Exams With Online School

In order to fully complete my online courses, I had to take final exams.

The experience & what was required

I had never taken an official exam before this, besides the SATs but it turns out those were different. The SATs had set studying (Khan Academy SAT Practice) so I didn’t have to figure out how to study. All I needed to do was go through the SAT Practice. This time I was rather unprepared even though they provided a practice exam. The stress to finish fast and effectively took over in the first exam. Luckily by the last exam, it was not half as nervewracking.

The exam took place at a library with a proctor. Some online school exams can be proctored through a program and completed online, or with an in-person proctor you provide but still taken online. There were other students there taking other exams. You had to show photo ID to ensure you didn’t just get someone else to write the test (a very smart identical twin would be handy) and sign that you had taken the test. Each test was 2 hours. After the tests were completed they were sent to the ILC’s main office and it took about a week until I got my grades back.

Study method

Eventually, after several of the tests, I figured out a study method that seemed to work well.

  • If the practice exam is given, go through the questions and the answers to figure out what kind of questions are going to be asked and where you may struggle.
  • Review every lesson, concept, practice questions in the lesson and assignments. Especially the questions that are similar to the practice exam ones.
  • Ask yourself questions, Google to find extra questions on those topics, do questions out of the textbook. This ensures you know the topics. You could also teach concepts to someone else.
  • Take the practice exam mimicking the conditions you’ll be taking the real exam in.
  • Final review of everything before taking the test. Plus remain calm before the test, you’re almost finished!

I have learnt exam taking is not my strongest skill and I am working to get better at it! Do you have any study method that works best for you?

P.S. It’s Peri

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Accepted!!

After a few setbacks and much work, I was accepted into my top choice university!!

Finding out

University Number 1 only did admissions throughout the month of May. So, I was expecting to have to wait towards the end of the month or at least later on to hear back from the school. The first day of May I didn’t even check the application centre. But, the next morning I did and it read that there was an offer of admission! I thought that the school would have emailed right away, but they ended up sending an email more than a week later so I was glad I checked the application centre. Later on, the sent a letter in the mail letting me know as well as a handwritten letter from the academic advisor welcoming me to the school.

I revoked my applications to the other two schools and accepted this offer. Along with the offer of admission I was also awarded a scholarship for high marks, which will further help my goal of I  debt free.

I’m so relieved that the school accepted and that they accepted early on so the suspense was finally over. Also, that I get a backpack for school for the first time.

What now?

Just because I was accepted it does not mean I’m done!  The first step is to finish the coursework with marks that align with the admission offer conditions. Step 2, write the final exams for the courses. More on the experience of this later, after I actually take the exams! Exams will have to be graded and sent back to me before the school’s document deadline. Currently, I am working on studying and preparing for the finals, then I will be done!

Because of choosing to live at home during university there is less to prepare for, which is also much less stressful!

P.S. It’s Peri

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Homeschool Vs Online Public School, My Experience

A little while ago I mentioned that I started online public school (read the post here!). At first, I was very unsure as to how I would find public school courses since I’ve never taken any before.

The online school curriculum

I enrolled in the four courses required for my application to the university, advanced functions, biology, chemistry and physics. Previously, I had just finished the homeschool chemistry course I was taking, had completed a bio course 2 years ago and taken similar math last year. This definitely helped out in the public school courses for 2 reasons. One – I still had my notes from previous courses and two – the concepts weren’t foreign to me. It was basically review for a lot of topics.

To be completely honest, I don’t know how people who hadn’t had previous experience in the same topics would get through the course. The textbooks were not always as informative as I would have liked, but luckily there are opportunities to research elsewhere.

Grading and assignments

The biggest things I’ve gotten out of this experience is that showing your work with attention to detail while making the assignments look clean and easy to read are very important! This allows teachers to see where you have gone wrong if there is a mistake and also overall makes it easier to grade. Being homeschooled, sometimes that attention to detail can be overlooked. I’m glad that I’ve learnt this now before entering university.

Receiving feedback and actual number grades were quite satisfying. Usually, in my homeschool curriculum, I learn subjects until I am confident in my knowledge and until mastery. Because of this, I didn’t really have any number grades. If it wasn’t 100%, I didn’t move on. So, it was interesting first, to see where I compared to public school kids (homeschool problems, always afraid you have completely messed up and can’t compare to public school courses!) and to receive quantitative grades. Thankfully, I have done quite well and was told that the grades I was receiving were above provincial average. I’m very relieved!

Deadlines

There are two different deadline topics to talk about, one having deadlines for turning work in and two, having an overall coursework deadline.

Being homeschooled, there hasn’t been many deadlines to get assignments and things finished. The online school I have been using does not impose deadlines either, besides the overall course deadline of 10 months. In order to complete all four courses in time, I had to set my own deadlines. I completed a few units and figured out about how much time it took me, then made a very fancy (not at all!) schedule to check off which lessons and units had been completed.

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A very dark picture of my very fancy school schedule. 

I also put the predicted days of when I would submit work into my phone calendar to ensure I was on track.

Without the short deadline for having mid-terms and final marks in, I would never be motivated enough to actually finish these courses. With the deadlines, it has taken me 9 weeks to complete all the coursework (should be finished all courses by tomorrow). The deadlines have been a great source of motivation and it hasn’t felt terribly overworked.

Since I am about to finish all of the coursework, I will have more posts on taking the final exam and other school things coming up soon!

Also be sure to vote on my Instagram story (link to my Instagram here!) about future post topics you would like to see! Voting only lasts for 24 hours.

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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.

 

 

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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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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!

 

P.S It’s Peri

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