Thursday, August 17, 2006

Countdown to College Launch 4 1/2!

This is the third in a series about how to position your homeschooled high schooler for scholarship opportunities. Read the series from the beginning starting here.)

How will you plan to impress skeptical college admission boards? You will begin by making your planning speak their language.

Academics
Many homeschoolers simply take the admission requirements of the college their student wants to attend, and use it for their high school graduation requirements. But aspirations change, so you may want a more stable unit of measure. Here, according to Richard Montauk's How to Get into the Top Colleges, is what the Ivy Leagues require:
Four years each of the "solid" subjects:

  • English
  • Math (including calculus)
  • Hard Sciences (with labs)
  • Foreign Language (at least 2 years of each language)
  • Social Studies

Plus a challenging selection of "semi-solids":

  • Journalism
  • Ethics
  • Art
  • Psychology, etc.

And electives:

  • Computer science
  • Music
  • Home Economics, etc.

The Launch to College workbook provides you with strategies for demonstrating academic achievement that every college admission board will recognize, and tools for planning your student's high school academics, so that none of your efforts are wasted. It also includes an analysis of the alphabet-soup of college entrance exams and their uses, to save you time, anxiety and money!

Community Service

This is fast becoming a watershed criterion, expecially for homeschoolers who have been painted as anti-social by the mainstream media. You may include faith-based service as well as secular projects. Just make certain that you have both, if you choose to mention Christian service, lest the admissions officer perceive that, once again, you are refusing to play ball outside your own small world.

Leadership

Leadership comes in two flavors: 1) Rising to the top of an established hierarchy, and 2) Taking initative to create something new. You'll want to be able to demonstrate both.

Extra-Curriculars

These are activities that are outside the scope of your academic curriculum. We homeschoolers have trouble making that distinction, but you need to make a consistent division between things for which you are giving academic credit and things beyond academic credit. Colleges want to see direction and depth in these activities.

The Launch to College workbook includes tools to help you plan academics side-by-side with the other projects you need to complete each semester. You will be able to spread out the workload and the costs of these necessities. You will even be shown some creative ways to finance high school "double-dipping" into community college classes - without dipping into the government trough.

But you were not simply aiming at college admission. You were aiming at college scholarships. The Launch workbook includes three pages of scholarship search engines and/or scholarship providers. Our favorite is http://www.fastweb.com/

This search engine tailors its search to your student's interests, skills, ethnic background, aspirations, you-name-it, and emails you a list of scholarships for which your student would be eligible. Fastweb provided so many scholarship possibilities for our daughter, that she couldn't find time to apply for anything under $5000.

Scholarship committees have a somewhat longer list of criteria. Of course, each scholarship has its own special focus, but in general everyone is selecting from among these Top Ten criteria:

  • Academic excellence
  • Community service
  • Sports participation
  • Leadership
  • Fine Arts accomplishment
  • Work experience
  • Travel
  • Clubs/extra-curriculars
  • Ethnicity

You are probably already working in most of these areas as homeschoolers. But you will need to know how to plan these resume-building activities to avoid the prejudices of scholarship committees. The Launch to College workbook contains lists of homeschool stereotypes - both good and bad - from which those committees work, along with strategies for addressing them.

Next time: 3! Acquire Credentials

1 comment:

Wuttisak said...

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