Did you know that you are your child's best homeschool guidance counselor? You'll never believe what I overheard one day while getting my hair done.
While I was getting my hair done one day, I was listening to two moms talk about their children in public school. One of them was describing how her child simply could not get through a Pre-Algebra class, which was too hard for him and how the public school insisted that he move on to Algebra 1; the school wouldn't let him retake Pre-Algebra because he would fail, and they didn't want him to be left behind. She asked her son during the first weeks of school how Algebra was going, and he said that he was lost, had no clue what was going on, and that he was going to fail. Two weeks into the quarter, she discovered that her son had been signed up by accident for a Calculus class. Instead of taking and failing Algebra, he was taking and failing Calculus.
As homeschool parents, we're not perfect, but there's no way that we would make this mistake. We know our child and we know what our child is capable of, when they're struggling, what they're struggling with and so on. I'm confident that there's no way we'd skip through three levels of math and put them in something that's way over their head. The counselors in public schools have an average of 350 students for every high school guidance counselor. That means that those counselors may not know the student at all, and when the student has to go in for advice or for some consulting, the counselor knows little about them. Not that high school guidance counselors are bad at their job, I'm not saying that and that's not my point. You will be a much more effective guidance counselor because you know your child best! It really is the love for your child that's going to ensure your success; you care deeply about what is in their best interest, so you're not going to hurt them or guide them into something they can't or won't be successful in.
As homeschool parents, we know that if we do not do a good job in preparing our children, we might be financially responsible for that child for the rest of our lives! More importantly, we also have a huge emotional investment in their success, because we want them to do well. The high school guidance counselors do these things to the best of their abilities, but they don't actually know each child. You don't need to feel hesitant in your own abilities, or that having an official guidance counselor is what's needed. What's needed is you, and you're the best person for the job.
Now that we've established that you are the high school guidance counselor, like your counterparts in public and private school, you need a book to explain the differences between colleges. When you are looking for colleges that might be a good fit, it's important to read the fine print. Knowing the numbers and statistics about a college will help your child earn college admission and scholarships. You can compare college statistics using any of these books. You can also find them at the library.
These college books are HUGE - really as big as the old "Yellow Pages" from a major city! Bigger than a college Chemistry book! So here is what you need to do... read JUST the pages with the 20 or so colleges that you are considering. Don't read the whole book (PLEASE don't read the whole book!) Don't get overwhelmed. But do read every single word about the few colleges you are interested in.
Choose a book from this list.:Fiske Guide to Colleges 2017 Edition by Edward Fiske
Remember, don't read these books cover to cover! Instead, only read the colleges where your child might want to visit. Begin your college search at a college fair. Then do your research on the colleges so you can have a manageable list of colleges where you would like your child to apply.
After your research and college visits, your goal is to have 4-8 colleges where your child will be applying. Those colleges should be a mix of reach, fit, and safety - did you need to read more about that? Reach, Fit, and Safety Simplified
Finish up all your college search stuff by the end of junior year, so the first day of senior year you are ready to apply to the colleges that are the best fit!