All seven of my children have desired a college education. As of last May we celebrated our sixth college grad, albeit it was radically different than the previous five, she never got a graduation ceremony!!!
Nonetheless, it was an equally proud moment for this homeschool mama. My youngest is now a senior in college, and this year also marked our first grad school graduate as our daughter earned her Masters of Arts in History and Museum Studies.
I often get emails, consults, and calls from homeschool moms asking me about college preparation, and recommendations for their high school kids.
Homeschool mom, you can do this!
In fact, I am in the thick of organizing the 2nd Annual Career and College fair for the Catholic Teen right now called Life After High School that not only offers speakers and college presentations, but also is offering MORE, such as Skilled Trades, Gap year options, vocation discernment, and the Military!
It will be LIVE October 7-8 for FREE, you can register HERE.
There is also a FREE Homeschool and Teens group in the Catholic Homeschool Community I started too! Please join me by joining the community!
Top 10 Tips
To get you started here is my go-to TOP 10 Tips I have used and shared with hundreds of families:
Begin to talk about college plans with your child as early as freshman year of high school. This helps you to develop goals for your high school curriculum, spiritually, academically and extra-curricular.
Keep a file for each of your high school students, where you can collect transcript info, test grades, awards, course descriptions and extra curricular activities.
I have my children begin practicing for the SAT, ACT or the new CLT by taking the real tests that come directly from the test providers in their junior year.
– I do this by having them get up early, just as if they were going to take the real test.
– Do all three hours at one sitting, complete with me acting as the proctor.
– Then we go over the completed test and make note of the types of questions that gave them the most trouble.
– We spend the next two weeks practicing these types of problems, then take the test again.
I have had good experiences in sending our children to the summer programs offered by good Catholic colleges our children were interested in. We found it gave them an experience to try out the curriculum, as well as meet potential future classmates.
During our children’s junior year, spring semester, or either semester in their senior year, I have them take classes at our local community college. I call this “boot camp for college.”
– It really helped all of our seven children adjust to the speed with which a college level class moves and to manage their study time as well as being able to ask for help when they needed it. They gain confidence in their ability to interact in a classroom situation. They also were able to get college credit for the class.
– I usually have had them take a math class. It helps give their college applications some clout such as, “this homeschooler passed a college class and mom didn’t just hand out A’s…those grades are real.” This can also help in their freshman year in college, as they can take a lighter load and work on the adjustment to being away from home and improving study skills.
– While I realize community colleges aren’t perfect, I have found that the student body tends to be a bit more serious than campuses with an active dorm-life. The teachers are easily accessible, (no 500-person lecture halls or TA’s) and they are super encouraging. Lastly, they are also an affordable and local option to beginning college.
We begin to ask for college recommendations early in the summer before their senior year. This gives plenty of time for the request to be submitted, avoiding the usual last minute rush!
We apply for and gather college applications during the spring semester of their junior year and begin their essays over the summer going into their senior year. This really takes the load off their high school senior year, if most of them are written by summer’s end.
Visiting prospective college campuses during the school year has been a great boon to all of our children. They can truly imagine themselves in the classrooms, interacting with the students and they get a real feel of the school spirit, academically and spiritually! AND many school offer virtual tours BEFORE you head over or commit to a big trip.
Incorporate a class or two during their junior and senior high school years that covers Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization. These are the hot button topics that they will encounter even if they go to a small traditional Catholic college. Some of the best discussions I had with my kids about their relationship to Christ and His Church happened over these important topics. For discussion prompts, we used several of these books in my blog post, Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style.
Most importantly, PRAY. Begin or continue to ask your child’s patron saints to intercede on their behalf and ask Blessed Mary to lead their hearts to her Son. Help and guide them during the high school years to develop their own personal habits of prayer. Following what the family does is easy. However, once removed from their home structure it gets tougher, especially if they have not had any practice on their own! Adoration, rosary, bible study, volunteering at the parish or local pro-life group are excellent opportunities to be of service and develop their friendship with Jesus in love and action.
Keeping you all in my daily prayer…
PS – If you have friends who could use some support in this area please share this post!
Please comment below with your top tips for college prep too!
My oldest is in grade 7 and these tips have been helpful to see what lies ahead. I love surprises when it comes to gifts and parties but not when it comes to school related issues. These tips are great! Thanks Paola
Thanks, Paola; all great ideas and proven in my family as well.
One addition I’ll make as I’ve gotten my kids into college is to have College Prep as one of their classes during their senior year. During this time I have them tackling the ACT/SAT Prep books, working on their essays, we discuss goal-making strategies, look for scholarships and much of what you have listed.
It could be a one semester class for a 1/2 credit or all year as a full credit.