Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Road to


Here's what we've done right.

First off, 2 years ago I hired Lee from The HomeScholar to help me with Allison's 9th and 10th grade transcripts. Lee was wonderful. She called me and we discussed Allison's work over that time period and she helped flesh out the transcripts with really good questions. She not only asked about each and every usual subject, she also asked about outside activities, things that Allison liked doing during her free time, and church related things that she did. These questions not only helped Lee, they also helped me to see all that we had accomplished during these two years! It also made me see what to include during the next two years afterwards.

After we had talked, Lee compiled a professional transcript for Allison and sent it to me that day. What I got was three different forms. The first one lists each course by subject. The second lists each course by year. The final paper lists each class title and I added to it by putting textbooks used under each course and I linked each course to the website that sells the course. What was so wonderful about these transcripts was that each one could be easily added to for each consecutive year. In theory, I could add each year as we finished it so that it was fresh in my mind and it would have been quite easy. In reality, I waited until last week to compile the last two years and it was considerably

I found Lee's business to be extremely helpful to me. Could I have done it without her help? Possibly. I know that there are many free helps out there these days, but just having someone walk me through the first two years was a tremendous help. She not only helped me flesh out what needed to be put on each transcript, she helped me SEE what transcripts really look like. It is also nice to have actual transcript forms to just enter in the next year's work.

When it was time for me to enter in the next two years worth of school, I purchased Lee's The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts E-Book, plus I also joined the Gold Care Club. I got a bunch of free helps, along with more transcript templates and I also get one free 20 minute phone call with Lee each week for a month. Very nice. Through her website I was able to work through my transcripts without trouble and finished them all in under a week.

What I didn't do well.(lol)

Can we all say Procrastination? I have all of Allison's work, labeled, in notebooks, with her grade sheets added into the books, all on my handy-dandy bookshelves. I really thought it'd be no big deal to enter them into the transcripts on my computer, "at a later date." Boy, was I wrong. It was confusing and hard work to locate every single course at that later date. It was tedious, time consuming, and stressful. I will not do that ever again. That is, of course, after I get Jon's transcripts up to date. (lol)

What I also didn't take into account was what colleges would want in addition to the official transcripts. My big mistake was not going to different college websites to see what kinds of paper trails those popular colleges would expect to see from home school students. Most colleges just want the standard transcripts, along with references, SAT scores, and the college's essay. Not too bad, really. Some of the nicer colleges wanted just a bit more. Of course, being that I didn't actually look on the websites to see if they would want more, I didn't know that they would also want....

Course Descriptions With How We Evaluated Each Course.

Of course Allison decided that her top college pick would be one that needed these dreaded course descriptions. It meant ME going all the way back to 9th grade and writing each and every description, digging out each and every notebook to see each and every grade earned from each and every course. It was almost too much. Out of fear and desperation, I emailed Lee, hoping that she did this service and if I could just email her the transcripts and have HER do it. Money was no Well, Lee no longer provides this service, but she was a tremendous help. She sent me links all over her website where she showed me how to do course descriptions and even an audio recording called Course Descriptions Demystified. I listened and looked all over her website and then got started.

My first plan of action was to have my Dh make a template for the course descriptions. Looking at Lee's sample, he was able to give me one very quickly. After that, I got started. By far, the first two were the hardest. I began with math, thinking it would be the easiest to find online. I started off looking for course descriptions all over the internet. I looked at the curriculum website (MUS) that I purchased the subject, for their description of the course (there wasn't a good one) and I also looked for table of content links (which they had). I then used a generic course description that I found by googling "pre-algebra course descriptions" and found one that encompassed what the course did. Then I pasted the table of contents page into a section that I labled "Topics included." At the bottom of the page and sometimes on another page, I listed how we graded this course. For this course, I listed Tests, Daily Work, Unit Tests and Final Exam. Can we say TEDIOUS? I did this two more times for Allison's different math courses and then started on Science. Science was a bit easier since I knew what I was doing and it went a tad faster. I am not doing Allison's college dual enrollment courses since we'll be sending those separately once she has offical grades. I do have them listed on her transcripts with a * beside them denoting they were not taken at home.

I was able to do 6 courses yesterday and 5 today. My goal is to finish at the end of this week so I have time to print out all the different copies and allow Allison the time to do her part of the application process on my computer the next week. She has those essays, remember? She also has to work on each application, although only two are due Nov. 1st. We have more time on the rest of them.

So now you know what I've been up to this weekend. If I could share a little advice to anyone just starting this journey, I'd say research 8-10 different colleges, any colleges, to see what they require from homeschoolers and then work towards completing that paperwork right now. It's better to have too much, than not enough when you get to the senior year. It would have made this process a lot easier if I had done my research.


Friday, October 16, 2009

You know you have a large family...

(I saw this on De'Etta's blog and thought I'd add to


You calculate what the toilet paper to toilet ratio is before you buy a brand. (Charmin=bad, Scott=good)

You buy 6 whole chickens and it lasts you a month.

You buy the $1 towels from Walmart because they dry-even when left crumpled on the floor-in record time. (Who cares that you can see through them. You can fit 72 of them in the washer at one time and they dry on the line in 10 minutes.)

You also buy the bulk wash clothes x 2 and never have enough.

You wait for a clearance and then buy them out.

One loaf of bread= one lunch
One Gallon of milk= 2 breakfasts (and only because you have to use 3 different kinds due to allergies)

When one room can be completely destroyed in 10 minutes and it takes 2 days to clean.

When you shower, you no longer expect privacy. In fact, you use that time (wisely, I might add) to bathe half the family. One in the shower with you, two in the tub next to the shower.

When there really is a "Hair Wash Day."

When it takes you an hour to tuck everyone in...on a good day.

When your home looks more kid friendly than the local Chuck E Cheese.

When your calendar looks busier than the presidents.

When you're mentally calculating whether or not your 8 passenger vehicle will really hold 8 passengers. (four carseats, four adults. hmmm.)

When you buy toothbrushes in bulk, assign everyone a color and have no less than 463 of them all over your house, just to make sure you can find one when you need it.

When your old big pot is now for side dishes and your first crockpot is only good for soaking beans.

When you are seriously wondering where the next baby will go.

and finally,

When you no longer get upset over paint, marker, or crayons on your walls, stains on clothes, or broken anything (other than kids), because you love them more than anything and only *they* can't be replaced.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Road to 2

So, now that Allison is in DE, working as a lifeguard, and swimming for the swimteam at her local highschool, we're all set, right? Wrong! I got about one week off before the next wave hit. Thankfully, it was the week that I got

The very next job for me is the dreaded transcripts. Her top pick college is a little persnickity about what they want from homeschoolers. It's do-able but not much fun. Some colleges, were not very homeschool friendly. Allison's most favorite college wouldn't even look at her unless she wanted to take 5 SAT II subtests. Well, we just don't have the time for that. If we had started her Jr. year, then maybe we could have gotten that accomplished, but with time running out, we've decided stick to colleges who appreciate and want homeschoolers.

So, what do those colleges want from us? Well, I'll tell you. Two of the six colleges that she is applying to want our basic transcripts AND a list of all textbooks used AND a detailed course description along with what we expected her to learn from each course. Fun, fun, Now, I've been keeping up to date transcripts and reading lists for her highschool years, but not lists of her textbooks or course descriptions or course expectations. I have to admit here that some of her credits didn't have traditional textbooks. Will she get in anyway? I guess we'll find out.

I've been compiling all of this for the past week and I have at least 2 weeks left until I'll be done. I'm glad to know what I need in the future for Jon though. I'll be compiling these lists as soon as I'm done with Allison.

What is Allison doing during all this? I'll tell you. She has a very important job right now. In addition to keeping her grades up, juggling her job and swimming, she is now in charge of completing college applications and writing 6-12 essays before the end of the year. She needs to complete 2-4 before the end of the month and the others before Jan 1st. She's also collecting references from two college professors, one Dr, and her employer and, as if that isn't enough, she's also in charge of writing a resume of her work experience which is another requirement of her top college pick. Crazy, isn't it?!! Makes my job look

I talked about having three plans in place for Allison to accomplish her goals in my last post. I think I'll go over them here and now.

Plan A: Allison goes to a four year college on scholarship. Either full scholarship or part with money from us and from her job.

Plan B: Allison stays home and goes to community college while working so that she can save up for her 4 year college after her AA degree. We will help with expenses. She could also transfer as a transfer student after she has enough credits as long as she stays in Florida. They all have articulation agreements between the local cc's and all Fl 4 year colleges. This might get her in the persnickity college that she'd love to go to.

Plan C: ROTC scholarship to a four year college. She'd have to sign on for 8 years, but they would cover all expenses.

So far, that's what we're up to. I'll keep you posted on the next steps as they come up. For now, I'm off to work on those darned


The Road to College...

My dh thinks that I should document what we did Allison's senior year to get her into college. I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous to write this all down. There are NO guarantees that we'll even get her into a four year college. Although that may be the case, I will not consider it a failure if she ends up at our local community college for her AA degree. That, in itself is an accomplishment worthy of cheering and rejoicing. I'm thankful that Allison has goals and we have 3 plans to accomplish those goals. My plan is to update the blog throughout the process, so this will be more of a series instead of one long post.LOL

Now, on to part one...

The first thing we did to help Allison look more marketable to colleges this year, was to enroll her in the Dual Enrollment program at our local community college. Most colleges that I researched were looking for some outside accountability, somewhere. Did it have to be college course work? No, but for us it was the best option. Colleges want to know that your student can do the work and they like to see that your student can complete work from an outside teacher. We happen to live right next door to our local community college, so it was a shoo-in for ease and access. If you are looking to have your student enroll in the DE program, start early! It was a lot of paperwork and we ended up walking a lot of it through all the different channels.

Something else to consider is outside work. Colleges like to see responsible young adults that can manage work and school. Finding a good part-time job can help your student look responsible AND that employer makes a great reference letter later on to your top college pick. Allison has worked part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer for two years now. She's proven herself responsible, hard working, AND able to balance work, school, and extra-curricular activities.

Work and school are great but without any fun your student looks a little boring on that application. Now it's time to look into some fun activities that your student might be good at. Allison picked swimming for our local highschool. She loves the water, it's an extension of her job and it shows that she has interests outside of school. She's working extremely hard to lower her times right now and if she can get them low enough, she may even qualify for college sports scholarships. If not, then she still has interests to put on that all important transcript.

All of the things listed above, had to be completed before the school year began. Surprisingly enough, the swimteam was most important to set up before the year began. Because of rules by the FHSAA, if she had decided after the year began, she would have been ineligible to join the team. We barely got her in and it was dicey that she'd get to stay in. She proclaimed her decision two weeks before the year began thankfully.

Once the year began, her primary job was to keep her grades up and learn how to juggle all of her outside commitments. It was tough at first but she has really thrived in this environment.

On the college front, she decided to take a full load for DE. She has three classes consisting of College Algebra, Spanish 1, and English Composition. Not even half way through her 1st semester, she had to decide and pick her next semester's classes. Things move quickly in college, we've She picked Spanish 2, Elementary Statistics, and Chemistry 1 for her next semester. These are all classes she needs for college and for highschool graduation. So far, she's doing wonderfully in her classes. She loves her teachers and has made some friends. It's been a good fit for her.

Next, we had to begin to study and plan for her SAT. Yes, we really needed to start this much earlier but since we're new at this this is when we began. Allison took her first SAT in her Jr year. She scored well enough to enter the DE program at any level that she wanted to. They allowed her free reign of any classes. But her scores are not that great for someone who would like a scholarship at a 4 year college, so we signed her up for the October test date. We wanted the scores to be in before the November 1st early action deadline for her top pick colleges. If she did well, then I think she'll be accepted by her favorite colleges. If not, then we'll sign up for the next available test date and study

So those are the things that we've already done and Allison is currently doing. Next I'll talk about what I'm currently doing and what she's gearing up to