Top 10 Tips for College Prep

I often get calls from homeschool moms asking me about college preparation and recommendations for their high school kids.  So I put together for you my TOP TEN TIPS for college prep:

1. Begin to talk about college plans with your child as early as freshman year of high school.  This helps you to develop goals for your high school curriculum, spiritually, academically and extra-curricular.

2. Keep a file for your high school student where you can collect transcript info, test grades, awards, course descriptions and extra curricular activities.

3. I have my children begin practicing for the SAT, ACT or the new CLT by taking the real tests that come directly from the test providers in their junior year.

 – I do this by having them get up early, just as if they were going to take the real test.

 – Do all three hours at one sitting, complete with me acting as the proctor.

  – Then we go over the completed test and make note of the types of          questions that gave them the most trouble.

 – We spend the next two weeks practicing these types of problems, then take the test again.

catholic homeschool

4. I have had good experiences in sending our children to the summer programs offered by good Catholic colleges our children were interested in. We found it gave them an experience to try out the curriculum, as well as meet potential future classmates.

5. During our children’s junior year, spring semester, or either semester in their senior year,  I have them take classes at our local community college.  I call this “boot camp for college.”

– It really helped all of our seven children adjust to the speed with which a college level class moves and to manage their study time as well as being able to ask for help when they needed it.  They gain confidence in their ability to interact in a classroom situation. They also were able to get college credit for the class.

– I usually have had them take a math class. It helps give their college applications some clout such as, “this homeschooler passed a college class and mom didn’t just hand out A’s…those grades are real.” This can also help in their freshman year in college, as they can take a lighter load and work on the adjustment to being away from home and improving study skills.

– While I realize community colleges aren’t perfect, I have found that the student body tends to be a bit more serious than campuses with an active dorm-life. The teachers are easily accessible, (no 500-person lecture halls or TA’s) and they are super encouraging. Lastly, they are also an affordable and local option to beginning college.

6. We begin to ask for college recommendations early in the summer before their senior year. This gives plenty of time for the request to be submitted, avoiding the usual last minute rush!

7. We apply for and gather college applications during the spring semester of their junior year and begin their essays over the summer going into their senior year.  This really takes the load off their high school senior year, if most of them are written by summer’s end.

8. Visiting prospective college campuses during the school year has been a great boon to all of our children.  They can truly imagine themselves in the classrooms, interacting with the students and they get a real feel of the school spirit, academically and spiritually!

9. Incorporate a class or two during their junior and senior high school years that covers Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization.  These are the hot button topics that they will encounter even if they go to a small traditional Catholic college.  Some of the best discussions I had with my kids about their relationship to Christ and His Church happened over these important topics. For discussion prompts, we used several of these books in my blog post, Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style. 

10. Most importantly, PRAY.  Begin or continue to ask your child’s patron saints to intercede on their behalf and ask Blessed Mary to lead their hearts to her Son. Help and guide them during the high school years to develop their own personal habits of prayer. Following what the family does is easy. However, once removed from their home structure it gets tougher, especially if they have not had any practice on their own! Adoration, rosary, bible study, volunteering at the parish or local pro-life group are excellent opportunities to be of service and develop their friendship with Jesus in love and action.

teens pray homeschool high school

Keeping you all in my daily prayer… Paola

PS – If you have friends who could use some support in this area please share this post!

Please comment below with your top tips for college prep too!

Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style

THE PROVE-IT SERIES Prove it S

By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor

Finally! Finally! Finally!

These books are excellent, well grounded in truth, but also fun, funny, and simply marvelous! So many apologetic books are simply too dense for those of us who are not experts. This series speaks to teenagers in a way that inspires, and gives dialogue that is personal and real. It defends basic truths in a way that everyone can understand. These books are full of charming illustrations and quips such as “An atheist is a man who believes himself an accident.” It also contains more serious arguments, such as Isaac Newton’s statement that, “the existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics.” Each chapter dissects a separate argument against the Faith. Now teenagers and others can defend themselves with confidence – and a little humor, too! Five different volumes available; God, Jesus, Church, Prayer, and You. (Gr. 7+, approx. 115 pages, PB, $)

Friendly Defenders: Catholic Flash Cards   

by Matthew Pinto, Katherine Andes

Publisher: Ascension Press

Fifty full color flashcards that can help you build a sturdy foundation for the faith in yourself as well as your kids. The five lovable characters make learning about the faith entertaining as well as beneficial. You’ll quickly be able to answer questions like “Why pray to Mary when you can go directly to Jesus”, and “How can you believe a piece of bread is really Jesus?” with simple short answers! Comes in two volumes, 1 & 2. (Ages 8+, 50 full color flashcards, $)

A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’s CourtPhilly Catholic

By Martin de Porres Kennedy

Publisher: Lilyfield Press

An extremely fun way to learn Apologetics! We recommend assigning this book before your high-school student begins their Apologetics Religion course. This novel will engage you as you learn to explain the Faith alongside our story’s hero. Set on a horse-powered farm in Kentucky, 17 year-old Michael visits evangelical relations. Over the summer, Michael joins the Bible studies at his uncle’s non-denominational church and is challenged by many, to defend his faith, using only the Bible. This book covers commonly discussed doctrines such as the Papacy, Mary’s role in salvation, and the Eucharist. The book is charitable, and entertains while it informs. Perfect for teens and adults. Used by hundreds of parishes and groups for RCIA, religious education, book discussion groups, and Bible studies. Don’t miss the dramatic and surprising conclusion.

Philly Catholic Study Guide*Study guide is also available!!
††A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’ Court (Ages 14+, 323 pages, PB, $)
††Study Guide: A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’ Court (53 pages, PB, $)

 

Surprised by Truth Surprised by truth

By Patrick Madrid
Publisher: Basilica Press

When I received this book as a gift from my husband, little did I know that soon we would both be fighting to read it! It is absolutely an amazing,  hopeful, and inspiring collection of 11 conversion stories. You will be touched, moved and motivated to evangelize, while furthering your own knowledge of our glorious faith. Many of the stories have numerous Scripture references, and therefore making it perfect to be used by homeschoolers for the study of Apologetics. Simply amazing!  (High School to Adult, 269 pages, PB, $$)

Surprised by Truth 2 Surprised by Truth 2

By Patrick Madrid
Publisher: Sophia Press

Two Cardinals, five bishops, and scores of Catholic leaders love Surprised by Truth 2—you will, too!
This collection of testimonies by people who’ve found new life in the Catholic Church is one of the most potent weapons for the Faith ever crafted! These authors don’t just tell their stories — they also give you an insider’s view of the fatal weaknesses in the creeds and belief systems that beckon unwary Catholics every day: Fundamentalism, New Age paganism, Mormonism, materialistic hedonism, and many others.
You’ll discover why these converts forsook beliefs cherished by their families and friends in order to enter the Catholic Church. Their reasons are so compelling that you can use them to draw your own non-Catholic friends and relatives to the Faith. These converts will also convince your wavering Catholic friends to stay Catholic, and they’ll even bolster your own faith when anti-Catholic arguments start to make you doubt. You’ll come away with new gratitude that God has given you the Faith, and with a strong new tool you can use to stand proudly for that Faith. (High School to Adult, 320 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

SAN JUAN CATHOLIC SEMINARS—BEGINNING APOLOGETICS SERIES Beginning Apologetics set

By Fr. Frank Chacon, Jim Burnham and Steve Wood

Publisher: San Juan Catholic Seminars

Keep your family and friends Catholic! We keep a set close by our front door and have used them for those door-to-door evangelists, especially Books 2 and 3 on how to answer Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons.  Each booklet in this fabulous series is so well distilled into clear language on each important truth of our faith. We turn to them time and time again for reference in high school religion, especially in our semester of Apologetics. The topics presented in each booklet can be used to form essay topics or debate topics too! I usually require the first in the series to give a general overview of the most essential truths of our faith and a practical way to articulate these truths to others.  Then we devote time on the booklet for Eucharist, the Bible and Mary.  (High School to Adult, approx. 40 pages each, PB, $)

Concordance – One double-sided laminated sheet with Bible references

Beginning Apologetics 1: How to Explain and Defend the Catholic Faith
Study Guide for Beginning Apologetics 1

Beginning Apologetics 2: How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons

Beginning Apologetics 2.5: Yes! You Should Believe in the Trinity:How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses

Beginning Apologetics 3: Discovering the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Beginning Apologetics 4: How to Answer Atheists and New Agers

Beginning Apologetics 5: How to Answer the Tough Moral Questions

Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary

Beginning Apologetics 7: How to Read the Bible

Beginning Apologetics 8: The End Times

Beginning Apologetics 9: How to Answer Muslims

Questions for the Thinker Study Guides

By Fran Rutherford

Truly this is an answer to a prayer. Ordinarily I eschew study guides for they tend to limit discussion and understanding by providing ready answers! However, Questions for Thinkers Study Guides are very DIFFERENT simply because of the wonderful idea of listing questions for the student to answer as they read through key classical texts.

Questions for Thinkers Study Guides questions too are different in that they are thought provoking and lead the student to a deeper understanding of these difficult readings. The readings are ones they will encounter for the first time in high school, if they use a classical curriculum and then later explore at an even deeper level at college. Use of each guide  ultimately provides the student with their very own wonderful resource to take with them to college. The written answers also provide the necessary material needed to develop essays and papers on each of the books as well as guiding a student in the process of HOW to ask questions as they read, an important aspect of true understanding!

Vocabulary development, research topics and frequent “Questions for Further Thought” are some of the hallmarks of Fran Rutherford’s Questions for Thinkers Study Guides, and are included throughout. Each study guides contain every question found within the Student Book along with a complete answer key for mom. We encourage you to try at least one of these wonderful individual title study guides. This is a great way to see how remarkable Mrs. Rutherford’s guides are and how invaluable they will be to your student in helping them read for deeper understanding. (High School, .epub)

The available titles are as follows:††Confessions††Early History of Rome††The Aeneid††Anabasis††The Iliad††The Odyssey††The Histories††The Inferno††Purgatorio

Click here to obtain copies: Questions for Thinkers Study Guides