The Best High School Guidance
Counselor Is YOU!
by Lee Binz
The Best High School Guidance Counselor Is YOU!
I have read that a public high school guidance counselor helps, on average, 315 students. That’s three hundred fifteen young adults to one adult. Consider how many students there are in your high school. Assuming you aren’t “Octomom” you could have at the very most four high school students currently. Which school do you believe has the greater student-to-advisor ratio? Take into account the simple fact that you actually LOVE your child, and that you are sentimentally and financially invested in their lasting success. Despite the fact that you might be only half as good as a public high school guidance counselor, you are able to still be hundreds of times more effective.
While getting my hair cut, I overheard a conversation among two mothers of high school teens. They were talking regarding how they had moved their children from public schools and private schools, looking for an excellent education and yet unable to find it. “They just don’t teach the basics of reading, writing and math anymore! ” one mother moaned. The other mom explained, “And my child is getting entirely lost in the system! ” She went on to summarize how her child completed Algebra 1 with difficulty. The following year, the guidance counselor signed her child up for the wrong class. This poor student was sitting in a calculus class for TWO WEEKS before anyone found out that he wasn’t supposed to be there!
I understand that homeschoolers often feel inferior about their capability to counsel their children in high school. You have to admit, however, that a homeschooler would NEVER stick their child in a Calculus class after having difficulties with Algebra 1! We might not be excellent high school advisors, but we do definitely KNOW our child, and that’s what makes us successful!
Take this short quiz to see how you measure up against the other guidance counselors. The US Department of Education reports that 92% of high school guidance counselors do five important tasks.
1. Use College Catalogs
These substantial catalogs resemble gigantic phone books, and they are found in public libraries. If you know where your public library is OR you know how to buy books online, give yourself one point.
2. Individual Counseling Sessions
Have you spoken to your teenager recently? Would you consider that an individualized conversation? If so, give yourself one point. I know that in various high schools, guidance counselors ask that a student bring a list of their activities, or a resume with them when they meet. If you had to ask your child to bring a resume to your individual counseling session, subtract one point.
3. Use of computerized career information resources
Computers tend to be found in a number of homeschoolers homes, and others can use the computer at a library or resource center. If a computer is not available, a librarian can direct you to career information sources in print. If you know where your public library is OR you know how to make use of a computer, give yourself one point.
4. Put together and interpret tests for career planning
There are two websites that offer you all the high school tests. One is Collegeboard.com and the other is ACT.org. Once you know those two websites, you will have all the information you will need to schedule and understand high school tests. If you can locate these websites on the internet, give yourself one point.
5. Make use of non-computerized career information sources
If you have spoken to your child about getting a job, if your child has ever earned money in any way or held a non-paying job of any kind, or if you know how to make use of your public library, give yourself one point.
How did you score? If you received 5 points, you are offering the same service as a public school guidance counselor. Less than 5 points may warrant some kind of remedial computer services. Just ask your teen. You’ll be up to speed in no time!
Focus on Flexibility
Teenagers will change their minds, which means focus on being flexible. College preparation makes a whole lot of sense for students who plan on going to college. College-bound students will need course work designed to prepare them for their college studies. Students will need to take college admission tests, and parents will need to learn about grades and credits. College-bound students need a homeschool diploma and a homeschool transcript. College preparation for college bound students is expected.
But have you ever taken into consideration what a college preparatory home education might offer for students who will not go to college? Rigorous academics could benefit children even though they are not planning for higher education. Without college, a homeschool education could very well be the only formal education a student will be given.
Academic preparation can’t hurt! Plan for college and give rigorous high school academics. If they use it to go to college – fantastic! If they don’t use it for college, does the hard work go to waste? By no means! College preparation may help your child be a more effective employee or business owner, a smarter citizen and a more self-confident homeschool parent. Planning for college can’t hurt your child, and it will be able to deliver flexibility for the future.
Project Management 101
College preparation necessitates that you take a “project manager” role. Homeschool parents assume four main roles throughout their children’s lives; that of caretaker, teacher, mentor and friend. During high school, the teacher role results in being less and less important. Our job gets to be more administrative, however it is not going to become more time-consuming or more complicated. It’s simply different.
Plan your high school classes. Throughout eighth and ninth grade, find out about your own state requirements and try to make a system to meet those requirements. Look at the common college expectations for recommended high school courses. Look over your high school plan yearly and adjust your plan each year. Budding nurses and engineers might have to buckle down with math, and those getting ready to be missionaries could possibly benefit from additional foreign languages.
Plan for Tests
Arrange for standard high school tests. What test do you take, when do you take them, and how do you know? The vast majority of those answers are found on two websites: CollegeBoard.com and ACT.org. Take the PSAT in 10th grade for fun, and in 11th grade to be considered for the National Merit Scholarship. Typical college admission tests, the SAT and ACT, are typically taken in spring of 11th grade and repeated senior year only if necessary. Subject tests are best taken immediately after you finish each subject and might be required by some colleges.
Encourage Extra-Curricular Activities
You desire your kids to be well-rounded, and so do colleges. Encourage your child to volunteer or seek employment, internships or apprenticeships. Encourage activities like sports activities, music, art, and other experiences. Colleges love to see kids who are enthusiastic about something. They can see this elusive “enthusiasm” in extra-curricular activities that students maintain through all four years of high school.
Find a College
To accomplish your intention of selecting a selection of ideal colleges, the first step is to go to a college fair. Comparable to a homeschool convention, it’s a fast and straightforward way to learn a lot about quite a few colleges in a brief amount of time. Step two is taking the PSAT in October of junior year. Step three is taking time to stop by colleges during the year, so you can eliminate poor choices from your list. The fourth step is actually taking the SAT or ACT in the spring, which might help you discover the appropriate college fit academically and financially.
Contemplate College Finances
We all know we “should” be saving for college, however I realize intentions don’t always match reality. Regardless of your saving success, don’t be afraid of looking at private colleges. They sometimes provide considerably better financial aid than public schools, and usually their costs are comparable.
College tuition is like buying a car. Hardly anyone pays the sticker price so don’t be afraid of the list price of a school. In January of senior year, the parents need to complete the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an IRS-style form will assist colleges decide how much money the government believes you will be able to afford to pay for college – usually with comical results! Here we are having to worry about the price of gasoline, and they think we can manage that amount? The FAFSA will be used to find out how much financial aid the colleges will give you.
Prepare High School Records
When you determine what colleges your child will apply to, ask those colleges what high school records they need from you. It could vary drastically, and there is no way to know unless you ask. They could only request a transcript. Some colleges could also want a simple reading list, but others will want exhaustive course descriptions and grading criteria. Some colleges will have very unusual and unique requirements. Find out their requirements early on to make sure that you can give them what they need.
That’s why I always advise keeping everything in high school – you never know what they will want. One college asked me for an English paper that I had graded. Another college needed subject tests in several different areas. Like a boy scout, always be prepared! At the very end of homeschooling, at the end of senior year, don’t forget to send the college a final transcript that includes graduation date, final grades and grade point average.
Apply to College
Guide the college application process. College applications are generally lengthy and complex. Admission essays will be tedious and time consuming. Plan to begin the application process during September of senior year to allow a sufficient amount of time to complete it in a timely fashion. It’s possible to write college application essays in junior year if you prefer to plan ahead. You can always alter it again before submitting.
Each college may require two or more essays, and their application could be many more extra pages. Quite often admission and financial aid decisions are “first come, first served” which means it can definitely be worthwhile to plan ahead. I encourage students to finish applications by January first whenever possible, to be in the best possible situation. The college deadline might be later, but they are going to be overloaded with applicants near the deadline. They can give your application a more relaxed reading if you turn it in early.
Keep it Simple!
You have only one goal per year in the four years of high school. During freshman year, all you have to do is contemplate college. Sophomore year is the time to prepare yourself for college. The focal point of junior year is selecting a few colleges where you would like to apply. During senior year, the main goal is completing college applications.
Be Confident in the Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschoolers have the advantage in college preparation! We are intimately involved in the education of our children. We truly recognize their strengths and weak points, their ambitions and passions. We can offer the best guidance counseling for them because we are love-givers, not just care-givers. In school settings, a guidance counselor may know a lot about tests and deadlines, that’s true. But they have hundreds of students to guide, and they might speak to each student only once or twice. Just like our fantastic student-teacher ratio, our student-advisor ratio just can’t be beat!
The guidance counselor at a public school has a huge job. They are responsible for the college and career plans of hundreds of kids they don’t know. Our job as homeschool parents is significantly more manageable. We are only responsible for our own children – children we know extremely well.
Be brave! Parents know their child better than anyone, and they are completely capable of offering the guidance they require through high school. You can do it!
“Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals build the Titanic.”
Copyright Lee Binz, 2011
You have permission to reprint this article as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee’s 5 part mini-course, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School.” You can find her at http://www.TheHomeScholar.com