You all know that I’m using Lee Binz’s Total Transcript Solution to keep our high school years on track for creating that important document. And she held that fantastic webinar about transcripts and high school credits which you can watch online.
So I’m a Lee Binz fan. When she told me she had a new book coming out, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it. The full title is The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships: Homeschool Secrets to Getting Ready, Getting In and Getting Paid (affiliate link at Amazon).
Learning from the Home Scholar
I have to say that Lee knows her stuff. There is one part of the book that I initially thought was silly. And in a matter of four days, I was struck by how right she is!
There is a chapter where she talks about specialization and delight directed learning. She advises us to make courses (or give high school credit) for our children’s passions. Everyone has the same four years of English, two years of foreign language, American history, and so on. The trick is to make your child’s transcript stand out from the rest with specialization that features your child’s unique giftings.
She says that some parents have a hard time finding those unique areas. So to help you identify your child’s passions, she gives a strange test — annoyance. She says that the area where our child specializes is the area that probably annoys us with messes or inordinate attention. I thought, “This doesn’t really apply to me; I never get annoyed by Emma’s special passions.”
Whoops! Four days after I read that section, we were in Costco. I found myself saying, “Please put that origami down and help me pick out some food!”
I realized that her crafty passion was annoying me. Lee, you are a smart cookie! (And yes, I documented the moment with my iPhone. Emma was too busy folding cranes to protest.)
Thanks to Lee’s book, I had a great discussion with Emma about how she could document some of the conversations she has with friends for her psychology class. She is the one in her social group that everyone goes to for counseling. And she really enjoys helping them. I see this as a potential passion since Emma has considered going into Biblical counseling as a career.
I’m not talking about giving credit for texting friends. But if Emma documents the disagreements her friends have and outlines the underlying motivations behind their behavior, that’s psychology work! Then if she researches principles in her books and applies them to the scenarios, that’s worth high school credit!
Parts of The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships (aff) meshed really well with Vicki Tillman’s session on transcripts and helped me see that earning high school credit doesn’t have to be scary or drudgery. In fact, we have a wonderful chance to portray all the unique traits of our children in ways that a public school could not.
Looking Toward the Finish Line of High School
If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, you will get a kick out of the quotes Lee put at the beginning of each chapter. I’m not a fan, but I have suffered through it at least once, so I could understand most of the connections she made to her chapters. Her style is straightforward and easy to read.
I appreciate that although she incorporates meaningful anecdotes from her sons’ experiences and from her years of consulting other parents, she doesn’t pad the book with a lot of silly stories to make her points. Lee Binz is no-nonsense and to the point with a very empowering tone. You finish each chapter feeling that you have the know-how you need or at least you know where to go find more information. At the end of each chapter, Lee succinctly outlines the key points by way of review. I read those outline boxes for the few chapters that I skimmed over to make sure I didn’t miss any critical facts or hidden gems in the chapters I either am not ready for or don’t apply to us.
I was so thankful that Lee outlined detailed advice about the PSAT. I had little understanding about that test, and I would not have known to go searching for it. Now I know why it’s so important for Emma to take it, and I know when we need to sign up and how to go about doing that. That one tip makes the book worth its price, in my opinion. But there’s plenty more of course.
Some of the chapters are a bit beyond our goals or don’t fit our situation (at this point) like getting into ivy league schools, taking a gap year, and restarting after a crisis year. But the section on college applications, essays, and interviews, although still a few years away, was top on my list to read. I am already looking forward to hunting for college fairs and making college visits with Emma thanks to Lee’s book.
I wholeheartedly recommend The HomeScholar Guide to College Admission and Scholarships (aff) to any homeschool mom. I suggest that you read it before or during your child’s freshman year for maximum impact. I’m a planner, and I love having a better vision for what grades 10, 11, and 12 should be like to optimize Emma’s college admission process. I got this book at just the right time. It will be sitting on the shelf right beside my other homeschooling teen books, but I suspect it will get pulled down more and more as we reach Emma’s junior year. This is not a book to read once and let collect dust.