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College Preparation

Preparation Outline

In today’s job market, it is becoming increasingly important that students pursue education after high school. You should begin to work with your student toward this end before he enters high school. Preparing early gives you time to gather all the information you will need, focus your student’s interests and goals, and plan what courses he should take.

The following outline summarizes tasks that should be completed prior to graduation. This list should be used as a guideline only. You may find as you approach graduation that some requirements should be added or deleted. We have included recommended times for taking the various college tests. Pursue these at your discretion. For descriptions of the various tests, see the summary of college exams.

This outline is designed primarily for college entrance, though it may be used in preparation for a trade school or other vocational program. For military entrance requirements, contact your local military recruiter.

Eighth Grade

  1. Begin to gather information on your student’s interests and goals, both vocational and spiritual. Plan for high school electives accordingly.

Ninth Grade

  1. Begin gathering information on your student’s preferences for college. Things to consider include: college type (e.g., public, private, Christian), school location (i.e., in-state, out-of-state, overseas), and size of campus and student body. Keep a list of your possible choices.

  2. Become familiar with the various college testing services—especially the ACT, and SAT. Compare their cost, subjects tested, and method of scoring.

  3. Contact a local public high school or ACT for registration information.

  4. Review your student’s career plan goals and course choices; make changes as needed.

Tenth Grade

  1. Begin narrowing your list of colleges by considering additional factors, including: cost, requirements for entrance, which college test (ACT/SAT) they accept, length of program (2-year or 4-year), composition of the student body (coed or single sex), and emphasized fields of study. You should contact the admissions office of schools high on your list to find out their admissions policy for home school students. (HSLDA has an article on this topic).

  2. Begin gathering information on financial aid, scholarships, and college savings plans. Check with the colleges on your list and with any independent sources such as major businesses and regional organizations. Most major libraries carry information about financial aid.

  3. You can search for scholarship and financial aid information online. However, extreme care should be taken since some sites will inundate you with advertisements and cookies. Some may even change your home page (and who knows what else).

  4. Contact a local high school or the college testing services for registration information and test dates for the PSAT, ACT, SAT tests.

  5. Review and adjust your student’s career plan goals and list of course choices as needed.

Eleventh Grade

  1. Register, prepare for, and take the PSAT, ACT, and SAT tests. The PSAT is only offered in the fall, so it is usually best to take the ACT and SAT I tests during the second semester.

  2. Consider taking the SAT II if a specialized course of study has recently been completed. If so, register, prepare for, and take this test. Remember, some subject tests are offered only once or twice a year. Take this into account when planning your test date.

  3. Begin visiting the colleges on your list. Official visits usually must be booked in advance. Attend any available college fairs. Afterward, narrow your college choices down to no more than three.

  4. Apply for all available scholarships and financial aid packages.

  5. Review your student’s career plan goals and course choices; make changes as needed.

Twelfth Grade

  1. Apply to the colleges on your list during the beginning of your school year.

  2. If you have not already done so, register, prepare for, and take the ACT and SAT tests.

  3. Consider taking the SAT II if a specialized course of study has recently been completed. If so, register, prepare for, and take this test. Remember, some subject tests are offered only once or twice a year. Take this into account when planning your test date.

  4. Consider retaking either the ACT or SAT I if you did poorly or believe you could improve your score.

  5. Apply for all available scholarships and financial aid packages. If you have applied for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), this form should be submitted in February.

  6. If you are accepted to more than one college, choose the one you will attend. Check with that school to see if you must meet any last minute requirements.

  7. Plan for graduation. Allow at least three months lead time before your projected graduation date so final grades and diploma can be processed.

  8. Review your student’s career plan goals and make changes as needed.


Planning for the Future

Career planning is not something you should attempt without your student’s knowledge or help. Although you can perform some of the steps involved, much of the decision making needs to come from the student. It is, after all, his future you are planning. As the parent, your primary objective is to guide your student through those decisions, offering: suggestions when options are overlooked, ideas when none can be found, and encouragement during the frustrating times of indecision and doubt. You may also find it necessary to do some of the initial information gathering so that this process gets started.

It is important for both you and your student to realize that no plans must be set in stone. You are merely planning a direction to pursue; one that can change as skills and interests develop.

Determining Interests and Goals

Collecting information on your student’s interests and goals can be time consuming and difficult— especially if your student is unsure of what he wants to be when he “grows up.” Remember, he does not need to determine at this time what his occupation will be; only in what direction his interests lie. Some students may state this as generally as “I like interacting with people,” or “I want to write.” Others may be more specific, stating they want to become a doctor or a scientist. Some may actually state a particular occupation they wish to pursue.

The following are four major areas which should form the basis of a possible career direction. This list is by no means definitive.

  1. Based on grades and classroom experience, make a list of subjects in which your student enjoys and/or excels. Note that students usually most enjoy the courses in which they excel.

  2. Ask your student what kinds of extra-curricular activities and hobbies he undertakes and enjoys; also, what does he do in his spare time? What kinds of skills are being used in these activities?

  3. Find out what he would like to become—what vocation he would like to pursue.

  4. Ask how your student’s relationship to God affects his goals in life and his career plans. This perspective can affect the student’s ultimate career direction (e.g., working as a doctor in a suburban hospital versus overseas through a missions organization). It can also help in determining which secondary, special-interest courses should be chosen.

Choosing Courses

If you have not already done so, look at the skills involved in the chosen general career direction. If you are unsure what skills are needed for a certain career, ask someone involved in that field or check your local library for more information. Once you know the skills required, you can determine how to lay out the courses to be pursued for each grade level.

When choosing your courses, it is usually helpful to lay out a plan that covers all of your remaining years of high school. This will allow you to incorporate any necessary prerequisites, balance your course load, and make sure everything “fits.”

Try to balance out each grade level to around 5.0 to 5.5 credits. Although a student may have as many as 7.5 credits in a given grade level, a course load this heavy should be reserved to those who have had experience homeschooling and are able to put in the time that will be necessary to do well.

First select those courses that will meet CLASS graduation requirements. Then, add any additional courses that are considered necessary for the career direction you have chosen. Finally, if your schedule allows, pick a few that you would take simply for enjoyment.

Remember to list your Additional Courses in the order you want them, since a number of limiting factors may prevent your student from taking all of the courses requested. These limiting factor include:

  1. The student selected too many courses and has exceeded our maximum 7.5 credit limit.

  2. The student’s standardized test scores do not show a level of proficiency necessary to take a desired course.

  3. Prerequisites prevent the student from taking a desired course.

  4. The course is no longer offered by Christian Liberty.


Many subjects require knowledge of certain ideas and formulas before they can be properly studied. Preliminary work—prerequisite coursework—is needed to introduce foundational concepts and prevent knowledge gaps from occurring. For example:

John, an eighth grade student who is currently taking Algebra 1, wishes to pursue a science degree and needs as much math as possible. He decides that calculus would be the best course to meet his goal. However, calculus could not be taken at the ninth grade because it requires a foundation in several math skills that John has not yet mastered. If he took the course now, he would fail it. In order to properly attain this foundation, he would likely need to follow the progression listed below:
    Ninth Grade        Tenth Grade         Eleventh Grade         Twelfth Grade
    Algebra 2               Geometry*            Trigonometry*            Calculus
*Students who excel in math may choose to replace geometry and trigonometry with Advanced Math (by Saxon). This course combines these two subjects and will prepare the student for calculus.

Note that if John was currently taking a general math course instead of Algebra 1, he would not be able to take calculus before graduating because too many prerequisites precede it. He would likely only reach geometry under the following progression.
    Ninth Grade         Tenth Grade         Eleventh Grade         Twelfth Grade
    Pre-Algebra            Algebra 1               Algebra 2                     Geometry

Each course offered under High School Choice lists the prerequisites that must be successfully completed prior to taking that course. Remember to check each prerequisite course to see if it also has its own prerequisites.

Rounding Out Your Education

A proper education is not limited to what Christian Liberty offers. Independent coursework, internships and apprenticeships, and on-the-job training are all a part of a well-rounded curriculum.

Obtaining College Information

Information on colleges can be obtained from high school career centers, libraries, the Internet, and the colleges themselves. If you are unsure which institution to attend, you should first visit your high schools and libraries and peruse their books that list all colleges by geographical region. Then, after you have started selecting institutions, contact those colleges for information on their: campus, entrance requirements, statement of faith/philosophy, financial aid, scholarships, etc. If you have specific questions, include them with your information request. Also, make follow-up inquiries if needed.

Your first contact with colleges should be during your late sophomore or early junior year. This should provide ample time to gather all necessary information yet also leave you time to take any college testing that they require. Except for those situations where it is easier to visit a college than to correspond by mail, you need not visit a campus unless you are seriously considering attending.

Other Web sites

The following Web sites may prove useful in your search for college testing and financial aid information, as well as provide background on the colleges you may wish to attend.

ACT’s official Web site

SallieMae’s college planner – Prepare and select the college that is right for you. Includes financing options and scholarship search.

SAT’s official Web site

Loan comparison and consolidation, scholarship and college searches, career profiles, payment calculators, and more

Information on loans, grants, and scholarships; the college search process; and understanding financial aid. Also includes a section on Christian colleges and universities. 

Online federal financial aid form

Financial aid information

Scholarship information and helps for those interested in career colleges

Search for colleges based on criteria you select. Includes a list of scholarships available from each school, as well as the ability to search for others.

College search and financial aid information

Information about colleges and universities, college testing, and financial aid

SallieMae's free scholarship search site

Scholarship and financial aid information

Provides the tools needed to make informed decisions about obtaining scholarships and other forms of financial aid.

Find student loans for the college you plan to attend.

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