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Give Christmas Gifts that Pay for College

Give Christmas Gifts that Pay for College

Are you busy getting all of your Christmas gifts purchased? If so, you won't want to miss this list! Christmas gifts for your homeschooler that will free you from checking your list twice!

What are Gifts that Pay for College?

Kids want fun things that they are interesting to them.
Parents want educated children without going broke or crazy.
Colleges want “passion” and delight directed learning.
Give gifts that will increase the fun factor in school, help colleges appreciate your student, allow you to maintain your sanity, or save enough time of money to help you afford the cost of college.

Gifts that pay for college can mean…

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College Applications: Your Social Security Number is Private!

College Applications: Your Social Security Number is Private!

You are not legally required to provide your social security number on college applications: your social security number is private.  Schools are not required to ask for it.  It will be required for a college loan, but it  should not be required for a college application.  That’s why I recommend that you do NOT put a social security number on your transcript.

I can teach you how to create transcripts and records that win scholarships. Click to download samples of what we used to do it ourselves. The HomeScholar Record Keeping Samples

For more information, read this document from the Social Security Administration: Legal requirements to provide your Social Security Number.

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Hi, Jacob. Yes, if you provide your child's ssn to a college, they will keep it on file. You will be required to provide the ssn ... Read More
Monday, 28 October 2019 13:35
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Be Prepared: A College Prep Education is Important

Be Prepared: A College Prep Education is Important

Be Prepared: A College Prep Education is Important

High school can be like driving on auto-pilot. You arrive at the destination, but can't remember the journey! When you homeschool high school, sometimes life goes by quickly and your child is a senior before you know what happened!

College preparation is critical for students who plan on going to college. College bound students need course work that will prepare them. Students need to take college admission tests, and parents need to learn about grades and credits. College preparation for college bound students is expected.

What can college preparation provide for students who will not go to college? Why bother getting your kids ready for college when you feel certain they won’t go? Consider for a moment how many times your children have changed their minds. When you least expect it, on almost any topic, teenagers will change their minds. Stop laughing! You know it’s true! And teenagers may even change their minds about going to college.

Rigorous academics can benefit children even if they are not heading to college. When high school may be their only formal education, you want it to be the best! Focusing on requirements for the college bound will ensure challenging academics, rather than just the minimum. Excellence boils down to keeping your children challenged, not achieving a certain prescribed level. Calculus does not make the difference between a college bound and a non-college-bound teen. Instead, learning how to learn is what prepares a child for college and for life.

Life would be much easier if children would just make up their minds once and stick to it! Unlike changing dinner plans from enchiladas to spaghetti, changing from “vocational training” to “college preparation” is a little more challenging. By planning a college prep high school, you don’t have to worry so much about changing plans. You and your student will be ready for anything. You can prepare your child for college as part of your homeschool, taking to heart the Boy Scout motto, “Always be prepared.”

Providing a college prep education is not terribly complicated. You can continue to homeschool the same way you always have, learning with reckless abandon. You don’t have to change your curriculum, or give tests in every subject, or chain your student to a desk. Homeschoolers of every stripe have been successful with college admission. Don’t change what has always worked for you, just set your eyes on college so you have the ultimate flexibility when your student graduates.

If you are stressed out that your high school teen hasn’t found a career interest yet, relax. Some kids decide on a career when they are very young, and others don’t decide until much later. Statistically speaking, a working adults changes their career three to seven times in their lifetime! In the same way, it’s not unusual for a college student to change their major at least once in their college career. And even if your student chooses a career now, it’s unlikely that they will continue with that career throughout their entire life. Live without regrets. Be prepared for anything, because with teenagers, “anything” can happen!

A Note about Teenagers

When your teens are growing up, remember they are also growing into adulthood. They are trying hard to become an adult, and make adult decisions. Decision making skills don't appear overnight. Teens need practice. They want to become independent, and we want to encourage them to grow up.

This is that time in life when you have to think about the five year plan. When giving advice or direction, consider whether it will really matter in five years. You can always give advice, but don’t get too emotionally invested in children taking your advice unless it will matter in five years. Most of your suggestions really won’t matter in five years at all!

Would you like to learn more about your child's options after high school?

This article is a brief excerpt of my Coffee Break Book, Options After High School: Steps to Success for College or Career. Regular price is $2.99 on Kindle. Grab your copy here today!

Once you've read it, I would be so grateful if you left a quick review to let me know what you think. Thanks so much!

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Beyond Academics

Beyond Academics

Beyond Academics

Homeschooling is not merely about academics. Preparing your child for adulthood goes way beyond learning English, math, and science!

There are three overlapping areas that are important for success in both college and life: college prep activities to include on a transcript, skills for independent learning that all adults require, and health and safety issues that will prepare kids for a happy and healthy adulthood.

Colleges are interested in students who are well-rounded, students with life skills as well as academic skills. What are the skills that make your student attractive to colleges and what activities will help your student develop these skills?

Children will eventually grow up and leave home (remember, that is your goal). They will need to understand adult responsibilities in order to succeed. How can you prepare your child to live independently?

You want your children to grow up to be happy, healthy, and firm in their faith. How can you know which health and safety issues to address in high school, so they can thrive? How can you equip them to thrive in the new environments of college and life, and maintain strong, healthy relationships with their family members?

The things you teach your children now are so important! Let's look at them together!

College Prep Activities

College prep activities are important, because colleges want to see well-rounded students that have more than academics and interests beyond books. College prep activities can demonstrate the uniqueness of your child.

Colleges look at a wide variety of activities, but also at things that are significant to a particular child. They look at activities a student has done over a long duration. Colleges are attracted to students who show interest in meaningful things over a period of time.

Life Skills for Independence

Life skills are those necessary for people to function as adults. Again, independence is the goal. Whether your student goes to college or not, they will eventually live independently. You want them to thrive and not just survive so you need to teach them these life skills.

Health and Safety

I worked as a nurse at a hospital, so our family talked a lot about the different kinds of health. There’s physical health, but there’s also emotional and spiritual health. You want your children to grow up, be happy, affirmed in their faith, and equipped for adult challenges. Talking about each area is important to your student’s overall growth and maturity.

Would you like to learn more about preparing your child for college and life?

This article is a brief excerpt from my Coffee Break Book, Beyond Academics: Preparation for College and for Life. Regular price is only $2.99 on Kindle. Grab your copy here today!

Once you’ve read it, I would be so grateful if you left a quick review to let me know what you think. Thanks so much!

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What do You Need to Homeschool High School?

What do You Need to Homeschool High School?

What do You Need to Homeschool High School?

You need to be courageous

It takes some courage to step outside the box, but there is no need to fear. Homeschooling provides the best academic preparation, the best learning environment, and the best career preparation. Homeschooling high school provides statistically-proven results that surpass public and private school options.

You need to know simple keys for success

It takes some time to learn what makes homeschoolers successful. Simple tips make a huge difference. If you have been homeschooling and what you are already doing has made you successful, then take these methods with you into high school. Most importantly, invest in your weaknesses. Whether they include your child’s weakness in math or your lack of confidence, focus your time and money on your weaknesses as you plan to homeschool high school.

You need to provide college preparation

You need to understand college preparation and provide your child with a college prep education, regardless of how likely or unlikely college may seem for your child. You see, teenagers change their minds. You've seen it happen, perhaps even with yourself as a teenager. Even the most unlikely student can end up in a university. Because any student may end up in college later on, always be prepared with college prep classes.

You need to keep high school records

Begin keeping good records right from the beginning of high school, and continue updating them constantly. Every year, update your child’s high school transcript. While it's just a piece of paper, it's critical to meet college and career goals. Write course descriptions every year as well, so you can back up that transcript with documentation. To create records, you need to learn about high school record keeping early on, preferably in junior high, before ignorance and fear prevent you from keeping good records from the start.

You need to understand high school tests

High school is filled with scary-sounding acronyms such as: PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP, and CLEP. Your goal is to understand these acronyms and plan ahead for important tests. Every child can be successful with a little advance planning, and understanding tests can help you become the best possible guidance counselor for your child. Careful planning can help you reduce your workload and increase your child's test scores when you replace standard curriculum with test prep materials in the upper grades.

You need to foster the love of learning

Children can develop a love of learning. In high school, it becomes even more important to encourage delight directed learning. Including the child's interests is how kids learn about college majors and careers. Delight directed learning provides the trial and error experience needed to learn what they may want to do (or don’t want to do) in their adult life. It provides experiences to use in college and job applications. And colleges love to see unique classes on the transcript that make an applicant really stand out.

You need to guide the college admission process

Homeschool parents are the best guidance counselors, but it does take some conscious effort. Applying to college is approximately a two year process. Junior year is spent finding a college where your child wants to apply. College applications should be completed one year before your child wants to go to college, early in the fall of senior year. Unless you want to pay full price for college, starting the application process in September of twelfth grade is your best strategy for earning scholarships.

Where you might get stuck

Now you have the answer to, "What do you need to know to homeschool high school?" But after consulting with many thousands of parents, I know there are 5 places where you might get stuck. Grab my free ebook below, so you can avoid the common traps and pitfalls. Be prepared to homeschool high school! Grab the information and resources you need to be ready and capable for the next stage of homeschooling. Click here or on the image below for your instant download!

What do you think is the most important thing you need to homeschool high school? Please share!

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Homeschool Records + Talent = Julliard Dreams Fulfilled

Homeschool Records + Talent = Julliard Dreams Fulfilled

Homeschool Records + Talent = Julliard Dreams Fulfilled

Getting into Julliard is like getting into Harvard. You really have to have it ALL - academics, special talent, passion, and luck! Anytime you are trying to get into a highly selective school, it requires some extra effort from both the parent and the child.

Recently I received this lovely thank you note from a Gold Care Club member. Their family achieved wonderful success!
"I have enjoyed being a gold card club member for years, spoke to you on the phone and I listened to some of your webinars, used the course description and transcript templates and information on SAT's. I thank you for your help in my journey of making all this ready for applications. My daughter and I made a detailed portfolio for her that she sent to 7 places where she was invited to audition live, and was successfully accepted to most of the Conservatories. She was accepted into The Julliard School by her audition and then they accepted her high school portfolio without any questions. She placed into all the academic courses at the higher level. She is now happily studying a bachelors of music at The Julliard School, fulfilling her dream. I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to home school her and thanks to you, I knew how to present her schooling and everything else in such a way that I did not need to sacrifice the wonderful home school curriculum that gave her a strong Christian world view and foundation in Christ. ~ A"

This Gold Care Club Member took advantage of the telephone consultations. She also learned on her own, by consistently watching the 5 monthly classes that change on the 20th of every month. She purchased the Comprehensive Record Solution, that helped her to make a detailed portfolio. And she provided the moral compass her daughter needed to succeed in the future.

The teenager was homeschooled independently, which allowed her to pursue Delight Directed Learning in music, which then enabled her to succeed at the highest levels. Learn more about Delight Directed Learning.

Delight Directed Learning
Maximize the Fun Factor
Encouraging Delight Directed Learning at the High School Level

Coordinating Coffee Break Book on Amazon:
Delight Directed Learning: Guide Your Homeschooler Toward Passionate Learning

Here is what I suggest.

  • Prepare thorough homeschool records.

  • Encourage your child's interests and talents.

  • Prepare to have your child's dreams fulfilled too!

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Real Story, Real Money, Real Scholarships

Real Story, Real Money, Real Scholarships
Persistence can pay off with real money and big-time scholarships!

A homeschooler was kind enough to share her success on my Facebook page. Her story is more like two successes, combined into one magnificent story.

In the first half of the story, she tells us about her child, struggling to earn college scholarships based on her SAT score.

My daughter was 10 points away from the number she needed for $2000 more in scholarships per year! I called the school and proclaimed that my daughter is NOT a number and that she was always just a poor test taker. It didn't matter. She took the SAT 3 times and the ACT, missing the number by 0.2 points in the conversion to SAT!!! She eventually got the number and the extra scholarship.

This young girl took the SAT again and it was worth $2,000 per year. Let's do the math ... that's $8,000 for taking a test! Because she took the test just one more time and because she studied, and tried to increase her score, it translated into big bucks.

How many hours did this teenager study in order to earn her portion, the $8,000? If she worked a LOT, perhaps she studied for 40 hours total. It is unusual to study that much, but it's possible. If she had studied that many hours, this young teenager would have been earning $200 per hour to study for the SAT! Is that worth it? Absolutely! In a heart beat! Do you know many teenagers that make $200 per hour? I don't!

In the second half of this story, this homeschool mom talks about how she was desperate and struggling to afford college for her children.

I also just wrote the college (private college) and asked if there were anymore scholarships available because I had 2 kids in college. They awarded her $2000 more per year!!! A letter worth $8000! Always ask!!!

This mom wrote a letter to ask for more scholarships. It was worth $2,000 per year. Quickly doing the math again, that's $8,000! Again, because Mom took the time to express her concerns.

Let's do a quick review of the math:

One letter = $8000.
One morning = $8,000.
Total = $16,000

These are real dollars! How many hours would you need to work to earn $16,000?

Please note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Would you like to receive homeschool encouragement in your email inbox on a daily basis? Subscribe to The HomeScholar Helper here!
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Graduate and Go To Work

Graduate and Go To Work
As a parent, your work during high school includes planning for and providing the best possible education for your children so they can learn the life skills they need.

Graduate and Go to Work

It’s your job to prepare them to be ready for a variety of different possibilities and then encourage them to pursue what they’ll need to know in order to function in their job, whether that includes college or not.

Education is not just a matter of climbing up the ladder. Education is about what they're going to do after they've climbed up the ladder. What will they do and where will they work?

Many students will decide that they want to work after high school. I have a friend whose teen-aged son said he was going to work and not go to college. He got a job working at a local fast food restaurant and he loved it. He was getting higher and higher in management as a teenager when he decided that he wanted to own a business. He quickly found out it required a business degree, so he decided to go to college. He easily passed the college entrance exams, because his mother had taught him everything he needed to know during high school.

The lesson here is that you always need to be prepared. Remember that kids will change their minds! You just don’t know what the future is going to hold; kids mature and change their minds and the next thing you know, they want to own a business of their own and need a degree. If you’ve prepared them in high school, they will be ready for whatever they choose, college or work. They will have what they need! That’s homeschool success!

What are your children planning to do after graduation? Have they changed their minds? Please share!

Please note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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3 College Application Tips

3 College Application Tips

Getting ready to send in your college applications? How about a few quick tips to get you started?!

 1. Modify your college application essays

Many colleges have similar essay prompts. You can reuse essays for applications to different colleges, and save lots of trouble by writing fewer essays. At the same time, though, make sure to personalize the essay to the specific college you are applying to. So first, write the essay. Then modify the essay, adding specific information about the college. A college application essay is like a love letter you are writing to a college. Like any good love letter, it will have lots of personal information about your beloved!

 2. Check for perfection

When you finish each piece of your college application, whether it's a transcriptcourse descriptionscomprehensive records, or essay, make sure you check it for perfection. Spell check first, to get the easy spelling and spacing problems. Then shrink it to 50% to see if you have any formatting problems. Shrinking the view down can help pick up a change in margins, or in font size. Then enlarge the document to 150% and read it again. That can help you pick up spelling or grammar problems that are not found by a standard spell check. Remember that you can have spelling errors that aren't picked up by spell check. Just because it's a word, doesn't mean it was the word you intended!

 3. Be prompt

Colleges love applicants with big financial hugs we call scholarships. You want to get a financial hug, too! The way you do that is by following their rules for admissions, and by being early. Make sure every part of your college application is submitted WELL before the due dates posted. The sooner you get your application in, the more scholarships you can apply for and win! Try to beat the deadline by a month, if possible.

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College Admission Classes at a College Fair

College Admission Classes at a College Fair
Homeschool conventions are continuing education classes for parents, right? Well, when you attend a college fair, you will notice how they are remarkably similar to homeschool conventions.

In fact, when you attend a college fair, you will probably have the opportunity to take some classes or workshops while you are there.  I encourage you to take those classes!  College applications are important, and the more you know about it, the more likely you are to get college admission and scholarships.

Margaret attended a college fair, and sent me an email with this feedback.
Dear Lee,

Last weekend, my son and I attended a college admissions workshop. Attending were deans of admission from prominent public and private universities in VA, MD, and NC.

In between sessions, I introduced myself as a homeschooler to the deans of admission for two of the top public universities in the US.  I showed them sample course descriptions that I had made from your comprehensive record solution, and asked if information like that would be helpful.  They were very enthusiastic about the information.  They consider rigor of coursework as one of their main criteria, and they felt that this information could help significantly.  They said they would be especially interested in seeing the course descriptions for the current (senior) year with the application.  It hadn't occurred to me to include those course descriptions (although you probably tell us to somewhere!).

I also asked them about the "all A's" dilmemma, and whether it looks suspicious on a homeschooled transcript.  They understood how I could worry about that, but they said that if thegrades were corroborated with outside grades, like community college, and test scores, then they wouldn't think twice about a homeschooler having a "perfect" report card.  They also encouraged me to give them lots of information about how we chose our courses and what our educational philosophy was.

Basically, everything they said dove-tailed beautifully with everything you say.  I know that you are not surprised, but I thought it might be nice to hear anyway!

Thanks for all you do,


Now feeling comfortable and confident, she was able to successfully navigate the college admission process with her child.  You can be confident too!  Go ahead, check out a college fair and attend a class.  Remember to ask questions!

Learn the secrets to successfully navigate the college process from start to finish with my book “The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships” 
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Graduate Your Homeschooler with College Credit

Graduate Your Homeschooler with College Credit
In this video, I talk about how to help your homeschool student graduate high school with college credit.

For personal support join the Gold Care Club!

If you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You will be notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!
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Breaking News! The SAT test will change in Spring of 2016

Breaking News!  The SAT test will change in Spring of 2016
The College Board has just announced extensive changes to the SAT, saying that both the SAT and ACT "have become disconnected from the work of our high schools."

So they are changing the test. CHANGE. I know what you're thinking. Change; that dreaded word that reminds us all about changing diapers.

What is changing on the SAT?

The test questions are different

  • NO penalty for wrong answers

  • Offered in print AND on computer at selected locations

  • Only THREE sections: Evidence-based Reading and Writing, Math, and the Essay

  • The new exam will be about 3 hours, plus 50 minutes for the Essay

  • The Essay section will be OPTIONAL

The scores will be different

  • Scoring will go back to a 400-1600 point scale

  • Reading & Writing are combined and scored on a 200-800 point scale

  • Math will be scored on a 200-800 point scale

  • The Essay reported separately

The Essay is optional

  • The Essay prompt will be shared in advance and there will be focus on the essay of analyzing a source

  • The Essay score is reported separately

  • Since colleges want the ACT test with optional essay, I suggest you take the SAT with optional essay.

The test will include more subjects

  • Math focused on 3 key areas: Problem solving and Data Analysis, Algebra, and Advanced Math

  • Problems will be grounded in real world context: in Reading & Writing, students will be asked to edit and revise texts

  • Both sections will include problems from across the curriculum (science, history, geography etc.)

  • Students will be asked to read and answer questions and do analysis in science & social studies contexts

  • An excerpt from one of America’s founding documents or "part of the great global conversation" will be included in every exam

When is it changing?

  • The first new test will arrive in Spring 2016

  • No immediate changes, and you don't have to immediately buy a new book

  • If you're taking the SAT this year or next year, you can stick with what you have been using

  • Whichever test you take, make sure to study for it: Schedule Test Preparation

  • When new study guides arrive, I tend to prefer Princeton Review materials best

Where to learn more

Executive Summary

  • The SAT is changing in 2016, now is no time to panic

  • Keep doing what you are doing

  • In fall of 2015, try to find new study guides that cover the new format

Are you in the middle of studying for the SAT with your high schooler? What are you doing to prepare?
For more information, you can ready my complete article: Big Changes Coming with the Redesigned SAT

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Is the SAT a Graduation Requirement?

Is the SAT a Graduation Requirement?
In this video, I discuss whether the SAT and ACT are required for high school graduation.

For personal support join the Gold Care Club!

If you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You will be notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!
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How-to Homeschool - Will Colleges Accept My Transcript?

How-to Homeschool - Will Colleges Accept My Transcript?
In this video, I discus what colleges are looking for in a homeschool transcript.

For personal support join the Gold Care Club!

img class="size-full wp-image-295 alignnone" title="homeschool-high-school.gif" alt="" src="" width="135" height="80"

If you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You will be notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!

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AP Exam or AP Class

AP Exam or AP Class
You do NOT need to have an official and approved AP course in order to give colleges the AP exams they want!

Not all public schools offer every different AP classes.  Although colleges may like kids to take those classes, they know they aren't available in all schools. Colleges are looking for the exam.

The College Board likes to think they have sole rights to putting a capital A and capital P together on a transcript. If you don't have the approved course, don't say "AP English" as your class title. However, you can say "Honors English" as your class title, and the AP exam results will demonstrate the validation the college wants.  Generally speaking, college websites that mention AP will ask for AP "exams" not "AP classes."  Anyone can take an AP exam, even if they haven't had an AP class.

Here is how you go about doing that.

  1. Teach as you normally would, using challenging material.

  2. Register for the AP test in the fall, planning ahead so they can take the test in May.

  3. About half way though the year, start studying for the AP test.

  4. Get and use an AP study guide for the subject.

  5. Give a sample test at the beginning, so you can become familiar with the format.

  6. Read the sample guide to help you fill in gaps, and further understand the format.

  7. Take a few sample tests at home

  8. Make sure the student can get a 4 or 5 on the test at home.

  9. If you are sure the student will pass the AP test, then have them take it in May

  10. If the child doesn't do well on the AP exam, consider taking the easier SAT Subject test instead.

Here is more information on AP exams:

  1. Quick Essay Skills Earn Thanks

  2. AP Exams for Homeschooled Students

  3. Homeschool High School Testing: AP Exams

  4. CLEP, AP, and Community College

  5. Successful College Applications

Remember, not all colleges ask for AP exams.  When they do, you don't have to take an AP class.  You can learn at home as normal, and then have your child take the test.  Just make sure they can pass the test before they take it for real.

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