Review: And What About College?

Okay. If you’re home schooling kids that are in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, it’s time for you to read this book. Really! It’s not too early to start thinking about that college decision–whether or not to have your kids go, where to go, why to go, how to get there. My oldest is 10, and I bought this book–mostly because I felt that I needed more vision of where my kids might be headed. They may want to go to college, and so keeping high school records is basically a necessity. College is not a foregone conclusion; but if that’s what they want, I need to know how to guide them until they are a few years older and can read this book for themselves–which is what any student contemplating college should do!

But what about those of you whose students are already out of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade? Is it too late to expect any help from this book? No way! Even the Cohens didn’t start record keeping in 8th or 9th grade with their oldest. Here’s an excerpt from the book: “Do not despair if your student is partially through high school and you do not have … records. college eduTwo states where we homeschooled … mandated that homeschoolers only keep attendance data. And that is all we did. As we learned, you can recoup. It is work, but it can be done.” The book can help any student contemplating college even if they’ve only got one year of high school left. First off, Cafi Cohen has some credibility. Her two children were home schooled from middle school through high school, and then they were both accepted into their first-choice colleges! Good for them, huh? Her style of writing is friendly, definitely not patronizing, and encouraging. She doesn’t portray what worked for her family as the only approach. She portrays it as “an approach” to home schooling and college acceptance–her experience is offered up not as “Thou shalt,” but rather as “Here’s a few ideas.”

Cafi tells us what she calls “the good news”–that there are many advantages for home schoolers applying to colleges. She starts in on the jargon in the second chapter with Advanced Placement, CLEP, student-devised majors, GED, block programs, and back-door admissions. Many little tidbits of information are scattered throughout the book. Here’s one gem: Focusing only on academics in the transcript is not enough. (Cafi elaborates on this in the book). This kind of information is invaluable and hard to come by. It’s great that we can learn from Cafi’s and her children’s research and trailblazing.

Here’s a list of some of the topics covered in “And What About College?” 

– home-based high school–which approach and/or curriculum?

– your school’s scope and sequence and how it meshes with college admission requirements

– college admissions testing–PSAT, SAT I, SAT II, ACT, NMSQT

– record keeping, transcripts, what can count for credit, how to grade if you assign grades

– how to help the student find the right college (insightful, practical considerations)

– filling out the application–lots of great advice from someone who’s done it!

Just over one third of the book is appendices. This is the nuts and bolts section with examples of transcripts, resumes, and cover letters. There’s a four-page appendix on how to apply to a service academy and a list of selective colleges that have accepted home schoolers. There’s also a helpful booklist, a list of websites, and a college planning checklist–a thoughtful addition.

As you can see, if you’ve stayed with me this long, Cafi’s book is a great handbook for college admissions preparation. It was a relief for me to read it! It helped me to refine my game plan. If you have any concerns about helping your child along the road to college, this book very well could make the trip smoother by helping your student around roadblocks that might get in the way.