Archive for November, 2016

Training Your Students To Look Outside of Themselves

Home education is as much about the heart as it is the mind. This is a great time to purposely present your children with service opportunities to help them to start thinking outside of themselves, and we will discuss some different ideas to get your creative juices flowing! Links Pinterest Board – Service Ideas

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Engaging Others In Your Homeschool

This time of year lends itself in big ways to engaging others in your homeschool. Whether these individuals have been very supportive, lukewarm, or downright hostile to the path God has called you to walk, finding meaningful and creative ways to engage them in what you are doing is a great way to make them […]

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Mid-semester Blues

Mid-semester Blues

In November, many of us suffer from what we refer to as “Mid-semester blues.” We’re going to talk about that – as well as some creative ways to approach the holidays in your homeschool, engage others in your homeschool, and encourage your children to begin to cultivate a heart of service. Make sure you check […]

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You and your student might not be anywhere close to deciding on a college yet. Perhaps you haven’t decided if he wants to go to college at all! That’s perfectly fine; junior year is a time of preparation more than it is a season of decision. Since you’re in the preparation process, here are some things to know about college applications.

Check Deadlines

Every college has its own set of deadlines for applications. Many offer “early decision” deadlines that are occasionally accompanied with a scholarship. By now you will have narrowed down a list of 5-7 colleges you’re considering, so make note of their application and admission deadlines for future use.

Be Aware of Fees

While you’re checking deadlines, also take note of application fees. These amounts are nice to know so you aren’t taken by surprise when placing your application. Students who are income-eligible may receive a fee waiver for some college applications; read more here:

Prepare for Essays

Almost all college applications require an admissions essay. The essay topic will vary. Practice essay writing in your regular high school curriculum and also through your test preparation, even though the writing portion of the SAT is optional. Here is a great article on admission essays from Peterson’s:

Send Your Transcripts

Those records you’ve been keeping of classes, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities are about to come in handy! Colleges need high school transcripts in addition to the application in order to review a student’s file. If you plan on applying junior year (which some students do in order to create a file with a specific university), do so after the fall term is complete. The college will want to see a transcript reflecting 9th, 10th, and at least half of 11th grade.

Send a Preliminary Test Score

If your student has taken the ACT or SAT already (which I  highly encourage as practice tests in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade), ask the appropriate testing agency to send the scores to the colleges you’ve picked. Do this after you’ve submitted the application, so your student has a file to which the test scores can be attached.

Don’t worry if you hope to improve the test score. Colleges look for the highest score, and will take a new score through your student’s senior year (and sometimes after). Some colleges even “super score”, taking the highest score from each section (e.g., on the SAT, the highest math and critical reading from each test that was taken) and put them together for maximum academic aid.

Stay in Touch

Even if your student isn’t ready to actually apply, stay in touch with the colleges you’re interested in. By keeping in contact, you can stay abreast of changes to the admission process, appropriate deadlines, and new policies.

Questions? Email

Drama group, swimming, gymnastics, debate: how do these activities contribute to a student’s academic transcript? More than you think! While colleges will first take into account a student’s tests scores and grades, extracurricular activities provide a complete picture of who the student is and where he’s headed academically.

How to Choose Extracurricular Activities

While it may seem tempting to join choir, baseball, drama, and the debate team, it is to your student’s advantage to select only two or three activities on which to focus. Colleges want to see a level of expertise and dedication that isn’t possible when a student is stretched too thin. In other words, quality over quantity is the rule to choose by!

The ninth grade year is when you can pinpoint your student’s areas of strength and interest. Tenth grade is when you’ll narrow down which extracurricular activities are worth the investment of your time and money. This may be a process of trial and error as your student finds his niche or passion.

What Colleges Look For

Colleges aren’t just looking for participation in an activity; they’re looking for leadership, initiative, and creativity. The longer a student is involved in an activity, the more opportunity there is for him to advance and develop skills in that area. This is why it’s to your advantage to pinpoint these activities within his tenth grade year.

Once you’ve chosen an activity or two, begin recording every award, accomplishment, or title your student holds. While they may seem insignificant now, these will become very useful when compiling his transcript and resume! Consider these achievements stepping stones to the bigger, better things he’ll be doing down the road.

How Do I Know When to Stop an Activity?

If your student is miserable in the extracurricular activity he’s chosen, there’s no harm in choosing something else! Not everyone needs to be on the debate team to succeed in college or career. The goal is to find activities that contribute to your student’s strengths and give him direction for his future career.

What Kind of Activities Should We Consider?

With so many choices available to homeschool families, how do you choose the right ones? As previously stated, first consider your student’s strengths and interests. Take a career test if he’s unsure of the direction he wants to go. Consider doing some job shadowing and volunteering to get a feel for what he’d like to do long-term. Once you’ve determined his interests, you can narrow down activities to the ones that will provide the most growth.

If your daughter is exceptionally good at English and composition, consider having her join a writer’s group, debate team, or book club. If your son shows an interest in engineering, consider a robotics club or having him tutor other students in math and physics. If you have an athletic student, try to find an athletic outlet that gains him both experience and exposure, especially if he hopes to attend college on an athletic scholarship.

Your time – and your students – is limited, and therefore precious. It’s important that you invest it in activities that provide a worthwhile return!

If you have questions about extracurricular activities, email

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