The junior year of high school in the American school systen is often said to be THE busiest year for families on all levels. There are a lot of things that go on during the junior year for teens getting ready for college, and this can often be compounded for the homeschooling parent who must play teacher, parent, and guidance counselor during the junior year of high school. Having a good plan in mind is an essential part of preparing for homeschooling high school in the junior year if you have a child who is college-bound. Things to consider include creation of transcripts (hopefully you have been doing this since freshman year!), testing, choosing a college and scholarship money.
For the creation of transcipts, my favorite resource is “Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admissions and Scholarships.” I have read a lot of the work of Lee Binz, author of this book, and I find her straight-forward approach to high school refreshing and honest. In our family, we have already decided to create transcripts based upon subject, not by year, since this approach aligns better with the Waldorf approach of block teaching and teen-led interests. For example, our oldest has accummulated quite a few credits in music at this point, based upon hours of work, so we needed a transcript type that will highlight that kind of dedication.
In order to create the rest of a homeschooling portfolio, you need to keep track of hours (120-180 hours equals one credit; usually the lab sciences are what gives one those upper hours of 180 and English courses and such usually clock in at 120 hours); projects and reading lists; completion of a textbook if using a textbook or outline for a particular subject, and a system for grading. Course descriptions, extra-curricular activities, leadership activites and awards, and reading lists of books outside of assigned school books round out the porfolio.
Testing is another big consideration. The public schools around me have teens start taking the PSAT and SAT very early and take it many times. The only PSAT score that counts for the National Merit Scholarship is the one taken in October of junior year so that is something to consider. The SAT can be taken many times, but I feel if one makes study preparation and quick essay writing a part of homeschooling in the sophomore and junior years, then you shouldn’t have to take it more than twice. It could be taken in spring of junior year and later towards the end of that school year if it needs to be done twice. Some students do better on the ACT, and some colleges require one or the other, so it is good to know what the colleges your student is interested in requires. If your student doesn’t know where they will apply, like mine, then you can take both just to have it done.
Lastly, hunting for colleges can be difficult. Many students these days are visiting and applying to 12 colleges or more and dividing this into “reach”, “fit”, and “safety” schools. I feel strongly that because applying to colleges cost money and time, it is better to visit more schools and tease out any possible scholarship money in order to pare down the list and not apply to more than 4 colleges. My husband and I were talking about how back in the 80s when we graduated, students generally applied to only two to four schools. It has changed since then, but I still feel doing the legwork first rather than after applying makes the most sense in terms of time and money.
Scholarships are harder to determine at times. Many are financially-based; some are not. There are apps available to help you find out what scholarship money might be available to your student based upon their interests, specific questions regarding background of the student and the family, or more. I have heard of some students getting scholarships due to athletics or music, but these seem to be far less prevalent than most parents believe are out there.
I would love to hear your experiences and stories about going through the college application process while homeschooling!
Blessings and love,