Monday, May 20, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: High School Prep Genius: An Academic Guide to Excellence

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Having walked my oldest through the college entry process last year and seeing her complete her  Freshman year of college successfully, I've realized there's a LOT to learn to get it all done.  Every high school student should have a working plan.  High School Prep Genius: An Academic Guide to Excellence by College Prep Genius helps take the fear out of the high school planning process and prepares your students for success -- academic success AND personal success. And who doesn't want their children to be EXCELLENTLY SUCCESSFUL?

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Written by homeschooling veteran, Jean Burk, and her daughter, Judah Burk, High School Prep Genius is part advice manual, part guidance counselor, part encouragement guru, and part tour guide for the years ahead.  Written to both parents and students in a conversational tone, it is super-beneficial to high school students (and both of mine are working through its pages) and middle school students (there are special pages for 7th and 8th graders) to begin thinking about what they want in life and to start working towards that goal.  I even had my 6th grader join us for the preliminary journey so that she can begin thinking and praying toward her future.

A 440- page soft-bound book divided into three main sections that encompass 18 chapters, High School Prep Genius is not simply a book that you quickly read through for all of your answers to life's questions and move on.  It is a workbook or, even more, a WORKING BOOK that can guide you through the high school years all the way to college success.   Students are reminded to give school their all and devote quality time to the educational endeavor.  I am extremely thankful for the encouragement throughout to start and finish the race well.

High School Prep Genius is a growing-up book as well.  Students are taught about academics and what courses to take to best prepare them for the collegiate world BUT they are also taught about life and how to best prepare themselves for what is to come.  Students learn the importance of surrounding themselves with healthy relationships, developing strong support systems, using money wisely, making good choices for healthy living and getting organized to best utilize your time -- all important components of future success.  I especially appreciate the chapter on owning your own beliefs and look forward to continued discussions with my children about WHY they believe WHAT they do and helping prepare them for questions they will face when the world tries to trick them when they are on their own.

SO . . . how have we used High School Prep Genius and what would improve its effectiveness in our family?

We began by setting up three College and Career Notebooks recommended in the Introduction -- one for each child at Long Leaf Academy.  This is a simple set up consisting of 3-ring binders, dividers, and loose-leaf paper.  The Introduction to High School Prep Genius offers step-by-step instructions for setting this up and, as most homeschoolers do, I tweaked them just a bit to make each notebook a perfect fit for each individual child. {I added a required reading list for my son for a Preparation for Manhood credit and a Career Exploration section for the Princess to begin writing down things that interest her besides horses.  I also added special pages to the Volunteer Work Section to track Scouting service hours separately from other volunteer service hours.}  There are forms to be copied out of the book for parents and students to begin filling out and they are designed to help your high school plan come together.  The included timelines lay out a monthly working order for each grade level.

Now, for a little confession:  When I first began this review, I was positive that High School Prep Genius was going to be most beneficial for my Junior.  I knew that it was time for her to begin filling out college paperwork and getting things together, BUT I HAD NO IDEA how very much I was going to LOVE having it for my younger children.  I am so excited to have this wisdom on hand for my Princess and Boy Scout (finishing 6th and 8th grades).  Of course, we are reading through High School Prep Genius together at a much slower pace than my finishing Junior, but everyone is benefiting -- including me.

The three main divisions of the book include:

  • Foundations for Personal Success (6 Chapters of personal development that discuss your interests, your beliefs, your health, and your finances),
  • Foundations for Academic Success (6 Chapters of academic mechanics that discuss studying techniques, test taking skills, and organizing your time and efforts), and 
  • Foundations for Future Success (6 Chapters of college essentials that discuss test prep, choosing a school, applying for college, and paying for college)
For my finishing Junior, we've been reading through these chapters separately and discussing each one together upon completion.  In about an hour each week, we can both easily read through the assigned chapter and complete our given homework.  [Yes, even I have homework from each chapter.]  She has several questions to answer in order to have her "Think About" what she reads and I have Parent Homework that helps me help her -- and helps me begin helping my other children, too.

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide through the high school years, look no further.  High School Prep Genius is exactly what you need to make it through high school and into college with easy guidance.  The skills learned while you maneuver your way through high school will come in handy throughout college -- and throughout life.  Just this week, I sat down with my college Sophomore to help her map out a plan for the remainder of her college career.  I do the same thing with my ministry notebook for church, laying it all out a year or so at a time.   It's easier to get where we're going if we have a mapped out plan that shows the way.  High School Prep Genius is a great way for your students to map out where they are headed, where they want to eventually end up, and how they plan to get there.  I'm all about a plan.

What would have made this book even better?  I would have really liked having access to the forms in a pdf format from the website.  It would have been perfect if I could have printed off each of the  forms to three-hole punch them and place them directly into my children's College and Career Notebooks.  (You are given permission to copy the forms directly from the pages of the book, but it is a tad bit smaller than the standard 8 1/2 x 11 of our 3-ring binders.)  Making my own forms (or printing similar forms from my TOS Planner) was not a terribly difficult task though.  High School Prep Genius is clear and concise and makes the planning process much easier and helps guarantee success for your students.

Pick up your family copy of High School Prep Genius for $29.95 and while you're there check out the excellent College Prep curriculum, as well.  You might remember that we reviewed the College Prep Genius SAT Class and it's still one of our favorite resources.  Visit the website today and help your family find success.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review High School Prep Genius by College Prep Genius as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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