Monday, March 4, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: College Common Sense


We started preparing our children for college from the time they first began to take an interest in learning. From even before they were reading, we were watching videos that told about different career choices and looking at picture books that depicted interesting places to travel.  As they moved from picture books to chapter books, I began using writing prompts each day that would start them thinking about what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Of course, I thought that the "growing up" would be forever down the road -- and I blinked.  Last year, we graduated our first child from Long Leaf Academy and I realized that my babies had grown up.  My eldest child is thriving in college and doing so on full scholarship.  As much money as it takes to get a college degree these days, it sure does make life easier knowing her education is paid for (as long as she pays attention to her studies and keeps her grades up).

And what I've learned from our "getting into college experience" is that it is NEVER too early to begin -- and you most definitely do not need to wait until Junior or Senior year to start the entire getting in and finding scholarships process.  Did you know that you can start "earning" free money for college long before your child begins their senior year?  It certainly pays to have College Common Sense and Denise Ames is happy to share her expertise to help you navigate the entire process of getting your child into college.  Understanding that knowledge is POWER, Denise shares the knowledge that she has gained from inside the education industry through her Going to College and Paying For It online Video and Workbook.  For just $25 a year, you can gain access to both the video and workbook and get things started for your family.  No matter the ages of your children, you can begin thinking about the future and helping make it easier for them through planning and prayer.

Although the entire college process can be overwhelming, College Common Sense reminds us that wherever we are in the process, we should start right there.  That means there is no need to worry about what we "should have" been doing but to pick up right where we are and go forth.  Sometimes as home educators we can beat ourselves up and worry about what we are not doing right.  Isn't it great to know that where we are is perfectly acceptable and there is someone willing to come alongside us (albeit online) and help us find our way?  You care MORE about your child than anyone else and Denise Ames wants to walk alongside you as you help them succeed.  Through FREE Lesson Plans and a Monthly Newsletter, she takes you step by step through the process -- explaining tricky terminology and offering helpful advice.  Both the Lesson Plans and Newsletter are chock-full of information you need to help your children.

So what exactly IS Going to College and Paying For It all about?  A six-part video series with accompanying workbook in PDF format, Going to College and Paying For It is designed to help your children make the most of the Financial Aid system at the college of their choice.  It is like having your very own guidance counselor at your fingertips.  Denise Ames has a heart for helping families succeed and that shines throughout the program.  I was excited to use this series and determined that I would have all three of my at-home children work through it together.  The Princess is in the 6th grade and my Boy Scout is in the 8th grade.  Wanting them to at least begin thinking towards college, I knew that it would be good for them to hear the information presented.  I want to make sure that they are aware of some of the hurdles that must be jumped in order to be successful in college no matter what their chosen vocation will be.  My Artist is a Junior and she is very much thinking about where GOD will have her after next year.  This was perfect for her.

Here's how it worked for us:
To  begin with, I did my "parent homework."  I read through the ideas presented and made note of the activities suggested for my children based on their ages.   I studied the website and made sure to watch the videos BEFORE my children sat down to watch them.

Then, I printed the entire PDF workbook (21 pages printed front and back).  I three-hole punched the workbook, placed it in a binder, and gathered the needed materials -- notebooks, pencils, markers.

Finally, we began to watch the videos as a family.  Each video runs from 15 - 25  minutes long so they were not difficult to watch.  My child with a {very} short attention span did just fine.  Although the videos were not high tech, they were most informative.

For my middle schoolers, my goal was for them to begin "thinking" and discovering what call GOD might be placing on their lives.  This was accomplished through watching the videos and beginning an All About Me journal as suggested by Denise.  For my high schooler, my goal was different.  It was time for her to actually begin the college acceptance process.  To do this, she has been watching the videos and diligently working through the pages of the workbook.  Denise explains step-by-step what to do including websites to explore, forms to fill out, and graded papers to collect in order to most benefit the student.  She also explains all of the ins and outs of financial aid by sharing what every {prospective} college student needs to know.  My Junior has been working through the pages of the workbook with very little help from me.  She is owning her education and is getting excited as it all comes together.  Through the tutelage of Going to College and Paying For It, she is being responsible for her own future and realizing that she can dream big and be successful.  She is realizing that the years of planning, volunteer work, service to others, and studying will pay off and she is excited to see doors opening for her as her college adventure begins.

Money for college is Oh, So, Important!  Bring it on!


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to use and review the Going to College and Paying For It online Video and Workbook by College Common Sense as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received a copy of the online workbook and access to the video in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any way.  You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought as well.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.~ Pin It Now!

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