Saturday, August 19, 2006

Countdown to College Launch 3 1/2!

Acquiring Transcript & Resume Fuel

There are a few programs out there which will help you to do the things necessary to develop both the resume and the network - and will reward you with an internationally-recognized credential into the bargain. One is the Eagle Scout program, available to young men. The other is the Congressional Award program, which is available both to men and women.

The rank of Eagle Scout is respected world-wide, and continues to provide advantages like automatically advanced job-standing and salary increase, to your son throughout his life. Eagle Scout takes a good two and a half to four years to achieve, starting from Tenderfoot and working up.

The work involves a sustained record-keeping effort, which can become the springboard for your student's college entrance paperwork. The required merit badges can become career-path explorations and will develop adult level expertise across a wide spectrum of experience. The final project for Eagle is a community service effort, designed, managed and carried out by the young candidate in leadership over a group of other scouts. Each of the merit badges and the final Eagle project require the young man to connect with older men who have expertise in these fields, and who should become part of his network of mentors.

Do your best to find a scout troop with a large pool of leaders who are committed to Christian principles. These men will have a lasting impact on your young man. And they will be able to write recommendations complete with personal stories about your son, his struggles and accomplishments - exactly what scholarship committees need to see.

When your son has completed Eagle Scout, not only will he have the rank itself, but he will also have a number of critical resume pieces, which he can break out separately on his paperwork: community service, leadership (both kinds), and a variety of merit badge experiences and achievements.

The Congressional Award program is open to both men and women. It is the only award given by Congress outside of the military commendation, the Congressional Medal of Honor; and it is recognized world-wide. This program, too takes two to four years to complete, but it has six levels of recognition, which your child will be able to reference even if he is unable to complete the Gold Medal before graduation.

In order to get this award, your student will have to design and complete goals in four areas: Community Service, Physical Fitness, Personal Development and Exploration/Expedition. Progress is measured by time invested and by assessment of achievement by adult validators in each area and by their overall Advisor. Service in an elected official's office or campaign, or service in a religious capacity cannot be counted as community service, however the religious service could be counted as personal development.

The Gold Medal requires students to invest a total of 400 hours in Community Service, 200 hours in Physical Fitness and Personal Development, and a series of Exeditions culminating in a 4-day, 3-night exploration of an unfamiliar place or culture. This sounds like a daunting amount of time, but because you define the goals, you are probably already doing the things that the Congressional Award will validate and reward. The first level of recognition, the Bronze Certificate requires only 30 community service hours, 15 each in personal development and physical fitness, and a one-day expedition.

And once again, when you have earned any of the Congressional Award levels, you not only have the award itself, but you also have impressive experiences, mentors and validations that you can break out across your resume. By definition the Congressional Award activities may not be counted for school credit, so you wind up with a slate of interesting, consistent, coordinated extra-curricular activities, leadership and public service. The paperwork you do to validate these activities gives you a head start on everyone else when you come to apply for scholarships.
The Congressional Award Gold Medal opens the door to some unusual opportunities and scholarships unique to Gold Medalists. For instance, People to People offers Gold Medalists scholarships for the People to People international tour in the year that they recieve their Gold Medals.

So you have seen how to verify extra-curricular accomplishments, but how do you validate academic achievement when Mom was your primary teacher? Mentors, community college double-dip classes, testing, and your school counselors' pack for admissions/scholarship officials.

You didn't know about a School Counselor's pack? Most homeschoolers don't, but it is one of the most powerful tools for helping an overloaded application-reader decipher your records. Next time a sneak preview of the Launch Workshop's asset accounting tools.

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