High School! Where to begin? What to do? How to plan? Take a deep breath and relax, because we are here to help you navigate your students through high school so that they will be better prepared for life after graduation! This e-book will provide you with information about testing, dual enrollment, transcripts and more! In addition, you will find tips from the author and advice to help guide you in this endeavor.
Having our oldest daughter attend Bryan College and now our youngest heading to Bryan, we have come full circle! Unfortunately, when I homeschooled my oldest children in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I did not discover certain vital information until critical deadlines had passed. Not realizing that the PSAT was tied to the National Merit Scholarship is one such piece of information I totally missed until all nine of mine were past the age to benefit from that opportunity. Do not worry, because we are going to share all of this information and provide a timeline so that you can begin making a plan now for your students’ high school years!
Check out the table of contents and go to the sections that interest you the most. If you have any questions that are not answered in this publication, please let me know via email, and I will research the information and add the answer to this webpage.
Whether your child will attend college or not, it is best to be prepared and plan as if they will attend college so that if college becomes your plan, you are prepared. It is better to be prepared and not need the preparation rather than having the need and not being prepared.
I hope this information is beneficial to you and provides the guidance you needed
Planning the High School Curriculum
When planning your child’s high school curriculum, you may want to research the academic graduation suggestions for the state in which you live. Tennessee provides graduation requirements on the my Tennessee public schools website. Note that the requirements provided are for the public school system. Homeschooling parents do have leeway when choosing the classes that their high school students will take. If a college or colleges are of particular interest, review the website or call and ask if there are particular high school credits the college expects (or prefers) to see on a student’s transcript and plan accordingly. When receiving a transcript, many colleges take note of the hours of credits earned as well as the GPA of the student.
Dual Enrollment (DE) allows students to earn college credit while still in high school. Students are enrolled concurrently in two separate academic institutions. Students enrolled in secondary school may be dual enrolled at a local institution of higher learning, such as a community college or High School Curriculum university. Many colleges now offer online dual enrollment classes, allowing classes to be taken online or on campus, depending on the college and the student’s location. Research guidelines for dual enrollment applications carefully. In some instances, college entrance exam test scores are required. Upon successful completion of dual enrollment classes, students receive credit that may be applied toward their high school diploma and toward a college degree or certificate.
Advantages of Dual Enrolling:
• Students begin accumulating college credits.
• Students may even be able to attain an Associate of Arts, or equivalent degree, shortly before or after high school graduation.
• Participation in dual enrollment classes may ease the transition from high school to college by giving students a sense of what college classes are like.
• Because dual enrollment classes are often offered at a significant savings, dual enrollment may be a cost-efficient way for students to accumulate college credits. High School Curriculum.
• College-level classes provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to handle difficult coursework. This ability is something that college admissions officers highly value.
Dual Enrollment Considerations
When considering a dual enrollment (DE) program for the purpose of earning college credits, it is important to understand the value of the credits. Check with the college to which a student is applying to see if and how the credits transfer. Before enrolling, make sure the student is ready for the demanding work a college class will require. When students sign up for college credit courses, they are officially beginning their college career. That means they will establish an official record from the college or university awarding the course credit and will have to provide official college transcripts reflecting the grades earned whenever they enter a new college. It is important to be aware that once a dual enrollment course is started, a withdrawal may still be reported on official transcripts. In many states, dual enrollment grants or scholarships are available, which can help greatly reduce the out-of-pocket expense of college credit. The financial aid office at the college or university that offers the dual enrollment course can provide information about financial assistance for these courses.
Did You Know?
Tennessee students may qualify for a $1200 DE grant that can be used toward dual enrollment courses.
The College Board creates Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests. These AP classes are another way to earn college credit while in high school. Many colleges appreciate AP credits because they demonstrate mastery of course work.
For homeschooled students, there are three ways to earn AP credit:
1. Buy the book, study the information and take the test in May.
2. Enroll in online courses taught by certified teachers (usually with additional fees).
3. Participate in local AP classes offered to homeschooled students.
At the conclusion of the class, the student can take
the AP test. These tests are generally taken during
the student’s junior and senior year of high school.
A proficient student may be able to take AP tests
sooner. Studying for the AP tests usually adds five
to 10 hours of homework per week depending on
the student. The AP testing takes place in May.
The cost is $92 per AP subject. Fee reductions for
those with financial needs are available. The test is
graded on a 1-5 score.
5= extremely well-qualified4= well-qualified3= qualified2= possibly qualified1= no reccomendation
A score of at least a three or above will earn the
student college credit at most schools. Scores of
four and five are usually necessary for top tier
schools. Subject and score requirements may vary
by school and should be researched.
Further information for AP testing and registration
is available on the College Board website.
Further information for AP testing and registration is available on the College Board website.
Author Tip: Not all AP Coordinators allow outside students to take tests at their location. It is important to contact AP Services no later than March 1 to get the names and telephone numbers of local, participating AP Coordinators willing to test outside students. Prepare a list of the AP Exams you are interested in taking before you call. Call the AP Coordinators identified by AP Services no later than March 15.
CLEP testing provides the opportunity to earn college credit through examinations. These tests do not provide high school credit because coursework is not required; however, the student studies information related to the subject, pays a fee to take a test, and then receives college credit for passing the test. Testing fees may vary based on the administration fee charged by the testing center. The College Board regulates these tests, and students are allowed 90 minutes per test. The potential benefits of earning CLEP credits are financial savings, early graduation, saved time, and the possibility of multiple degrees in a less amount of time. Some students prefer to CLEP out of subjects required, but not desired, so they can, instead, take classes they will enjoy more fully. CLEP tests accepted vary by college, so it is important to research the accepted tests at the college(s) of interest. More information about CLEP testing is available on the College Board website.
One parent shared with me that having her daughter CLEP out of college math brought two benefits:
1. A much higher score on the ACT (more scholarship money)
2. The relief of worrying about taking math in college.
Formerly called the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, the DSST tests are credit-by-examination Early College Credit Through Testing tests designed for students to earn college credit for learning acquired outside of the classroom. These tests are comparable to end-of-course exams, but DSSTs are available for both upper and lower level of credit. There is a fee per exam, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will reimburse the fee for those eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill. DSST exams must be taken at authorized testing centers, mostly on college campuses.
Transcripts and Diplomas
Most colleges require a high school transcript for admission. If you are registered under an umbrella organization, then more than likely they will provide you with a transcript. However, you may need to put together your own transcript. Most colleges are concerned with the total credits earned and the student’s GPA. In addition, if dual enrollment courses were taken through a college or university, most college admissions offices will require official transcripts from the school awarding the college credit. You should contact the Registrar’s office at the college granting credit to request an official transcript be sent to the admissions office. Colleges rarely require a printed diploma. Most colleges require a transcript and test scores.
Nearly every college and university requires applicants to submit scores from at least one college entrance exam. These tests are designed to assess a student’s skills and evaluate college readiness. The most commonly required tests are the ACT and SAT; however, there is a new college entrance exam that is becoming more widely accepted called the Classic Learning Test or CLT.
The ACT is comprised of four subject area tests: English, math, reading, science. A student is scored from 1 – 36 on each of the four tests. These fours scores are then averaged to produce the student’s Composite ACT score. There is an additional Writing Test option that requires the student to write an essay. This portion of the ACT is optional but may be required by specific schools.
Author Tip: The science portion of the ACT does not test what your student learned during science class in high school. This portion tests your student’s ability to read and analyze the data presented. Tutorials will help students learn how to do this well.
The PSAT is designed to be taken before the SAT and/or ACT. There are three different levels of the PSAT. The PSAT 8/9 is designed for eighth and ninth graders; the PSAT 10 is designed for 10th graders, the PSAT/NMSQT, which is designed for 11th graders or junior level students. Each of these tests evaluates the same skills and knowledge in ways that make sense for the student’s grade level. The PSAT/NMSQT is given only once a year in October. Students who complete the PSAT/ NMSQT their junior year are automatically screened for National Merit® Scholarship Program (NMS). The PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 are not considered for NMS. This is a very affordable opportunity for students to gain exposure to standardized testing. Research has shown that a student’s scores typically improve the more familiar and experienced a student becomes with testing; however, students are only permitted to take the PSAT three times. Students who complete the PSAT/NMSQT can qualify for various other scholarships and recognition programs offered by other organizations for minority and qualified lowincome students. Students can increase their chances of being found for one of these awards by selecting “yes” to the free Student Search Services when they take the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10. More information about this benefit can be found on the PSAT website. Plan to register for this test in September.
The Classic Learning Test (CLT) is a new college test option. As of December 2016, more than 25 colleges have adopted the CLT across the United States, including Bryan College. The mission of the CLT is to reconnect intellectual pursuit and virtue, and it is the only college entrance exam to College Entrance Exams test for ethical literacy. Among college entrance exams, the CLT is the most reflective of virtues-based education. CLT scores are also tied to scholarship dollars at many colleges. The CLT is offered in nearly every state at the testing sites listed on the website. This is an online test comprised of 120 questions and administered with physical proctors present during the testing. As with other college entrance exams, there is a practice test available on the CLT website to help students prepare. One of the advantages to this test is that students are allowed to sign-up for the test on a date much closer to the actual test, without penalty, as compared to the ACT and SAT. Students should plan to take the CLT during their junior year or at the beginning of their senior year.
Author Tip: Although many colleges are accepting CLT scores for admissions and scholarship purposes, there may be certain courses that require a minimum ACT or SAT course before the student can take those courses. Check with the college your student plans to attend to find out the policy of the college.
Which Test to Take?
Deciding which test or tests your student should take can be a difficult task. Some students do much better on one test as compared to the other. The writing portion is now optional on both the ACT and the SAT at an additional expense. If you know your student is going to a particular college, College Entrance Exams 17 find out if that college requires the writing portion or if the score from the writing portion may make a difference in acceptance when there are limited spots open to new students. Some parents prefer to have their students take the additional writing portion in order for the student to gain more experience. That is a decision for you to make. You will also need to decide if you want to have your student’s scores sent directly to any colleges. Identifying your student’s top colleges and having test scores sent directly can save time and money. The first time you send a score to a college (requesting this option at the time you are signing up for the test), you have used the opportunity to have scores sent to this college for free. The next time it will cost $12.
Some colleges superscore. Super scoring is taking the highest scores from subjects of one particular College Entrance Exams 18 test that has been taken multiple times. The ACT scores are compared to the ACT scores (taken multiple times). Because the design, content and scoring are different for the new SAT (which began March 2016), the test cannot be super scored the previous version of the test. Not all colleges superscore, and some colleges may only super score one test (either the SAT or the ACT). Check with the college your student plans to attend for further information on the super scoring policy held by each college.
The Princeton Review offers the following books on college entrance test preparation. These books contain information on the test that is very helpful and practice tests are included.
Cracking the ACT
Cracking the New SAT
Cracking the PSAT
These books are available at most major retailers including Amazon, B&N, etc.
If you’re searching for online resources, the SAT has recently announced a partnership with Kahn Academy that is designed to help your student improve areas of weakness.
Did You Know?
36 University provides online prep for the ACT and only charges $15 a month with no time commitment. If you register with 36 University and use the code “Bryan,” the price will be reduced by $3, charging only $12 a month.
The sticker price of a college education can often be shocking, but in reality, students rarely pay sticker price. On the other hand, knowing the sticker price helps one compare the cost of a college education at various colleges. Financial aid and scholarships are available to help manage the costs of college.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is the document that determines nearly all financial aid a student is qualified to receive. Every college-bound student (and parents of the student) should fill out the FAFSA, even if the student does not plan to receive Federal aid. Colleges often use the information provided by the FAFSA to help determine institutional scholarship amounts. The FAFSA website states: “Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.” FAFSA now allows students and parents to complete the application in October of the senior year (previously this was done in January of the senior year). Some scholarships and grants from federal, state, institutional and private sources may have deadlines or be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, it is best to apply for financial aid as soon as possible for maximum aid consideration. When filling out the FAFSA, be sure to visit the official site.
Author Tip: There are sites that look like authentic FAFSA sites, but they are actually sites attempting to make money off of you by providing a service you do not really need. Be aware of the possibility of scam sites that ask for payment or credit card information. The FAFSA is completely free to file.
In order to fill out the FAFSA, you must first create a FSA ID. In the past, a PIN was required, but now it is an ID. The FSA ID can be requested at any time. There have been recent changes to the FAFSA that are noted in the document below.
From the Site: Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, applicants will provide income information from one tax year earlier—the “prior-prior” year. This means that the 2017–18 FAFSA will collect 2015 income information. As a result of this change, more students and families will be able to complete their FAFSA using income information imported electronically from the IRS, using our IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), rather than submitting applications with income estimates that may need correcting, or worse, waiting until the previous year’s tax return has been filed.
This is important, because in many cases, money is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. The earlier the FAFSA is filled out and the tax information is provided, the better your student’s chances are for scholarships and grants.
There are several ways for a student to receive financial aid. Scholarships are financial awards that are often applied directly to a student’s tuition or educational expenses. Although some outside scholarships may be presented as a check, these funds are typically submitted directly to the school to be applied to a student’s direct educational expenses. Most colleges offer a variety of scholarships unique to their institution, so be sure you make an appointment with a financial aid counselor at the colleges that your student is considering attending. There are various types of scholarships that are available to help manage college costs!
Author Tip: before you begin applying for scholarships, make an entirely new email address devoted solely to this, because the mailbox will be inundated with information, requests, and solicitations. This will allow you to organize your scholarship communications and help ensure that you do not miss opportunities.
The government awards scholarships, grants and loans based on the information provided by FAFSA. Not all colleges accept government aid, so be sure you find out if a college of interest accepts government aid if you are counting on that for your student.
Many states offer scholarships for students who attend college in-state. These scholarships are often tied to GPAs, test scores, community service, and more. State scholarships and grants vary widely. In Tennessee, grants are offered to students who have been a resident of Tennessee for at least one year.
There are numerous scholarships offered by private organizations all over the country in amounts ranging from small to large. Some colleges may provide a list of outside scholarship opportunities, but most likely these scholarships will be found through research and referrals.
Author Tip: As I travel throughout the year to attend multiple conventions and curriculum fairs, I have come across several websites that offer scholarship opportunities. Although I am not endorsing any particular website, below is a list of several sites for your consideration.
Many employers offer scholarships to their employees. If your student plans to work while in high school it may be beneficial to look for companies that offer college tuition benefits to its employees.
Author Tip: My suggestion to your student who will be working during his/her college years is to look for a chain that is located both in your hometown as well as near the location of the college the student will be attending. My friend’s son, who works for Publix, works at a Publix near the college he attends during the year, and then transfers back to one near his home in the summer.
College-specific scholarships will vary widely with each institution.
Author Tip: When our seventh child was entering his senior year of high school, we discovered that not only are residential scholarships offered by the State of Tennessee, but there is also a scholarship for Rhea County residents. The scholarship is provided by Bryan College and awarded to students who complete their senior year in the college’s home county: Rhea County. We purposefully moved back to Rhea County so that our youngest three could take advantage of these two offers. This is a great example of how individual colleges offer special scholarships. Always research the scholarships available at the schools you are considering. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Most colleges recruit student athletes and offer scholarships as incentives to play a sport for the school. Obtaining an athletic scholarship in college is hard work and very competitive. Student athletes interested in playing a sport are encouraged to reach out to coaches in the summer or fall of their junior year and find out what that coach is looking for in particular. This will allow plenty of time to visit campus, attend any camps and allow the coach to come and see them play when possible.
Author Tip: Bryan College hosts two scholarship events each year (one per semester) for seniors in high school who have applied and been accepted to Bryan College. These events are free and students with certain test scores are invited to attend. Each student attending receives a minimum of $500 additional scholarship funds up to $6,000 based on the following: academic interview, Honors program, auditions for theater, music, and worship arts.
Once a student has an idea of which colleges he would like to attend he should express interest to those colleges. Most colleges have an online form to request additional information about the school! This will put the student into the school’s system so that he can be assigned an admissions counselor and be kept up-to-date with what is going on at each college in regards to events, scholarships, fee waivers, incentives and more.
The earlier a student applies to a college the better his chances are for receiving scholarship awards that are limited in amounts. Most colleges require an application fee, and those fees can mount up if a student is applying to multiple colleges. There are often times throughout the year that application fees are waived. If a student is in the college’s system, they may receive emails or print mailings that provide fee waiver codes or instructions. Many colleges have online applications, but paper applications may be available as well. The most common information required for completing a college application are: biographic information, self-reported high school GPA, extracurricular activities, self-reported entrance test scores, and major of interests. Most colleges will require the student to submit official high school transcripts, entrance test official scores, reference letters or contact information, and an essay. Some colleges require an interview that can be completed either over the phone or during a campus visit. Portfolios and resumes are not typically required for college admission; however, compiling an impressive portfolio or resume may help the student stand out amongst other applicants. Extracurricular activities, community involvement, or ministry experience may also lead to additional scholarship opportunities.
Author Tip: During high school, students should participate in community service, ministry, clubs and other organizations. In addition, students may participate in conferences, mission trips, and more. Be sure to record each and every event, including jobs and volunteer work in a portfolio, or on a resume. Participation on athletic teams, speech and debate teams, music ensembles, or other activities should be recorded. If the student receives participation certificates, include copies of the certificates in the portfolio. If the student is mentioned in an article, include a copy of the article. Any training your student receives such as CPR, lifeguard training, etc. should be mentioned in a portfolio or on a resume.
The criteria for acceptance at each college can vary widely, so it is important to research entrance requirements and ask questions. Students and parents should build a relationship with the admissions counselor and schedule meetings with key departments like financial aid.
Choosing a College
When the time comes to choose a college, the choices can certainly be overwhelming. The following list offers ideas on what to consider when choosing a college. When selecting colleges to apply to, these questions may also help narrow down the options. These are just suggestions and do not constitute a full list of considerations.
Author Tip: Consider building a spreadsheet and utilizing this list to compare the student’s top three to five schools. Place the school names in the first left hand column and select the as many or as few of the items below to compare. Place those items selected across the the top row and enter the values accordingly. This will allow you to compare several schools by the items that are most important to you and/or the student.
Size – does the student want to attend a small, medium-sized, or large college
Location – does the student want to stay in-state, move out-of-state, or stay within a certain distance of home?
Rural, urban or suburban – does the student have a preference? Weather – does it matter if the college experiences extreme weather conditions?
Christian or secular – does the college teach classes from a biblical perspective?
Dorms – what is the setup of the dorm: number of roommates, bathrooms, and community spaces?
Food – are there meal options, and if the student has food restrictions will those restrictions be accommodated? Tutoring – does the college offer tutoring for students needing help with classes, writing, and assignments and testing?
Author Tip: Before you begin applying for scholarships, make an entirely new email address devoted solely to this, because the mailbox will be inundated with information, requests, and solicitations. This will allow you to organize your scholarship communications and help ensure that you do not miss opportunitiesB
Discuss course credits to include in the high school years.
Author Tip: Review high school credits required by the state and/or colleges of interest. Include English, history, science, and math, in addition to classes that interest the student, encourage character, teach computer skills, and more. Specialize classes and/or co-ops to the talents and interest of the student when possible
Begin helping your student discover their gifts and talents.
• Join a local speech and debate club (or, in the absence of a local club, start one)
• Discover local opportunities for co-ops, classes, athletics, music, drama, and/ or speech and debate opportunities. • Transcript: Keep records necessary to completing the high school transcript. • Community Service: Look for opportunities for your student (and/or the entire family) to volunteer, and participate in ministries, camps, classes, and more.
• Get together a portfolio. Begin collecting and filing documents that provide proof of the student’s participation in community service, mission trips, camps, classes, athletic events, and more.
• Participate in the PSAT testing that takes place in October if possible (College Entrance Exams for more info).
Look for local opportunities to take practice tests. Consider participating in TeenPact.
Consider any items listed under 9th grade that have not been completed.
• If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for dual enrollment and college, find out the qualifications for participation.
• October: Participate in the PSAT testing that takes place in October if possible (see testing chapter for more info).
• Consider having your student take college entrance exams, particularly if test scores are required for dual enrollment classes.
• Apply to college for dual enrollment classes once the sophomore year is complete.
• Consider College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Advanced Placement (AP) opportunities for additional college credit.
• Consider any items listed under 10th grade that have not been completed.
• Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.
• If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for DE and college find out the qualifications for participation.
• Attend college fairs, request information from, and visit colleges of interest.
• Take college entrance exams, pinpoint weaknesses and tutor to the weakness.
• Purchase materials that will help improve test scores. Consider online tutoring for test prep. Refer to the test prep resources in Chapter 4.
• Discover campus visits (including overnight visits) at colleges of interest.
• Begin applying to colleges of interest (find out of there are events or times that the application fees are waived).
• Begin reviewing outside scholarship opportunities online.
September: Discover opportunities for taking the PSAT in October and register for the exam.
• October: Participate in the PSAT testing to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.
• March: If taking AP classes, be sure to discover options for May exams.
• Any time during the year: Request FSA ID for student and parent in order to fill out the FAFSA the senior year.
Author Tip: Considering Christian colleges? In November Answers In Genesis (AIG) sponsors a free college fair for high school students that includes a free ticket to the Creation Museum and the possibility of winning a $500 scholarship. All colleges represented are Christian colleges, and the Creation Museum is a wonderful educational experience.
Author tip: Consider attending a Summit Student Conference over the summer. These two-week conferences are hosted in California, Colorado, and Tennessee throughout the summer (dates vary by location). Our family first visited Bryan College in 1996 when our oldest attended Summit at Bryan. Not only did we fall in love with the college, but we made attendance at Summit a non-negotiable, parental mandate. Not only does this leadership/worldview conference prepare a student for life after high school, but for the students who are planning to attend Bryan College, the $2,000 (per year attended) scholarship offered makes attending Summit a must!
Plan classes according to academic needs, talents and interest, and opportunity.
• Continue attending college fairs and visiting colleges of interest unless a firm decision has been made at this time.
• If the state in which you live offers grants and scholarships for DE and college, find out the qualifications for participation.
• Make sure all classes necessary for high school graduation are scheduled to be completed either by participation in class or by testing.
Author Tip: While there are no subjects required for graduation, it is important to consider the subjects and credits that colleges consider when reviewing high school transcripts for admission. See the chapter about high school curriculum to help guide you through identifying the best course of action.
• Apply to colleges of interest. Pay careful attention to application deadlines.
• Continue taking DE, CLEP, or AP tests as well as college entrance exams.
• Attend scholarship events (when applicable) that take place at the college of interest.
Author Tip: At Bryan, these events take place in October and February of a student’s senior year. These are invitation-only events, extended to seniors who have applied to Bryan College who have achieved a certain college entrance test score.
• October: Fill out the FAFSA
• Spring: Be sure all subjects necessary for graduation will be completed. Continue taking college entrance exams if higher scores are needed for scholarship.
• March: If taking AP classes, be sure to discover options for May exams. • Select a college and pay all required deposits to secure the student’s place.
• Begin preparing for orientation and move in!
Author Tip: It is important to remember that some scholarships and grants may have deadlines or be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Make sure to apply for financial aid as soon as possible to ensure access to as much aid as your student may qualify for.
The preparation for the journey from high school to college admission can be daunting. Hopefully, this has provided some guidance to help you navigate the steps to college admission. While it is important to start early, the timeline provided in this book is flexible and the recommendations can be applied no matter what year your student is in.