Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Countdown to College Launch 1!

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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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
When your research is complete, you will want to apply for several colleges. You'll want to have three categories of applications: 1) those colleges that will be a challenge to gain admission to and to survive academically, 2) those colleges that will be a middle of the road challenge, an 3) those colleges that would be a sure thing.

The application process itself has basically four steps:
  1. Assemble the student's application, the school counselor's pack and the letters of recommendation.
  2. Send them all to each college before its application deadline date.
  3. Apply for financial aid at each college.
  4. Send midyear updates after the fall semester grades for the student's senior year have been given.
The College Launch Workbook directs you to actual college applications so that you can see exactly what kinds of records, essays and other information you will need to assemble for successful completion of these forms. It also links you to the most common financial aid forms, and helps you to sort out the various kinds of financial aid that could be offered to you.

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.


Joanna said...

My family attended one of the Countdown to Launch workshops. It was a great help in knowing step-by-step what to do in approaching the college admissions process! Mrs. Anderson shares what college and scholarship committees are looking for, what information to include in applications, and how to approach this process as a homeschooler without the usual transcripts and verification provided by a school. This has been a great resource for us and I know we will be referencing our syllabus often in the coming years!

Kim Anderson said...

Thanks, Joanna! I'm pulling for you!

Anonymous said...

If your a single parent looking for some scholarships for single mothers then you may have to find some that are need based or have all the qualifications they are looking for which is a high GPA and past accomplishments that can be documented. If you can't find a scholarship then grants may be the best thing for you.


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