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Three Tools for a Smooth College Transition

By Phylicia Duran

As a home school graduate working for a university, one of the most common questions I receive is, “Was it difficult transitioning from home school to college?” I always smile as I answer a resounding “No! The transition was seamless.” Home school students often come into college well prepared academically, but the college transition requires more than good grades. Whether your student is headed to community college or a four year university, here are three tools that made my own transition seamless and can do the same for your rising star:

Three Tools For College Transition

1. Reading-Focused Curriculum

Most home school educations already require extensive reading, a factor which has proven helpful for graduates who attend college. The academic requirements of higher education are heavy on reading and composition. Home school parents can provide their students with a distinct academic advantage by utilizing reading lists (divided by subject, classics, fiction or nonfiction – whatever suits the student’s strengths and academic needs) to give their child a ‘bird’s eye view’ of their schooling. Reading expands a student’s understanding of a topic into how that topic interacts with and affects other aspects of life; for instance, a historical fiction book about the Civil War may contain some economic factors and scientific inventions from that time period. In addition to obtaining a broader perspective, students who read often show better writing and composition skills, better understanding of language (both oral and written), and superior critical thinking skills. Much of the basic material covered in English 101, Sociology 201 and other lower-level college classes will be familiar to a student who was an avid reader in high school, contributing to a better grade point average and more rewarding college experience.

2. Socially-Focused Lifestyle

While the common myth of ‘home school socialization’ has been proven a misnomer on many fronts, the transition from home to society does require some intentional training. Students transitioning from home to college (or any other life transition, such as a full-time job or mission trip) should be prepared to interact with people of many ages, beliefs, and vocations. Some home school students find their peers – the 18-24 year old demographic – the most difficult with whom to socialize. A socially focused home provides training for respectable behavior in work, school, and free time.

What does ‘social focus’ look like, practically applied? A few ideas might be to host parties in-home: harvest parties with games, Super Bowl parties with yard football, bonfires, or, if you are limited on land, movie nights, cook-offs, or Bible studies. Incorporate into daily curriculum principles of manners: how to set a five course table and meal, how to dress for formal, semi-formal, and business casual occasions, and how to introduce one person to another. All of these principles and events will be helpful to a student during the transition to the business luncheons, networking parties, and career fairs often an integral part of the college experience and job search.

3. Future-Focused Worldview

In higher education there are students who borrow wisely, and students who ‘over borrow’ when it comes to financial aid. One of the contributors to ‘over borrowing’ is a student who has no idea what he wants to study! Frequent changing of a major can change scholarships, alter degree completion plans, and take a student anywhere from a semester to years longer to confer his degree, multiplying his need for loans along the way.

It is never too early to ‘cast the vision’ for your children. Find their interests and pour into them! A middle school interest in poetry could blossom into a journalism career; your 12-year-old son’s small engine business could be the beginning of a mechanical engineer. They may need to try and fail throughout middle and high school before they find their niche, but once they do, their passion will make the college transition smooth and seamless. Lifting their eyes to the ‘big picture’ and designing an education centered on their strengths will make the home school years not only enjoyable, but also the perfect launching pad into the vocation God has designed for them.

Phylicia Duran is a 2008 home school graduate and alum of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university. Her educational background includes dual enrollment, CLEP testing, community college, online courses and residential study. She has filled the roles of Admissions Counselor, Social Media Coordinator and currently Coordinator of Group Visits at Liberty University and is passionate about spiritual and vocational discipleship, especially as related to home education.

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We’re getting closer and closer to convention time! We can’t believe it’s just under 60 days until the first convention, in Nashville begins. It’s our job to keep everyone in the know and to answer any questions you have about the convention you’re attending or thinking about attending.

We are very excited to announce that we have registered hashtags for each convention. Begin using them TODAY and continue to use them through each of the events. This will help in keeping track of everyone who tweets, uses Facebook, or Instagram prior to, during, and after the convention. This will also be a good way to share photos, memories, quotes, and find people to meet up with during each weekend at a Teach Them Diligently Convention. All these hashtags will work on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Need help finding how you can follow a hashtag on Twitter? Go to Twitter.com or a service that you use for your Twitter platform and type in the hashtag of your choice (see above). Then you can click “save” to save the hashtag to come back quickly next time to view. If you need more help, please don’t hesitate to send Meghan Tucker {one of our Social Media Specialists} an email at megtucker04@gmail.com

We’re also loving the communities that are being built around each specific convention location. We have active community groups on Facebook for Nashville, Spartanburg, Washington DC, and Dallas. Please click on the community below to join and network amongst those who are attending as well as ask questions.

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Sowing The Seed of the Gospel- Change The World With Operation Christmas Child

Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep. Then, when the sun came up, it burned the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up. Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants, and they didn’t bear grain. But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants sprouted, grew, and bore grain: some had thirty grains, others sixty, and others one hundred.”

Sowing the Seed of the Gospel

I love seeds.  So much life and potential exist in a teeny tiny container.  Each type is unique.  As a gardener, I can easily tell a zinnia seed from a Morning Glory seed.  They are different, but once planted, each has the ability to grow and become more than they were.  Just one small marigold seed can grow into a flower that yields 50 new seeds.

I also love the ministry of Operation Christmas Child.  As I take my empty shoebox and pack it with things I chose especially for “my” child across the world – -a blue hat and gloves, a stuffed red dog that matches the cover of the coloring book I found, a blue toothbrush, a red washcloth, a bag of candy canes, etc., my box is slightly different from every other one packed and sent.  It’s uniquely mine and is full of potential, just like a seed.

Over 10 million shoeboxes will be distributed this year in over 100 countries around the world, taking the Good News of Jesus Christ “to the farthest parts of the earth” Acts 1:8.  How exciting to think that my simple shoebox gift will travel by truck, boat, canoe or camel to reach just the right child – to tell him that he is loved by His Father in heaven.  Although I’ve packed shoeboxes for almost 15 years, I still get tingles to think of how God will use  or “sow” this small seed!

When a child receives their shoebox,  they are also handed a colorful gospel booklet, “The Greatest Gift of All” about  the gift of Jesus.  I’ve seen many photos of children putting away the toys and candy and pouring over the book, often with their friends and even their parents.  The seed is beginning to grow.  But then what?

Child Reading Gospel Booklet

The Greatest Journey“” discipleship series was developed to be that next step to help these children become lifelong followers of Jesus.  To nurture and grow their young faith, these lessons are offered to the children after they receive their shoebox through the churches in their neighborhood.

Years ago I was asked to teach a Sunday School class, but I had no training, no experience, and no lesson plans.  I began with good intentions, but quickly became discouraged and confused.  Operation Christmas Child understands that not only are the children who receive the gifts living in poor and desperate conditions, but also their local churches. Through “The Greatest Journey” discipleship program, Sunday School teachers are encouraged and provided with all the training, booklets and materials! Since 2009, more than 104,000 local teachers have been trained.  I asked the National Team Leader from Belize, how this affects the churches.   She said that training them how to share the gospel with their children, taught them how to share the gospel with their own family and neighbors.  The teachers grew in their own faith, and more seeds are planted.

“The Greatest Journey” has 12 sections:

  • Lessons 1-4 are about God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • Lessons 5-8 helps children to grow in their walk of faith in and knowledge of Christ.
  • Lessons 9-12 guides children to tell others the exciting news of what God has done for them.  The children are asked to pray for nine of their friends and taught how share their faith with friends, family, and neighbors, multiplying the Gospel message.

When the children complete all the lessons, there is a joyous graduation ceremony!  Their families are invited, many hearing the gospel for Greatest Journeythe first time.  Each child receives a certificate and a New Testament in their own language. Some of these children will never be able to complete regular school, so for them this graduation is even more meaningful. “I give thanks to God for the opportunity He gave me to study the Bible lessons,” said 14-year-old Gimena from Paraguay. “Through them, many children have met Jesus. I invited my friends to the classes, and many of them received Jesus as their Savior too.”  The seeds have grown and  now yielded new seeds.

What a precious opportunity we have been entrusted with!  God is at work and it is exciting and humbling to be a small part of something so great – over 2.8  million children have already completed these lessons with more than 1.1 million making decisions to follow Jesus! The goal of Operation Christmas Child is to enroll 5 million children around the world in “The Greatest Journey” each year.  How will God continue to use these seeds?

Greatest Journey Graduation

How can you and your family get involved?  You can pack a shoebox!  Collection Week is always the third week of November, but many of us shop and craft for our boxes all year long. For more information about how to pack a shoebox check: www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

There are also many ways to get involved with providing “The Greatest Journey” lessons to children around the world, from sponsoring one child for $6, to sponsoring a church for $600, or even an entire community for $6,000 www.thegreatestjourney.org.

 

Mary Rucci co-writes a blog, ClipWithPurpose.com that has a simple mission:  to help as many people as possible pack as many Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes as possible and pack them inexpensively by teaching how to find bargains and make crafts.

Operation Christmas Child

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Five Ways to Finance Your College Education

Of the many thoughts racing through a student’s mind as he approaches high school graduation, two of his preoccupations are likely, “What do I want to do for a career?” and “How do I pay for this?” The affordability of a college education is a determining factor in whether a student goes to college at all. ‘Financial Aid’ is a broad term used by colleges to encapsulate all financial options – from scholarships to grants to loans. Knowing how to combine financial aid options with responsibility and hard work will provide students with an answer to the question, “How do I pay for this?”

5 Ways To Finance Your College Education

1. Federal Grants and Loans

Most colleges and universities will ask your family for the FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a federal form based on your taxes from the previous year which allows the government to determine a students’ Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Based on the EFC, the government will designate an eligible amount of aid to that student. Some of this aid will be grants (do not need to be paid back) and some of it may be loans (must be paid back starting six months after graduation).
Students should read the fine print on the awards they accept to determine whether the amount is indeed a grant or if it is a loan. If taking out loans, students should pay close attention to the Loan Entrance Counseling required by the government, and would be wise to seek financial counsel on how much to borrow. It is better to keep loans as a last resort when other options (discussed below) have been exhausted.

2. State/Organizational Grants and Scholarships

Some states, like Florida, give out ‘Promise Scholarships’ to high achieving students. These scholarships may have limitations (GPA, location, or attending a specific university/college) but are worth looking into! Organizational scholarships are awards specific to certain corporations and businesses. Walmart, General Electric, Associated Press have all been known to have scholarships available. Smaller groups such as the Rotary Club or local businesses are also willing to help out students who show ambition and creativity. Look for awards in your hometown or search out corporations you have connections with.

3. Work Study/Campus Jobs

Federal Work Study is a form of aid for which students qualify through the FAFSA. This aid caps at $4000 per year and is earned by working a campus job. The funds can be sent directly to your loans or student account, or they can be given to you like a regular paycheck. A student can also determine the percentage of his paycheck he wishes to send toward his student account: i.e., 60% to account, 40% via paycheck. Regardless of whether a student qualifies for work study, he can very likely acquire a job on campus to help pay for books and incidentals.

4. School Specific Scholarships

University aid is aid through the school itself. Academic scholarships specific to the university with their own GPA and test score qualifications, scholarships based on ethnicity, and association with certain extracurricular groups and societies (such as Phi Theta Kappa) are all opportunities for additional aid. Both state and private colleges will list a wide variety of scholarships for which students can apply. For instance – Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan offers an award of $500 per year to Polish-American students. That’s enough to cover books!

5. Spend Wisely

It is very easy to spend money in high school and college, especially when everyone around you seems to have a bottomless bank account. Starting financial responsibility in high school (or even earlier!) will create habits that will last through a student’s college years. Saving money, budgeting for fun expenditures (eating out, shopping, travel), and avoiding debt are great ways to both fund your college education and guarantee wise decisions when paying for school. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is one option for financial education that comes highly recommended for soon-to-be college students!

Working hard and making wise decisions when it comes to college will pay off in the long run. Students who work for and through college tend to value their education more because it was earned! Be sure to check out sites like Fastweb.com for additional scholarships from outside organizations.

Phylicia Duran is a 2008 home school graduate and alum of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university. Her educational background includes dual enrollment, CLEP testing, community college, online courses and residential study. She has filled the roles of Admissions Counselor, Social Media Coordinator and currently Coordinator of Group Visits at Liberty University and is passionate about spiritual and vocational discipleship, especially as related to home education.

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