College Common Sense

     I've heard it said that as homeschooling parents we are our child's guidance counselor. That was eye opening for me. More than just their teacher, a significant responsibility comes with the decision to home school through high school. The College Common Sense program helps you and your child prepare for finding the right college, getting a scholarship, and much more. They start at the very beginning, helping you learn what to look for when finding a college, and guiding you through visiting each college that you are interested in. 

     When starting something new,  it is comforting to have a companion who has already "been there, done that" guiding your steps. Denise (the creator of this program) worked over 10 years with students college applications and funding. She shares her knowledge and guides students and parents through planning for college and planning to pay for it with choices many people are likely not aware of. She recommends that you and your child write down a list of what characteristics you want to find in the college that you choose. The program suggest that as you are researching about each college that you take the time to look at several. 

     My 9th grader watched some of the videos in the series we were provided for this review: Going to College and Paying for it Online Video  and Workbook ($55 DVD or $25 for one year online access). Following are some of the things she gleaned from the video entitled The Big Picture

  • Look for the win/win situation; look for the outcome where both parties get what they want. You have to know what your goal is, and what you are trying to accomplish. Know enough to ask specific questions to the colleges that you are interested in.  
  • College is a journey, not a destination. The big picture starts with you and where you are heading with it, and how you will pay for it. 
  • Financial Aid is an evolving process, not a science. Programs and procedures change constantly. Financial aid and how is is processed will be different at each school. 
  • Have no fewer than three school choices. Do they have your major? Visit them, and get the feel for the school. Just because you start at one school doesn't mean you have to finish there. 
  • Every school lists there cost of attending on their website. You need to secure the money to pay for your choice of college. 
  • "Free money" for your education can come from the government, your college, and outside resources. The more free money you can get, the less loans you will need.

The three steps to going to college:
1. Get accepted
2. look at your offers of aid for those schools. 
3. compare offers and schools

Three types of financial aid: 
1: scholarships and grants, 
2: work study like jobs on campus
3: loans

All expenses add up to what is called the cost of attending:
room and Board
books and supplies
misc. supplies

  • All schools have the same types of expenses. Never pick your college because it is the cheapest. The bottom line cost of each school= total - free money
  • You need to decide if your future is worth having loans, but only to a certain amount. You should not incur more loan debt than the average income of your future job per year. 
  • Pay attention, study, and attend class, question your professors, and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
     There are different things for your child to work on as you prepare for paying for college, and choosing which college to attend.
"In two hours, you can get the big picture and feel confident that you understand this big process and how to advise your child as you journey down your own path. There is free money that everyone can qualify for. I hope I've gotten your attention now so I can explain. People who believe that they will never get any free money for college don't try for any. That's good for us since that limits our competition, but I don't want that to be you. I want you to get all the free money you can get to help pay for your child's college."
     I admit that I was a little shocked when I read in the email newsletter of a 6 year old getting a scholarship, but my eyes have been opened to more possibilities as I've worked through the offerings of this company. It is actually set up to work with parents of children of all ages. You can  sign up for the free newsletter and for the lesson plans. The lesson plans are also available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. 

    The free emails include suggested lesson plans and I enjoyed learning my kids' current ideas when I had them complete components of the following excerpt:

PARENTS: This month we will do the "I want" exercise, which we do several times a year.  Your child will write an "I want" statement in their spiral and then write what types of careers they can see will fulfill their "I want" statement. It's easy and should be fun.

     Is there a possibility that college is in your child's future? I knew as a junior high student that it was part of my parents' plan for me. Because of that, we planned together what I would do, where I would go, and and I even CLEPed a few courses. My high school guidance counselor assisted me in applying for a few scholarships, but I was not fully aware of many scholarships that were available to me. My first semester I was invited to the college president's house for a tea for honor's students. I remember not even then fully understanding the significance of that and not taking advantage of the resources offered. A friend was in the college choir and shared that everyone in it received a small scholarship. With that small incentive I tried out and was accepted, and I added another small scholarship to my small list. I could have saved my parents some money then had I known of and used the resources shared in this program.

     Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



  1. OH my goodness! A six year old getting accepted to college? Crazy.

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  3. I have 2 high schoolers, so I'm certainly doing as much research as I can on this subject. Thanks for sharing all the good tidbits.
    I was also quite surprised about that 6yo getting accepted to a college and I'm curious as to how that is possible!

    A site you may find interesting that has a lot of great information is http://letshomeschoolhighschool.com/

    Thank you!


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