“We don’t recommend skipping to third grade for your son, but it’s okay because there is one other boy in his second grade class with the same IQ. They can challenge each other!” ~My first clue we should have been homeschooling
One of the biggest challenges for gifted children and their parents is the ability to find true peers: other kids their age who also match on an emotional/social and academic level. Young gifted children are considered socially immature if they prefer to hang out with the teachers at lunchtime to participating in the burpfest on the playground. Conversely, a third-grader’s academic ability to participate in an 8th grade English class can be a bad mismatch for their ability to deal with the adult content in “edgy” YA books. And gifted people have the usual issues finding people to connect with. Despite what my son's principal believed. just because there was another child who matched mine in age, gender and IQ, that didn't mean they had anything in common!
Add to this the pressures of high school, where everyone feels like an outsider, and it’s no wonder gifted children struggle and drop out in large numbers: nearly 54,000 every year. Even homeschoolers can feel stigmatized by other homeschoolers for wanting to “label” their kids or for encouraging early dual-enrollment or early college. The restlessness of adolescence can cause strained relationships at home as well as at school and the gifted teen can begin to feel rejected by peers anywhere they go.
So here’s my version of the “It gets better” movement. Ready?
It gets better!
Feeling alone, and as if no one understands you and you don’t fit into the social rules goes away when you are in an environment with a high concentration of other bright and gifted students. Dating and developing friendships relies on allowing yourself to be vulnerable, which is much easier when you’re surrounded with people who love the same things you love, and who understand having an overwhelming visceral reaction to Aristotle or Tolstoy or Fermat’s Last Theorem.
Finding such a paradise doesn’t necessarily require a $65,000 Ivy League tuition. Gifted students, particularly those who have many areas in which they’re gifted, often do better in liberal arts programs where they are expected to try on ideas from many different disciplines. But that doesn’t mean that the overwhelmingly STEM-oriented kid won’t do well at an engineering school or a large research university. I suggest that students investigate smaller private liberal arts colleges with outstanding undergraduate teaching, like the Colleges That Change Lives, or perhaps an honors college at a public flagship or large private research university. Honors colleges concentrate your true peers by offering smaller class sizes, dedicated dorms and additional learning and/or research opportunities.
Sound fun? Investigate universities with honors colleges. You can find a list of universities with honors college programs on Wikipedia or US News.
In the world of acronyms, the PSAT/NMSQT is the biggest mouthful. But what does it all mean?
The PSAT evolved as a practice version of the SAT, but now is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Only juniors can take the NMSQT, so if you took the PSAT for practice as a sophomore, your scores were not forwarded to National Merit Scholarship Corp. even if you got a perfect score. You also cannot retake the PSAT/NMSQT, as it is only offered once a year. There are other versions of the PSAT: the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT 10. They all test the same skills, but "in ways that are appropriate for your grade level," which means the questions are likely easier, and the high scores are not as high. These tests are also offered at different times through the school year.
Every year, the NMSC identifies about 16,000 National Merit semi-finalists on the basis of these test scores. To become one of 15,000 finalists, semi-finalists must submit grades, SAT scores and a school official's recommendation. About 8,200 finalists win scholarships from NMSC. Another 1,500 students who are not finalists also win special scholarships. [Source]
You can practice with sample SAT test questions online through Khan Academy. The SAT has the same format as PSAT but with more difficult questions, so practicing for the SAT might make you even better prepared. https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/new-sat/new-sat-tips-planning/new-sat-how-to-prep/a/full-length-psat-to-take-on-paper
You only get one shot at the NMSQT and it can mean considerable merit scholarship money at your colleges. Thus, it can only benefit you to put some work into preparing for it. This year, the PSAT/NMSQT will be administered on October 11 or October 25, 2017. It should be available at your school. Check with student services or your guidance counselor to find out about signing up. Taking the test will cost $15. Find out more about the PSAT on the College Board’s website by clicking the link or cut-and-pasting the URL into your search bar: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/taking-the-tests
As a homeschool parent, you will be responsible for filling out the school's portion of the Common Application. Here's a great rundown of common answers to Common App questions from The Home Scholar.
The Congressional Award program is a terrific way for students to beef up their college applications while learning those soft skills that employers want and turn an ordinary service-learning resume into something extraordinary. This program, set up by the US Congress, teaches kids between the ages of 14-24 those valuable “soft skills” like goal-setting, organization, time management and perseverance, and can be earned in conjunction with extracurricular activities you are already doing. Although the Program has been in place since 1979, it is still relatively unknown, so having such an award on your resume will help you stand out. I encourage every student to look into the Congressional Award as a way to beef up your college applications.
Goals for the awards are set in four areas: volunteering/public service, personal development, physical fitness and exploration/expedition. Students set goals in each of these four areas and work with their advisor and validators to accomplish them. Goals might include:
And you’re not in this alone. Much like the Eagle Scout and Girl Scouts Gold Award programs, the Congressional Award Program requires students to have an advisor, an adult who works closely with the student to oversee the entire program to keep him or her on track. Advisors can be any adult not related to the student by blood or by marriage, and can be anyone from a teacher, scout leader or guidance counselor to a family friend. Students also need validators--coaches, guides, service work supervisors, tutors or others--who help the student create measurable goals and then achieve them. Both the validators and advisor have to sign off on the students Record Book pages, the required method of documenting the work that has been done. The very first thing students learn is how to approach adults to request their help with the Program.
need to be consecutive, so your 24 months for the gold award can be spread out across your entire high school (and even college) career to lessen your stress. Hours accumulate across all the levels, so the Gold Award is only 12 months longer than the Silver Award.
Students who are interested in earning a Congressional Award should obtain the official Congressional Award Program Book to learn about the requirements. You can register for the program at the Congressional Award website or by snail mail. Only hours completed after you are registered for the Program count toward your Congressional Award. Every student should consider the Congressional Award as a way to beef up your college applications. Given its prestige and relative obscurity, having such a Congressional Award on your resume will help you stand out.
9/12/2015 0 Comments
I love to learn for the sake of learning and not because I'm aiming for any star-studded diplomas or accreditations, but because there is so much to learn. Your book not only allowed me to see that there were other "Lost Kids" (that's what my guidance counselor called me) but further that there were places trying to find us because we aren't as lost as some of our superiors like to think.
Cool Colleges highlights schools where you run a ranch or a nuclear reactor, study the great books, don't receive grades, take one class at a time, attend after 8th grade or even attend for free! The second edition has added information on eco schools (including my favorite: the Fighting Geoducks of Evergreen State) and still has the traditional complement of ivies, near-ivies and other schools just waiting for the perfect students to find them. Intrigued? This book should be on your shelf.
The layout of the book can be challenging. It's quirky, like its subject matter, and can be difficult to follow. Do not buy the Kindle version: the hyperactive layout makes it virtually impossible to read in that format. That is the only drawback for an otherwise terrific book!
Have you read Cool Colleges? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Homeschoolers have a lot of advantages in the college search. They have more time to work on special projects, more freedom to choose interesting classes, more time and freedom to find opportunities for leadership and community service. Even the most highly selective colleges are happy to accept homeschoolers in large numbers. In fact, in 2014 Stanford University accepted 27% of the homeschoolers who applied, vs 5% of the conventionally-schooled students.
But homeschoolers do have a big disadvantage: their "school" experience is so outside the norm, they need to find a way to communicate all that they are to Admissions officers. Colleges who are unable to see that you are ready for higher education and capable of doing the work will not admit you. Traditionally, this explanation has been done via physical portfolio. It still is, but there's a much easier way to create and share all this information.
Creating a website
For those who have not done this before, the very idea is intimidating. "I don't know how to code! What is HTML? Don't people do this for a living?" New free hosting sites like Weebly and Wix take all that scary coding stuff and replace it with easy to use templates and drag-and-drop functionality. I'm going to focus on Weebly because that's the site I used to build the sample portfolio website, but the same thing can be done with Wix or Wordpress. (Another option is a Linked In resume, but I find having a website is more easily customizable and less unwieldy.)
Lessa Scherrer is an college admissions consultant who has worked with college-bound students for many years. She is a member of NACAC and WACAC and also teaches ACT Prep, speed-reading, college study skills and college-level writing.
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