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Finally, you'll want to become familiar with the college application process. And as always, it begins with research. For instance, did you know that it is often easier to pay for an Ivy League education than a state university?
The 'sticker price' for the two is dramatically different, but those Ivy Leagues have deep-pocket endowments for scholarships, while the state university is primarily supported by your tax dollars. So if you can meet the entrance requirements for the highly-rated private college, your chance of getting full funding through scholarships is exponentially higher.
Finances aren't the only factors you need to consider. Your student will have better success both with an eventual degree program and with attracting scholarships if you begin by applying to a college that is a good fit for his ambitions and temperament.
The College Launch workbook contains a self-survey section to help you clarify what kind of college you will need: secular? Christian? technical? liberal arts? vocationally-focused? large? what else? It also includes resources to help you locate colleges that not only match your academic requirements, but your spiritual, social, and philosophical preferences as well.
While this research should begin as early as your student's freshman year, you won't complete it until his junior year, when you should plan to visit as many of your target schools as possible. A personal visit is especially important for homeschoolers for two reasons:
- Because homeschools are by definition completely unique to each family, it is difficult for college admissions officers to envision your student. An in-person encounter normalizes the selection process for the college, putting a real live person forward rather than a stereotype.
- Even the best on-paper analysis of a given college can't give you the feel of the place, the professors, the student body. You have spent the better part of the last two decades nurturing this young adult. Both you and your student need to know that your college choice will refine that early nurture rather than destroy it.
The application process itself has basically four steps:
- Assemble the student's application, the school counselor's pack and the letters of recommendation.
- Send them all to each college before its application deadline date.
- Apply for financial aid at each college.
- Send midyear updates after the fall semester grades for the student's senior year have been given.
If you would like to learn more, you can find the full Countdown to College Launch at my new Ebay store, Celebration Books and Gifts. The first ten buyers can receive a $10 discount by buying it at auction here.