Posted in College Admission, High School, Self-Paced Learning

Trending: Non-College Learning

Old-School, MOOCs, Coding Bootcamps, and now MissionU

Depending on the age of your teens, your techno-savviness, and how closely you follow educational trends, some of this may already be old news…. but, hold onto your chalk, the landscape of higher education is changing, and it’s happening FAST!

Higher Education in the USA hadn’t changed much for centuries.  That’s no exaggeration.  First, we had Harvard (1636), and then about a hundred years later we had a few public universities, and then almost two hundred years later we got our first community college (Joliet Jr. College in Illinois was founded in 1901).  If you were a young person growing up at that time, the line between a college educated man and one who wasn’t was clear and thick.  If you were “smart enough” and “had means” you applied to college.  Remember that during the early 1900’s it wasn’t even expected that you’d graduate high school, so college was an exceptionally high aspiration for that time in history; college was an enormous privilege.  

In fact, it wasn’t until late 1960’s that we hit a national high school graduation rate of 50%!

Even at the turn of the new millennium, fewer than 25% of adults held a bachelor’s degree…. but, close to 80% held a high school diploma with some amount of college.  Wow! What a huge spike!   Since I’m not an academic researcher, I won’t pretend to know all of the influences that contributed to that spike, however, if you’re near my age, you were raised by baby boomers and undoubtedly heard the same message I did:

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

The message was loud and clear, so much so, that people in my generation headed to college in very large numbers.  If you’re in my generation and didn’t go to college (so you’ll get a good job) you’ve still probably told your own children zillion times that they must go to college (so they’ll get a good job) and it should be pursued at all costs.  It’s deeply ingrained!  But is it still the right advice?


The reason for the quick history lesson is to demonstrate the growth pace of higher education from 1600’s to 1700’s (like a turtle) and then to the 1800’s (same turtle) and then to the 1900’s (same old tired turtle).  From 1900 to 2000 our turtle gets spunky, but from 2000 to 2017?  He’s pretty much got a jet engine strapped to his back.

When old-fashioned correspondence courses were replaced by computer-based distance learning around 2000, everything changed.   Within only 5 years- the industry computermanaged to get a handle on delivering legitimate and accredited courses through roughly 98% of all public colleges and universities, and by the end of the first decade, you could even attend public K-12 online.   For our children, the “go to college” message is very strong, but our children are more resourceful and capable of attaining an education than we could have ever imagined.  With access to information only a click away, our teens expect education to be free, streaming, and shareable.  They expect technologically capabilities that remove inefficiencies – and there are more than a few inefficiencies in the “traditional” college experience.

Some estimate that just under half of all college students will take at least one online course during the completion of their degree, but millions will take courses that are both free and do not offer college credit.  MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have tapped into the deep desire for education without the inefficiencies of going to a building somewhere to learn.  Coursera, a large provider of MOOCs, had educated over 5 million students by 2013.  Wrapped into the MOOCs providers are all of the “brand name” university partners you could ever dream of:  Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc.  Students have access, the courses are free, the courses are streamable, and the courses are shareable.  If the course is poor, the student simply drops and chooses something else.  If the course fills a need for the student, they can dive in and “binge-watch” an entire semester in a weekend!

Students who’ve grown up in the world of non-traditional education (homeschool), with instant access to free content, and a solid awareness of how to access ANYTHING they want to learn, technology is part of their world in a way that hadn’t existed before Placeholder Imagethis millennium.  Is it so impossible to accept that this generation of teens has a different understanding of what education means?  When my children & teens want to know something, they usually Google it.  (YES!  I still taught them how to use an encyclopedia.)  When they’re stuck on an algebra problem, it’s Khan Academy that patiently explains and demonstrates with perfect clarity who to solve the equation.  It’s Professor Martyn Poliakoff at The University of Nottingham who taught my teens about elements of the Periodic Table.  Frankly, our students can access experts in every field through their computer, something unimaginable even 20 years ago.

It’s no surprise that non-college-based learning has developed at an astounding rate.  It’s also no surprise, that there are wrinkles in the cloth.  While a few bad apples spoil the bunch, a uniquely new trend is the “coding boot camp.”  These programs are not affiliated with colleges, eliminate liberal arts and other “college” courses, and get right to the training.  In short, it’s a fast program meant to train coders and get them working asap.  Coding boot camps are almost never longer than 6 months, and graduates of good programs find (high paying) jobs quickly.  It’s hard to argue “go to college, get a good job” confused.jpgwhen colleges graduates are leaving college after 4-6 years with $35,000-$200,000 in student loans and a staggering unemployment rate.  Less than 20% will graduate in 4 years, and about 50% will leave with the debt but not a degree.  The average cost of a coding boot camp lasts about 4 months, costs about $15,000 and graduates can expect to walk into jobs paying around $80,000.  To recap, by the time my high school senior leaves for college in the fall, his classmate may have already finished boot camp and moved to Silicon Valley.

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

Did I mention things are changing at lightning speed?  In an article by CNN Money earlier this week, a new “university” that isn’t really a university at all, just entered the playing field and may be a game-changer.  MissionU has merged the concept of coding boot camp (fast-relevant teaching) with significant industry input  (Spotify, Uber, Caper, Lyft, Facebook, Chegg founders built the curriculum) and the debt-free mentality into a new program that launches later this year.  MissionU is a “learn now, pay later” concept that takes a percentage of your salary once you graduate, but only if you earn more than $50,000 per year.  Students who graduate but do not meet that threshold will never have to pay anything.  The concept, in my humble opinion, is brilliant, because it forces educators to put their money where their mouth is.  This is a significant shift towards a model of shared responsibility.  The school is sharing the responsibility of the student, in essence, they promise to deliver a product “or your money back.”

The traditional college experience is filled with snake pits and makes little to no effort to help students and parents navigate the system.  In fact, colleges offer dozens of majors that lead to high debt and unemployment- it’s on you not to choose one.   I’ll stop short of speaking too harshly because students and parents should take more responsibility before dropping a quarter of a million dollars on their education, but I’ll just finish by saying that colleges are not financially motivated to help your student avoid those mistakes, and it is very hard to get good advice that holds your teen’s best interests at heart.

In closing, the purpose of today’s post is to warn parents in my generation, that what we “know” and “trust” to be true about the “best” and “most direct” path to a rewarding career looks different than when we were pondering our own path.  Our trust and confidence are based on a foundation that is shaky and being redesigned before our eyes.  To say that the education industry has been disrupted is an understatement- it’s completely being revolutionized.  In fact, I can’t even begin to imagine where we’ll be in 6 years when my youngest sets out on this journey for himself.  I’d like to leave you with 3 tips to help you navigate this process:

  1. Work backward.  Start with a target career, and then build a plan to achieve the skills and credentials to practice that career.  The most common mistake is choosing a college before a career plan is devised.  Until you know the exact pathway required (including licenses, certifications, degrees, etc.) to practice the career, you may be wasting valuable time and money.
  2. Constant retraining is expected.  Years ago, one trained for a career and their value as an employee came from their years of experience.  In today’s market, constant retraining is expected.  As such, it doesn’t make sense to invest “everything” in an undergraduate degree that serves to “check the box” while more education, certifications, and credentials will all be expected to remain current and competitive.
  3. Be open minded.  As we’ve seen in the past 17 years, the educational landscape has changed significantly, and the only thing we can be sure of is that more change is coming!

students

Posted in Curriculum, Science

10 Ways to Take High School Lab Science

It’s common for high school students to take a couple science classes, but labs seem to create some anxiety for homeschool parents.  Some states, and a few colleges, will “require” at least one high school lab science course to meet graduation or admissions requirements.  If you don’t know your state’s homeschool graduation requirements, you should look them up on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association page.   If you want to be on the safe side with college admissions, usually 1 high school lab science course will check that box. If your teen is really excited about lab science, there’s no reason to stop at just one.  One of my sons (the little guy in the photo) will have 6 high school lab sciences on his transcript before he graduates high school, but my current high school senior has none.  (he has 6 college credits in science, but none contain a lab).  Once you know what you do and don’t have to do, you can decide what you do and don’t want to do.  piggy

A BIG factor with lab science is cost, and I’d love to tell you it’s “always” cheaper to do X, and “always” more expensive to do Y, but lab science costs are all over the place.  A good rule of thumb: the more control you have over choosing course content, the more control you’ll have over the costs.


If your local college has reduced or free dual enrollment tuition for homeschool students, you’ll still have to investigate costs.  Even “free” dual enrollment programs can involve access codes, expensive textbooks, and lab fees.  Many dual enrollment parents will tell you that their “free” classes were very expensive.   


10 Ways to Take High School Lab Science:

#1  Use the community college for a lab science course on campus.  100% of the activities happen in the college classroom, and you won’t have to do anything.  You’ll have to purchase the required textbook, and don’t be suprised if you must also purchase an access code to unlock supplemental online activities.  You and the college both issue credit, but the grade is issued by the college. You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit for science with lab.

#2  Use the community college for a NON-lab science course on campus, and conduct a science lab at home*.  The college course grade is issued by the college, but the high school grade is issued by the parent.  In this case, by adding the lab, you’ve rolled their college class into your homeschool class.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit without lab.  The grades can differ since the courses, technically, are different.

#3  Use a community college for a lab science course as a distance learner.  In this type of class, you’ll have to purchase a specific lab kit and conduct the experiments at home, but you can shop around across all 50 states.  Be prepared to take and upload photos as part of the experiment process.  You and the college issue credit, but the grade is issued by the college.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit for science with lab.

#4  Use the community college for a NON-lab science course as a distance learner, and conduct a science lab at home*.  This is a modification of #2, but with the ability to shop around across all 50 states.  The course grade is issued by the college, but the high school grade is issued by the parent.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit without lab.

#5  Use a local homeschool co-op program.  These classes may be offered with or without a lab, but if a lab is not offered, the parent(s) could DIY a science lab at home*.  If you go through the trouble of creating a lab space at home, perhaps others from the co-op would like to cost share with your family or work as a team.  You award a grade for the course, and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#6  Use your favorite high school textbook brand to conduct a homeschool science course with lab.  I share the same frustrations you do:  you spend a lot of money on a curriculum that promises you’ll only need “common, household ingredients” only to find that you don’t have lab supplies on hand when you need them.  A few years back I found the  company Home Science Tools.  They have an online catalog of pre-assembled lab kits that match all the assignments in major curriculum brands like Apologia, A Beka, Berean, REAL Science, Monarch, Science Odyssey, and others.  They also have a curriculum selection guide if you don’t yet have a favorite brand. Brand Selection HELP.  You award grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#7 Use your favorite video based brand for the course, and you’ll DIY the lab portion at home*.  The Great Courses is one of my favorite full course brands (a bit expensive).  The lectures are fantastic, but the parent will have to create homework or enrichment to go with the videos. The photo at the beginning of this article is of my son and I dissecting a pig while completing The Great Course program called Understanding the Human Body by Dr. Anthony Goodman. Make no mistake, the course was well over his head, but we still had a blast!   For a free option, Khan Academy has full courses (AP, too!) in every major science.  They teach by video, but also offer practice exercises and a dashboard to track learning.  It is by far the more interactive of the two options.  You award all grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#8 Use a YouTube course, and you’ll DIY the lab component at home*.  If you didn’t already know, dozens of universities are uploading full lecture content from their real courses for you to watch on YouTube.  I frequently share the link to Dr. Marian Diamond’s Anatomy class at Berkeley.  She is a 90 year old firecracker who doesn’t use a textbook or Power Point.  Instead, she writes her notes on the chalkboard (in cursive) for students to copy by hand into their notebook.  I’ve been told that Berkeley is pulling their courses off of YouTube, but Harvard, MIT, University of Nottingham, and many others have robust offerings.  You award all grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#9  Enroll in an Open Source course (MOOC).  Open Source courses, usually called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are free college-level courses that can include classroom support, or operate as an archived class that you study independently.  MOOCs aren’t one thing, so you may have a really great experience with one class, and then another be a total dud.  My current favorite “first stop” when I’m course searching is edX.  edX was founded by MIT and Harvard, but everyone is getting on board.  You can find universities from all over the globe on their partnership list.  You can search by class title, or by university.  Some of the courses are specifically tagged as “Advanced Placement” which should align with the AP exam. For MOOCs, you may or may not have:  lectures, reading, video, homework, etc. and you usually will not be graded by a teacher, even if a teacher oversees the class.  You’ll have to DIY a lab component at home* and award all grades.  You will award high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#10 Enroll in a college-credit-eligible course.  College credit eligible courses are not technically college credit courses.  Instead, they offer a college level course and arrange to verify your completion if you meet certain standards.  A common approach is to pay per month for a membership, and then purchase courses a la carte.  Upon completing the course requirements and passing a proctored final exam, you pass the course.  College credit eligible courses are evaluated to award credit by ACE or NCCRS.  ACE, the more widely accepted, is frequently discussed on this site, so you can use the tag ACE to find a lot of information about the benefits and limitations of programs like these.  My favorite free option in this category is Saylor Academy.  If you use Saylor, you’ll have to DIY the lab portion at home* and award all grades.  You will award high school credit for science with lab.  College credit is stored on your teen’s ACE or NCCRS transcript.  My favorite pay option in this category is Straighterline.  If you use Straighterline, you’ll have the option of buying a lab class.  With Straighterline, the company grades all work, but the parent is responsible for awarding a grade and high school credit.  The college credit is stored on their ACE transcript.

#11 and beyond…  There are so many other options and variations of how you can integrate a lab science into your homeschool.  If you have found a great solution, Let me know!  In addition, you can completely and organically start from scratch!  I’ve taught entire courses to my teens that I’ve built from discarded (free) textbooks and online videos.  If you consider yourself handy like that, and love a challenge, this is the video I use to teach how to build curriculum from scratch. Building Curriculum 6-Layer Technique


*DIY Lab (Do It Yourself) labs can come in many forms.  

  • You can purchase a lab kit for the year, like those mentioned in #6.  Kits can include microscopes, beakers, chemicals, and everything you need for at-home experiments.  
  • You can also use a subscription service like Mel Science.  Each month, the labs are delivered to your home.  It’s a pretty outstanding product.  This is a sample of what an experiment and kit looks like Experiment.  
  • Finally, if you don’t want to physically do the lab, but still want to do the lab, you can use VIRTUAL LABS.  

Virtual Lab Links & Sites

1 year High School Earth Science Curriculum and Labs  (free)

Histology Virtual Microscopic Slides  (free)

General Chemistry Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Quantum Chemistry Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Anatomy Virtual Canine Dissection (free)

Earth Science Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Biology Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Biology Virtual Frog Dissection (free)

Physics Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Disease Lab Simulator (free)

Virtual Dissection Subscription ($36/year)

Basic Microbiology course by the CDC (free)

Posted in High School, Math, Transcripts

Math Success 4 Math Averse

So, if you already feel yourself mounting a reaction to the title, this post isn’t for you.  Like anything you’re good at, you can’t imagine that other people can’t “become” good at it too… if they only had a better attitude, different curriculum, a better teacher, etc.  STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are all the rage – most universities have watched their STEM-majors double in the past few years, so there is a ton of emphasis on not only high school math, but college level math in high school.  Sure, with 10,000 hours it’s possible to become an expert in anything.  This is not that.

You’ve heard me tell you that YOU are the best guidance counselor for your teen.  That extends beyond math, obviously, but I’m not going to tell you whether I think it’s right or wrong to push your non-mathy teens into Calculus, that’s for you to decide.  In this post, we’re going to embrace the possibility that some of our teens don’t enjoy math – have no interest in STEM – want to study as little math as possible, and certainly, don’t want a career that requires a lot of math.  It is possible to lead a happy, healthy, educated life without loving math.  That is this.

High School Math

How much is required?  First, you have to answer that question for your state.  If you live in a state with specific high school graduation requirements, then you’ll want to be sure you comply with them.  Compliance assures your teen’s diploma will be valid and legal as they exit high school and move forward in life.  State Requirements Look-Up  Everything that follows in this post assumes you’re making decisions within the framework of homeschooling lawfully.  The truth of the matter is that most of you don’t have graduation requirements, rather your state offers up their public school math program as a suggested course for you to follow. Compliance with public school suggestions are always up to you.

What subjects count?  Let’s assume your state lets you choose your curriculum, in that case, you have a lot of freedom here.  We’re going to go off-book in a minute, but before we do, let’s review a typical k-12  math sequence and roughly when it’s taught:

  1. Arithmetic  (grades k-8)
  2. Pre Algebra (grades 6-9)
  3. Algebra 1 (grades 8-10)
  4. Geometry (grades 9-10)
  5. Algebra 2 (grades 10-12)
  6. Trigonometry / Pre-Calculus (grades 10-12)
  7. Calculus (grades 10-12)

The problem for some students happens around Pre- Algebra.

Algebra, in general, can be when the bottom falls out of your otherwise competent student’s success.  If you ask any adult that “isn’t good at math” where they fell apart, they’ll likely tell you it was in algebra.  If you’ve hit a rough patch in Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1, you have a few options.

  • Do more arithmetic – speed and accuracy are key.  You may be surprised how weak most teens are at arithmetic, and in my opinion, this is likely the culprit. Forget how the transcript “looks” for a minute and think big-picture:  no matter what your teen does for college or a career or in life, they need solid arithmetic skills- this is as important as knowing how to read.  If their arithmetic is weak, make it PRIORITY #1.  No exceptions.  (see my suggestions for this at the bottom)
  • Slow down the pace – assuming the rate of learning new material is the problem, rather than lacking a foundation in arithmetic, slowing down might make it more manageable.
  • Change curriculum- while I hate this suggestion, it is an option.  The problem with curriculum hopping in math, is that the scope and sequence almost never match, and you’ll be left with holes, but the issue here, is that you won’t know you have holes.
  • Change tracks- if you’re sure that arithmetic isn’t a weakness, and your teen is an otherwise fine student capable of learning new things, you do have the option of switching to an applied math!  It is possible that your teen just doesn’t like math.  I can feel you gasp through my computer, but if you can wrap your head around the possibility that they might not need as much math as you’re planning, you may find one of the applied math options really hit’s a home run.  (more about that in a few minutes)

Math in College

Before we can talk about the alternative paths in high school math, most parents protest immediately because they fear their student won’t be able to either (a) get into college (b) do college math.  Let’s look at math in college for a moment and some of the myths.  First, the high school sequence above is actually harder (higher) than the math required for most college degrees.  This is true!  Most parents believe that math through Calculus is required for all college admission, when in fact, math through Calculus is only required for the smallest of career choices.  Let’s learn some vocab:

GENERAL EDUCATION:  the core requirements everyone at that college must take in order to graduate from that college. General Education requirements are as few as 5 classes in some Associate of Applied Science programs, to the more typical 20 courses at a 4-year college.  You’ll find that General Education requirements can be VERY different from one school to the next.

MAJOR:  the requirements beyond the General Education courses necessary to earn your degree. You get to choose your major which should align with your career goals.

Here are some truths:

  • Most non-STEM majors don’t have math requirements.  Their General Education requirement will have some type of math, but you can shop around for low math colleges.
  • General Education requirements across the board usually don’t require math above the College Algebra level (roughly equivalent to Algebra 2 with a chapter or two of Pre-Calculus for good measure).
  • Most 4-year colleges and all community colleges offer math classes for every level.   Even if you enter college unprepared for college math, the college is usually arranged to help you succeed.
  • General Education requirements in math sometimes allow science and technology to count in the same category, meaning it’s sometimes possible to avoid all math entirely by taking an extra science or computer course.
  • There are 2 places you have to check to see the type and amount of math required:
    • The college’s General Education requirement (this will be the same for everyone, so if the college requires Statistics or Trig in their General Education requirements, there is no way around this).  Look for General Education requirements that ask for no more than 3 credits of math (1 class) and with numbers as close as possible to 100.  For instance, MATH105 should be easier than MATH121.
    • Your target major at each target school.  Some majors just require a lot of math, so if you’re looking at a math-heavy major, there isn’t much I can offer.  However, math-light majors can vary from one college to another!  If your teen wants to become a History Teacher, you’ll find most colleges don’t require College Algebra- so if your target school does, keep looking.
MATH-LIGHT MATH-HEAVY
American Sign Language Interpreter

Anthropology

Art History

Automotive

Broadcasting / TV/ Radio

Communications

Construction Technology

Culinary Arts

Diversity

Dramatic Arts

Elevator Installer

Emergency Medicine / Paramedic

Fire Science

Foreign Language

Graphic Design

Hair and Beauty

Health Occupations

History

Horticulture

Hospitality

Human Services/ Social Work

Interior Design

Journalism

K-12 Teacher (non-STEM)

Lawyer / Legal

Library Science

Management

Mortuary Science

Music

Nursing

Performing Arts

Philosophy

Pilot

Police and Law Enforcement

Political Science

Psychology

Real Estate

Religion

Sales and Marketing

Sociology

Studio Art

Sustainability

Writing

Accounting

Actuary

Astronomy

Business

Chemical Engineering

Chemistry

Computer Aided Drafting

Computer Programming

Data Analysis

Economics

Electrical Engineering

Engineering (as a category)

Engineering Technology

Finance

K-12 Teacher (STEM)

Mechanical Engineering

Medical Science

Petroleum Engineering

Physics

Science Teacher

Software Development

Statistics

Supply-Chain

Video Game Design

Jennifer’s tips for students who really, really, really hate math

  1. Spend a lot of time investigating careers and college majors.  You need to know if your career goal works for those who hate math.  If you’re looking at a Math-Heavy career, you’ll have to embrace math or change career trajectories!
  2. If you’ve found a career and major that are Math-Light, start making a list of colleges with low general education math requirements.  The lowest you’ll find is usually called “Mathematics for Liberal Arts” and the lowest amount you’ll usually find is 3 credits – 1 course.  If you’re  seeing general education requirements higher than this, keep looking.
  3. Be sure to look for hidden maths that sneak into a major.  Math can lurk in classes with names that contain these words in their title:
    1. Quantitative
    2. Statistics
    3. Probability
    4.  Research
    5. Financial
    6. Analysis
    7. Inference
  4. See if you can test out of the math requirement in high school using CLEP or DSST exams at your target schools.  (not all colleges will accept exam credit!)  This approach has several benefits.
    1. Study in your own homeschool without stress or pressure.
    2. Earn college credit as pass/fail, removing the worry about your GPA
    3. Start your first semester without a math prerequisite (often you can’t register for science until you’ve finished math)
    4. Start (and finish) college without having to do a single math class.
  5. If you plan to earn your degree as a distance learning student/online, many of these programs also partner with college-credit-businesses that allow you to complete some courses at home (in high school) in a self paced and open book setting.  These partnerships are a wonderful way to earn credit, but outside of the partnership, you may find that the credit won’t transfer.  The company with them MOST college partnerships is called Straighterline.  The lowest transferable math they offer is College Algebra, but their partnership extends to over 100 colleges, so it’s worth considering.

CLEP Testing:  College Mathematics CLEP Exam Website

DSST Testing: Mathematics for Liberal Arts DSST Testing Website

Applied Math Courses in High School

If you’ve caught your breath, and have decided that you may not have to spend all 4 years of high school in pursuit of Calculus credit, I want to offer you some alternative math courses that you can use in place of the traditional sequence we discussed earlier.  Using applied math takes the “theory” of math, and puts it into “application” or real world use of numbers.  For many students that struggle with math, you’ll see a huge improvement when they begin studying applied math- this happened to my 12th grader.  After struggling through 4 years of Saxon Algebra 1/2 (aka pre-algebra) with barely passing marks every year,  (yes, he did the same book 4 years in a row and it never “clicked” for him) my 12th-grade son is now a solid “A” math student in Consumer Math.  He has turned the corner, we found a way for him to be successful! I only wish I’d started him in applied math 4 years ago.

In most cases, you can find these books through your favorite online bookstore.

Consumer Math:  I spent months reviewing the top 4 publishers in this space, and my hands-down favorite is A Beka.  I know some of you aren’t Christian, but besides an occasional bible verse, you won’t find a strong Christian theme in this book.  The content is exceptional.  Full color, practical, easy to read, excellent explanations, manageable lesson sizes, can be done over 1 year or 2.  Note: You don’t need the half-dozen books they sell for the “complete kit” you just need the Teacher Book (answers) and Student Book.  Highly recommend. 

Culinary Math:  This is my wheelhouse.  I taught Culinary Math for 10 years at a community college early in my career.  If your student wants to be a chef, they’ll be miles ahead of their culinary school peers if they start culinary math now.  While Culinary Math is a variation on arithmetic, the terminology is a little different.  Beyond converting recipes and measurements, the student will learn to calculate food and labor costs, convert between weight and volume, and understand purchasing.  The textbook I taught from would be great for a homeschool course:  Culinary Math by Linda Blocker/Julia Hill. 

Math for Health Care Professionals:  Review of the metric system, reading drug labels, medicine cups, syringes, intravenous administration bags, dosages, basic intravenous administration, and basic dosage by weight units.

Personal Finance:  There are dozens of curriculum options since I get to plug my favorites, I love Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance High School course. It can be taken in person, via DVD, or online.

Introduction to Accounting / Bookkeeping:  Many homeschool curriculum companies offer complete products if you don’t see it under “math” try looking under “electives.”

Statistics:  For visual learners, Statistics might be a great fit.  Statistics use a lot of charts, graphs, and spreadsheets.  While traditional Advanced Placement students usually have to wait until after Pre-Calculus to take Statistics, that’s because they want the students to finish their core first.  Most people can study statistics with a mathematical level of around Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1.  There is a college-credit exam for students who want to take their learning to the next level.  See the DSST link above.  

Game Theory & Probability:  This will totally appeal to anyone who likes to play card games, roll dice, flip coins, or talk about sports statistics and winning the lottery.  The Great Courses has several really great full curriculum options, but I personally loved the free streaming lecture series called Against All Odds  

College Math / and or / Mathematics for Liberal Arts:  We spoke earlier about testing out of college math while still in high school.  If you’re eager to try this option, you can find out about the content of these 2 exams at the links above.  While you might be able to find a college text, you can likely build a curriculum DIY style for either of these courses.  This is a great math credit option for 11th or 12th grade.

High School Math / Practical Math:  This isn’t an applied math, however, it’s a perfectly acceptable math course title if you’ve decided to dedicate more time to arithmetic.  Keep in mind that your teen’s real education is more important than what appears on their transcript, so if you see gaps in their skills, ignore the criticisms and do what needs to be done.  A community college accepts all high school graduates at every level of mathematics ability.


 

Arithmetic for High School Students

Earlier, I wrote “Do more arithmetic – speed and accuracy are key.  You may be surprised how weak most teens are at arithmetic, and in my opinion, this is likely the culprit. Forget how the transcript “looks” for a minute and think big-picture:  no matter what your teen does for college or a career or in life, they need solid arithmetic skills- this is as important as knowing how to read.  If their arithmetic is weak, make it PRIORITY #1.  No exceptions.”

If this is where you need to focus, start here:  Arithmetic on Khan Academy


 

Posted in Breaking News, College Admission

Heightened Cash Monitoring

Many of you have high school seniors – one more important consideration before narrowing down their target list is to be sure their financial aid status is in good standing.

The following is the most current (December 2016)  list of 540 colleges that were placed under “heightened monitoring” from the Federal Financial Aid/Dept of Education.  You’ll want  to confirm your teen’s target colleges are NOT on this list.

In my city (Charlotte, NC) the local law school just had it’s financial aid participation revoked- completely pulled.  That left a lot of students in a really bad situation because they were/are no longer allowed to borrow using the student loan program – even if they are just a year from graduation. Many students believe they’ll have to transfer and potentially start over.  Keep in  mind, the college is still open, but they can no longer participate in the Federal Financial Aid program.

If a school is on this list, proceed with extreme caution.

What is Heightened Cash Monitoring?  From the Dept of Education:

There are two levels of Heightened Cash Monitoring:

  • Heightened Cash Monitoring 1 (HCM1): After a school makes disbursements to eligible students from institutional funds and submits disbursement records to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, it draws down FSA funds to cover those disbursements in the same way as a school on the Advance Payment Method.
  • Heightened Cash Monitoring 2 (HCM2): A school placed on HCM2 no longer receives funds under the Advance Payment Method. After a school on HCM2 makes disbursements to students from its own institutional funds, a Reimbursement Payment Request must be submitted for those funds to the Department.

Schools may be placed on HCM1 or HCM2 as a result of compliance issues including but not limited to accreditation issues, late or missing annual financial statements and/or audits, outstanding liabilities, denial of re-certifications, concern around the school’s administrative capabilities, concern around a schools’ financial responsibility, and possibly severe findings uncovered during a program review. Some schools are on this list due to preliminary findings made during a program review that is still open. Those findings could change when the program review is completed.

Below, I’ve copied/pasted the names of schools from the table, but you can get the full Excel spreadsheet (includes address, etc.) at the link below.  Select the most current spreadsheet (December 2015).

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/data-center/school/hcm

Institution Name

Aaron’s Academy of Beauty
Academy for Careers and Technology
Academy of Cosmetology
Academy of Hair Technology
Academy of Natural Therapy
Academy of Radio & TV Broadcasting
Acupuncture and Massage College
Adrian College
Advance Beauty Techs Academy
Aerosim Flight Academy
Alabama State University
Alderson Broaddus University
Alexandria School of Scientific Therapeutics
Alexandria Technical and Community College
Allen University
All-State Career
All-State Career School
American Academy McAllister Institute
American College of Hairstyling-Des Moines
American College, Dublin Limited (The)
American Institute of Medical Technology
American InterContinental University
American Musical & Dramatic Academy
American National University
American Technical Institute
American University of Paris
AmeriTech College
Anoka Technical College
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Apollo Career Center
Argosy University
Arkansas Baptist College
Art Institute of Atlanta (The)
Art Institute of Colorado (The)
Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale (The)
Art Institute of Houston (The)
Art Institute of New York City (The)
Art Institute of Philadelphia (The)
Art Institute of Phoenix (The)
Art Institute of Pittsburgh (The)
Art Institute of Portland (The)
Art Institute of Seattle (The)
Art Institute of York (The) – Pennsylvania
Art Institutes International Minnesota (The)
ATA College
Atlanta Institute of Music and Media
Bacone College
Baldwin Beauty Schools
Bay State School of Technology
Beacon College
Beauty Academy
Beauty and Health Institute
Beauty Institute Schwarzkopf Professional (The)
Bellefonte Academy of Beauty
Bemidji State University
Benedict College
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Bennett Career Institute
Berks Technical Institute
Bethany College
Bethel College
Bethel College
Bethel University
Birmingham City University
Blue Cliff College
Boise Bible College
Boston Baptist College
Bramson ORT College
Briarcliffe College
Brown College of Court Reporting
Brown Mackie College (The)
Buchanan Beauty College
Burnett International College
Calhoun Community College
California College San Diego
Capri Oak Forest Beauty College
Career Care Institute
Caribbean University
Carnegie Institute
Carolina Christian College
Carsten Institute of Cosmetology
Carver Bible College
Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics
CDE Career Institute
Center for Employment Training
Central Alabama Community College
Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Central Christian College of Kansas
Central Christian College of The Bible
Central Lakes College
Central School of Practical Nursing
Century College
Champ’s Barber School
Charleston School of Law
Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary
Charter College
Chattanooga College – Medical, Dental and Technical Careers
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
Choffin Career & Technical Center
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
Citizens School of Nursing
Clarks Summit University
Cole Holland College
College of Menominee Nation
CollegeAmerica – Flagstaff
CollegeAmerica Denver
Collins Career Technical Center
Colorado Technical University
Columbia College
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Department of Education
Community Christian College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career Institute
Concorde Career Institute
Concorde Career Institute
Conlee’s College of Cosmetology
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
Cosmetology College of Franklin County
Cosmetology Training Center
Cosmotech School of Cosmetology
Court Reporting Institute of St Louis
Coyne College
Cozmo The School
Crave Beauty Academy
Creative Circus (The)
Creative Hair School of Cosmetology
Dakota County Technical College
David’s Academy of Beauty
Dawson Community College
Delaware Learning Institute of Cosmetology
DeVry University
DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology
D’Jay’s Institute of Cosmetology and Esthiology
Dominican College of Blauvelt
Dominion School of Hair Design
Eastern Nazarene College
Eastern Oklahoma State College
East-West Healing Arts Institute
Ecclesia College
eClips School of Cosmetology and Barbering
Ecumenical Theological Seminary
EDHEC Business School
EDIC  College
Edinburgh Napier University
Elaine Sterling Institute(The)
Emmanuel Bible College
Emmanuel College
Empire College
English Center (The)
Entourage Institute of Beauty and Esthetics
Eureka Institute of Health and Beauty
Evangel University
Everglades University
Ex’pression College
Faith Evangelical College & Seminary
Faith Theological Seminary
Fayette Beauty Academy
Fayette Institute of Technology
FINE Mortuary College
Finger Lakes School of Massage (The)
Finlandia University
Florida Institute of Ultrasound
Florida School of Traditional Midwifery
Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
Fort Berthold Community College
Fort Worth Beauty School
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis College
Fortis Institute
Fortis Institute
Fortis Institute
Fortis Institute
Fortis Institute
Fortis Institute
Fountainhead College of Technology
Francois D. College of Hair Skin & Nails
Frederick School of Cosmetology
Gene Juarez Beauty Schools
George Corley Wallace State Community College – Selma
Gill-Tech Academy of Hair Design
Glenwood Beauty Academy
Global Health College
Globe University
Grace College of Barbering
Grace University
Gratz College
Green Mountain College
Griffith University
Hair Academy (The)
Hair California Beauty Academy
Hairmasters Institute of Cosmetology
Hallmark University
Hamilton Technical College
Hands on Therapy
Hannibal – LaGrange University
Harrington College of Design
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology
Harrison College
Healthcare Preparatory Institute
Hebrew University of Jerusalem (The)
Helms College
Hennepin Technical College
Hibbing Community College
Highland Community College
Hiram College
Hiwassee College
Hobe Sound Bible College
Houston Graduate School of Theology
Houston International College Cardiotech Ultrasound School
Illinois Institute of Art (The)
Image Maker Beauty Institute
Indiana County Technology Center
Infinity Career College
InfoTech Career College
Inner State Beauty School
Institucion Chaviano de Mayaguez
Institute For Therapeutic Massage
Institute of Beauty Careers
Instituto de Banca y Comercio
Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo
Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
International Barber & Style College
International Culinary Center
International Professional School of Bodywork
International School of Skin and Nailcare
Inver Hills Community College
Iowa Wesleyan College
Itasca Community College
J. F.  Drake State Community and Technical College
James Rumsey Technical Institute
JFK Medical Center Muhlenberg Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Schools
Joffrey Ballet School, American Ballet Center
Johnson C Smith University
Jose Maria Vargas University
JRMC School of Nursing
KD Conservatory College of Film and Dramatic Arts
Keene Beauty Academy
Keiser University
Kendall College
Kentucky Wesleyan College
Keystone College
Kuyper College
L T International Beauty School
Laird Institute of Spa Therapy
Lake Erie College
Lake Superior College
Larry’s Barber College
Lawson State Community College
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago
Leech Lake Tribal College
Lees School of Cosmetology
Little Priest Tribal College
London International Film School
Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute
Lubbock Hair Academy
Lutheran Theological Seminary – Philadelphia
MacMurray College
Maple Springs Baptist Bible College & Seminary
Margaret’s Hair Academy
Marion Military Institute
Maryland University of Integrative Health
McCann School of Business & Technology
MDT College of Health Sciences
Med-Assist School of Hawaii
Medical University of Gdansk
Mesabi Range College
Mesalands Community College
Messenger College
Metro Business College
Metropolitan Learning Institute
Metropolitan State University
Miami International University of Art & Design
Michigan Barber School
Mid City College
MidAmerica Nazarene University
Milan Institute
Milan Institute
Milan Institute
Milan Institute of Cosmetology
Miles Community College
Miller – Motte Technical College
Miller-Motte Technical College
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
Mineral County Vocational Technical Center
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Minnesota School of Business
Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Minnesota State University Moorhead
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Missouri College of Cosmetology North
Missouri School of Barbering & Hairstyling
MKG Beauty & Business
Mount Ida College
Multnomah University
Murdoch University
Nashville Barber and Style Academy
National Beauty College
National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts
National Graduate School of Quality Management (The)
National Institute of Massotherapy –
National Personal Training Institute
National University College
National University of Ireland, Galway
Neosho Beauty College
New England College of Business and Finance
New England Culinary Institute
New England Institute of Art (The)
New Hope Christian College
New Life Business Institute
New York Conservatory For Dramatic Arts (The)
New York Theological Seminary
NewSchool of Architecture and Design
Normandale Community College
North American Baptist Seminary
North Central Opportunities Industrialization Center
North Hennepin Community College
Northcentral University
Northcoast Medical Training Academy
Northern New Mexico College
Northland Community and Technical College
Northwest Career College
Northwest Christian University
Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building
Northwest Technical College – Bemidji
NRI Institute of Health Sciences
Oehrlein School of Cosmetology
Ogle School Hair Skin Nails
Ogle School Hair Skin Nails
Ogle School Hair Skin Nails
Ohio College of Massotherapy
Ohio Valley University
O’More College of Design
Ottawa University
Paine College
Panache Academy of Beauty
Paul Mitchell the School Missouri Columbia
PB Cosmetology Education Centre
Penn Commercial Business/Technical School
Pennco Tech
Pennco Tech
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
Pentecostal Theological Seminary
Phillips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel
Pike Lincoln Technical Center
Pinchot University
Pine Manor College
Pine Technical and Community College
Pittsburgh Career Institute
Ponca City Beauty College
Ponce Health Sciences University
Ponce Paramedical College (POPAC)
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (The)
Porter and Chester Institute
Porter and Chester Institute of Branford
Portland Actors Conservatory
Professional Skills Institute
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Rabbinical College of Long Island
Rainy River Community College
Ralph R Willis Career and Technical Center
Raphael Recanati International School, The Interdisciplinary Center
Redstone College
Remington College
RGV Careers An Institute for Higher Learning
Ridgewater College
River Valley School of Massage
Riverland Community College
Riverside College of Health Careers
Rochester College
Rochester Community and Technical College
Rosedale Technical College
Rosslyn Training Academy of Cosmetology
Roxborough Memorial Hospital
Roxbury Community College
SAE Institute of Technology – Miami
Saint Elizabeth Medical Center
Saint Gregory’s University
Saint Louis Christian College
Saint Mary of the Woods College
Saint Paul College – A Community & Technical College
Salon & Spa Institute
Salon Professional Academy (The)
San Diego Christian College
San Diego Culinary Institute
Sanford-Brown College
Sanford-Brown College
Sanford-Brown College
Sanford-Brown College
Sanford-Brown College
Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico
Setting the Standard Barbering and Natural Hair Academy
Sheridan College
Sherrill’s University of Barber & Cosmetology
Shimer College
Shorter University
Sisseton Wahpeton College
SOLEX College
South Central College
South Texas Vocational Technical Institute
South University
Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Southeastern College
Southeastern College
Southeastern Institute
Southeastern Institute
Southeastern Institute
Southern California University SOMA
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Southern Technical College
Southern Technical College
Southern Vermont College
Southwest Minnesota State University
Spa Tech Institute
Spanish-American Institute
Spartan College of Aeronautics & Technology
Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology
Spertus College of Judaica
Spring Hill College
St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud Technical and Community College
St. Luke’s Hospital of Bethlehem, PA
St. Paul’s School of Nursing
St. Paul’s School of Nursing
Stevens Henager College
Studio Art Centers International
Suffolk Beauty Academy
Summit Christian College
Summit College
Swedish Institute
Taylor Andrews Academy Of Hair Design
Taylor Technical Institute
Technical Career Institutes
Texas Beauty College
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Total Image Beauty Academy
Total Look School of Cosmetology and Massage Therapy
Transformed Barber and Cosmetology Academy
Tribeca Flashpoint College
Trident University International
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Trinity School of Health and Allied Sciences
Tri-State College of Acupuncture
Tucson College
Tuskegee University
Tyndale University College & Seminary
Ultimate Medical Academy
Unification Theological Seminary
Unilatina International College
United Theological Seminary
Universal Technical Institute
Universal Technical Institute
Universal Technical Institute
Universal Training Institute
Universidad Cat≤lica Nordestana
Universidad Central del Este
Universiteit Utrecht
Universiteit Van Amsterdam
University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin
University of Antelope Valley
University of Auckland (The)
University of Canterbury
University of Debrecen
University of East London
University of East-West Medicine
University of Geneva
University of Gloucestershire (The)
University of King’s College
University of Melbourne
University of Mobile
University of North Alabama
University of Puerto Rico – Arecibo
University of Puerto Rico – Cayey University College
University of Puerto Rico – Central Administration
University of Puerto Rico – Humacao University College
University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez
University of Puerto Rico – Medical Science Campus
University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus
University of Puerto Rico – Utuado
University of Puerto Rico Bayamon Technical University College
University of Puerto Rico Carolina Regional College
University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Regional College
University of Puerto Rico, Ponce
University of Queensland (The)
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
University of Sydney
University of the Virgin Islands
University of Toronto
University of Valley Forge
University of Wales – Lampeter
University of West Alabama
University of Westminster
Utica School of Commerce
Vatterott College
Vatterott College
Vatterott College
VEEB Nassau County School of Practical Nursing
Venango County Area Vocational Technical School
Vermilion Community College
Victoria Beauty College
Victoria University of Wellington
Virginia College
Virginia Wesleyan College
Walden University
Walnut Hill College
Webb Institute
Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing
Westminster College
Wilberforce University
Williamson Christian College
Winona State University
Wood County Technical Center
Xtreme Career Institute
Yechanlaz Instituto Vocacional
Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland
YTI Career Institute
YTI Career Institute – Altoona
Posted in College Admission, SAT

SAT: Stressing About Testing

“A class of children sit revising for make-or-break exams to get them into the college of their choice. It’s the sort of scene that could be seen in high schools across the world but for one important difference: The pupils have intravenous drips hanging over their desks. The image is taken from footage that claims to reveal the controversial use of the drips to boost pupils’ ability to study at a school in Xiaogan, Hubei province, China.” Full story

Homeschooling parents have a special kind of anxiety about standardized testing. In many cases, the very principle of using a standardized course of study is exactly why parents removed their kids from group schools in the first place. The notion of individualized pursuit of academic excellence is the opposite of seeking standardization and consistency. Parents I talk to are completely comfortable marching to the beat of their own drum… until somewhere around middle or high school.

Around middle / high school the homeschooling parent’s anxiety goes up, and parents worry about their kids “measuring up” against the kids who have taken standardized tests on a regular basis. Why? PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP, and a few others in the alphabet soup of measurement are introduced into the homeschool for the first time. Remember, most states don’t require homeschooled kids to take standardized tests, in fact, my own kids didn’t take a test until we moved to a “test required” state in 2012. My oldest was a senior in high school with 21 college credits before he ever had to “fill in a bubble.”

The irony of parent’s anxiety, is that homeschooled teens usually kick-butt when it comes to standardized testing. I think most of us have heard the stats- generally homeschooled teens score somewhere in the 80th+ percentile on standardized grade-level tests, and in the upper quartile on college entrance exams . The “why” behind those stats are for another day, but for most parents, those stats aren’t comforting reassurance- they’re added pressure from the homeschool community that demands a higher standard. Above average is average. But what if your teen really is average? What if your teen has passions and talents that aren’t part of what is tested on the SAT? What if your teen is just a regular student who will probably score in the 50th percentile in most subjects? They have no chance, right?

Well, you might be suprised and relieved to know that SAT scores are not an accurate predictor of success in college – and yet, they continue to be a source of stress and fuss among high school parents and students. Homeschool parents know, but should be reminded, that academic success is multi-dimensional. College success is multi-dimensional. Additionally, happiness, health, and success in life as a grown up is more than a high school test score or grade.

As you consider standardized testing options for your teen, know that college entrance tests are currently optional. Unlike achievement tests that may be required of k-12 homeschool students in some states, the PSAT, ACT, and SAT for college entrance are not required exams. Choosing to take an exam is an opportunity for your teen to demonstrate college readiness. As such, whether or not your teen decides to take one of these exams depends on 4 key factors: Homeschool exit strategies, target colleges, availability, and their strengths/weaknesses.

Homeschool Exit Strategies

What are the options after high school? The most popular options include: college, military, apprenticeship, mission work, vocational training, gap year, or entering the workforce. While it feels like “everyone” goes to college, the current data tells us about 67% of high school graduates will enter college directly. We also know that of that set, only 60% will graduate in 6 years or less. From that, we can infer that many of the students who entered college directly may have been more successful taking a different approach:

if 1000 students graduate high school: 330 do not head to college while 670 do.

Of those 670 who start college, 402 graduate in 6 years or less, while 268 do not graduate college ever. The simple math tells us that of the initial 1000 high school graduates, only 402 follow the direct timeline from high school graduation to college graduation. That leaves the majority -598 students- in different categories. This set had a different exit strategy or changed strategy at some point in the 6 years after high school graduation. National Center for Educational Statistics

As you consider exit strategies for your teen, remember that one size does not fit all. For teens not heading directly into college following high school graduation, or choosing a different path, standardized exams are probably unnecessary.

Target Colleges

If your teen has a few target colleges picked out, simply visit the college’s website to see if and which exam(s) they prefer. (Try looking in their “Admissions” tab) If your teen doesn’t have target colleges picked out, read on…

There is a growing trend away from requiring ACT/SAT exams for admission.  You might be surprised to know that The National Center for Fair and Open Testing maintains a database of over 900 bachelor-degree-granting-colleges that do not require standardized exams for admission, are “test optional” or “test flexible.” See full list. In addition to the bachelor’s degree colleges above, there are 1,200 community colleges in the United States, most of which provide open enrollment admission – that is to say admission is granted without test score benchmarks. In most cases, colleges use a placement tool (Accuplacer and Compass) to determine level for placement, not whether or not you can earn admission.

since not all students graduate high school ready for 100 level college courses, the community college provides the courses necessary to meet that deficiency instead of denying admission.

Two advantages of taking a placement exam at your community college over traditional standardized tests are (a) student can schedule it whenever they want – even into adulthood, and (b) typically there is little or no cost.

For colleges that require SAT or ACT exams for admission, you may find that this only applies to freshman applications. For students entering college after military service, after mission service, as a transfer student, after earning an associate’s degree, or those over the age of 21, the SAT/ACT exam requirement is typically removed.

Availability

Standardized exams require advanced scheduling and travel to a testing center.  In short, homeschooling families that spend a lot of time traveling, stationed overseas, or other location-based limitations will have to take that into account.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The purpose of a standardized exam is for your son or daughter to demonstrate their candidacy to a specific college. As such, you’ll want to take stock of their strengths and weaknesses when choosing the right exam rather than trying to score well on both exams. Remember, both ACT and SAT have undergone changes over the past few years, so be sure your teen is using current study material as they prepare. Since the last SAT revision, the differences between the Reading, English, and Math sections are very minor. The significant distinction is that ACT includes science, while he SAT does not.

If your teen’s strengths are in athletics, music, ministry, or if they have weaknesses that interfere with strong testing ability, the standardized test may not be the right choice for your family. While it’s true that some teens will be required to take a standardized test to pursue specific colleges, creative and resourceful parents should not be intimidated or fall to peer pressure that may not be in the best interest of their family.

Posted in SAT

SAT Test Prep

If you’re planning an SAT exam this semester, check out the official collaboration between Khan Academy and College Board – they’ve put together an interactive study program that’s totally free and open access! In addition, it includes 6 adaptive practice tests, which correct and target questions toward your weaknesses.

Khan Academy SAT Site

If you’re Stressing About Testing, you’re not alone.  Standardized testing, especially the SAT, causes a lot of anxiety among homeschool parents.  Incase you missed it, I wrote a long piece on the trends away from standardized testing, and how to find schools that don’t require standardized tests for admission. SAT: Stressing About Testing

 

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, Computer Science, Credit by Exam, Curriculum, Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment, Self-Paced Learning

Computer Science for College Credit

UPDATED 9/2/2017:  in addition to the links and tips on this page, I found a few great resources that are new through Coursera.  Coursera is a Massive Open Online Course program that offers free courses and/ or allows you to purchase courses that lead to a credential. Here are a couple worth looking at:

Python Specialization from the University of Michigan

Specialization: Full Stack Web Development

Artificial Intelligence with Andrew Ng’s Deep Learning Specialization


Parents constantly ask for computer science courses for their teens, and I have never had a really good suggestion…. but I think there is a gem offered by Popular Mechanics! It’s a complete computer science bundle for $39.

Popular Mechanics Computer Science Courses

At that price, it’s certainly worth a look. It’s 8 courses that your teen can do at home on the computer. These are the same courses typically taught through the computer science “boot camps” that are popular right now -but not producing results as expected…Coding Schools Failing Their Students.

“Today, 91 full-time coding boot camps exist in the U.S. and Canada, according to Course Report, a research group that tracks the industry. Almost 18,000 people will graduate from them this year. That’s up from 43 schools two years ago, and about 6,000 graduates. Tuition averages over $11,000 at non-degree granting programs that generally last around three months, but it can go as high as $21,000. Some schools take a cut of future salary instead of tuition.” -Bloomberg News

While there isn’t a CLEP or DSST exam for computer science, there are two Advanced Placement (AP) exams your teen can take! Depending on your teen’s score and target college, they can earn 3-8 college credits for a passing score.  If someone signs up for this series, I’d love to get feedback, especially if this is used as the foundation for  AP exam(s).

What is the AP Computer Science exam?

What is the AP Computer Science Principles Exam?

Popular Mechanics Computer Course Set:

  1. From 0 to 1: C Programming – Drill Deep

  2. Byte Size Chunks: Java Object-Oriented Programming & Design

  3. From 0 to 1: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java

  4. From 0 to 1: SQL And Databases – Heavy Lifting

  5. From 0 to 1: Learn Python Programming – Easy as Pie

  6. Learn By Example: C++ Programming – 75 Solved Problems

  7. From 0 to 1: Raspberry Pi and the Internet of Things

  8. Case Studies: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple

Angel from our Texas Homeschooling for College Credit Facebook group suggests MORE JAVA for teens considering the AP exams.  She writes “I’d rather pay $155 for the Teen Coder course and know I was getting something aligned to the test. I have spoken to teachers who use this every year and have had great success with it.”  If you’d like to explore her suggested resource, check out the Teen Coder Course.

Let me add a last option – MOOCs.  Your teen can take free college level courses through Coursera.  These are great because you don’t have a big application process or entrance exams – just sign up and go.  If you want, you can even do “bundles” that they call Specializations.  These are sets of courses that award a certificate (for a fee).  These classes can work for high school credit, or rolled into college credit by exam (AP) or the full certificates might be a great alternative on your student’s resume.Computer Science on Coursera