Helpful info. for Preparing for College

Hardworking, knowledgeable parents have collected and researched a wealth of helpful information for planning for college. They have generously shared this collected information with us here. This information is also very helpful throughout the high school years for planning and tracking toward graduation. Thank you so much everyone who has shared your research, experiences, time and effort with all of us here.


High School Course of Study

If you know the field your student wants to enter or the specific college/university they want to attend then check with the schools for course requirements.

HSLDA suggested courses for High School:  These are 3 separate course requirements

1 credit generally means one year (so 4 credits mean 4 years of a subject)

1.    General High School Curriculum (not college-bound)

Subject Suggested (Credits Possible) Courses

English(4 credits):  Composition, American Lit, British Lit, World Lit, Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Speech/Communication, Journalism (Courses should stress grammar, vocabulary and analyzing literature.)

Math(3 credits):    Algebra 1&2, Geometry, General Math, Consumer Math, Business Math, Accounting

History (2–3 credits):   World History, American History, American Gov’t

Science(2–3 credits):   Physical Science, General Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Foreign Language(2–3 credits):   French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (2 years same language preferred.)

P.E. (1–2 credits):   Physical education—many options available

Fine Arts(1–2 credits):   Art, Music, Drama, Photography, etc.

Electives(5 credits):    Practical Arts, Life Skills, Bible, Computer Skills, etc.

Total Credits: 20–22 credits

2.    General College Prep Curriculum

Subject Suggested (Credits Possible) Courses

English(4 credits):   Composition, American Lit, British Lit, World Lit, Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Speech, Journalism, Debate; also consider AP courses

Math(4+ credits):    Algebra 1&2, Geometry, Trig, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus

History(3–4 credits):   Essentials: World History, American History, American Government. Consider also: Economics, Geography, Constitutional Law, and AP courses

Science(3–4 credits) Physical Science, General Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Consider: AP courses

Foreign Language(2–4 credits):   French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (2 years same language preferred.)

P.E.(1–2 credits):   Physical education—many options available

Fine Arts(1–2 credits):   Art, Music, Drama, Photography, etc.

Electives(5 credits):   Practical Arts, Life Skills, Computer Skills, Bible, Church History, etc.

Total Credits: 24–28 credits

3.    Rigorous College PrepCurriculum(highly selective colleges/universities)

Subject Suggested Credits Possible Courses

English(4+ credits):   Composition, Am. Lit, Brit. Lit, World Lit, Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Speech/ Communication, Journalism, Debate; AP courses strongly recommended

Math(4+ credits):  Algebra 1&2, Geometry, Trig, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus. Consider: Statistics, Accounting, etc.

History(4+ credits):   Essentials: World History, American History, And American Gov’t. Consider: Econ, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Constitutional Law, etc. AP courses strongly recommended

Science(4+ credits):   Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Microbiology; AP courses strongly recommended

Foreign Language(3–4 credits):  French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (2 years same language preferred.)

P.E.(1–2 credits):  Physical education—many options available

Fine Arts(1–2 credits):   Art, Music, Drama, Photography, etc.

Electives(5 credits):  Practical Skills, Bible, Church History, Computer Skills (proficiency important)

Total Credits: 26–30 credits

GRADING CODE:  (stipulate on transcript if you are using weighted or un-weighted GPA)

Grade               Average Score                  Un-weighted GPA                      Weighted GPA

A+                     99-100                                  4.0                                               4.5

A                       96-98                                    4.0                                                4.5

A-                      94-95                                    3.9                                                4.4

B+                     91-93                                    3.1                                                3.6

B                       88-90                                    3.0                                                3.5

B-                      85-87                                    2.9                                                3.4

C+                     82-84                                    2.1                                                2.6

C                       79-81                                    2.0                                                2.5

C-                      77-78                                    1.9                                                2.4

D+                     74-76                                    1.1                                                1.6

D                        70-73                                   1.0                                                1.5

F                        0-69                                      0.0                                                0.0


Sample GPA Calculations:
9th grade (2002–2003)
Algebra 1                    (1 cr. for grade of  A)             1.0 × 4 = 4.0
Physical Science        (1 cr. for grade of B)              1.0 × 3 = 3.0
Geography                  (½ cr. for grade of A)             0.5 × 4 = 2.0
Am. Government         (½ cr. for grade of A)             0.5 × 4 = 2.0
Lit/Comp                     (1 cr. for grade of A)               1.0 × 4 = 4.0
Spanish 1                    (1 cr. for grade of B)              1.0 × 3 = 3.0
Phys Ed                      (½ cr. for grade of B)              0.5 × 3 = 1.5
Art Appreciation          (½ cr. for grade of B)              0.5 × 3 = 1.5
Total credits: 6 cr. Total quality points: 21 pts.
Total quality points (21) divided by total number of credits (6) = 3.50 (GPA 3.5)
The information presented here has been kept simple, but you may want to go into greater
complexity if you use a grading scale that assigns not only straight letter grades, but also grades
such as A+, A-, B+, B-, etc. Pass/Fail grading is also a possibility, especially for elective courses.
Pass/Fail grades are not included in the calculation of the GPA


The following is from a HEAV newsletter:

 Q. Some homeschool co-ops offer credits for courses. Should I give my children credits for the classes I teach them at home?

A. A credit is simply a way to translate homeschool or school work into commonly understood educational language. Whether or not to give credits depends on the grade level of each child. If a child is in grade K-8, you do not need to assign a credit value for the subjects he completes each year. However, when high school begins at ninth grade, homeschooling parents should keep a high school record or transcript.

A transcript for grades 9-12 should include the courses your child has completed, the grades for each course, the credit value, and any other important information such as a GPA and College Board scores.

Generally, one credit is given for a year’s worth of work or approximately 50 minutes a day, five days a week for 36 weeks, or about 120-180 hours of work. A credit can also be given for completion of a course that takes about a year, or the completion of at least 75% of a textbook.

The credits on a high school transcript can be given by the parent or a by combination of people: by a parent if he or she teaches the course, by co-op teachers if a student is enrolled in co-op classes, by a school if a student is enrolled part-time in public or Christian school classes, by a college if a student is dual-enrolled in college classes, or by distance learning programs and correspondence courses when a child is enrolled. When the required number of credits is complete as determined by the parent or program, the student can graduate.

The parent of a high school student is NOT required to submit a transcript with grades and credits to the superintendent. However, it is very helpful to have a standardized record when applying to colleges, joining the military, or applying for certain jobs.

NOTE: Parents can develop their own transcripts or use the new easy-to-use homeschool transcript service provided by HEAV.

Yvonne Bunn @ May 11, 2011


When your student starts “high school”; create a database or “working” transcript. This way you can record what courses your student has taken, time frame and the books or curriculum used. We often cover so much we forget some detail among the sheer amount; and detail is helpful when it comes to filling out the final transcript and making your student look great to colleges.

If you are a do-it-yourself type person then you can find examples on the internet or check out a book called TRANSCRIPTS Made Easy  by Janice Campbell (she is a guest speaker through HEAV and has put her 2-or was it 3- homeschooled sons through college). Her book includes sample transcript pages, what you can use for credit with a course, how to calculate GPA’s, using subject worksheets and other great information.

If you are uncomfortable creating your own then checks out HEAV’s website because it has an online transcript service for a fee.

Below are some links to FREE downloadable templates for transcripts:


By Subject: http://dustjackettech.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/transcripttemplatebysubject.xls

By Year: http://dustjackettech.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/transcripttemplate2.xls


One important piece of advice from a woman that worked in an Ivy League admissions office was to keep the transcript simple and to one page if possible. The admissions office at the college/university will get hundreds of mailings from students and having to wade through them is burdensome; so when they get a straightforward transcript they appreciate it.

If you are looking at the military academies then you might want to check with them. The Air Force and Navy  told us that having a transcript with all curriculum/books listed was helpful if not specifically required.

Military Academy:

In the Fall of junior year contact the academies your student is interested in. The application process is several months long, lots of paperwork, letters of recommendation and you need to set up a meeting with a senator or congressman to get their recommendation as well; so get started early. The academies have on site programs that run in the summer between junior and senior year and you need to have your student signed up early (early spring the latest). With the economy depressed, the Naval Academy had over 23,000 students applying for only a little over 1200 open spots so you will need every advantage you can. We were told straight out that we didn’t have the right “demographics” but we could still try (not encouraging but not impossible). Any advantage is advisable.

If your student wants a specific college but scholarship through the ROTC program, again, contact the specific service early and get everything in writing!


 Many scholarships can now be applied for on line. Your student can write her/his paper (whether it is one paragraph or many paragraphs) on a separate program and once perfected, cut & paste it to the application.

Find websites by searching college websites or general internet searches. Just remember, applications for scholarships are FREE, so do not be taken in by anyone trying to charge you. (Yes, you still have to sometimes pay for college applications but NOT the scholarships.)


The following is from College Board (where you set up your SAT/ACT exams)

How to Apply for a Scholarship

To Get Money, You Have to Ask for It

The scholarship application process is very similar to the college application process. First, you filter a large list of possible choices into a focused list that matches your needs. Then you create compelling applications that are supported by your achievements, essays, recommendations and interviews. Here are some tips to help you create strong scholarship applications.

Scholarship Application Tips

There's a lot of advice out there about the best way to apply for scholarships — how to package yourself in your essay, what extracurricular activities to emphasize. The truth is, much of this advice can vary widely, depending on the author — what works for one applicant may not necessarily work for another. You'll discover that most of the scholarship secrets you read about boil down to using your common sense and following directions carefully.

Start Your Research Early

The more time you can put into your scholarship search, the more options you have. You need time to research scholarships, request information and application materials, and complete your application — and remember, some scholarships have deadlines early in the fall of senior year. Use Scholarship Search to get started.

Read Eligibility Requirements Carefully

The more time you can put into your scholarship search, the more options you'll have.If you have a question about your eligibility for a particular scholarship, contact the scholarship sponsors.

Organize All Scholarship Materials

Create a separate file for each scholarship and file by application date. Keep a calendar of application deadlines and follow-up appointments.

Many scholarships require you to provide some combination of the following:

  • Transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSAor CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®
  • Parents' financial information, including tax returns
  • One or more essays
  • One or more letters of recommendation
  • Proof of eligibility (e.g., membership credentials)

You may also need to prepare for a personal interview. For students competing for talent-based scholarships, an audition, performance or portfolio may be required.

Proofread Your Applications Carefully

Use your computer's spelling and grammar check features. Have a family member, teacher or friend read your essays.

Don't Leave Items Blank

Contact scholarship sponsors if you aren't sure how to fill out any part of the application.

Follow Instructions to the Letter

Private scholarships can actually reduce parts of your financial aid package.Avoid going over the length limit for the essay. Don’t send supporting materials that are not requested in the application.

Make Sure Your Application Is Legible

Type or print your application forms and essays.

Make Copies of Everything You Send

If application materials are lost, having copies on hand makes it much easier to resend your application quickly.

Double-Check Your Application

If you're reusing material (such as a cover letter or essay) from another scholarship application, check to make sure you haven't left in any incorrect names or blank fields. Don't forget to sign and date your application.

Get Your Applications In Early

You miss out if you miss deadlines. Consider using certified mail or requesting a return receipt.

How Scholarships Affect Your Financial Aid Package

Private scholarships can actually reduce parts of your financial aid package. How? Colleges must consider outside scholarships as a student's financial resource, available to pay for education costs. If a college financial aid office meets your full financial need, government regulations specify that any scholarship money you win lowers your need figure on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

What should matter to you is which types of your aid are reduced or eliminated — self-help aid (loans or work-study) or need-based grants. Colleges, following federal regulations, can adjust your aid package in a variety of ways — some subtract the value of unmet need first, others  reduce self-help aid before reducing grants, still others use scholarship funds only to replace grant money. Some colleges even give you the option of using scholarships to reduce your expected family contribution.

It's a good idea to contact the financial aid office of colleges that interest you and ask about their policies on outside scholarships

Your choice of college/university is a personal one but finances will usually come into play. When searching for a school to apply to, don’t automatically discount private schools. Often they will offer scholarships and grants that will bring the cost of attending below that of a good state school. They have millions of dollars they use to entice students to become part of their future. State schools cannot compete with private scholarships so look into the possibility.

-- Sometimes one of the parents has a job with a company that offers a scholarship for their children.

College Prep Timeline:

Eleventh Grade/ Junior Year Fall

  • If you didn’t do so in tenth grade, sign up for and take the PSAT/NMSQT. In addition to National Merit Scholarships, this is the qualifying test for the National Scholarship Service and National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program.
  • Make sure that you have a social security number.
  • Take a long, hard look at why you want to continue your education after high school so you will be able to choose the best college or university for your needs.
  • Make a list of colleges that meet your most important criteria (size, location, distance from home, majors, academic rigor, housing, and cost). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you.
  • Continue visiting college fairs. You may be able to narrow your choices or add a college to your list.
  • If you want to participate in Division I or Division II sports in college, start the certification process. If you are interested in one of the military academies, talk to you guidance counselor about starting the application process now.

Junior Year Winter

  • Collect information about college application procedures, entrance requirements, tuition and fees, room and board costs, student activities, course offerings, faculty composition, accreditation, and financial aid. The Internet is a good way to visit colleges and obtain this information. Begin comparing the schools by the factors that you consider to be most important.
  • Begin narrowing down your college choices. Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT I, ACT Assessment, or SAT II Subject Tests for admission.
  • Begin preparing for the tests you’ve decided to take.
  • Have a discussion with your parents about the colleges in which you are interested. Examine financial resources, and gather information about financial aid.
  • Set up a filing system with individual folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials.

Junior Year Spring

  • Register to take the ACT Assessment and/or SAT I again if you’d like to try to improve your score.
  • Stay involved with your extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in activities.
  • Consider whom you will ask to write your recommendations. Think about asking teachers or pastors who know you well and who will write positive letters about you. Letters from a coach, activity leader, or an adult who knows you well outside of school (e.g., volunteer work contact) are also valuable.
  • Inquire about personal interviews at your favorite colleges. Call or write for early summer appointments. Make necessary travel arrangements.
  • See on-campus summer programs for high school students. Apply for a summer job or internship. Be prepared to pay for college application, financial aid, and testing fees in fall.

Summer (between junior & senior year)

  • Visit the campuses of your top-five college choices.
  • After each college interview, send a thank-you letter to the interviewer.
  • Talk to people you know who have attended the colleges in which you are interested.
  • Continue to read books, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Practice filling out college applications, and then complete the final application forms or apply online through the Web sites of the colleges in which you’re interested.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Compose rough drafts of your college essays. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you. Proofread them, and prepare final drafts. Proofread your final essays at least three times.
  • Develop a financial aid application plan, including a list of the aid sources, requirements for each application, and a timetable for meeting the filing deadlines.

Twelfth Grade/Senior Fall

  • Keep working on your grades. Make sure you have taken the courses necessary to graduate in the spring.
  • Continue to participate in extracurricular and volunteer activities. Demonstrate initiative, creativity, commitment, and leadership in each.
  • To male students: you must register for selective service on your eighteenth birthday to be eligible for federal and state financial aid.
  • Make a calendar showing application deadlines for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.
  • Check resource books, computer programs, for information on scholarships and grants. Ask colleges about scholarships for which you may qualify.
  • Give recommendation forms to the teachers you have chosen, along with stamped, self-addressed envelopes so your teachers can send them directly to the colleges. Be sure to fill out your name, address, and school name on the top of the form. Talk to you recommendation writers about your goals and ambitions.
  • Give School Report forms to your parents (The schools will have them on their website). Fill in your name, address, and any other required information on top. Verify the schools to which transcripts, test scores, and letters are to be sent.
  • Register for and take the ACT Assessment, SAT I, or SAT II Subject Tests, as necessary.
  • Be sure you have requested (either by mail or online) that your test scores be sent to the colleges of your choice.
  • Mail or send electronically any college applications for early-decision admission by November 1.
  • If possible, visit colleges while classes are in session.
  • If you plan to apply for an ROTC scholarship, remember that your application is due by December 1.
  • Print extra copies or make photocopies of every application you send.

Senior Year Winter

  • Send midyear grade reports to colleges. Continue to focus on your schoolwork!
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and, if necessary, PROFILE®. These forms can be obtained from your guidance counselor or at http://www.fafsa.ed.govto download the forms or to file electronically. These forms may not be processed before January 1, so don’t send them before then.
  • Mail or send electronically any remaining applications and financial aid forms before winter break. Make sure you apply to at least one college that you know you can afford and where you know you will be accepted.
  • Follow up to make sure that the colleges have received all application information, including recommendations and test scores.

Senior Year Spring

  • Watch your mail between March 1 and April 1 for acceptance notifications from colleges.
  • Watch your mail for notification of financial aid awards between April 1 and May 1.
  • Compare the financial aid packages from the colleges and universities that have accepted you.
  • Make your final choice, and notify all schools of your intent by May 1. If possible, do not decide without making at least one campus visit. Send your nonrefundable deposit to your chosen school by May 1 as well. Send a final transcript to the college in June.
  • Be sure that you have received a FAFSA acknowledgment.
  • If you applied for a Pell Grant (on the FAFSA), you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR) statement. Review this Pell notice, and forward it to the college you plan to attend. Make a copy for your record.
  • Complete follow-up paperwork for the college of your choice (scheduling, orientation session, housing arrangements, and other necessary forms).

Summer (before college)

  • Contact the school you will be attending to apply for student and/or parent loans.
  • Receive the orientation schedule from your college.
  • Get residence hall assignment from your college.
  • Congratulations! You are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life. Good luck.