Homeschool for College Credit – A Review
Homeschooling for College Credit by Jennifer Cook De Rosa is a beautiful how-to manual for hacking college credit.
For anyone with kids who plan to go to college, it is a must-read.
The average student graduating from college takes six years instead of 4 and has, on average, $27,000 in debt. It’s also important to factor in college completion rates. According to Alissa Nadworny, 6 out of 10 students who start a college degree never complete it. Those saddled with debt, without an economically feasible plan to pay it off, may end up in deferment. Currently, more than half of student loan debt is in deferral. This affects quality of life on many levels.
Undergraduates can take out up to $57,000 in school debt and graduate students up to $135,000 in debt. Given the stats, it just makes sense to look for an antidote to the college debt disaster. This book is the antidote!
This 300+ page tome is chock full of fantastic information.
Chapter Headings Include:
- Congratulations: You’re a Guidance Counselor
- Thirty Ways to earn College Credit
- Behind the Scenes
- High School Planning
- Dual Enrollment Advice
- Transcripts and Record Keepings
- Homeschool Exit Strategies
- Completely Free Tuition
Unique & Worth Every Penny
What makes this book unique and worth every penny can be found in Chapter 2: Thirty Ways to Earn College Credit.
This chapter goes way beyond the standard fare of CLEP, DE, and AP and the Big 3 and includes companies, colleges, hacking MOOCs for test prep, and so much more. My daughter, for example, is studying her 3rd foreign language in High School and is professionally interested in becoming a translator. Guess what? There are exams specific to language mastery, that can be taken from anywhere in the world that rack up college credits if your students have mastery in a foreign language.
This is a pragmatic book, one that talks about how to guide your teen in a way that makes sense. Included is some tough love regarding degree killers: time, money and socialization, the ROI of a degree (Yes! And why aren’t government loan dollars somehow tied to this?) how the trades are worth considering and strategies for teens who don’t want to go to college. This book is chock full of worthy information that every parent of high schoolers should be thinking about and considering, along with their high school student.
One of my favorite chapters is how to go to college for free. I love it because it is creative and thorough and includes eight different ways your student can earn free tuition.
This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about their high school student’s future.
We are entering a massive shift in the world of work, and young adults burdened with debt or lack of skills/training will be ill-equipped to handle the fast, global changes that are already taking place. This book will help you assist those young people in your life to strategize a clear, concise plan as you homeschool for earning college credit as efficiently and economically as possible.
Jennifer Cook DeRosas does the research for you. It’s all here, in her highly informative and easy to read book, Homeschooling for College Credit; Your guide to resourceful high school planning.
I highly recommend it!
Couple this book with Beyond Personal Finance and join us for Life Skills for Teens. You might also want to read some of the resources we have here on the blog, including Yes! Your Child Can Learn a Foreign Language and High School Dual Enrollment Tips.
If you don’t already follow the Life Skills for Homeschool Teens Facebook page, you will want to bookmark it to keep up with other parents of teens and get the latest scoop on resources for teaching those essential life skills plus encouragement and fun with other homeschool parents who have the same concerns that you do!
Soft Skills are those personal attributes that allow us to interact well with others, allowing us to have peaceful and healthy relationships. They are also known as power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are those skills that everyone seems to understand implicitly. They are related to manners and social mores. For kids with learning disabilities, however, soft skills can be elusive and confusing.
Hard skills are easily definable skills that are often job-specific, such as knowing how to speak German, code a computer, or write in cursive; those skills that get us the job. Soft skills are more difficult to define and are those skills that allow us to keep the job. You know the adage,
“You are hired for your hard skills, you’re fired for your soft skills.”
What are Soft Skills?
Integrity is the foundation of all soft skills. It is the quality of basing our behaviors on principles instead of situations, being honest and morally upright—integrity based on the Gospel of Truth, instead of our own or others’ desires.
You might have recently heard about the “4 C’s of Education.” These would include
- Collaboration (Teamwork)
- Critical Thinking
Public Schools are beginning to work specifically to train kids in these basic soft skills, as they are so necessary for success in academics, job ability, and stability, and managing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Communication, in particular, is easily identified as the queen of soft skills, as without it, we can hardly function.
Communication Skills Consist of 4 areas:
Employers are currently stressing the need for students to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to persuade by written and spoken communication. In particular, they want to hire those who can “sell” (i.e., persuade) both orally and using the written word.
Collaboration is better known as teamwork. Can you lead, follow, and interact maturely with other team members? Do you problem solve and handle your own emotions well, or are you causing problems for others on your team? Do you understand the team hierarchy well? Are you willing to lead, follow, and get out of the way?
All of these skills go into being a good team player, at different times and various seasons.
Critical Thinking is the ability to analyze facts and form a conclusion, using deductive and inductive reasoning, formal and informal logic, and the scientific method. Critical thinking allows us to be proactive, instead of constantly reactive, strategize, and take the long view, deferring our own short term gratification for long term pay-offs.
Creativity is all about thinking outside the box, generating new ideas or tweaking old ones to fit new situations, and interacting with materials, people, and resources in unique ways.
Time and Distraction Management
Time and Distraction Management is the ability to manage one’s time effectively to accomplish small and large tasks, repetitive as well as on-going tasks. This also has to do with the ability to manage distractions, be that a little sibling, social media notifications, or our self needs or interest. Developing good time management habits is critical to being able to interact with the world maturely.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Flexibility and Adaptability require having the ability to change and flex as needed. Our world is growing increasingly complex with radical and sudden shifts occurring on both a micro and macro scale. We must teach our kids to flex and adapt as needed as well as to know how to set appropriate boundaries and to stand firm when time and circumstances demand it.
Work Ethic is the value that hard work is intrinsically valuable and worth doing for its own sake. Having kids who are diligent and detailed oriented in their work can mean the difference between success and failure in so many areas of life.
Leadership is both the ability to research and prepare for what’s ahead as well-being to lead, guide, or instruct a group or individuals, teams, or organizations.
In a world that makes it increasingly easy to “block” or “ghost” someone, loyalty is a soft skill worth developing. Standing by one’s faith, family and friends is the mark of someone with integrity and other well-formed, soft skills. Everyone is irritating, demanding, and in need of salvation and standing by and next to each other while recognizing our own and each other’s humanity is what being loyal is all about. The soft skill includes patience, kindness, self-control, and the willingness to overlook the other’s failings.
Soft skills are those skills that take a lifetime to master and can always be improved upon.
All of us have soft skills that come naturally to us, and those that are a struggle. Regardless, we can all develop a lifestyle of learning so that we continue to grow and develop to glorify God-given who He has made us to be, and in doing so, shine His light in a world that is growing increasingly dark.
Where to Find Out More About Teaching Soft Skills
Click on the links in this post to view courses offered by True North Homeschool Academy teachers who have goals that are aligned with yours as a homeschool parent.
We believe in the importance of Soft Skills so much that we host a weekly podcast on Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age!
Please join us over at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network for more great discussion and information on Soft Skills!
Coping During a Crisis
Coping during a crisis takes thought and intention, which might be in short supply when a crisis hits. Ten years ago, we had one of those years. You know the type; the tough, painful type. Maybe you can relate. One Thursday morning, as we were all getting ready to leave for work and co-op, we discovered that our house was on fire to the point of being totaled by the insurance company, although it did not burn down. A day later, our college-aged daughter, several states away, landed in the ER. Four days later, my 47-year-old sister died. My husband contracted bronchitis and then pneumonia, and then back again. We threw away around 90% of our possessions, but we had to inventory it all first for insurance purposes, an exhausting and laborious process. We went from an extended hotel stay to a rental to an unfinished house during the worst flooding in our area in a century and had to walk through 4″ of freezing cold water to our only working shower for the first month after we moved back into our house. My Dad died a few months later.
Yeah. It was one of those years. It was stressful. We learned a lot. Including, set up and clean up are at least half of every project, it’s o.k. to rest and take breaks as needed, huge jobs don’t get done in one sitting, laughing and crying are good for the soul and sleep is cheap medicine. We had to let go of things we treasured. We had to embrace the new – even when it felt scary and uncertain.
Maybe you are needing some help coping during a crisis, even when we aren’t exactly sure what the emergency is or when it will hit.
Here’s a shortlist of helps as we all get through one of “those years.”
- Stick with your routine: When in crisis, do the familiar habits, as much as possible. This will lend a sense of normalcy and familiarity in otherwise unusual circumstances. This is especially important for younger children who rely on the familiar to tell them that the world is safe and all is well. My kids listened to the Story of the World CD’s for hours after our fire- to the point my son memorized portions of it. Jim Weiss’s voice was familiar and kind in a year of loss and upheaval.
- Create a new routine: when and if the old one is disrupted, create a morning time with Mom, Dad, and whoever else is home where you share a cup of coffee and cocoa, and chat. Create rhythms to your new normal- read for an hour after breakfast, walk the dog after you read, make lunch, do laundry, etc. When we were living in the hotel, after the fire, we spent hours, literally hours, at the hotel pool doing what I called “Pool school.” It was fun, easy, and relaxing.
- Rest & laugh: stress is exhausting. Give yourself permission to take a nap or take a break. Do something relaxing, like watching a movie, going on a walk, taking a warm shower. Something to get your mind off of the current situation and settled. Lower your cortisol levels and breath deeply. Did you know that 15 minutes of laughing is equivalent to a 2-hour nap, releases endorphins into your system, lowers your cortisol levels and gives everyone around you permission to relax? Not sure what to laugh at? Dick VanDyke’s re-runs are a great place to start.
- Realize that you really don’t have that much control over things in life anyway: your paygrade, no matter what your position, is not that high. So, take a breath and realize that God is in control, and He is a good God who loves His people well. You don’t have that much power, but you can know the One who does. And that is great comfort and great joy, regardless of whatever upheaval or frightening circumstances we find ourselves in.
- Be thankful: no matter what the stress, there is so much to be grateful for. The sun comes up every morning. Spring is coming. We live in a time with hand-soap, modern medicine, and paved roads.
And for those of us homeschooling, life continues, in many ways, as usual. My Orienteering class and I had a great live on-line meeting today, with students from coast to coast participating in an excellent discussion and break-out rooms.
What were we talking about? The Life Skill of Self-Care.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the term- I prefer the term “stewardship” because it recognizes that some things are beyond our control, but we can steward well regardless. The kids went around our Zoom room and shared what was happening in their part of the world, which ranged from school shutdowns to advised homestays.
We then broke into break-out rooms, and they came up with lists of ways to cope during a crisis, utilizing four categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional. Here’s what they came up with:
Ways to Cope During a Crisis
- Spiritual – Stay in the word, pray, listen to worship music, and go to on-line church. Keep talking to God; keep connecting with Christ. Work on creating fellowship with others, even during a time of quarantine.
- Social – Call and text people, set times for FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. Write letters. Check-in with friends daily, if even with a simple text message, and make chat and coffee dates on-line!
- Emotional – Do something that makes you happy; eat cake, take showers, limit your news intake! Stay informed, but keep good boundaries to avoid depression and catastrophizing the situation. Read something inspirational. Celebrate the everyday.
- Physical – Get outside, walk the dog, and teach her a new trick or two, work-out. Don’t neglect yourself; practice regular hygiene (which can be disrupted due to change of schedules or depression). Hot showers are a great way to relax and unwind.
And while class was in session, one student put on a crazy St. Patty’s Day Hat (Celebrate, y’all!) and they all made plans to meet up outside of class via google hang-outs! Which is precisely what we’re talking about!
Need support as you cope during a crisis, or even when you’re not? We love to come alongside fellow homeschoolers, those who planned to homeschool, and those homeschooling as an emergency measure! Check out our FaceBook page and groups for fellowship and occasional freebies for moms and kids- a great place for a little self-care.
Beyond Personal Finance
Beyond Personal Finance by Charla McKinley is a comprehensive high school program. She designed the course to give young adults a thorough understanding of money, budgeting and stewardship before they graduate from high school. The author, Charla McKinley, describes this course as a smash-up of Dave Ramsey and the Game of Life.
Designed for High School
While the Dave Ramsey course is excellent, it is really designed for adults who are in financial trouble and need a way out of that trouble.
Most high school kids have a difficult time understanding what that could look like. Money is, after all, something most of them don’t have much of, think much about or struggle with. A benefit of Middle-class America is that our kids have their needs met and a good portion of their wants provided for, too. As a result, most teens have an abstract rather than concrete understanding of money. As one of the students in my high school class said, “Bills? I don’t have any.”
And that is exactly why Charla wrote this course. To give kids an idea of what kind of money questions and issues they will face as young adults and how to plan for, manage and think about the monkey wrenches that life continually throws in the way of all everyone out there “adulting.”
Lessons Included in the Course
This program consists of lessons in the following:
- College and Careers
- Car Purchase Apartment Rental
- Spouse Selection
- Credit Cards and Interest
- Baby & Payroll
- House Purchase
- School Choice
- Business Basics
- Layoffs and Reconciliations
- Income Tax
- The Dangers of Divorce
As you can see, Charla does not hold back. She addresses head-on difficult issues like layoffs and divorce. And while everyone says it won’t happen to them, the statistics say that 43% of American workers will be laid off at least once during their working years and 42-45% of all first-time marriages will end in divorce (and that number rises to 60% for second marriages). Monkey wrenches mess up even the best plans and these are life skills that will prepare our young people to overcome some of those obstacles.
Having Fun While Thinking of the Future
Think of this as a High School Cost of Living Project on steroids. One thing I love about this program is that there is vocabulary included in each chapter. Kids get a great overview of things like withholding tax, deferment, and depreciation. This course is meaty but not boring. Each chapter includes information and goofy videos like Identity Theft, that keep everyone laughing as they tackle serious stuff.
The Teacher’s manual is thorough and includes key terms, answer keys, charts and all the information needed to utilize this program in a class or co-op. Not all of the pages in the teacher’s manual are numbered, however, which makes it hard to track. I went through and tabbed sections for easier use. In my perfect world, I would have loved chapter objectives and a more structured, traditional Teacher’s Manual. This one has so much information, it can be overwhelming. But the value of the program makes it worth taking the time to tab each chapter and highlight the information you want to cover for each class period.
I’ve had several of my kids work through a COLA before and facilitated others students as well, and Beyond Personal Finance is the most comprehensive program that I’ve seen that gives kids real-world information that relates to where they’re at in life- as young adults about to embark on a great adventure.
It’s is a fantastic preparatory program- perfect for homeschools, co-ops, class COLA days or UMS programs! We’ll be utilizing this program with our True North Homeschool Academy online Orienteering class!
Students who are seniors and have completed the BPF program are also eligible to apply for their $1000 Scholarship Program. Visit the website to get all the details and requirements. The deadline to apply for that is no later than May 1st. Follow them on social media for updates on the program. If your high schooler needs more career exploration, check out our Young Professional Series of e-books.
Sign up for your chance to win a BPF program of your own! We are giving away a single student pack worth $150.00. You can see the product HERE.
The prize is a fun 20 lesson immersive course designed for middle school and high schoolers to learn personal finance skills.
Enter anytime from March 10-25th!
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Why travel with your family? It can certainly require a lot of effort! But family travel is full of teachable moments for our children and us! Diapers, strollers, pack-n-play, car seats, boosters, snacks, toys, busy bags, wet wipes, extra clothes, passports, phone chargers…etc. Oh! Don’t forget the babies and the older children! You finally got yourself half-packed for this international trip. Then you went for a bathroom break, only to find that the kids “help” you unpack your bags again. Out the door, sitting in traffic, checking in at the airport, only to find out the airline is slapping extra charges on you for checking in baby gear. Take a deep breath, cue the airport scene from the movie “Home Alone,” apologizing to the people sitting next to your children on the plane, only to arrive half-way across the globe jet-lagged and exhausted.
Sound familiar? Yep! Then why in tarnation would any parents go through the trouble taking young kids to travel, even taking them half-way across the globe?
We Are Global Citizens
When I was single, I worked as an international educator at a University. Both my research and my mission were centered around teaching college students to be successful global citizens. I have directed study abroad trips that hosted 300+ students. But now that I am a stay-at-home educator and mom, I can vouch that it is more a lot more work to take three little preschoolers on trips than 300+ college students. I still have the same mission – to train my children to become successful global citizens, to show them a world that they have never seen before, and to increase their appetite for differences and tolerance.
A Vision for Homeschooling That Sparks Communication
My vision of homeschooling is not only to impart knowledge and see them off to college in twelve years. My vision for our home education is to train our kids to be effective in a global economy, and ultimately, advance God’s Kingdom to the nations.
So how do we get there while we change diapers and haul those strollers? We lift our eyes and look beyond the hassles of traveling. We model flexibility and problem-solving. We set examples of cultural appreciation, and God’s love the red, brown, black, and white little children. And while we do it, we as parents learn the most! We get to reexamine our hearts and attitudes towards others in this diverse world. Teaching moments are everywhere while we travel. Being outside of our usual social circle, our kids get to see people and things outside of their routine. Then Boom! They ask innocent questions that make us think and make them love.
For example, my six-year-old child saw a Muslim woman in headdress when riding the subway. His questions sparked a whole conversation about “modesty” and “respect.” These types of discussions sometimes serve as a mirror into my own heart and attitudes.
Teachable Moments for Parents and Kids
If you ask me, what’s the one thing that I learned most of my own heart? C.O.N.T.R.O.L. During our travels, we take along the curriculum that we are scheduled to complete, but I have to turn over my need to control and flow with the circumstances. Sometimes the bus doesn’t show up, that tropical rainstorm lasts an hour, the museum is closed for maintenance, and the child with motion sickness drenches you in puke! One has to learn to laugh it off. I have learned to repeat to myself and our kids “When God closes a door, He will open up a window”.
The Art of Distraction
True story, we planned to visit an art museum in Taiwan. After forty minutes of commuting, we discovered the museum was closed for an art installation. Both parents and kids were disappointed. We allowed kids a few minutes to be sad and disappointed. My oh-so-dramatic five-year-old even let out some wails. Then I remembered that I had mastered the art of distraction: “Oh! Wow! Look at this little gecko on this tree!” The kids then started to observe that tiny little gecko for five minutes while I search for the next living creature on the sidewalk. Ants, spiders, roots, tree bark and other random things have made up the best teaching moments. Sometimes there is nothing better than a simple observation lesson. Then, you betcha, I will say, “See? If we had gone inside the museum, we would have missed all these interesting sights!” There, drilling the concept in. Flexibility is essential for both homeschooling and parenthood.
We Learn Everywhere
As homeschooling parents, we do what we do best – make anywhere our classroom! Homeschool mommies are excellent CEOs of their families. We thrive on lessons, logistics, planning, routines, and order. But any big-name CEO will tell you the value of risk-taking and flexibility. So yes, traveling with little ones can be hectic, but what better way to learn how to give up our control of life and turn it over to God? So, I accept the challenge and imagine that my 100m dash through the airport is a scene on the “World’s Amazing Race” Reality TV show. Both pit stops and final prize are glorious.
About the Author: Yating Chang Haller is a freelance writer and international educator. She works full time as a mom and home educator of 3 little ones (3, 5, 6 years old) and part-time at Purdue University, USA. She was born in Taiwan and grew up in Singapore.
To read more about homeschooling and family trips, check out the blog post on Homeschooling Basics. Get tips on adding family field trips to your curriculum and learn more about how traveling and foreign language study work together or read about how to build a unit study.
Communication skills are such a big deal. Without honing these skills, we may convey things we never intended to – or leave out important pieces of information that can change everything! Poor conversational skills can potentially offend or hurt, or don’t make the sale. Excellent communication skills are one of the top job skills potential employees are looking for in new hires. Expertise in this area will contribute to your kids’ success, vocationally, and relationally. So, let’s take a minute and talk about common communication killers and how to fix them.
Not meeting someone’s gaze can communicate that you are trying to hide something, such as an agenda or information. It can also convey social awkwardness. In our culture, eye contact speaks loudly.
Recently, my husband was in a situation in a store where one of the people in line was getting loud and quarrelsome. My husband was speaking to the clerk when this person started directing belligerent comments to him. My husband stopped, turned around, and just looked at the man; did not engage verbally, just looked at him.
Now, my husband is a trained psychologist and martial artist and thus, not easily intimidated, so I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, however, this man who had been causing extreme discomfort in this public space stopped ranting. All because of someone with a calm, non-anxious presence who was willing to make eye contact.
Fix-It: Practice making eye contact with the people in your home when you are talking to them. “Look at my eyes” is a significant first step with littles. Put the phone or other tech devices aside as you converse with others. Eat meals together with no tech present and make a point of seeing and speaking with each other. The family table is a great place to gather and practice all sorts of communication skills
Often, we approach situations with the attitude that there is one right or wrong way of dealing with an issue. Instead of this type of “black and white” thinking, consider the possibilities. This is much like creating a pro-pro list instead of a pro-con list. When conflict arises, how can a win-win outcome be achieved? What would be a positive solution for everyone? Of course, sometimes people opt-out and you can’t win with them. It will take even more creative brainstorming on your part to come up with a winning scenario for both of you when the other person lacks the maturity or concern to help make it happen with you.
Fix-It: When conflict arises, pause and reflect on how you can contribute to positive outcomes for everyone. Brainstorm those “win-win” possibilities. Create a “pro-pro” chart in a problematic situation and determine how to bring about a good result.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.
Attacking someone’s character instead of commenting on what they say or do. Be clear about what a person is doing versus who they are. Attacking someone often can mean that we don’t have empathy or compassion for them.
Fix-It: Teach your kids the difference between actions or behavior and the value of the person. Discuss the difference between what your kids “do” and their value as a person. Talk in terms of behavior. For example, you might say “You broke the dish.” or “You did not do your chores.” instead of phrases such as “You are careless.” or “You are lazy.” Help your kids name emotions and teach them to identify the feelings of others. Use phrases like “Mommy is sad that the dish was broken”, “Suzy is disappointed that the toy is lost” and ask “Are you happy that snow is falling?” Knowing how to name specific feelings is a great first step in understanding people. Understanding can lead to empathy and compassion, which leads to clear communication!
It’s easy to assume we know what someone is trying to say and interrupt or jump to conclusions. Listen to understand. Do you listen to hear someone’s heart? This goes beyond just listening to the words, but taking the time to listen to the other person’s heart.
Fix-It: Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Hear them through to the end of what they have to say. Respond, “So what I hear you saying is this.” Develop excellent listening skills. Maintain objectivity in the conversation. Push the pause button and take breaks as needed. Remind yourself and the other person that you are on the same team with the same objectives.
We should all display a healthy curiosity about people and what is going on in their lives. Social media teaches and enforces self-absorption. People are hungry to be known, to share what’s important to them, to have someone hear their deepest hopes, dreams, and longings- to have a friend.
Fix-It: Develop the art of questioning with curiosity. Be a student of the world and people. Learn to find out about people; discover their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.
Being Indirect/Avoiding Difficult Conversations
No one likes to have awkward or difficult conversations. But sometimes they are inevitable. Whether it is sharing about a difficult diagnosis, confronting someone you love about unhealthy behavior or problems at work, we all tend to avoid talking about it. Avoidance can bring its own set of challenges, especially in regards to issues that have a time factor attached.
Fix-It: Practice what you want to say- write it out to get clear on what the real issue is and how you might go about solving it. Do a test run with someone who is objective. In other words, act out the potential conversation. Bring your notes with you if they bring you confidence and pause. Take breaks as needed to get perspective, calm down, and reiterate the belief that you are all on the same team, working towards the same goals.
Practice and Intention
Like all abilities, communication will improve with practice and intention. Teaching our kids how to communicate well is one of the most vital skills we can give them. That is true regardless of what job or industry they go into or whether they have a large family or stay single.
I’d love to hear how you are intentionally teaching communication skills in your family, so drop me a line here or on Instagram and Facebook.
If you want resources for teaching these types of Soft Skills in your homeschool, take a look around our website and blog. Or listen to our podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network where we focus on tips and resources for teaching soft skills and life skills for all age groups. Our podcasts, blog, e-books, and online classes can help with teaching your homeschoolers about Stewardship, Teamwork, Career Choices, and Public Speaking.
Proverbs 25:11 A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.