Monday, February 13, 2012

It's all so perplexing

Up until now, homeschooling’s not been too bad. I’ve muddled my way through, even with having to run the high school level biology and physics labs. (Thank you, Meg for all the materials!)

But now that ds1 is high school age, and ds2 is middle-school age, I can’t help but panic that I’m woefully unprepared to play school counselor. What are they supposed to have in order to apply to college, or heck, what do they need in order to graduate period? Luckily I have a couple of friends who’ve homeschooled kids through to college, and a homeschool e-list, that I can consult, though I don’t want to bug them every other hour with my freaked-out questions.

One of the things I learned is that taking the PSAT in grade 11 will allow the kids to qualify for National Merit scholarship if they score high enough. So, I thought I’d sign ds1 up to take it for fun and for practice. Yes, while other moms take their kids to Disneyworld for fun, I make mine take tests for fun!

While I’ve had the kids do the CAT/5 (California Achievement Test) at home before, neither of them has ever taken an “official” standardized test. All public school kids in Indiana take the IStep starting in grade 2? 3? 4? I don’t even know, but by the time grade 10 rolls around, they’ve taken standardized tests many times already. So, I was pleasantly surprised that ds1 was not nervous about doing the PSAT.

And, apparently, according to people who know (like hubby), he did all right: 210.

Now, the solicitations start arriving, but…what’s a good college? To my Canadian mind, if it has the word “university,” it’s a good one. If it says “college,” then it’s lower tier. Not so in the U.S., and fortunately, hubby knows which are the good ones so he can steer ds1 in the right direction.

I hope…because I’m still confused.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams


Kathy Teige said...

IMO, fit is more important than where a school is in the rankings. But I've spent a lot of time in grad admissions, so I'm jaded.

Also, consider the long haul. To a large extent, the last school someone attends should be the one with the best reputation. If a kid is certainly bound for graduate school, the ugrad institution has to be good enough to provide adequate preparation, but doesn't have to have the same cache.

The most important thing to consider, though, is where a kiddo is likely to be happiest. A very highly ranked school may seem most appropriate, but they also tend to be a lot more cut-throat. The potential happiness factor is everything. A good education may be found at many institutions, but if the kid has a miserable experience, I'm not sure that mush has been accomplished.

Finally, remember that the rankings thing really is a pretty cynical game schools play. It's not completely without value, but the difference between schools is more nuanced than what can be measured by what is, for all intents and purposes, a standardized test. Putting too much emphasis on this kind of rubric is no more valid for individual schools than it is for individual students.

Alina said...

That is a lot to figure out! It's making me glad I have a loooong time to consider such things, and people, like you, to consult when we get there. :) Good luck!

Maureen said...

Well, it sounds like you are doing a good job of staying on top of everything! I can imagine that being from Canada would make, our already confusing process, that much more confusing.

Sherrie said...

I can't offer any useful information, but I do know that your boys will be just fine, and you'll do an amazing job helping them to navigate. :)

Michelle said...

We are in the same boat T, trying to find the right college. I know that what your friend Kathy said about grad school is true though. One of my employees was accepted to grad school but a couple of places she really wanted to go turned her down and she learned from other current students it had to do with where she got her undergrad. My daughter wants to be a teacher so we are looking at the best for that particular profession, she also wants to minor in Native American studies so we look at what has the strongest, most thorough program in that area. It is tough searching but you are such a devoted mom working hard to get your kids the education they deserve so you will most definitely figure it all out and point the boys in the right direction. I admire all you've done with the homeschooling and your dedication to doing what is best for your family.

TeresaR said...

Kathy, you always have terrific advice...thanks for being there to answer my frantic questions!

Alina, ask away! I'll be more than happy to share what I know when you need to know. :)

Maureen, I should ask you one day how you home schooled your daughter to college; you must be a wealth of info too!

Sherrie, thanks for your vote of confidence!

Michelle, you have such faith in me - thanks! I worry that I'll forget something and mess up son1's college application...but I should relax a bit and trust that things will fall into place. :)

Epicure68 said...

I'm sure no matter what post-secondary institution your boys end up in, it won't matter much when they win the Nobel prize. ;)

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Yup, it's confusing all right. And I've already gone through it once! Congrats to your son on his awesome score, though! That ROCKS!

MyKidsEatSquid said...

kudos to you for homeschooling. I have a tough time keeping up with my 3rd graders math assignments, and my middle schooler, well, I can help out with English, but her science fair project this year nearly did me in.

Good luck on the college--or university--search. I'll be there before too long.

Sam Smith said...

Neet to see others homeschooling I was home schooled and I am very glad I was.