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5 Lessons About Writing Course Descriptions

Kerrie posted the sweetest comment on Facebook, while in the midst of a challenging marathon of writing her course descriptions.

Kerrie Tates Son Recommendation
This is what a house looks like at Christmastime when you wait until the last minute to write course descriptions and reading lists for college applications! Lee Binz of The HomeScholar - we should've listened to your advice and started much earlier! See well-worn copies of the two books on top of paper pile! (College Admission and Scholarships on the left, Setting the Records Straight on the right.)

When I asked if I could share her story and photo, she replied with an enthusiastic YES! She also gave some encouragement for other homeschoolers, so you don't need to spend Christmas of senior year writing course descriptions.  Read this, and maybe you'll have a wonderful winter break in the coming year
Dear Lee,
Can you believe I have been in homeschool leadership since 1990 and have applied to countless colleges with my older kids, and was even a public school teacher but had NEVER done course descriptions? They seems so overwhelming and I tried to avoid them at all costs! If your Setting the Records Straight book had been around 15 years ago I would’ve attempted them! I have read lots of books designed to help homeschoolers with college applications, but none are as well-written, thorough, clear, and helpful as yours! I love the College Admissions and Scholarships book too. We have purchased quite a few of both for our lending libraries and it is such a blessing to see people get the help they need!

Lesson learned: grab some books that will help you get the job done.
Actually, none of the colleges my older children applied to required course descriptions, but I know it would’ve been a good idea to send them. I think homeschoolers take it for granted that colleges completely understand their high school transcripts and coursework.  Some have even told me that if their child has a high ACT there is no need for course descriptions and reading lists. What they may not realize is that a high ACT puts a student in another whole level of competition. They might already have been accepted and even have a full ride for tuition, but then there are opportunities like room & board, work study, internships, study abroad, or even a stipend.Course descriptions can make their application much more competitive! (I hate the word “competitive, “  but you know what I mean!)

Lesson learned: be prepared with course descriptions for the best chances of scholarships.
This time around, some of the schools David applied to did require course descriptions and even extensive reading lists. David wants to be a pre-med/literature major and it is hard to find a school that excels in both areas AND is Christian or Christian-friendly! Even though his other choices don’t require course descriptions, we definitely sent or are sending them! We’ve tried to apply to all the schools by their non-binding early decision deadline. I hate to admit that our course descriptions were not at all ready at that date because we procrastinated, and underestimated how much work it would be to do all four years in one month! Thank goodness the university had some computer problems and allowed people to send in “extras” after the deadline! If not, David’s scholarship chances might’ve been compromised. Thankfully, the other colleges have later deadlines of December 15 to January 15.

Lesson learned: avoid a holiday crunch time by writing course descriptions every year, keeping up to date.
The books you saw in the picture are actually only a fraction of the books we used! You’re right when you posted that many people are “up a creek “ because they haven’t kept their textbooks.  We definitely have lent or given away almost everything we used –especially since David is my youngest and now taking dual-enrolled college classes. For example, he has studied every Apologia book in the series but we don’t have one in the house! Thankfully, our homeschool group has a large curriculum library where I was able to check out what we needed! Sometimes we just had to find what we could on good ‘ole Amazon!

Lesson learned: don't sell your books until you have written your course descriptions.
I am so excited that you will be a featured speaker at our 2014 Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo! I wish I had heard someone like you early in my homeschool journey. 

Lesson learned: go to a homeschool convention each year!  I hope you can come see me in St. Louis in March!
We just posted your “The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling” on the Facebook page. Such an encouraging article! Thanks again for ALL you do for so many in the homeschool community. You are truly one of the “gifts” of homeschooling to all of us!
~ Kerrie Tate


Thank you Kerrie, for your words of encouragement to me and for other homeschool parents as well!


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