School Mistakes Were Made

My school of choice starts admissions in May (fingers crossed for acceptance!!) so in mid-March, just before spring break, I emailed the admissions office to double check that everything was OK for applying. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you’re homeschooled, to ensure you have everything you need for the application process. Admissions wrote back and said that I would need to take the required courses for Kinesiology through an Ontario high school in order to be considered for admissions. In retrospect, this makes complete sense and they had said that in the requirements, but I assumed that it was just the school saying it was easier for them if you go to public school for grade 12. They want everyone to be evaluated as fairly as possible, so having homeschool applicants take at least the required courses through a public school takes everyone to a level playing field.

In order to be considered for Fall 2018, I had to submit progress grades within 2 weeks (hence the short hiatus) of having emailed the school. This meant that taking these required courses at a public school was not an option for the time crunch. So, I enrolled in an online public school that allows students to work at their own pace. In future posts, I will talk more about the experience of switching to an online public school. Progress grades were submitted within the short time limits and currently, I’m working on fully finishing the courses!

Some points if I were to do this again/tips

  • Email admissions early! About as soon as you apply, that way you have plenty of time to do whatever else may be required.
  • They only required 4 courses in the final year to be taken with a public school, so you do not need a whole year’s course load at a public school. Other schools may be different, though. I only double checked with my #1 school choice.
  • It was actually a benefit having a time crunch because it forced me to get lots of schoolwork done. Good motivation.
  • The first term of grade 12 can be homeschool courses (I would take things relating to the required public school courses because there would be less pressure initially and more time to fully learn concepts) and the second term can be public school courses.
  • Even though it’s been stressful, overall it’s not too bad. The more I work for this the better it will feel once it’s over and hopefully once they accept.

 

 

P.S. It’s Peri

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Scholarship Struggles

Scholarships have been a bit of a struggle in the journey to university. They either require you to have done something very extraordinary ( which is definitely justifiable! ) or it seems like the places are just getting you to do their work for them. It’s been overwhelming with the amounts of scholarships available and trying to figure out what ones are actually worth pursuing.

 

Scholarships in Canada and some websites to find them

It’s worth looking around as early as possible for scholarships. I started looking into them last fall and most of the smaller ( about $1000 and under ) scholarships required it to be the year in which you’d be attending university. I would thoroughly check out the major scholarships but if you haven’t done anything too crazy it’s not worth spending a lot of time trying to find huge scholarships.  Apply instead for as many smaller ones as possible! When you apply to universities and if you meet the scholarship requirements, schools will automatically consider you for some of their scholarships.

Scholarship sites for Canada

I’ve been using yconic.com which I like because they send emails with contests in which  you can win money for university. Contests are a good, easy and a generally pretty hassle-free way to try and get some school money. I also use scholarshipscanada.com.  They do not send email updates of scholarships I qualify for, which would be nice. Generally, you fill out a very detailed profile and they match you to any available scholarships. It’s not too overwhelming and there are quite a few options out there.

 

Not finding any

I haven’t actually applied for any yet! There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Applied Health specific ones, nor has there been any school-specific ones. The only scholarships I have found so far have been things like “design 3 T-shirts and you can win $25” ( that was legit one of them! ), or a lot of work for very little money. Once I have finished my schoolwork I will spend a lot more time on scholarships, though, because offsetting costs will be worth it!

 

Are there any fellow Canadians out there looking for scholarships, what sites do you use? Any other homeschoolers struggling with finding good scholarships?

 

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University Backup Plans

It can be a little nerve-wracking to be waiting for the responses on university applications. To try to calm myself, I decided to come up with several backup plans depending on what situation might happen, especially if I do not -for some reason- get accepted into any of the schools.

 

Why it’s a good idea to come up with backup plans

It’s like a security net if you don’t get accepted, no worries, you’ve got a plan on what to do from here on out. I would think that I would feel a little defeated, but with some backup plans, I know that I’ll just take another route to get to where I want to be, which brings us to the next point.

 

Figure out where you want to be

This can be really hard but doesn’t have to be. Where do you want to be in 5 or even 10 years? What do you want to be doing? How are you going to get there? I already know that I want to be doing something in health and fitness, so I made a list of the possible careers that I’m interested in, ranking them from the ones that require the most education to the very least. Some of the ones with little education I can start on as soon as possible to try to get me to the careers that require more advanced education. I would like to do physiotherapy so something related to that would be a fitness instructor.  I researched and found out that courses in fitness instruction don’t take terribly long so I can become certified and reapply to school the next year while working as an instructor.

Make a flow chart

“If this then that” can pretty much organize all different situations. If I’m accepted to the school of choice then go to the school of choice. If I’m not accepted then go to the backup plans. It’s also a good spot to keep all of your ideas for other plans so they’re not forgotten at all.

 

I’m confident that I will not need the backup plans but it makes me feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the world won’t end if things don’t work out with the exact plan I had in mind!

 

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Finishing Uni Application

As part of the homeschool student university application, you’re required to send a cover letter with your course description and transcripts. This was the last major step in my university application before they could all be sent out.

 

Cover Letter

I was originally nervous about writing the cover letter because it’s basically the first impression of yourself to the schools and it should be really good. I find I also overthink things and that I didn’t have to worry about the letters, I just needed to get down to business ( like in the Mulan song ) and write them. letsgetdowntobusiness.gif

Formatting the letter

After googling around to try to read up on cover letter writing I found this method that I most liked.

Paragraph 1

This paragraph should be who you are and why you’re writing. In this case, I included what program I was applying to and what my goal of going into this Kinesiology is.

Paragraph 2

This is where you tell them about yourself and why you’re a good fit for them. The one school had required I give a history of why I chose to homeschool and what curriculum I followed so this is where I added those things.

Paragraph 3

The experience you’ve previously had that would add to your value for applying goes here. I put in my volunteer experience and things that have lead me to the path of Kin. Also, where you brag about yourself a little!

Paragraph 4

The closing paragraph should tell them why that school is special and why you want to go there as opposed to other schools. Brag about them here!

Sending the application off!

I thought that the whole application would be able to be uploaded online but that is not the case. The official transcripts must be mailed in with the course description and cover letter. My mom and I finally finished up the descriptions, printed off everything, then went to the post office to send everything off! It was exciting since it meant mostly everything for the applications are done and now it’s a lot of waiting for the schools to confirm that they’ve received the paperwork and more waiting until they’ve hopefully accepted me!

 

Are there more aspects to homeschooling high school you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments!

 

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I Survived The SATs!

The universities that I would like to go to recommended that homeschool students take a standardized test to apply ( why? ) and I chose the SAT without the essay.

 

Preparing

Taking as many practice test as you possibly can ( it sounds extreme but I think lots of practice tests are very important ) help so much! Khan Academy Official Practice made the whole test experience a lot easier. Around 2 months before the test date, I took the first full-length practice test on Khan Academy so it could see where I struggled and where I excelled to make a plan. It recommends what subjects need to be worked on based on the previous practice tests’ scores. Screenshot 2018-01-15 at 1.08.44 PM

Every day up until the test day I spent about 20 minutes – so I didn’t get overwhelmed or burnt out – working on the topics it recommended and every other week I took a full-length practice test to pretend it was the real test day. The week of the actual test I took full-length practice tests every other day because I wanted to get the nerves of the test out a bit. At some point, test scores seem to stop varying much and stick within a range. I had a 90 point range with all of the practice tests. I got around the same score every time except for a few really bad days and one really great score day. My final score ended up being right in this range and the official score had a 70 point range predicting that if I retook the test it would also fall within the same range.

Khan Academy also has lots of tips and tricks on how to take the test. In the comments on their pages, people have shared things about their experiences and lots of helpful tips, too.

 

Registering

All SAT test registration is done through the CollegeBoard. As I had said in the previous post on SATs, it is good to sign up well in advance to get a test centre close by. My uni applications all have a deadline of March 1st for getting the docs in, so this was my only chance to take the test and do well. If I were to do it again, I would take the SATs a little earlier in case my score wasn’t a good representation of my skills. But the benefit is I knew I did my very best this time and it probably wouldn’t be much better if I had taken the test again.

I didn’t do my full registration, I had my mom do it because I was afraid I would miss something. They require a photo which they seem very picky about but really as long as you can tell who you are from the picture it is fine. There is a fee for the test and it is more for those outside of the US. They also want you to fill out info forms for scholarships but those scholarships are just for the US, so I did not fill them out.

 

Test day

I had to get up at 6am, which, as a homeschooler that doesn’t usually have to wake up very early, was the worst part of the whole test, I also didn’t fall asleep until late so that didn’t help, but that’s why coffee exists! The first thing that happens when you arrive at the Test Centre is the check your ID and admission ticket. I went in before it was technically open but that also meant I was one of the first people out once the test was done. After getting ID checked, I went to the Test Room where everyone was lined up and handing in their phones to be set aside during the test, I did not take my phone with me. There was quite a bit of waiting for everyone to get in, which I didn’t really mind since it was my first time ever in a non-university classroom, I liked looking around at everything. The test supervisor handed out test booklets and workbooks, explained the rules and there was signing to agree that you weren’t cheating or anything, and then the first part of the test began. Each part passed by with breaks in between, I made the mistake of not standing up when it was break time and sitting in the chair for 4 hours got very uncomfortable. It was very nice once the test was over and the relief of it being done, and I could get out of the chair.

 

Scores

The scores were sent out about a week later. They email to tell you they have arrived and you can view them through the CollegeBoard website, where they also heavily break the scores down and explain where points came from and where you did well. I was satisfied with my score but I know I could have done better with timing. The time flies by during the actual test.

Official scores are sent to the schools you’ve applied to through the CollegeBoard for a fee to ship them. It took awhile to find the code for the schools since they’re outside of the US but with some searching around they were found. Scores were sent off and that’s it for the standardized test part of the application!

 

 

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Why Take The ACT Or SAT Test To Apply To Uni In ON?

As a homeschooler in Ontario, it is highly recommended – and required in order to apply to some schools – that you take either the SAT or the ACT standardized tests before applying to university. In Canada, public school students are not required to take these tests unless they are applying to schools outside of Canada, unlike in the United States where every high school student must take these tests.

 

Why take these tests?

It helps the universities bring all the students who did not attend a local high school to about the same playing field and judge them fairly. It can also give them more proof of how well you do in some subjects and that you’ve actually learnt things, basically just insurance that you have actually had an education.

 

What standardized test to take?

There are the ACT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests that can be taken and used for your application. All of the schools I wanted to apply to did not specify if they wanted ACT or SAT and the SAT test date was sooner than the ACT date so I went with the SAT test. One of the schools asked for homeschool students to have taken 3 SAT Subject Tests that correlated to the program you’re applying to, for example, I would have to take the Chemistry, Biology and Math tests in order apply to Kinesiology. However, I was too late for signing up for the Subject Tests and just went with the original SAT test without the essay.  I recommend signing up for the tests well in advance to ensure you get a spot at a test centre nearby and that you can get the tests that you want!

 

More on my experience taking the SAT coming soon! For more on university requirements for homeschoolers in Ontario look here.

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Tackling Transcripts

My mom and I have dreaded high school transcripts from the start. I didn’t follow one exact curriculum and did courses that worked best for me and took a huge variety of classes so the whole transcript process has been daunting. Luckily, it isn’t really that bad!

The process

Before I go into the process I just need to say if you’re homeschooling high school I highly recommend writing down all educational things you do in detail, even if it’s just slightly educational. We had been keeping track of the courses I was taking, but I think last year and this year I didn’t write down everything I did. Luckily, it wasn’t that long ago so I know what courses I had taken, but if I hadn’t written down things from Grade 9 or 10, I definitely wouldn’t have remembered everything.

So, the first step was to lay out all the courses I had taken and basically “translate” them to public school “language”. Things such as art – I drew freely, took online art requests, art classes, art history and appreciation, etc. – we summarized into Integrated Arts, for convenience to the schools.  The goal is to make everything as easy as possible for the schools and whoever is looking over the applications. We wrote each course on a post-it note and separated them into each grade.  We double checked the required credits for this province to graduate to ensure I had all of the courses, we also checked the required courses for Kinesiology

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Post-its with the name of courses, divided by what grade they were taken in

in university to make sure I was set for that. Everything was good there, so the next step was to move everything into an online spreadsheet. We used Google Sheets and just wrote down each course separated by year. The universities require that you write down how much time and how many weeks you’ve spent on each course. This is a good thing to write down, too! It wasn’t too hard to come up with but it did take awhile to figure out how long was spent and how many weeks since I didn’t usually take summers off and would only take maybe a few weeks per year off. On average I spent 39 hours every week doing school as opposed to the public school average of 35.

Course descriptions

After time spent, grades and all of the courses were written down in the spreadsheet, we had to make detailed course descriptions. Technically, these aren’t part of the transcripts. Transcripts are just the course names, time, and grades, the descriptions are separate and will be uploaded to the schools separately. But since we were already going through all of my courses it made sense to do these at this time, too. This is where it would be most helpful to have everything previously written down and described in detail. It has been a several day process to get through all of the descriptions. I looked up what the courses descriptions were from the websites of the courses and copied all of them into a doc to have all of the info in one spot and not rely on memory for the exact things I’ve learnt. From there my mom and I have been writing descriptions and editing them down so everything is very brief and detailed. It’s pretty time consuming but soon we’ll have them all done and be able to send them to the schools. Once everything is done it will be uploaded to the schools through their student centres and they will alert when they’ve received the docs.

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Applying To University In Ontario As A Homeschooler

In Ontario, all university applications go through the Ontario University Application Centre ( OUAC ). There are 2 main ways of applications, 101 for students in public high school and 105 for all of those who are not in a public school. And since I am Canadian my application was 105d, standing for domestic. Before any documents can be sent to the universities you have to apply to the schools through the OUAC.

 

OUAC application

The OUAC was actually pretty simple once I realized it wasn’t the full on applications to the schools. The first step was making an account for OUAC and putting in my info about where I lived, how to contact me and where my previous education was from. Next was picking out the programs I’m applying to and what schools. You have to pick 3. And that was it! There’s a fee, which was more expensive than I was expecting but maybe because my applications have to be individually looked over by someone.

 

Acknowledgement and setting up accounts

After applying through OUAC, all of the schools sent emails of acknowledgement, I was excited for this because it makes it seem so real! The first one came within about 3 days and the others took almost a week. With each email, they sent a username and password for my account in each of the schools’ student centre websites and an email address with the school where they would contact me. The first one I spent around 2 hours setting up my account and exploring the student centre site. This is where they contact you, keep track of your application status, finances, choose your classes, basically where you do everything.  I ensured that all of my personal info was right and that they had the right program. Within a day or 2 after getting my account set up, my application had been reviewed and they sent a list of required documents and prefered deadlines.  Now I will be able to send them standardized test scores, transcripts, and other docs they would like. The first major step is done!

 

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University Requirements For Homeschoolers

I am lucky to have pretty easily picked out the schools that I would like to apply to, which really narrowed down what my requirements as a homeschooler had to be.

 

Requirements and the to-do list

Requirements vary from school to school but the basic idea of what they want is all the same.

  • Results from a standardized test such as the SATs or ACTs. – To make sure you are up to par with the students coming in from public schools.
  • Transcripts of high school courses. – To see what you’ve done over the years.
  • Cover letter describing the curriculum you used to homeschool, why you homeschooled and your plans for your university journey.
  • And required courses for the program you’re going into.

 

Finding requirements

Some schools are very accepting of homeschoolers and have everything laid out nicely with regards as to what they want to see, others were harder to find and said that it would be best to just go to public school. I found the easiest way to find what the homeschool student requirements were was to just Google the school name and “homeschool requirements”. Contacting an admissions officer would be a good step, too. All of the requirements felt a bit overwhelming, but one step at a time and they’re all getting done and it’s not as bad as it seemed at first!

 

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Homeschooling Vs Public School For Grade 12 – Why I Continued Homeschooling

Lots of people go to public high school for at least the final year of homeschooling high school, the universities recommend it and it can be simpler. But, after much debating, I decided to try to pioneer my way through the last year of homeschooling high school and into the world beyond.

Why I continued homeschooling

There were benefits to both going to public school and homeschooling this year. Going to school would make applying easier, I wouldn’t have to find the right standardized tests for each school, wouldn’t have as much work to do personally on applying so I could focus on the schoolwork itself. But there were many downsides to going to school: having never been to public school before, the whole situation would take getting used to. I’ve spent many years trying to stand out from public school and going to school for the final year would be setting me back, in my opinion. So, I decided to stay. Personally, there are many benefits to staying, such as: being able to stand out in university applications because every homeschoolers’ application is individually evaluated, so there is no chance of mine being missed. No getting used to a new environment of a public school, I can do courses that specifically relate to what I would like to go to university for so I am more prepared and it looks better on applications, more free time and less stress because I have more control over my application and schoolwork. Plus, it is an adventure to go through this not-so-common process!

And since I have not found much on life as a homeschool high school student, I hope to keep this more updated about the process of applying and how things are going! If you have any questions or there are posts you want to see, let me know in the comments!

 

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