Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time to be thinking about college?

As if I don't have enough to worry about with homeschooling, housekeeping, and life in general, late last fall I woke up one morning practically hyperventilating because I realized Anna is just four and a half years away from college.  How did this happen?!  

Anna has been talking about college since 6th grade, but to me it just seemed like a far off milestone that was fun to think about.  Now I realize it's going to be here before we know it, and I have no idea how to help her prepare.  Well, obviously starting and finishing high school would be a good start, but you know what I mean.  When do we need to start preparing for standardized tests?  When do we start visiting schools?  What should she be thinking about as she selects courses for high school?  I don't want to get to her junior year in high school and realize we should have already done a hundred things. 

At the same time, I don't want to panic about it either.  I recently read The Overachievers and am just amazed at the stress some teenagers are under these days.  The book focuses on a group of kids from a super competitive public high school in Maryland where it seems everyone is expected to go to Ivy League schools.  Many of the kids are under so much pressure (from parents, peers, themselves) that they sacrifice sleep, health, relationships, and morals to keep up with their busy schedule. 

We won't be going the Ivy League route and I think the Midwest is more laid-back than the East Coast, but I still found value in much of what the book had to say.  Being prepared is one thing; being obsessed is quite another.  As a parent, I need to make sure I don't put too much pressure on her over the next four years.

With that in mind, I want to cautiously start thinking about and planning for college.  I discussed the above thoughts with my friend, who also happens to be the mom of Anna's long-time best friend (the girls also go to school together), and we decided the best thing to do was to seek advice from someone who has been through the whole college prep process -- and survived.  Next week we'll be having breakfast with the girls' 6th grade teacher from a couple of years ago.  She has two children who were very successful at Anna's school and are attending great colleges, plus she's very intelligent and a strong Christian.

I'm preparing a list of questions to ask her and thought I'd seek your input.  Although Anna goes to an "away" school, in many ways she's in the same boat as homeschool students -- limited course offerings, no AP classes, no class rank, no weighted grades, no guidance counselor (Oh, I guess that's me!).  What questions should I ask?  Is there anything you'd like to know about preparing for college?  You can either leave your questions in the comments or email me (link is in the sidebar).  Regardless of what schooling path your children are taking, we can all learn from each other.  I'm happy to share what I learn from our meeting, so maybe this can benefit you if those college years are creeping up on you too.

In the meantime, pray for me that I will remember this verse often as we look toward the college years:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34

May I be a mother who encourages, not pushes; one who remembers there is still time to train her in godliness and not waste the opportunity by focusing too much on things that have little eternal value.

P.S.  The above picture is of Marc's and my alma mater, which is NOT the school she's dreaming of -- Boo!  She does say it's a possibility though. : )


  1. This is a great topic. Thank you for bringing it up. I going to email you.

  2. I had a question on your SOTW book list but didn't know where else to post it. I thought if I posted a comment on that older SOTW entry, it might not be seen! And I didn't see a direct email

    With all those books on your list for SOTW vol. 2, how long was your study and how many books did you read per week? That is one long list, girl! We're only doing 12 or so weeks, not the whole year.
    anyway, thanks!

  3. Yo ~ thanks for your questions!

    Our SOTW 2 history studies lasted the whole school year, plus a few books were finished up over the summer. We usually aimed for 2 SOTW chapters per week, knowing that there will be weeks when history gets skipped because of busyness, etc. We don't do many projects, so it leaves more time for the additional reading. The number of books per week could vary greatly because certain SOTW chapters just lend themselves to more additional reading opportunities.

    Also, because we come from a Reformed Christian background, we spent a lot more time on the Reformation than SOTW does. I'd say, on an average however, it is not uncommon for us to read ten picture books in a week.

    When I made that list, chapter books were mostly read by my daughter on her own time, but now that we're going through the history cycle a second time we usually read a chapter or two a day from a longer book as a read-aloud in addition to our picture books. I've also become more selective in how many picture books we use and let the kids read them on their own more.

    If I were going to try to do history in 12 weeks, I'd limit the number of books to maybe one per SOTW chapter. The books we gave 5 stars would be a good starting place. I would plan out each book you want to read so you don't waste time on books that aren't as good. Most people find my SOTW 2 list through The Well Trained Mind forums, but if you came from elsewhere that is a great place to visit. You can ask on the curriculum board, "What's the best book to read for SOTW Ch. X?" and you will probably get great suggestions.

    Feel free to contact me if you still have questions. The email link is in the sidebar under the welcome section (just click on the "Email Me" or you can copy this address: