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How Homeschooling Has Helped Me In College Tags: college graduate community college

I just graduated from Catawba Valley Community College with my Associates in Arts degree. Iím going to transfer that degree to †UNC Wilmington in the fall. UNCW is just a short drive away from the beach, and the campus is beautiful. Basically, itís heavenóif I completely ignore the fact that I wonít actually be vacationing there for the next two years. But itís the next step in my academic career, and Iím ready for it.

†At one point, the little community college in Hickory, North Carolina was my next step, and I was actually a little scared when beginning CVCC. I obviously had no experience with public education (unless driverís ed counts) since Iíd been homeschooled my entire life. I didnít know if I would even do well in such a setting. Turning in assignments to a professor is certainly much different than giving them to my mom.† But, even if I didnít know it yet, my schooling had given me skills that I would need to move forward to community college. Here are six things I learned as a homeschooler that prepared me for it:

  1. Time Management

In college when your class times are all over the place and assignments vary from 10-page essays to 20-slide presentations, the way you organize your time will greatly affect the quantity and quality of the work youíre turning in. When I was in high school, I was responsible for getting the work done that was on the schedule which was given me. The weekís work was laid out before me on a neat chart, and I could see what was coming, and what assignments were important to prioritize. I would read my textbooks, do my online lessons, write my papers, and then throw that schedule in the trash for the week. Basically the week was mine to organize as I needed, as long as I finished everything when it was due. Admittedly, I donít love the effort it takes to effectively budget time, and Iíve always been an expert at leaving things for the last minute. But thatís the thing about time management, I think. Itís all about strategically picking what to leave for the last minute.

  1. Responsibility

I had no expectations, when going to college, that professors would organize my work for me or keep reminding me when something is due or to give my grades a boost when I donít do well. College is an environment where the professors look at you as an adult, and expect you to keep track of your grades or to remember that assignment date even if they only told you once. Youíre paying for your education, and youíre there because itís your choice. Iíve seen a lot of my fellow students become outraged because the professor didnít extend the due date or curve grades or the fact that a professor gave work that required critical thought instead of just scouring the book for a bolded term. Maybe I just got classes full of whiners. But maybe the reason I have never felt the way those students did is because homeschooling has caused me to not have those types of expectations. Or maybe it was because, as I said before, the responsibility of the organization of my high school work was mine, and I would do what was needed to keep that power in my grasp. Itís probably a combination of both.

  1. Writing is Important

I have never met a paper grader as precise and critical as my mom. Maybe itís because she used to have various writing jobs in the big NYC before my siblings and I became her prime focus. But itís also because she knows that being able to lay out coherent thoughts is important in many facets of school and life. I donít think my mom believes in giving hundreds for papers. Whenever I turned them in, they would be returned scattered with marks and words typed in red explaining that I needed to reword an unclear sentence or write a better introductory sentence or ending sentence. I would have to look over the sheets for my momís corrections and notes and rewrite, erase, and rearrange things before she would be satisfied with it. When I turned my first paper in my ENG 111 course at CVCC, I didnít expect to be getting a perfect score. I did get a 100, and many more after that, though I wasnít sure if it was just because Mr. Ganser handed out hundreds like water. He did. But then when I moved onto other English classes, my grades on papers would remain high whether they were one-page or ten-page. I think that the important emphasis my mother was able to place on writing because she was in control of my education has caused me to understand that I should put effort into everything that I write. And that itís important to always seek to develop my writing skills.

  1. Critical Thinking

Recently, what is called ďcritical thinkingĒ has exploded into an obsession in CVCC. Itís the idea that you should spend your time forming your own ideas and opinions about things and truly understanding instead of just memorizing information. This idea wasnít new to me, though I hadnít given it a label. I think that as a homeschooler I was able to have more time and flexibility to actually understand a subject. I was able to dig into the subjects myself and work through them at my own pace. I was always encouraged to consider my own opinions on topics, and always around family who had discussions about a variety of subjects. Being homeschooled allowed the schooling to be individualized for me and caused me to approach ďcritical thinkingĒ naturally.

  1. Education is Important

I did not always love being a homeschool student. At times I was convinced that I was missing something good that everyone else had. But as I became older, I realized that one of the reasons my parents decided that my siblings and I would be homeschooled is because they wanted to have control and be very involved in the education their children were getting. The effort that was put in by my mother when it came to the work I had to finish and the records she kept showed me that value that she placed on my education. Because of this, I have always viewed school as something to take seriously and to try to succeed in it in the best way I could.

  1. But Academics are Not Everything

Being homeschooled, I was always around my family. Weíve taken long trips together because of the flexible schedule, and Iíve had the privilege of traveling through much of the US. The opportunity to see different placesóto change my point of viewóhas reminded me that there is so much out there to see and to learn about beyond textbooks. Whether youíve had the chance to travel as a homeschooler or not, the emphasis on the importance of a relationship with the family often goes along with homeschooling as well. Maybe Iím just being prematurely nostalgic since Iím moving to UNCW in August.

These are only some of the ways that being homeschooled prepared me for taking on college. And as I prepare for the next step, Iím sure that the ideas I bring with me will give me the mind to succeed.

And to the parents of homeschooled kids who are about to go to college, I can only imagine how awesome it must feel to know that you actually did it. Youíve given your kid much more than you know.

Free Tool For Assessing and Achieving College Math Readiness
Category: Academics
Tags: college preparatory math ready for college college readiness standards math college math problems accuplacer practice test compass test

Many of you may†already be using or are familiar with NROC†- the National Repository of Online Courses†- which provides free access to online high school, AP, and college level courses. They recently launched a site, called, designed to help students measure college math readiness and prepare for placement exams, such as COMPASS, or the ACT and SAT, using NROCís vast library of free, online video and interactive lessons. Whatís especially interesting about EdReady: it highlights a studentís weak areas, proposes a personalized study plan complete with links to recommended lessons, and highlights target scores needed to meet the math proficiency requirements of particular schools, so that students can avoid dreaded math remediation courses. †And, like NROC, EdReady is free.

A recent, hour-long webinar, which†can be viewed here, outlines how the site works:†

Get Started: To create a free account, a student just needs a name and valid email address. This enables the site to store the study plan a student is working on. Students can also sign up as guests without creating an account, but the system wonít store your data.

Explore schools. Students can select their schools of interest and view such information as basic stats, costs, and number of students. Direct links to school websites are also provided.

Prepare for the ACT/SAT and placement exams for specific schools.†Students can get a better idea of how well they will do on COMPASS or Accuplacer assessments by taking an EdReady diagnostic test. The test assesses a studentís performance on a range of math topics that comprise ďcollege readiness,Ē and highlights strengths and weaknesses. Students are provided with a breakdown of topics in which they are not ready,†need review,†or have mastered.

The site also generates a score that can be matched against an individual schoolís specific proficiency requirements. For example, say a student scores a 50 on the EdReady diagnostic test. EdReady will show the student the schools where that score would be good enough to not require remediation. If the student wants to go to a school that requires a proficiency score of 80, the site will generate a study plan to help the student achieve that score.

EdReady has a database of proficiency scores that includes every accredited institution in the country Ė community colleges and four-year institutions Ė representing about 2,500 schools nationally.†

Follow a personalized study plan.†The site shows the topics the student should focus on and gives an estimate of the hours of study required.

Students can click right into the recommended resources, provided through NROC. Every math topic has a video lesson, worked examples, chalkboard-style lessons on how to solve problems, and practice and review problems. Answers are provided as the student works. The system continues to update as the student progresses through and masters the material. Additional features include the ability to email study plans and print them for your records; and an online, printable textbook with more practice and review exercises.†

EdReady Scoring

How accurate are EdReady scores? According to the webinar, the scores generated should be accurate enough to predict a studentís success on college placement exams. As the system is used, if scores are not matching up with the ability to take credit-bearing courses, adjustments will be made where necessary.

Overall, EdReady seems like a great tool for students to explore their options and take a proactive approach to meeting†math expectations at different schools --†before being faced with placement tests.†

Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus

Back to School: So Much To Do, So Little Time
Category: Misc.
Tags: back to school time management tips success in college student success time management skills

(Leah, a recent homeschool grad, is now a very busy college student. You can read more of her musings over at her blog:†Defy Definition).

So I took a summertime blogging hiatus. I just, ya know, wanted to become one with nature and spend more time outdoors and away from screens. And I personally felt like this blog was something I needed to reflect on for a while and...

JK. It was totally not intentional. My goal was to write at least one blog post a month for a year. AT LEAST! And here I am in September, three months since the last time I wrote anything for my blog. It's not entirely my fault though! A million amazing things have happened this summer (choir tour with Crossflame, vacationing at Tybee Island, visiting my best friend Beca in Virginia among them) and I didn't seem to have any time to do anything else.
Alright, that's another lie. I had pleeeenty of time for Facebook and YouTube and all day marathons of Gossip Girl and Lost. And then when a blog idea popped into my mind I was too tired or on to something else or going to see a movie or working. Time just flew by this past summer and I did NOT have a very good handle on it.†
But now, as school has been in session for about 3 weeks now, and the rest of the normal public schoolers started this week after Labor Day, everyone has one thing on their minds: time management. Calendars, schedule books, alarms, spreadsheets, whatever it takes for you to get done what you need to get done when it needs to get done. And it's just September. This crazy scheduling will continue until May or June, depending on your school. †So here's five tips on how to efficiently manage your time this school year, without going completely insane.
1. Get a house calendar in a central location.†
This is especially important if you don't have your license yet. Have all of your activities and the activities of everyone in the house up on the calendar with times and locations. Doctor's appointments, work schedules, sports practice, choir rehearsals, birthday parties, important school events, etc. This way, at any given time, you can glance at the a calendar and know who's doing what/where/and when. If you can drive yourself places, it's still a good idea just to know where the rest of your family's going to be. If you don't have a car, it's a necessity to have the family calendar so you can plan your stuff around other people's availability.
2. Create a homework schedule.
Write down homework due dates, exam dates, and project dates. Try to plan out on a day to day basis when you're going to work on each one of these things. For example, my CIS homework is due tomorrow, so I'm going to finish that today rather than work on Western Civ. which is due on Sunday. I'll work on that, as well as my literature reaction papers, tomorrow and Saturday. MAKE SURE if you have a project due, you're making time to work on it a little bit every day. One of the worst things to do is to see a due date that's a month off and say, "I've got plenty of time!" And then have to write a 15 page research paper and a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation in one day. For exams, study the way that works best for you. But make sure you study! If studying for you is cramming the night before, then go for it! But you have to do something. Not going over the material at all before a big test is a huge mistake.

3. Go to sleep and get up at regular times every night and morning.†

This is the hardest one for me. Teenagers actually require MORE sleep than old people: 8 to 9 hours per night! So with me having to get up at 6:30 on school days, that would mean I SHOULD go to bed around 10 o' clock every night! Now you and me both know that's not going to happen (getting a TV in my room was probably the worst thing that ever happened to my sleep patterns.) BUT, I've been forcing myself to have the TV off by 12 on school nights, even if that means I can only watch one episode of Supernatural...
My nightly argument with myself:†
"But Dean is so cute!"
"You'll regret it in the morning!"
"How could I ever regret watching THAT FACE?!"†
Also, do NOT hit snooze on your alarm and fall asleep again! I put my alarm all the way across the room so I'm forced to get up and turn it off, and then by that time I've seen the light and I'm starting to morph back into my awake, conscious self.
4. Prioritize.†
My mom's always saying that school is more important than my job. And it is, it is... It's just that, if it came down to it I would hate having to give up making money. But on the other hand, it's a fast food job. I'm taking college courses. If I fail all of those, I might never make it any farther than a cashier, which is NOT where I want to †spend the rest of my working life. Same things go for friends. I know socializing and parties and movies and hanging out is fun, but if you're not getting school work done, that has to go too! It makes it so much easier if you just prioritize to begin with, then you'll probably never have the problem of having to give up your job or your friend time.
5. Make time for relaxation.†
Stress isn't gonna help you get anything done. So if that means taking a break from the books to go get a cup of coffee and a doughnut, do it. If that means reading a book you want to read instead of re-reading the same pages of The Iguana Tree and comprehending none of it, do it. If that means watching Charlieissocoollike and his adorable antics on YouTube for a while, do it! Take a hot shower, sing, play the piano, do yoga, whatever you like to do and whatever calms you down, do it.
And maybe when you're meditating in the lotus position, you'll realize there are enough hours in the day after all.†


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