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Tips on Preparing Ahead of Time for College Entrance — Excerpt from CollegePlus’ Ebook “From Homeschool to Grad School”

Sep 6th, 2012 | By | Category: Articles, Blog, College, college for homeschoolers, Online Education, Transcripts

by Shawn Cohen

I’m a homeschool high school graduate. My mom was always a little worried about homeschooling us all the way through to college, but after graduating a decade ago, I can’t say I’ve starved yet.

In fact, I’m doing a lot better than a lot of college grads these days and the autonomy that comes through homeschooling was the catalyst that’s made my success a reality.

Like my mom, others who homeschool their kids often wonder if they’re making the right choice, if the opportunities will still be there on the back end. I can say from personal experience that they absolutely are.

After I graduated high school, I turned down the opportunity to attend a local university so that I could get real-life experience for a couple of years before attending college. In 2007, I graduated with my BA in English and a few years later started looking at grad school options.

While I marked my graduating high school as “homeschool,” I didn’t encounter any negative feedback. In fact, I even earned a bachelor’s degree from an online state college and that didn’t interfere with my being accepted either.

Early in 2010, I was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Texas at San Antonio and started classes that summer. Even though I’m a non-traditional student, I was easily accepted into the program because I not only met, but exceeded the requirements for acceptance.

Here’s what I did to get accepted and what your student absolutely has to do to get in. Leaving any of these elements out could jeopardize their entrance into college for their bachelor’s degree and by default, into grad school.

GED = Dropout: Don’t Do That to Your Student

Many homeschool parents are concerned that their student’s academic ability is invalid without outside validation. This uncalled for anxiety has motivated some parents to have their kids take the GED and use it instead of a homeschool high school transcript.

Bad idea.

While the GED does validate a student’s academic record, it makes them look like a dropout. Yes, stellar students can take the GED to finish with their studies early but academia perceives the GED as a last resort for students who can’t handle traditional high school studies.

The reality is that as a homeschool parent, you are absolutely qualified to validate your student’s academic record. You do this by creating your own transcript.Now you might be thinking, “Wait a second–I’m not an accredited institution, I can’t do that!”High schools do it all the time, though.

Most high schools aren’t evaluated by an independent accrediting body. In fact, during state evaluations, many high schools fail dismally, yet their students are still accepted into top universities.

This happens because admissions officials are more interested in the student’s individual performance than in the school’s overall performance.

A Transcript Is a Ticket to Ride
Want a transcript model that has put countless homeschoolers into college? Here it is:A simple, one page document that lists a student’s courses, amount of credit, and grade for each course. Put the overall GPA at the bottom and list some extracurricular activities.

That’s it.

Oh, and don’t forget to sign and date it at the bottom. It’s not a valid document unless you sign and date it. Sign each transcript you or your student sends to colleges–no copied signatures will be accepted.

Course Titles Have to Make Sense
When you list courses on the transcript, you want to use language that makes sense to academia. To figure out how to name the courses they’ve completed, look at a college transcript and see how the wording appears. Don’t copy a course title verbatim but use the titles in the catalog for ideas on how to word your student’s courses.

Make Your Student Standout With Honors Courses
If your student takes an AP course (even if they don’t test) or if they take a standardized college exam like the College Level Exam Program (CLEP), list that course as “advanced” in the title or put an asterisk next to the title and note at the bottom of the transcript that courses marked with an asterisk are college-level.

CLEP tests are a really good idea for students to take because they provide some measure of outside validation that students can handle college-level coursework. While this validation isn’t necessary, the student will stand out above their peers because they’ve proven themselves on the college level.

Also, if your student takes a CLEP test, you simply use the title of the CLEP as the course title. If the exam title parallels a high school course too closely, simply put “Advanced” in front of the title to show that it’s an honors course.

Three-credit CLEPs are worth half a high school credit and six-credit CLEP tests are worth a full credit.

To look good to college admissions, your student should have at least 24 high school credits. If you can list up to 36 credits, that looks even better and will increase the likelihood that they’ll be admitted.

If you haven’t considered your student taking CLEP tests, you should. While curriculum is really expensive these days, CLEP tests cost $80 and study materials are as low as $30. Compared to most study resources, that’s a bargain.

Build Your Transcript Before High School
It’s always a good idea to begin with the end in mind. We suggest that you envision what your student’s transcript will look like even before they start high school.

Figure out what their passions, interests, and bents are and figure out how to translate that into academic credit, if isn’t readily apparent. If your student is interested in computer programming, for instance, look at college catalogs to see how similar courses are titled.

Also, if your student has an idea of where they would like to attend college, make sure the transcript reflects courses that meet the requirements for admittance. Do this as early as possible in the student’s high school studies.

To continue reading and for a free download of the entire ebook, please visitwww.collegeplus.org/gradschool

About Shawn Cohen
Shawn graduated from his homeschool high school in 1999 and earned his bachelor’s Degree in English from Thomas Edison State College in 2007, after only twelve-months of distance learning study. He is now Learning Systems Director at CollegePlus.

About CollegePlus
CollegePlus is a Christian company that creates customized dual credit and bachelor’s degree programs for students, based on their personality, learning style, and life purpose, then integrates personal coaching and mentoring to empower students to reach their educational and life goals, without the time constraints and debt burden of traditional college. For more information visit: www.collegeplus.org

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