By Lee Binz
How can that be? Christmas presents that pay for college? It's possible! Colleges are looking for passion in students - the interests that persist year after year. Our children are looking for Christmas presents that will help them pursue their passion. So when you buy your children Christmas presents that encourage their unique area of gifting, you are helping them pursue the passion that is so valuable to colleges!
My client Alyson was convinced that her son didn't have a passion for anything. "He doesn't seem to have a real interest in any of his subjects!" she moaned. Later in our consultation, as we were talking about scheduling school subjects, she started talking about the difficulties she had convincing her son to focus on school work. "All he wants to do is play guitar! He spends hours and hours on the guitar each day, and I'm constantly telling him to put it down and focus on school!"
I gently suggested that perhaps this was his area of specialization, and then a light bulb went on! Her son's area of specialization was completely unexpected. As parents, we're so close to our children that often their area of specialization looks like an annoying activity or habit - while in reality it is that spark that will ignite the passion that colleges love to see!
Christmas presents that pay for college are gifts that foster and encourage the unique (and sometimes annoying) activities that your child loves. Sure it was very annoying to me that my son Kevin was always studying chess when he should have been doing his math. But I bought him chess books, chess clocks, tournament boards, and triple-weighted chess pieces for Christmas, because that was his passion. I couldn't keep Alex away from books, but no matter how obscure the author, I always tried to find the ones he requested for Christmas. Specialization is the key that unlocked full tuition scholarships for both of my children.
Why do colleges value passion with their financial aid dollars? Because there is "a growing belief among college admissions officials that commitment to an activity and the ability to do it well serve as strong predictors of success in all college endeavors." said Lee Bierer in the Charlotte Observer. In other words, students with passion in something (anything!) are more successful once they have started college. They do more, succeed more, and bring more prestige to the college - and that's what they find valuable. They make an objective business decision to invest their best scholarships in students with the biggest payout for them - the students that will succeed. By encouraging your student's interests, colleges will see their passion, and thereby see their value to the college.
Keep in mind that parents can have their own passion, and it can often be quite different than the passion of their child. The benefit of these gifts will only be realized when they support the student's interests. It doesn't count if we give them gifts that we are passionate about! My oldest son is living on campus, and his roommate Aaron has a unique area of specialization. In his public high school Aaron played "Halo" and "World of Warcraft" professionally, winning over $20,000 in one year. I wonder if his mother valued his chosen specialization. I know it would have been very difficult for me to encourage that for hours on end! Maybe she didn't, but she did provide what he needed to succeed, and he was given wonderful scholarships to college as well.
Targeted GivingEven if we don't understand their area of specialization, we can still help them progress in their field until they are truly accomplished. My youngest son has a friend named Eric who is a pianist. His parents sent him on a month-long summer experience to a piano camp, at great financial cost to the family. Through that experience, he was invited to college at age 16 on a full-tuition scholarship, because they needed an accompanist for their choir.
Months ago I met with a client named Sally. We were talking through college prep courses, and she mentioned that her son loved playing the fiddle. She said, "But of course, that's not REAL music." I explained to her that it WAS real music, and that a passion like that has real value to colleges. After meeting me again at the College Fair, she wrote:
"Hi Lee,So what is a parent to do? Shower kids with Christmas presents? Of course not! As homeschoolers, almost all of us are single-income families on a budget. Instead of envisioning a teenager-length shower of gifts (which I suppose would look like Niagara Falls), imagine a small steady stream of targeted presents that support the STUDENT's passions. Feed their interests, whether academic, musical, artistic, scientific, or whatever - feed their interests. Find out what they love, and nourish that love in them, and it can help you pay for college!
We really enjoyed your presentation on Saturday. Your information and encouragement is sooo helpful! Clayton really enjoyed it too. He came out of the classroom with wide eyes and realizing just how important his good grades and hard work will be for obtaining scholarships.
An exciting opportunity has opened up for Clayton and his brothers. They were invited to two schools--one private and one public--to give a presentation on Bluegrass music! Both presentations went soooo well! We are pursuing other elementary schools to see if they too would like to have him present. The opportunities came to us first and then I started to think about what you did with your son and his chess playing. If I had not met with you, I may not have seen this opportunity for Clayton and his brothers. They love playing for the kids and passing on their love of Bluegrass, and the kids are so fun and appreciative. It is a real win-win. So thank you!!
Thank you again for your work in helping homeschoolers. I was telling my husband this morning that meeting you at the WHO conference last spring has made all the difference for me in doing high school homeschool. I think I would be feeling pretty overwhelmed right now if I hadn't spent that time with you in August!
Sally Hess in Woodinville, WA
'Tis the Season for family, friends and festivities. You can still have a great time and a meaningful holiday without losing track of your grand plan for college! I'll give you ideas for a lighter version of academics that we called "Christmas School." Once we feel both relaxed and confident about December, then I'll give you some New Year Resolutions to work on. I promise, these resolutions will be SO EASY you can finish them in a day!
Christmas Goals and New Year's Resolutions (Online Training)
Colleges are looking for passion in students and our children are looking for presents that will help them pursue their passion. When you put those together, you get gift opportunities that help earn college scholarships! Hear some ideas that will inspire you and your students - AND save money for college!
Giving Gifts That Pay for College (Online Training)
Homeschooling the Holidays: Sanity Saving Strategies and Gift Giving Ideas (Coffee Break Books) [Kindle Edition]
Holiday seasons—especially between November and January—are busy times. Celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, and more seem to tumble on top of each other, with no time in between. For many homeschoolers, it seems that any idea of homeschooling just goes out the window during these times. Is it even possible to stay sane and continue to homeschool, even a little?!
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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school, and provides many of her homeschool resources for free. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School."
"I want to highly recommend Lee's services to anyone who has questions about the highschool years! I had a consultation with her yesterday and it was so helpful and amazing to watch Allison's transcript fill before my very eyes. I think as homeschoolers we can be VERY critical of our little schools and I didn't even realize how much was learned last year. Lee's service is truly a blessing and her rates are very reasonable! I will be using her service again next year and probably every year until both of my older kids are graduated."
~ Lisa in Florida
"I want to thank you for your DVD "Getting the BIG Scholarships". Your DVD was very helpful, informative, insightful and practical in its advice and real world application. Now we are armed with the insider information we need to make our son's scholarship applications stand out above the crowd and get noticed!"
~ Trish in Arkansas"Your transcripts and records were
the best organized and documented I have seen"
- Bryan Jones, Associate Director of Admissions,
Seattle Pacific University