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07 June 2016


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I am mildly amused by your job description of a guidance counselor. It certainly wasn't like that at my high school. We had posters telling us when to sign up for the ACT and that was our only interaction with guidance outside of begging them to send transcripts. You could go into the office and pick up applications that were in a display. Someone kept it stocked. But actual guidance? Nope.

Our local zoned high school has a notoriously bad guidance department. It make me really consider homeschooling high school even though I am intimidated by it--can I be that organized?--because I don't want my kids screwed by them. Students here have missed out on early decisions, scholarships, and governor's schools because guidance can't be bothered with transcripts in anything approaching a timely manner.


I had the same thought about the guidance counselor description. I don't think I ever had a single interaction with them. All of my guidance/advice came from my parents. I took the ACT/SAT, applied for scholarships and college, etc. with no assistance from them. I was the youngest of 4 so my parents had been around the college block a few times.

I love the research paper idea. If he has any interest in a chemist who doesn't do any chemistry anymore, I'm in the cities!


My best suggestion is to take the ACT yearly so he will get a) comfortable with thr test and environment b) know what he doesn't know and be able to focus his studies. My daughter took it each year of high school and raised her score 6 pts.


Sounds like you are really taking a balanced approach to this! Sometimes I read over at College Confidential, where the collective advice/pressure will make you consider opening up multiple spreadsheets!


Sounds like you have a handle on this.
Our oldest graduates Sunday from public school. Her guidance counselor was phenomenal--she wrote letters of rec, sent out email regularly with scholarship opportunities, and was really helpful.
Even though I'm not homeschooling anymore, I'm on a Yahoo group for Catholic Homeschoolers getting ready for college. The information there really helped me as we narrowed the options down with our daughter, did college visits, etc. It's called College4CathHS.
I look forward to hearing more about this process. I believe your oldest is the same age as my second daughter, so I'll be going through the process again with her in parallel with you.


I work at a university. It is hard to give good general advice, but I will say this. There is a lot of "inside information" to be had for a kid who has a couple of specific career possibilities in mind. It will be worthwhile, probably, to network not just with people his parents' age who are in the profession now, but also with advanced undergrads or (if grad/professional school is necessary for said career tracks) with people who are current grad students or in the "just after finishing school" stage (postdocs/internships/first job). These people will have invaluable information about which departments are good, which professors are awesome, what kind of merit aid may be available, what kind of other options to save money (e.g. serving as an RA or TA in the junior and senior years) may exist, and so on. Speaking of which, if you think merit aid is at all a possibility, I would not focus exclusively on state schools; I would cast a broader net. Having parents who are clue-ful and focused on helping him be clue-ful, while they also respect and support his own goals, will be a huge asset to your son as he navigates the process. There may also be good information to be gleaned from boards like College Confidential or college-focused subreddits, but you will need to be quite careful about separating the wheat from the chaff. If I were preparing a homeschooled high schooler for college applications, I would definitely also think about having him do several AP exams in the junior year--not primarily for the AP credit, but for admissions purposes. But this may or may not be overkill for the specific universities he's considering.

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