A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Rush Week

I apologize for my brief absence. Several things have happened. First there was holiday recovery. Then,  my whole family had the flu (thanks to the holiday gatherings). And finally, there was (or rather is) Rush Week.

My husband works for a local college bookstore. He does this for one week every semester. This week is called Rush Week. It is the first week of classes when the main bulk of the student body comes into the one bookstore on campus to purchase books. Last week, I asked the manager if she needed more help this semester. She said that they did. So, here I am working 9-10 hour days at the bookstore. Classes began on Monday. It wasn’t so bad. Then, yesterday hit. It was the second day of class. As I looked at the long line of students, I came to some very thoughtful conclusions.

First of all, parents are way ruder than youth. Every young person of college age who came through my checkout line was very polite and patient. They were full of “Thank you” and “yes, ma’am”. They waited patiently when the register froze. They had forms already filled out and knew (for the most part) their student ID. The parents were completely different. Not one of them said thank you. They did not have forms filled out (for ordering/renting books) and they had no patience. I even had one particular customer who talked on her cell phone through the entire transaction. I was very tempted to overcharge her (or confiscate her phone). Other parents yelled when a certain textbook was not in.They cursed when they were told that it takes 48 hours for financial aid to post to their bookstore account. “My son just registered an hour ago. What do you mean you have no record of his financial aid yet?”

Secondly, students come in all ages. I had so many students come through the line who were over thirty. In fact, one student even asked if we offered AARP/Senior Citizen discounts. He was auditing a Spanish class. One woman said she was a single mom with two children at home. She was entering our nursing program. I am so proud of her. I wished her lots of luck this term.

Lastly, misery loves company. At first, I thought that it would be difficult working with my husband. It hasn’t been. He usually works the register next to me. Whenever I start having a bad day, he looks at me and says “Just a couple more hours. You can do it.” Even though he is not a people person, he is very polite to everyone. He even took the flirty college girl in stride. (Even though I teased him afterwards. She was kinda cute.) Because of him, I have been able to laugh and smile all day (even when my feet ache and my back just can’t take it any more). He offered quite a bit of bantering. At times, he would lean over and finish my return policy spiel for me. I have loved working with him. In fact I only have one complaint. I am tired of vacuuming. Today, he will be the one to vacuum the whole store. I would much rather stock.

Rush Week ends on Friday – our last day. So you should see more of me on the blogosphere. I have some articles that I really need to edit and post. I hope to get that done this weekend. So, you should see some homeschool/education posts next week. I also have a writer’s group meeting next week. So I should have some stuff ready from that. There is always so much to do these days. Which is a good thing. I love to stay busy. 🙂

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From Homeschool to College in 8 Easy Steps

This is a bittersweet year for me. This is my daughter Meaghan’s last year in homeschool. We are both happy and sad. I will miss her next year, but I also can’t wait to see her on her own. This means that we are having the busiest year ever. I never thought I would be here. I always figured she would want to go back to public school at some point. But we have both endured and persevered. It has made me think back to all those other moms out there who have wondered what they are going to do once their homeschooled student reaches the college age. In fact, I know several who have put their children back into public high school because they didn’t know how to get their child ready for college.

I have a confession to make. I am a research junkie. I love to look up information and learn from it – much to my children’s dismay. I also love sharing the tidbits I have learned. So, without further ado, here is my guide to getting ready for college (from a homeschool mom’s perspective).

1. Skills and Career Assessments

The first thing I had my daughter do this year was to take a skills assessment. The best one I have found is at MyNextMove.org. This site asks “What do you want to do for a living?” It then gives you all the tools needed to figure that out. After much research and assessment-taking, my daughter has figured out that she wants to be a voice-over actress. Once you figure out what you want to do for a living, the site tells you what type of education and what skills you will need for that job. It also has links to specific job details such as average salary and who is hiring.

2. College Research

Now that you know what you want to do for a living, you need to find out how to get the education and skills you need for that career. So, it is now on to college research. Meaghan went to Big Future at Collegeboard.org. This site helps you find a college, pay for college, and make a college plan. Once you have a couple of colleges in mind, it walks you through everything you need to do to make it there. Meaghan found out that our local community college has acting classes. So, she decided to take her core (and acting) classes there. She is currently working on her college plan, with Big Future’s help. There is a great article entitled “College Admissions for Homeschoolers” that has more great information about what colleges look for in a homeschooled student.

3. Portfolio

One of the best things you can do for your homeschooled student, is to create a portfolio. The structure of your portfolio will differ, depending upon your state’s requirements. My daughter has Written Output Disorder and ADHD. So, we do many things hands-on or on a huge whiteboard. This becomes a major drawback when we work on her portfolio. To make up for this lack, she completes projects. Whenever she participates in a community event, builds a robot, writes a short story, completes a reading log, I put the evidence in her portfolio. Our state does not require records, so we use pictures and logs to record her progress. It is what works for us. Donna Young has some great portfolio creation ideas. I use many of her templates. Meaghan’s portfolio is separated into four sections: Projects, Writing, Courses/Testing, and Community Service.

4. Community Involvement

Community service is a great way to flesh out your portfolio and help your neighbor’s at the same time. Many colleges place more emphasis on a homeschooler’s community involvement and SATs than a transcript. We have all helped out with the local Trinity Trash Bash and several clean-ups. Not sure where to start? No problem. Check out Lesli Amos’ article entitled “50 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers” over at Teen Life.

5. Dual Enrollment

Another way to buff up your portfolio is by participating in dual enrollment at a local college. This process will vary by college, but it is offered by most community colleges. Some colleges call it early enrollment or dual credit. This is a great way to ease into college. The student can take just one or two courses and add them to his/her portfolio. The college will then be more likely to accept the homeschool student as a full time college student. It also gives the student the confidence that he/she can and will make it at college.

6. Testing

The last thing you should include in your portfolio are your test scores. Most colleges will accept the SAT. For more information on SAT testing, check out CollegeBoard’s SAT site. It has lists of testing centers, dates, registration information, and sample practice tests. Our community college also requires the COMPASS. If your chosen college also requires the COMPASS, you can find test prep info at the COMPASS website.

7. College Essays

Now that you have your portfolio sufficiently filled out, you have taken all your tests, and you have helped everyone you can think of, you can turn to that dreaded college essay. The application process varies by college. This process can also be very different for a homeschooled student. You should check out the process required by your college/university of choice. My daughter hates essays. To help her out with this skill, we turned to the CollegeBoard again. I just love them. They seem to have everything. This site even has essay tips such as “What do colleges look for in an application essay?”

8. Aid

Now that you are completely ready for college, how are you going to pay for it? Good news, there is financial aid for homeschooled students. Homeschooled students are no longer required to have a GED in order to receive financial aid. So, all you have to do is fill out the FAFSA and you are done. The Department of Education has a great site that will help your student prepare for college. It has information about all the types of aid out there and how to apply for it. Once you have figured out what kind of aid you need, go to the FAFSA site and fill out the Free Application For Student Aid.

I hope this information will help as you and your teen prepare for college. Even with all these resources, it can still be a long stressful road. But don’t let it get to you. When all else fails, take your teen to the college of his/her choice. Have her/him sit down with an adviser. They are there for you. They are more than happy to answer any and all questions. Take a tour of the campus. We are blessed that my husband currently attends the college my daughter has chosen.  So, she has been there on a weekly basis. She is already familiar with the campus and many of my husband’s college friends. This will make her transition to college much easier.

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You’ve Got Mail

Rural mailbox

– From The Daily Compass:

This mailbox looks as if it’s been waiting for the mail to come for some time, with deliveries, perhaps, few and far between.

What have you waited and hoped for the longest?

For the longest time, I have waited to be financially stable. My husband has tried many things to help out. He is now going to college in the hopes of better himself and our family’s situation. Several family members have been upset with the amount of time he has spent in school. It will take him three years to get his Associate. He is working on his Associate in Applied Science degree. He is majoring in computer science (Game Design and Development). In the meantime, I am working as a courier. I have very little at the end of every month. I would do better to work at McDonald’s and I have thought about it several times. But I have so many skills. I can code html and CSS. I have created webpages from scratch (using only WordPad). And I still cannot find any work. I want something that will allow me to work from home so that I can homeschool my children and take care of my mother. It is so hard to wait sometimes. I know (hope) that my husband will find work eventually. He won’t graduate until Spring 2014. He wanted to transfer to UT Dallas because they have a wonderful game design program. But none of his Weatherford College courses will transfer. He would have to start all over. So he is stuck. He can boast his AAS I guess. That will help some, right? I was listening to Freakanomics the other day. They were discussing whether college was a good or bad thing. For some jobs (such as those in the technical field), it is a requirement. Everyone in that field already has a Bachelor’s degree, that to not have one would be detrimental. But if you are looking for a job that does not require a degree, why get one? I think the reason so many members of my family are frustrated is that none of them went to college. My husband and I are the only ones who have (and I dropped out to raise a family). What they don’t understand is that if he does not have a degree, he cannot hope to compete with anyone else in the computer science field. So, I am stuck in a dead end job making less than minimum wage (after I take out the $1000 in gas that I spend every month). I am just waiting for either him to finish school or me to find a better job – one I can do from home. I am so hoping I can. I even created a LinkedIn account. I have put in an application with Automattic. That should help. But I am still looking and waiting for things to get better. I have waited my whole life. I cannot remember a time when I was financially stable. Even as a child, my family was constantly broke. OK, this is becoming a real downer. I am so sorry about that, but those are my feelings.

In other news…I will be posting a story I am working on. I will try to post it in the next day or two. I am entering it into a Flash Fiction contest.

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