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Collegebound? What to Do in 11th Grade, Part 2

By Debra Bell | August 17, 2021 | by Debra Bell, High School, Homeschool For Success

In the previous post about 11th grade, I noted this is the most important year for your collegebound teen. You can read the first set of priorities here.

Now to the second tier of recommendations:

Know Thyself

This is a good time to have your teen come to a deeper understanding about how he is wired. The best way to accomplish this is to take a psychology course. He will use the insights he gains to help guide his decision-making during the upcoming senior year.

Some of us are wide-open to experience—we can choose a college far from home and thrive. Others of us are cautious and choosing a school in unfamiliar surroundings, without an easy option for getting home, is going to add an unnecessary layer of stress to the college transition. Some of us are extroverted—we’re energized by meeting new people and forging new relationship, while plenty of us find breaking new ground draining. Again, figuring out what conditions make your teen thrive will be critical to choosing a college that’s a best fit.

You can find out more about the Big 5 personality traits here. Consider psychology classes at Aim Academy here.

Read Before You Buy

You and your teen are closing in on the biggest financial decision of her life—much more significant and complex than buying a house or taking a job. Complicating our teens’ college decisions can be our own fears and motivations as a homeschool parent—it’s very easy to turn our kids getting into school—especially getting into a “good” school—into a validation of our decision to homeschool. We need to be self-aware of how this can make a complex decision-making process even more complicated and stressful. So before you head out the door to visit potential schools, get a frame of reference—read about college admissions, financial aid, choosing a major, and campus life. A few hours invested in education yourself will help eliminate time wasted on schools your family just can’t afford or that don’t offer the course of study your teen needs.

Here are a few books to get you started:

Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2022 by Edward Fiske (the bible on college admissions)

Choosing College by Michael B. Horn and Bob Moesta

The Price You Pay for College by Ron Lieber

Paying for College by the Princeton Review and Kalman Chany

Websites: CollegeTransitions.com and GrownandFlown.com

Start Looking

Don’t pack all the college decision-making into the senior year. Start looking at colleges now. Make visits, explore careers—in tangible ways show your teen the goals he is working so hard to reach. Visiting potential schools and places of employment will provide motivation to stay focused and industrious. This year visit schools that represent different categories–small and private versus large and public, for example. Seeing the contrasts among schools will help your teen better grasp what feels like a good fit for him and what doesn’t.

Make sure you visit the departments your teen may be interested in–this is much more important than the school at large. Meet some of the professors. Sit in on a freshman-level class. If your teen is hoping for scholarships, making an impression during this preliminary visit will help those decision-makers put a face to her application when it arrives (always a plus).

To Test Well, Prepare

Unfortunately, the homeschool teen’s test scores are weighted more heavily in the admissions process than those of his conventionally educated peers. Those applicants have composite scores created from class rank, GPA, and school profile to add to the mix. Your kid will have his essays and interviews to level the playing field, but first he needs high test scores to get to that stage.

Testing is a game we can all learn to play better. Tell your teen to approach it as you would a sport. Train. Lean into what she learns about a growth mindset, optimism, grit, and resilience in that psych course she’s taking. Above all, be well-rested going into any high stakes test situation.

Take a test prep course like this with Kathryn Gomes and this with Lili Serbicki. Read the latest edition of  Gruber’s Complete SAT Guide. You wouldn’t send your child to his driver’s test without familiarizing him first with the course—same deal with the SAT and ACT. Prepare. The more your teen knows about the test, how it is scored, and what content and skills will be tested, the less stressed he will be. The more he practices, the better his scores.

And to seal the deal, sign your teen up for Study Skills: Notetaking and Study Skills: Learning Strategies with Rebecca Robbins. When you consider how much your teen will invest in a college education, these classes are a small price to pay for your teen to learn how to study right and to learn how to prepare best for gameday.

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