Tag Archives: college scholarships


While at the homeschooling convention earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a couple of workshops taught by Jean Burke, the owner of the website CollegePrepGenius.com. The information she gave regarding high school students taking the PSAT and SAT was so detailed and helpful, it made the whole conference worth-while. As Jean explained, these two tests are the key to not only getting into a good college, but to receiving scholarship money as well.

The PSAT, she told us,

  • Does not stand for “Practice SAT.” Rather, it stands for “Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.” And while students do have an opportunity to practice for the SAT when they take it, the main purpose of this test is to find the National Merit Scholars — students who will receive thousands of dollars in scholarships.
  • Can be taken three times — once during the freshman year, once during the sophomore year, and once during the junior year. The one they take during their junior year is the only one that counts; the other two years are just practice.
  • The PSAT is a logic test; it doesn’t test your students on their knowledge, but on how well they can figure out the questions and reason out the answers.

The SAT, she told us,

  • Is the test (along with the ACT) that colleges look at for admission and scholarships
  • Can be taken as many times as desired, and only the highest score counts. If your student obtains his high score during his junior year, he doesn’t need to take it during his senior year.
  • Doesn’t test the student’s knowledge; like the PSAT, it’s a logic test.

On her website, Jean offers classes and DVDs to help students learn how to take these tests. And if they’re anything like her workshops at the conference, they’ll be one of the best investments you can make towards college.

Planning for High School

My oldest son John is finishing up the eighth grade, and the thought of keeping up with courses, extracurricular activities, transcripts, and standardized tests of high school makes me feel more than a little nervous. We are planning on John going to college, but we won’t be able to pay out of pocket for tuition, which means that we also need to be knowledgeable about potential universities, their costs, and any scholarships available. So when I hear about seminars, classes, or other information regarding homeschooling your high schooler, I’m ready to learn.

One tip I heard recently was to plan out your child’s high school career from the beginning. You will save yourself a lot of stress in the junior and senior years if you already have a clear idea of what your student needs to take not only to graduate but also to meet college admission requirements.

To do this, find out what courses are needed for graduation within your state, then check college websites for courses your student needs if he wants to apply to those schools. For example, our state requires only one foreign language course to graduate from high school in the college prep program. Some universities in our state, however, require the student take three years of the same foreign language if they plan to attend. I know, then, that if John might attend one of those universities, he’ll need to start a foreign language course no later than his sophomore year.

It’s not hard to find out what classes you’ll need. For high school graduation, simply do an Internet search of using the name of your state and the words “graduation requirements.”   To find out what colleges are looking for, google the name of the school and “admission requirements.”

After an afternoon of searching the web and studying the possibilities, I think we’ve come up with a pretty good four-year plan. There’s room for flexibility, and we won’t be caught short in the senior year. Now on to the extracurriculars….