College Bound Check List






















4 YEAR PLAN:  The courses you select with your high school student should reflect two things, the graduation requirements of your state and your child’s interest.  If your child knows that they are interested in engineering, use their electives to dive deeper into that area.  Think of it like graduating from high school with a minor degree.  Wait, your child does not yet know what they are passionate about?  That is perfectly fine and normal.  Use their electives to try many vast and varied areas from academic-non-core to non-academic-non-core.  Please don’t be rigid in never adjusting your original 4-year plan, and please don’t follow a 4-year model simply because you think it will lead your child through the perfect college archway.   That does not imply that you ought not to plan for college.  You should do much planning- even if you do not think that your child will attend college.  Has your life gone exactly as you planned at the age of 15?

  • Be willing to shift as needed – love that about homeschool!!
  • Review your plan annually
    • At the point that your child has a few colleges of interest, have your student call them and ask what they like to see on incoming transcripts.  This may lead you toward adding another foreign language or additional science
  • Math is a vital subject to continued education.  More is always better than less, but not a deal breaker if you use alternative math such as break Algebra into a 2-year course, finances, business math, consumer math, etc
  • English will never let you down, especially when it is time to write college essays- practice!
  • Science can follow a passion or just the usual that your state suggests
  • Social Studies (History) has a few ‘you musts’ and a few ‘as you likes’- you can be creative with your history in order to create a broader worldview than one text/author or you can simply follow a text/course and be done with it.  We love expanding our children’s worldviews, so we used many sources from many cultures and counted our hours toward Carnegie Units
  • Electives as state above should either indicate your child’s area of interest or show that your child is seeking their area of interest
  • PE can be counted by hours of activity, no matter what the activity, alongside nutritional lessons while shopping, cooking, doctor’s visits, Birds and the Bees chats, etc.

COURSE DESCRIPTION  Put these in your High School Records Notebook year by year.  If you are using a textbook, the publisher often has the course description on their website.  If you can’t find it, contact or call them.  If you are taking a course outside of the home, the instructor will hand out a syllabus including the course description.   If you have created a course using various resources, include any all book titles with ISBN #’s and create a short (1-2 paragraph) write up of covered subjects.  Less is more.  SAMPLE

GRADING RUBRIC  Sounds fancy, but it is a wonderfully freeing planned, fair, and methodical manner of grading.  Grades are not required until high school, and not recommended by Faithful Scholars in elementary school, so begin this practice sometime during the middle school years in order that you might be at ease once it becomes a (high school) necessity. Each and every teacher has their own unique manner/method of grading which may seem ‘grey’ and frustrating, but it’s truly good news for we homeschool graders–This means that we can create our own methods/forms that work accordingly with our unique styles of organization and individual levels of expectation.

For Example, Math may allow partial credit or simply correct and incorrect.  Composition may include effort, neatness, content, grammar, spelling or any variation thereof -or more -or fewer (requirements).  You are able to tailor make your grading rubric to fit your student.  Just be sure that you can support your grades as being fair according to academic standards and not according to our mama’s hearts or the desire for scholarship monies.  This is where the balance with standardized tests and dual credit courses comes into play. 

AP  These tests seem to be a great way to earn a GPA bump in most states, but be absolutely certain that both the course AND the instructor are College Board approved.

AP TESTING  Any student can independently study and take an AP exam.  This looks fabulous on a homeschool, high school resume, it may count toward college credit (check with your college(s) of choice), but taking the exam without participating in a College Board approved course (with approved instructor) does not merit a GPA bump.

DUAL CREDIT  Most towns and cities have Tech, Trade, and Community colleges that welcome homeschooled high schoolers to partake in their courses at about 1/3+ the cost of traditional college fees.  As the mainstream colleges recognize this money maker, they are quickly jumping on the bandwagon of offering us courses as well.  Another new trend is online courses available to every population (even you, mom/dad!).  The downside to most dual credit classes is that the academic rigor is not up to the standards of the typical homeschool (at home or program) course.  The upside is that your child becomes familiar with taking courses from professors who may not care what just happened in life or if they even show up for class, they learn how to navigate selecting and signing up for classes, and navigating a campus.

The grades earned through dual credit should easily match those earned at home!!  When they don’t, colleges take this as a red flag.  Legally, you need to place each course and grade on your high schoolers transcript, however, you do not need to count it in the GPA.  Colleges will pull all transcripts, so don’t raise another red flag by trying to conceal a poor grade.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES  Colleges love to see incoming students who are passionate about things.  Sometimes our children do not excel academically or test well.  Extracurricular activities that drive a student to dig deep and go beyond the normal rigor indicate another type of excellence.   Living ‘beyond the books’ leads toward independence, problem-solving, conflict solution, and more.  In short, it is what allows your student to become better rounded.  A great academic mind can only take another person as far as the lesson goes.  A well rounded great academic mind can take them beyond the lesson which is where we need to go in order to effect change.

  • Sports clubs, weight training, mountain biking, BMX, Camping, training for the Olympics
  • Job and work experience, including mentorship, apprenticeship, volunteering
  • Fine arts, drama, music, choir,
  • Earning awards in any area is a feather in your college cap to show off
  • If your child cannot pin down one or two areas of passion (the recommended route), don’t sweat it.  God does not plan failure for any of His children because they do not fit the mold.  He did not fit the mold.  A sure way to lead them toward distress is to try to conform them to the mold.  Find peace, and move forward.  If college is what they seek, college is what they will have.  Perhaps just not through the front door.  Let’s talk about this here and now:

COMMUNITY SERVICE  Community Service has been overdone which makes it passe.  It does not make it irrelevant!  Continue joining into community service opportunities in your area, but know that if you really want to rise to the top of the college application pile, your student will need more than just community service listed as their “I care about others” check off.

Where does that leave you?   The easiest would be to guide them toward leading, organizing, growing, or reforming an existing community service platform, but the one that will draw more attention involves expanding your child’s area of interest into something remarkable.  This is something that Faithful Scholars LOVES to help parents/student discern.  If you would like to set up a private 30 minute Skype meeting to brainstorm the possibilities, GO HERE.

STANDARDIZED TESTS vs. GPA  This is an area to which we homeschoolers need to give greater focus.

GPA  High GPA’s are a given among homeschoolers and perfectly understandable.  We are able to tailor make our courses to fit our child(ren)s learning style, ability, lifestyle, with consideration given to any and all bumps in the road along the way.  They need not move at breakneck speed, they can shift gears when life tosses a curveball, and they can re-do, re-test, and re-claim along the way.

STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES   Test scores are not more important than Pre-calc or Chemistry, but come time to apply for colleges, it’s weight equals that of GPA.  Making Test Taking Skills a part of your lessons each year could earn your child the ‘look’ they desire from a college registrar.   Curious if your GPA matches your test scores?   Converting GPA to SAT scores and Converting GPA to ACT score

TEST-TAKING SCHEDULES  What tests and when to take them makes a difference, so work this into your 4-year plan.  College Board is presently king of the standardized test taking world, but another group called Vector ARC is vying for a position.  Check with your college(s) to make sure they will accept scores from which/either entity.  One of my sons could take either and the other had to stick with College Boards.  If your college accepts either, go with the new guy on the block.  This is a huge money racket for a 2-hour snapshot of your child’s academic knowledge.

ACT Test Dates & Deadlines

Test Date


ACT Scores Available

September 8, 2018

, August 10th

September 18th

October 27, 2018

September 28th

November 6th

December 8, 2018

November 2nd

December 18th

February 9, 2019

January 11th

February 19th

April 13, 2019

March 8th

April 23rd

June 8, 2019

May 3rd

June 18th

July 13, 2019

June 14th

July 23rd

SAT Test Dates & Deadlines

SAT Test Date

Registration Deadline

SAT Scores Available

August 25, 2018

July 27th

September 7th

October 6, 2018

September 7th

October 19th

November 3, 2018

October 5th

November 16th

December 1, 2018

November 2nd

December 14th

March 9, 2019

February 8th

March 22nd

May 4, 2019

April 5th

May 17th

June 1, 2019

May 3rd

July 10th

PSAT/NMSQT  The PSAT is administered by each high school on an individual basis (rather than at designated test centers like the SAT). This means that high schools get to decide which date to offer to students.  Taking the PSAT can begin as early as the 7th grade and carries much hidden benefit.  If you score above 96%, you qualify as a National Merit Scholar.  This comes with prestige toward your high school resume in the least and toward scholarship monies at the most.  It is an often overlooked (financial) merit among homeschoolers.

PSAT 10/11 TEST DATES  October is the traditional month for juniors taking the PSAT.  This is the year that counts if you are going for awards and scholarhsip monies.  Sign up by May.

  • Primary: Wednesday, Oct. 10
  • Alternate: Wednesday, Oct. 24
  • Saturday: Oct. 13

PSAT 10  sign up by December for a practice run toward qualifying and practice taking the SAT

  • February 25–March 29, 2019
  • April 1–26, 2019

PSAT 8/9   Sign up 6 weeks prior to your local school’s testing (check with CB for schools near you).  This is a practice run toward qualifying and practice taking the SAT

  • September 24, 2018–March 29, 2019*
  • April 1–26, 2019

TRANSCRIPTS AND RECORDS  When your child has decided upon a few colleges, have him/her call to see what high school records they would like to see.  Your membership with Faithful Scholars Guidance includes annual transcripts and guidance in creating course descriptions, grading criteria, and other per college requirements.


  1. Homeschool students earned a higher ACT score (26.5) versus 25.0 for other incoming freshmen.
  2. Homeschool students earned more college credits (14.7) prior to their freshmen year than other students (6.0).
  3. Homeschooled freshmen were less likely to live on campus (72.4%) than the rest of the freshmen class (92.7%).
  4. Homeschoolers were more likely to identify themselves as Roman Catholic (68.4%).
  5. Homeschool freshmen earned a higher grade points average (3.37 ) their first semester in college compared with the other freshmen (3.08).
  6. Homeschool students finished their freshmen year with a better GPA (3.41) than the rest of their class (3.12).
  7. The GPA advantage was still present when homeschoolers were college seniors. Their average GPA was 3.46 versus 3.16 for other seniors.
  8. Homeschool students graduated from college at a higher rate (66.7%) than their peers (57.5%)

COLLEGES REACT  The great news is that colleges have experienced enough homeschoolers passing through their hallowed halls to know that moms are not ‘grading easy’. Rather, they are teaching differently with a focus on ‘lighting a fire’ vs. ‘completing a list’.

Across the nation, heck, across the world, homeschoolers have earned a great reputation for being long-term safe bets to accept into any and all colleges.  I could find no statistics against this statement, although I did find a few that still felt socialization was a problem.  I wrote to them and said that, indeed, it is a problem!  There are so many social opportunities for my children/family that it is difficult to carve out enough time each day to get their studies completed.  I have not heard back.

COLLEGE SIDE DOORS VS. THE SINGLE FRONT DOOR  We all think that to get into college we must enter the same race and achieve the same heights to be judged against everyone else’s great heights and pray that the massive door opens to our child.  We lose our peace (heck, we lose our sanity) by thinking in this traditional school manner.  Colleges have a limitless amount of ‘side doors’.  They are a business.  If they can get your child in through any door, they will.  They want your business- especially if you are a homeschooler!

IF YOUR CHILD DOES NOT MAKE IT IN THE FRONT DOOR  If your child’s first choice does not pan out, regardless if it is commonly termed ‘within his/her reach’, go talk to the registrar and find out what it will take to gain entry.  The answers will vary from:

  • Take a gap year and do (they will give you suggestions)
  • Transfer from a community college after (they will give you a specific time)
  • Re-Apply after the first semester (check drop out rates)
  • Other college by college creative solutions

COLLEGE APPLICATIONS  These are getting easier each year as many colleges can accept the Common App which allows your child to begin uploading and updating their information as early as 9th grade.  Not all schools accept the Common App.  These do.

Outside of the Common App, you should have your child begin their college application earlier rather than later.  That being said, any college guidance counselor worth his/her weight in gold will tell you that many high school juniors change their minds about college choice in the last half of their senior year.  I can attest to seeing this occur more times than not over the course of serving hundreds of homeschool high school students.  It is a phenomenon to be sure.

A NOTE ON ESSAYS  College like to read essays based upon an area in which you failed miserably and how you overcame your failure OR on an area within your community in which you will be missed and why.  It is a tricky balance to toute your strengths and merits without coming off like a braggart.  Practice and time make perfect–and editors!