Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Midwest Homeschool Convention - Getting Them Ready for College

Getting Them Ready for College
No, this workshop is NOT about the ACT or SAT, or about counting credits or transcript preparation. It is about getting children ready for LIFE at college and beyond. With two through college and one in his first year of college, Amanda has learned from personal experience how to help kids make the transition successfully. The high school years are vital in the transition from homeschooling to pursuing a college degree, and there are plenty of things that you can easily work on during this time. Preparing them for classroom lectures, “interesting” professors, educational bureaucracy, responding in new situations, and so much more – these are lessons vital to the success of your kids in college. Amanda takes time to explain these and more, and shares her heart about the importance of getting them ready for life, not just a diploma

Back in April, when I attended the Midwest Homeschool Convention, my oldest was still a high school junior, but I was anticipating his senior year. I viewed David going to college as a "someday" thing still, not an imminent event.

Well, now he's nearly done with the first semester of his senior year and I am panicking a bit. He's taken the ACT and we are talking about colleges and what will happen in less than a year from now. And it reminded me that I'd never posted the notes from this extremely practical seminar from Amanda Bennett, best known for writing unit studies, which you can find on her website. This past year was the first that Amanda had not homeschooled any of her 3 children since she began. The first is an emergency veterinary surgeon now, the second has a degree in business and runs a tree farm, and the third had recently headed off to college on a baseball scholarship.

So, here are some random pearls of wisdom from Amanda's hour-long talk on getting students ready for college. This is more practical than academic, but both sides of the issue were brought forth. As with all my convention posts, this post is based on my notes and so may be incomplete or inconclusive in some areas. I would definitely recommend getting an audio copy of this lecture.

  • First off, college has changed A LOT from when we as parents attended.
  •  She advises diving into students' interests in middle and high school. Her oldest (the veterinary surgeon) asked to learn to sew when he was in 7th grade, a request she honored and believes led to his career path in surgery. Seventh grade is about the time when gifts and talents become evident for many children, she says.
  • Textbooks will be changing to tablet or e-book formats (interactive). 
  • Prepare your students for the college methods of learning. (My interpretation of this is something like: Read book, write paper, take test, be independent.)
  • The "big 3" to focus on with our kids: Heart (faith, compassion, values), Mind (curious, inquisitive, quiet, self-motivated), and Body (immunizations, hygiene, fitness).
  • She mentioned Steve Jobs' biography as enlightening as to why to attend college.
  • People Skills - learning to work as a team
  • New areas of interest
  • The working world
  • learn about themselves
  • no one tells them what to do

  • Visit colleges
  • Talk to the admissions counselor
  • Visit the student union, classroom buildings
  • Go there first and see if they "fit"
  • Do the college weekends
  • find out where the health center is and other important things
  • Consider out of state vs in state tuition rates
  • Scholarships can affect/waive/change those rates
TALK TALK AND MORE TALK - They need to understand they can talk to you about ANYTHING. Develop lines of communication. Start texting with them. Drop everything to talk to them. Make sure to say, "You can call us ANYTIME ANYWHERE." They need to know you are there to help them, that you've got their back.

There are some things that need to be said. Write them down so you don't forget. Think back to when you were 19-20. Some are "mom things" and some are "dad things". 

Discuss things like the following:
  • alcohol poisoning
  • punch at a party
  • people can put stuff in your drinks
  • God cares. He will be there. 
  • You will have questions and doubts. 
  • I pray for you. Always.
  • Responsibility and Consequences - actions always have consequences
  • Public things vs. private things
  • Attendance in class is important.
  • Curfews
  • Dorms and housing options
  • Cheating (teach them to cover their test paper; as a homeschooler, they don't know that automatically.)
  • Differences in beliefs and religions; "other" people will be there
  • Roommates and getting along; when/how to compromise, when to talk to the RA (resident assistant)
  • Backlit keyboards can help at night 
  • Time management (let them mess up at home BEFORE they leave for college in things like schedule, laundry, getting up, planning your assignments. College students often have six papers due at once.)
  • Money management (open a checking account by their senior year, teach about safe use of a debit card, how to budget the grant $$ especially if it is paid to the student, gas $, shop for savings (like textbooks), think of ways to get deals, Brita pitcher instead of bottled water, ramen, etc...)
  • Dual-enrollment can get them used to college. 
  • Personal management (doing laundry, stains, WASH YOUR SHEETS, sleep schedule, warn about getting sick when sleep-deprived, new people = new germs, vitamins)
  • The goal is NOT to fit in. All kids want to be like everyone else. Remember why you are there. 
  • Don't let others plan your life. Don't let the counselor fill out your schedule for you. Be sure to check it and give your input. Go backwards from what you'll need to graduate. 
  • Practice Discernment, the ability to judge what is true. Teach your child how to decide. 
  • How to Disagree with Respect & Tact. The professor gets respect. Teach when/where/how to disagree. You're not going to change your professor's mind. Look at your assignment as an academic exercise. PARENTS: Contacting a professor on your child's behalf is not usually a good course.
  • Social Life & Priorities: Balance of play and work; keep your goal (graduation) in mind.
  • Watch out for the Freshman Fifteen. Discuss nutrition and how it affects health and performance.
  • Your faith will be tested.
  • Making the Grades: Your scholarships are probably based on GPA. GPA affects future opportunities.
  • ANYTHING you post on facebook or twitter or online IS public, even if you have it set to private. Don't allow others to post as you (unauthorized). Don't give your passwords out.
  • Study Skills & Test Taking Skills
  • Computer Skills (many colleges offer block buys on computers for incoming freshmen. They often require students to install a college firewall. Some computers have requirements for what computer to bring to college.)
  • Paying for college - check fastweb.com
  • Transportation - Check college's rules for your vehicles, discuss vehicle maintenance
A sober note for parents: Kids will change when they go to college. In some ways, it will hurt your heart. You may not approve. It may not match your goals for your child. Every time they come home, they will be different.

Back to me - I am thankful I took thorough notes and that I took the time to go back through them now. I have identified a few things to do with David right now and will be working on many others over the next few months. 


Wee Pip said...

Sounds like a worthwhile talk to purchase. Some of the advice is kinda sad, though (like how they come back from college a different person each time).

Anonymous said...

Excellent! The years have gone by so fast, it is so hard to think that David is at that age! Love, Mom