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By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, September 28, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
       ***SPECIAL SERIES - High School Homeschooling***
   Vol. 10 No 71                        September 28, 2009
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

  Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

  If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
  And please visit our sponsors!  They make it possible.


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  Visit http://americanheritage.org to order a FREE CD or direct download!



  Notes from Heather
  -- Adding a Twist for Credit
  Feature Article
  -- Take Credit for What You Know!
  Helpful Tip for High School
  -- Charlotte Mason Book List
  Answers to Reader Question
  -- Help with Transcripts
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  Adding a Twist to a Passion for Credit in a Regular Subject


  Do you have a son or daughter who isn't particularly interested
  in a subject that is "expected" to be on a high school transcript?

  Let's take history, for example.  Perhaps you have a child who
  is much more interested in business.  They have a bent toward
  entrepreneurship and have been researching starting their own
  business... or they've been running various small businesses
  over the years and being their own boss has become a real passion.

  It is getting time to think about a high school transcript and you
  can see areas of weakness.  Looking over what they've done for the
  first few years of high school, it seems to you there are obvious
  gaps.  The math is there, and the language arts... a spattering of
  science (enough to get by, you think) -- but you don't see a hint
  of a traditional history subject -- and you'd like to fill out their
  education with a few more credits, too.

  For the scenario above, how about putting a "twist" on a topic?

  A few years ago I taught a co-op class on the global economic impact
  of entrepreneurs in Michigan's history.  The students were encouraged
  to expand on the course and given recommendations for supplementary
  reading, projects, etc.  Studying entrepeneurs throughout history
  can give you a history credit -- or if you have enough history, you
  have an economics or business credit!

  American Heritage Foundation (one of our sponsors!) has a FREE
  entrepreneurship lesson plan -- and one of the books which they use
  as a source, "Myth of the Robber Barons", is by the same author who
  wrote the book "Empire Builders" that I used to teach my Michigan
  entrepreneurs course!  Both books are well worth reading.  You can
  check out all of AHF's FREE high school level lesson plans here:


  What about a girl who designs and sews her own clothing?  She
  certainly might get more excited about studying costuming throughout
  history than a traditional history text.  The same goes for military
  history, agricultural history (for the future farmer), and even a
  more obscure topic like nautical history.  Anything goes!

  Have a son who loves science and inventing?  Don't waste time dragging
  through a general history topic he may not care about.  Let him
  recreate historical science experiments and read fantastic biographies
  of famous (and even obscure) scientists!  I have shelves of Messner
  biographies -- fantastic high school level *living* biographies by the
  best authors of the 1960s published by Julian Messner.  All of these
  living books about scientists delve deeply into the science and history
  of the day.  You can do history -- and almost any other subject --
  by going deeper into a passion with more focus.  It makes for a much
  more interesting transcript, too!

  Have you put a "twist" on a topic or does your son or daughter have
  a specific interest that you are including on their transcript?

  I'd love to hear about it!!  I'd LOVE to hear YOUR story, and I bet
  our readers would, too.  Put "twist" in the subject line so I won't
  miss it!  :-)

  -- Heather (who is 45 today and feeling very "mature"... LOL)

  Write to me at:  mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


  The low monthly fee 'Gold Care Club' is like a personal high school
  support group.  A FREE 30-day membership is available with Lee Binz's
  e-book 'The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts'.

  The Gold Care Club offers audio and video courses about high school,
  priority email support, and a free 20 minute consultation each week.

     "I'd like to thank Lee for helping me gain the confidence I
     needed to start teaching high school this year.  Instead of
     timidly requesting information from various sources, I simply
     devoured everything I could find on her website and spoke to
     her several times as part of a Gold Care Club membership.

     I cannot stress enough how empowering it is to have this
     important information up front!  I am not worried about missing
     test dates; I know when to start communicating with colleges.
     Scholarships are not a big mystery anymore.  Transcripts will
     be a labor of love instead of a necessary evil.  And if we
     prepare well, we may save thousands of dollars by obtaining
     college credit in high school. 

     Yes, high school is a lot of work for both student and teacher,
     but what a difference it makes to have a plan and to know the
     game rules.  Thanks again, Lee, for being such a great mentor."
     -- Dana in Oregon

  Read more testimonials here!


       Feature Article

  Take Credit for What You Know!
  Using College-Level Exams to Get a Jump-Start on College
    by Janice Campbell


  One of the nicest things about homeschooling is that there is
  an option for everyone.  From unschooling to unit studies to
  accelerated education, homeschoolers are all over the educational
  spectrum.  What we have in common, however, is a willingness to
  take advantage of tools that make education - and life - easier
  or more interesting.

  One tool we have at our disposal is the College-Level Examination
  Program (CLEP).  (There are other college-level exams, such as
  the DANTES, available, but to keep things streamlined, I'll just
  refer to CLEPs in this article).  Adult students have used college
  level exams for years (I earned over 40 credits toward my BA with
  exams), but homeschoolers have just recently begun to see the many
  advantages they offer.  Many colleges grant credit for acceptable
  scores on college-level exams, making it possible to earn a year
  or more of college credit while still in high school.  Of the many
  good reasons why homeschoolers might want to take a few college
  level exams during the high school years, the most compelling are
  credibility, time savings, and the cost/benefit ratio.

  Credibility: Prove What You Know

  While diversity is one of homeschooling's greatest assets, it
  can also be perceived as a liability.  Pity the poor college
  admissions officer who has to wade through hundreds of applications
  and transcripts each week!  When dealing with an accredited public
  or private school, he has some idea of the standards each is using
  to assign grades.  When dealing with a homeschooler's application,
  though, he has no idea how objectively or by what standards grades
  have been assigned.  It makes it difficult to measure a homeschooler
  against someone who has been more traditionally schooled.  When a
  student is hoping for an acceptance letter, he doesn't want to be
  seen as a problem by the admissions officer!

  So how can a student measurably and credibly demonstrate his learning?
  A parent-created high school transcript is a start, but it doesn't
  tell the whole story.  When an admissions officer sees on a transcript
  that a homeschooled student has taken English Literature and earned
  a 'B', he has no way of knowing the scope and depth of the student's
  work.  However, if the transcript lists a CLEP score along with the
  grade, the admissions officer immediately understands what the student
  has studied and how well he understood the material.  This gives him
  an objective point of reference, and as a bonus, may also impress him.

  Time: A Minute Saved is a (Credit) Hour Earned

  I recently read a study reporting that it's taking longer than ever
  to earn a four-year college degree.  Some students are juggling jobs
  and school, while others have had difficulty settling on a major.
  Imagine what an advantage a student would have if he or she entered
  college with a year or two of college credit accumulated during the
  high school years!  This credit cushion would provide the student
  with several wonderful options.

  The student could:

  -- Choose to graduate early 
  -- Spend a year exploring classes that look interesting 
  -- Opt for a double major 
  -- Spend time as an intern or volunteer 
  -- Travel

  By learning deeply and purposefully, and investing some time in
  testing during high school, a student can make the most of the
  high school years, and open up many interesting options for his
  or her future.

  The beauty of the CLEP exams is that they don't cause a lot of
  extra work.  Any high-school subject can be broadened and deepened
  to college-level, especially a subject in which the student has a
  natural interest.  The exams measure whether a student has acquired
  knowledge and understanding that is approximately comparable to
  what he would learn in an introductory-level college course.  If
  a student loves a subject and has read extensively on his own, he
  may be ready to pass a CLEP without much further study.

  My two oldest sons took their first CLEPs at sixteen and fourteen.
  The oldest enjoys history, so he chose to take the U.S. History I
  exam, while the 14-year-old took the Analyzing and Interpreting
  Literature exam.  Neither did any special studying before the exams,
  but both passed with remarkably high scores and percentile rankings.
  This doesn't mean that the exams are easy; it just means that it's
  possible to learn at a very high level by reading and studying
  independently.  They each went on to accelerate their bachelor's
  degree through additional college-level exams.

  When a student feels ready, it's convenient to take CLEP exams.
  They are offered at hundreds of test centers on college campuses
  nationwide.  Most test centers are open to the public and offer a
  testing session at least once a month.  The test itself lasts
  ninety minutes, and is taken on a computer.  An hour and a half is
  not a bad time investment for 3-6 college credits.  I especially
  loved the days when I spent three hours in a testing center and
  walked out with twelve credits for less than $150.  You just can't
  beat that!

  Money: A Penny Saved is a Dollar Earned

  CLEP exams are an incredibly cheap way to earn college credit.  Each
  exam costs $72 plus a test center fee of $20-$25.  Compared with
  other credit-earning options such as distance learning or community
  college classes, CLEP exams come out way ahead!  If a student happens
  to not score high enough to earn credit, the exam can be retaken
  again in six months.  It's not nearly as expensive or time consuming
  as having to retake a whole class.

  So What's The Catch?

  It's true that the best things in life are free, but some of the
  cheap things are pretty good, too.  CLEPs are convenient - you can
  take them when you're ready.  They're cheaper than most other ways of
  earning college credit.  They're objective, they're widely accepted
  (most, though not all, colleges accept at least some of the CLEPs -
  check first if you have your heart set on a particular college), and
  they make the most of your time.  And your scores are maintained on
  a CLEP transcript for twenty years so that you can have them sent
  to any schools you wish at any time during those years.  The only
  potential downside I see is the pain of missing out on all the intro
  level college courses that your fellow freshmen have to take, and
  starting out in more advanced classes.  Wait - that's actually
  another asset!  Higher-level classes are usually more specialized
  and interesting than the survey-level (introductory) courses.

  As you can tell, I'm sold on the benefits of college-level exams,
  and CLEPs in particular.  As outsiders in the education establishment,
  homeschoolers often face a credibility gap.  While this needn't affect
  our educational choices, it's nice to be able to provide objective
  proof of learning in a way that is non-intrusive.  CLEP exams are a
  cheap, accessible way of earning college credit and proving that
  homeschoolers can teach themselves nearly anything they want to know.


  Copyright 2006, Janice Campbell. [CLEP testing fee updated 2009]

  This article by Janice Campbell first appeared in the November/December
  2001 issue of HELM magazine.  Janice is an alternative education
  specialist, writer, and speaker, and the author of 'Transcripts Made
  Easy: Your Friendly Guide to High School Paperwork' and 'Get a Jump
  Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens'

  For more information and to see all of Janice's helpful high school
  resources, just visit her website through our special Homeschooler's
  Notebook link:


      Helpful Tip

  I enjoy looking at other people's book lists; being a book lover, I
  find them inspiring.  Here is one mom's "High School Un-Official
  Charlotte Mason Type Book List":



  YOUR tips are needed!  It is hard on me trying to make up my own all
  the time... LOL.  I know there have been cool high school "discoveries"
  you've made.  Get to work writing them down and emailing them to me! :-)


  Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share?  Please write!
  Send to:  mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

      High School Question

  "We have begun searching for good advice and resources regarding
  transcripts.  What should be in a transcript and how it should be
  presented?  Both of our homeschoolers are college bound and the
  younger one wants to be a doctor.  We expect the transcript could
  make a big difference.  Just looking for some experienced help!
  Thanks to any and all who respond." -- Ed and Debbie

      Reader Responses

  "I can't tell you what state I was in about a month ago, when I
  had the exact same question.  My son is in 8th grade, but doing
  2 high school courses, so I wasn't sure how I was supposed to keep
  track -- it seemed way too complicated.  But I did some research,
  I went to a H.E.R.I. seminar (Florida homeschool support), and I
  am now confident in what I need to do.  There is a great website
  I found that helped tremendously:


  She explains all the basics to keeping records, making transcripts,
  figuring GPA.  Not only that, she gives you print-outs to help you
  get started.  That link is to the beginning of several very
  informative pages." -- Tammie


  "We have graduated four of our eight children.  Three of these
  went straight to a 4-year university, and the fourth is attending
  a local community college.  Also, our daughter-in-law worked in
  the admissions office at the university while she was a student
  there.  My husband designed their transcripts using Excel.

  When it comes to transcripts, there is no one perfect way to set one
  up.  Every high school is different, and the university must evaluate
  each student from the information contained in the transcript, not
  whether it is done according to a certain format.

  Donna Young's website has some sample transcripts and good info: 

  Hope this helps." -- Sarah


  "Ed and Debbie -- I am reluctant to give advice, especially to
  your student who intends to be a doctor, but we do have a 16 year
  old son who is probably in his senior year, and so I will share
  our plan with you.
  Our plan is to collect as many college credits as possible this
  year and next year through CLEP and possible dual enrollment at
  a local community college.
  Our understanding is that if he has some college credits at the
  time that he applies to the college of his choice, his application
  will be handled more like a transfer, and his transcript will be
  much less important or may not even matter at all.
  The CLEP practice tests are available on line for a very small fee,
  so it is pretty easy to find out if a student is ready for these
  tests or if they still need more study.  A student who applies
  themselves can collect quite a few college credits in this way,
  although some colleges do not accept an unlimited number of these
  types of credits, and there are normally fees involved.
  Please do not take my word for this, but I would encourage you to
  do your own investigation and talk to the colleges in which your
  child might be interested.
  God bless your family.  I hope that both of your students turn out
  to be 'mighty in the land'. (Psalm 112:2)" -- Rick in Michigan

     New Reader Question for Next Regular Issue

  "As all homeschoolers can relate -- it seems we have many things
  we have to tell our kids to do all day long.  It can take some of
  the joy out of our relationship (can't just be there waiting for
  them after school with milk and cookies!).  In light of that, I
  get weary of reminding my kids/telling my kids to do all the other
  stuff -- like cleaning their rooms.  It seems I have to remind them
  so many times not to leave stuff out, etc.  My question is, for
  those of you who might tend toward the 'neat freak' side like me,
  how do you relax about this -- or how do you encourage your kids
  to do this without feeling like you are barking at them all the time?
  Thanks!" -- Amy


  Do you have some ideas or practical help for Amy?

  Please send your answer to:  mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

     Ask YOUR Question

  Do you have a question about homeschooling high school?

  Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
  if we can help you out in a future issue!

     Need Immediate Help?

  Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center!  This is a live 24/7
  'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
  by typing in a box.  When you get there, just introduce yourself
  and let them know that Heather sent you!

  This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
  there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
  ear and encouragement.



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