credits and this would be a huge disadvantage to a student striving for a high GPA so, again, ask  registrars these specific questions).

In order to prepare well for your student’s high school years do not make the same mistakes I made. Begin early with preparations for success with the college exams if your students are headed to college. Even if you are not sure if college is in your students’ future, it is better to be prepared even if they do not go to college than to not be prepared and discover, at the last minute, that college is the next step.  Feel free to email me if you have specific questions I can attempt to answer:  pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu

After 32 years of homeschooling I am now the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College and I have put together a free resource to help parents plan for the high school years and it can be downloaded here.  TheJourney-Social (2) (1)

 

 

 

 

 

A Third College Entrance Exam? Yes, Please!

CLT logoFor many years the only two college entrance exams offered to students have been the SAT and the ACT.  Oftentimes Christians have felt at a disadvantage for several reasons, to-wit:

1.  Some of the questions put the students in a moral dilemma (should students give the politically correct answer, gaining a point, or answer according to their beliefs?)

2.  The reading content often contains biases and politically charged articles that do not line up with a Christian’s beliefs

3.  The tests are aligned with Common Core and many homeschooling families as well as private schools do not teach Common Core material.

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Another disadvantage to these tests is the fact that one must register for the test more than a month prior to the test or pay a hefty late fee.

These disadvantages are remedied with the new CLT (Classic Learning Test).

The CLT is offered five times a year. Writing is optional and free.  Students can sign up for the test up until a week before the test is administered.  The test is taken on-line either with a student’s device or with a device offered by the site proctoring the exam. Scores are received by the end of the day when given at a proctored sight. If given online as a virtual test, the scoring process will take longer.

The CLT is a two hour online test. The CLT8 is for 7th and 8th graders and they can take the test at home. The CLT10 is for 9th and 10th graders and they, too, take the test from home with a parent proctor. The CLT10, like the PSAT, comes with scholarship potential for high scoring students.

Here is an article put out by HSLDA comparing the SAT, ACT and CLT.

Bryan College will proctor the CLT on our campus.

The test dates and locations are found here.

Practice the test to see for yourself what it is like!  (The practice test I took included a reading passage containing an article by C. S. Lewis!)