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[Free eBook] Finding A College You Love

[Free eBook] Finding A College You Love
Looking for a college is like trying to find the "love of your life." When you have narrowed down your selection of colleges to a few candidate schools, it's time for a visit. Keep in mind that you are trying to find the "love of your life." You woul...
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What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?

What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?

What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?

"Social studies" and "history" may be interchangeable terms for some colleges. You may have noticed that some college websites require four years of social studies while others require history. What is the difference between history and social studies?

When colleges request four years of social studies or four years of history, they both probably mean the same thing. Social studies (also called social sciences), is actually a broader term having to do with human social interaction. It can include history, government, economics, psychology, sociology, and probably some other "ologies" that I can't think of right now.

Geography can consist of either political geography (a social science) or physical geography (which could also be a science - not to confuse you or anything).

Many colleges specify what KIND of social studies they want to see. Often they require American history, American government, economics, and world history. You don't have to stick with just these four though. You can branch out and have your child study even MORE social sciences if you want to. We did in our homeschool because my kids loved social studies!

What social studies are you covering in your homeschool? Please share in the comments!

Please note: This post was first published in June 2009 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Letters of Recommendation for Homeschoolers

Letters of Recommendation for Homeschoolers
How to get great letters of recommendation for your homeschooler.

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How to Assess College Admission Requirements

How to Assess College Admission Requirements

How to understand college admission requirements.

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Reach, Fit and Safety Colleges

Reach, Fit and Safety Colleges

Ah statistics!  You gotta love 'em!  Except when you don't....


But if you DO like numbers, this blog post is for you!  Let me explain the concept of "reach, fit, and safety" for math lovers!

To find a reach, fit, and safety college, you have to look at "Admissions Data" found online and in books.  Little tip; just Google the school name and the words "admission data" and you'll find it. Then compare it to your child's test scores to the college test scores.  That's all well and good, except some places make it seem all mathematical and confusing, as if you needed a degree in statistics to really understand it.  For example, they may list test scores by indicating 25th/75th Percentile.  Here is an example:

Admissions Data Example

Test Scores -- 25th / 75th Percentile

SAT Critical Reading: 520 / 630
SAT Math: 520 / 625
SAT Writing: 510 / 620

ACT Composite: 22 / 28
ACT English: 22 / 29
ACT Math: 22 / 27

Let me explain what it all means, using this example.
It says say SAT Math: 520 / 625.

The lower number comes from students who are attending that college.
25% of kids attending that college scored below 520 when they took the Math SAT in high school.
25% of kids attending that college scored above 625 when they took the Math SAT in high school.
50% of kids attending that college scored between 520 and 625 when they took the Math SAT in high school.

Quick and easy solution; when they say SAT Math: 520 / 625, turn the line on the side.

25th/75th Percentile Scores 520 / 625
Means that most kids score 520 - 625.
If your child is in that range, they are a "fit" for that school when it comes to Math.

If your child scores below 520 on the SAT Math, they might still get in, but it's less likely.  That's a reach.
If your child scores between 520-625 on the SAT Math, they are likely to get in.  That's a fit.
If your child scores above 625 on the SAT Math, they are very likely to get in. That's a safety.

If you hate numbers, let me explain in words.

Reach School: The SAT or ACT score range is higher than your score OR school is highly selective, and you meet the other college requirements
Fit School: The SAT or ACT score range is about the same as yours, and you meet the other college requirements
Safety School: SAT or ACT score range is less than yours, and you exceed their requirements

Do you like getting this sort of help for homeschooling high school?  Gold Care Club members get extended answers to their most challenging high school issues.  Homeschooling is NOT the same as doing schoolwork at home.  There is LOTS of freedom!  My Gold Care Club will give you all the help you need to succeed!

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In the News - Homeschool Graduates Succeed!

In the News - Homeschool Graduates Succeed!


Homeschooling Goes To College
"Today homeschooling is a credible, viable educational choice that is garnering respect, even admiration, from outside educators. At the nation's elite colleges and universities, once-wary admissions officers are validating the benefits of a home education in the best way possible - with much- coveted acceptances.

Homeschoolers Ready for College
"Myths about unsocialized home-schoolers are false, and most are well prepped for college, experts say."

Homeschooled Students Well-Prepared For College, Study Finds
"Studies suggest that those who go on to college will outperform their peers.
Students coming from a home school graduated college at a higher rate than their peers­ -- 66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent -- and earned higher grade point averages along the way, according to a study that compared students at one doctoral university from 2004-2009.

Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide
"Researchers are expecting a surge in the number of students educated at home by their parents over the next ten years as more families spurn public schools."

Homeschool Graduation Memories
Three of my friends graduated their children this year.  I was struck at how each graduation was so unique, and yet all so wonderful.  Compare these three different homeschool graduation stories.  There are lots of options as you create your own memories!

Beth Graduated her son Joshua with a big party and prayerful send-off.  Read Beth's Blog

De'Etta Graduates her son Jared. No ceremony - Jared wanted to walk the bridge, flip his tassel, and be done.  Read De'Etta's Blog

Leslie Graduated her daughter Lizzie with an elegant formal event. Read Leslie's Blog


Homeschooling is NOT the same as doing schoolwork at home.  There is LOTS of freedom!  My Gold Care Club will give you all the help you need to succeed!

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Keeping Work Samples for College Admission

Keeping Work Samples for College Admission


In our family’s homeschool experience, it seemed that colleges asked for some pretty strange things when our sons applied for admission.  One college asked for their transcripts in a sealed envelope, signed on the outside by the principal (my husband).  Another asked for transcripts from a ‘recognized homeschool agency’ (what is that?!).   A lot of colleges, though, want samples of a student’s homeschool work, and this at least is a reasonable and quite common request.  In order to prepare for this possibility, I set a goal to have at least one sample of work for every subject that I taught. Everything that my sons produced paper-wise, such as tests, quizzes, and work samples, I kept a copy of.

Of course, the problem is that you don’t really know in advance what colleges are going to ask you for. We did have a college that wanted a graded English paper, and another college that wanted math in my student’s handwriting, so it’s hard to know what they’re going to ask for. I think the easiest way is to be prepared by having a sample from everything.  That doesn’t mean that you have to have a sample from all four years of high school. If you haven’t kept anything so far, and your child is going to be a senior next year, just start keeping things from now on and you should be covered.

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Making the Most of Community College

Making the Most of Community College


If you are planning to use community college classes to replace or supplement junior and senior year, I have some specific suggestions.
For maximum benefit....

  1. Make sure to have your child take a class in each major subject area: English, math, history, etc.  If you are trying to get an AA degree, that means you will be covering all of those major subject areas plus a little more.

  2. Make sure to have her take a class for required classes at her favorite university.  That may be the same list as number 1, but it could be different. Some colleges require freshmen to take Psychology or something.

  3. Find out the university policy on community college classes.  They may not accept college credits, or consider students a transfer applicant rather than a freshman applicant. Find out so you are prepared.

  4. Be prepared with everything that homeschoolers normally provide: transcript, course descriptions, reading list, activity and award list. Save the college course descriptions for classes taken.

  5. Make sure your child gets excellent grades - hopefully all A's in college classes.  College grades will be weighed heavily, even if a university does not give you college credit for the classes.

  6. Make sure your students gets to know professors, because they will be writing letters of recommendation for college admission.  Sit in the front row, ask questions and participate, so professors know them.

 Curious about The HomeScholar? Read more on our About Us page.
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Crazy Lifestyle of Learning

Crazy Lifestyle of Learning


Lots of homeschoolers have a "Crazy Lifestyle of Learning".  I'm a huge fan of Delight Directed Learning , and I love helping my members turn that into words and numbers that colleges understand - and putting those on a Homeschool Transcript. Here is one example!

"My son spends his remaining school day working on film projects. He had already won two contests. I took him to the San Antonio Christian film festival academy a few Weeks back. I have no clue what all this counts as or what to call it. Lastly, we volunteer every week accompanying a senior adult choir on our instruments. We already take choir so we have that credit. We are called a band by our director. You are kind to help. I should have asked sooner but I figured no one could relate to our crazy but wonderful lifestyle." ~ Bari

Dear Bari,

I talk to a LOT of homeschoolers, so nothing really throws me :)

If you look at a community college catalog, you should find some classes that involve film projects.  Find those classes, find a description that looks the MOST like what he is doing. Use that class title (perhaps it's Film Making") and then use the description of the class that you find from the college catalog - adding as many specific examples as you can.  Each of those contests he entered is how you evaluated.  Certainly if he WON two contests then her should get an A - his work was even evaluated by someone else!

For the choir, since you already have choir, that may be all you need, and you can save the volunteer work as either a supplement for the other choir class OR you can just use it for Volunteer Work.  Here is the key - if that work on the senior adult choir ALONE is 150+ hours, I'd call it a class.  If it's much less (perhaps 50 hours?) then I would call it a supplement or just Volunteer work.

Learn how you can create homeschool records that win college admission and scholarships.
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Ivy League Admission

Ivy League Admission

Ivy League Admission  

Is your child headed toward Ivy League schools?  This information may help!

The "true" Ivy League schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.

Do your research early in high school to find out exactly what they want in their applicants, and do your best to give it to them.  Here are examples of Ivy League homeschool admission policies.

Brown FAQ for Homeschoolers
I suggest thorough course descriptions and extra subject tests.

Columbia Admission for Homeschoolers
Columbia does not grant any credit for college courses taken during high school.

Princeton Admission tips for Homeschooled Students
The more you can document, the better.  A homeschooler was the 2002 Valedictorian, so I do think they understand homeschooling.

Dartmouth Answers Homeschool Questions
"There is no need to worry that we are not accustomed to home-schooled applicants." They like students to demonstrate  language proficiency with SAT 2 or AP subject tests.

Rejection can happen. There are many thousands of highly qualified students who are rejected each year - from public, private, and home-schools! So be prepared with a back up plan!  At this level, when all candidates are extremely qualified, it often seems like it was a flip-of-the-coin admission decision, with no rhyme or reason.

These colleges value homeschool education.  And yet there are no guarantees for anyone, regardless of the type of quality of their education.  Read their admission policy carefully, and weigh your options with your eyes wide open.

Homeschoolers can have GREAT success with Ivy admission, however.  It was a homeschooler who was accepted to 7 of the nations top universities in 2008.
A real home-schooled hero: Evanston teen

accepted by 7 of the nation's top universities

"In what has been called the most competitive year ever for college admissions, Chelsea Link defied the odds to get accepted into Yale. Then Harvard. Then came the fat envelopes from Princeton, Columbia, University of Chicago, Stanford and Northwestern University. Making that feat still more extraordinary, Link has been home-schooled since age 5."
Read the Chicago Tribune Article
Homeschool to Harvard By Wayne Allyn Root

"This is the story that the teachers unions wish had never happened. This is the story that proves all their hysterical demands for more money are nothing but a sham. This is the story that makes the unions and education bureaucrats sick to their stomachs. This is the personal story of my daughter Dakota Root."  Read the original article

As you do your research, remember that Ivy League schools may be prestigious, but they are certainly NOT perfect.  I stumbled upon a recent article in Rolling Stone that confirms that for at least one student. (Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses.)

Are Ivy league schools worse than other schools?  Don't bet on it! Are they better than other schools?  Does it matter?  It's more important to consider the FIT of the college, and only your family can determine the right fit for your student and your family.
Executive summary for busy parents

  • Homeschoolers CAN get admission into Ivy schools

  • Homescholers are NOT guaranteed admission

  • Ivy league schools are NOT perfect

  • Do your research early

  • Have a contingency plan in case of rejection

In May, my Gold Care Club webinar will be on Ivy League college applications.  If you would like to join me in the discussion, join the Gold Care Club

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Outside documentation with Community College

Outside documentation with Community College


I'm not a big fan of dual enrollment at community college, but I know that it makes sense in some situations.  If it's a good fit for your family, I want to make sure to pass along one tip.

Community college classes provide outside documentation, and provide some "proof" that a child can be successful in a college level class in each subject.  For that reason, it's helpful to have a community college class in each general subject area: English, math, science, foreign language, social studies, and fine arts.   So if you are using community college just for one subject (music for example) that's great!  But if you are looking at community college to increase chances of college admission, then branching out to many subjects may be helpful.  Taking at least one subject in each kind of area may be the most helpful if you have decided that dual enrollment at community college is the way to go.

When taking those classes, be sure students know they much get the best possible grades in those classes.  Don't let kids get in over their head.  It truly is part of the permanent record that colleges will see.

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are there to help you share helpful posts with others who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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May Day is Important to Seniors

May Day is Important to Seniors


So many holidays in May!  For parents with young children, you may be thinking about May Day and celebrating with flowers.  Moms of all ages are thinking about Mother's Day .  Patriotic Parents are thinking about Memorial Day. But parents of seniors have a special day to remember, called the National Candidates Reply Deadline.

On May 1, high school seniors who have been offered college admission have to make their final decision. Most students have until that date to enroll in the University they have chosen, make a financial deposit, or formally accept admission in the college.   And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why seniors need to start college applications early in the fall!  These decisions come LONG in advance, far before they actually leave home!

What does this mean to you?
Apply to college the first day of senior year.
Get admission decisions throughout the winter and early spring.
Give colleges your "final answer" before May 1.

Applying early is the single best thing you can do for college scholarships!

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College Prep, Step by Step, Part 2

College Prep, Step by Step, Part 2


Junior Year

As you continue to prepare your student for college, their Junior year is a particularly important year.  You really want to work hard at high school advising during junior year, because that’s when the rubber meets the road. The first task for junior year is to take the PSAT; the junior PSAT is the one that qualifies your student for the National Merit Scholarship. It’s the one that counts, and it’s the one for the big money. The test is in October, so sign up for it in September.  The next task for junior year is to make sure that your child takes the SAT or the ACT.  It doesn’t matter which test they take, but some students do better on one more than the other.

Junior year is the time to find a few colleges that your child wants to apply to. In order to do that, you need to go to a college fair. There are many college fairs, locally and further a field, so make sure you go.  It’s also important to eventually visit some colleges. You won’t know what a college is really like unless you visit.  Many look good on paper, or seem to be very dedicated to a particular faith, but you won’t know whether it’s really a Christian college or it has just Christian in the name unless you go visit. By the end of their junior year, your child should have decided on a handful of colleges that they want to apply to.

Senior Year

Your goal for senior year is to actually apply to colleges, so you need to decide by the end of junior year which colleges you’re going to apply to. The application process for seniors is very long, and you’ll want plenty of time to complete it.

In Senior year, you really want to have those applications in before Christmas, because the scholarship money is given out first come--first served. The sooner you get your application in, the more likely you are to get the scholarship money, and the easier it is to get housing.  In addition, if your student did poorly in testing, they can repeat the SAT or the ACT test during their senior year. If they didn’t take it during junior year, they can still take it in their senior year. And don’t forget to plan a graduation party!  That’s the capstone of both their accomplishments and yours!

Want to learn more about College Prep, Step by Step?  You'll love this class! Homeschool Planning – Your Goals this School Year

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College Prep, Step by Step, Part 1

College Prep, Step by Step, Part 1

Preparing for college can start even before your child hits high school.  If you have a middle school student, it’s a great time to review or preview. If you need to do remedial work with your student when they don’t quite know their basic math facts, now’s the time. Likewise, if your child is ready for algebra or geometry, 7th or 8th grade is a perfectly fine time for you to teach those classes.

Middle school is the time to practice homeschooling high school. Think, if this was the year you did homeschool high school, what would you do for course descriptions, how would you make transcripts, and what classes would you teach? Don’t wait until 9th grade and panic!

Freshmen year is the time to start thinking about college and get prepared for it. Plan ahead, learn how to homeschool high school, and start your transcript. One of my friends who waited until her child’s last year of high school to create her transcripts forgot four years of Latin—even though her daughter was competing in the national Latin competitions!  Don’t wait!  By working on your transcript every year beginning in 9th grade, you won’t forget things by the time your student graduates.

Sophomore year is the year to plan for college. There are some specific things you need to do in sophomore year. First, have your child take the PSAT test.   Although not every child takes the PSAT as a sophomore, it can be helpful practice for when it really counts as a junior. The PSAT is only offered in October, so remember to sign up in September.  Sophomore year is also the time to start a foreign language. If your student hasn’t started in freshman year, make sure to start in sophomore year so that you have the potential of getting three years done if your child really likes it. Even if your child needs two years to complete one year of foreign language, they’ll still have time to get two years in before they graduate.

Want to learn more about College Prep, Step by Step?  You'll love this class! Homeschool Planning – Your Goals this School Year

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are there to help you share helpful posts with others who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for the College Application Process

Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for the College Application Process
Sharon asked me about  how she should plan ahead for the college application process.  She didn't want to miss a huge piece and make any huge mistakes.  Is this a question you have too? I hope this video post can help you both.




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More Encouraging Posts

  • Seven Reasons to Study History

    When I was in school, we learned about the world in seemingly unrelated snippets. My teachers called the subject Social Studies .

    • We might start the year studying Chinese culture.
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    Have you ever seen strange symbols like this show up online? Make sure that doesn't happen to you, so your application stays pristine and beautiful. When you copy information from

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  • How to Gear Up for Junior Year

    How to Gear Up for Junior Year

    Junior year is the time that can have the most impact on getting into college and getting scholarships. You can be prepared by doing some research ahead of time. My

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  • Socialization and Homeschool Friendships

     Parents worry about socialization , neighbors wonder if homeschoolers are weird, and kids just want to find friends. Here is what you need to know about homeschool  socialization.

    True socialization


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