The "Great College Search" does not have to be the high stress process of which we often hear. We, like thousands of home-schooling families across the country, survived this rite of passage and you can, too. Although we made a few mistakes along the way, our oldest son was accepted into his first choice: a highly competitive Christian college. We’re now beginning the journey again with our youngest son, Tyler.

Number One Tip

Before we go any further, I want to give you one huge tip: Get Organized! Disorganization was my downfall and explains why we missed an important scholarship deadline to JB’s second choice school! My dear friend Celeste, the Queen Bee of Organization, made a wise decision while navigating the college search two years ago with her oldest child, Rebekah. Celeste kept a Master College Notebook from the very earliest days of their searching.

Knowing that she had to be Rebekah’s guidance counselor, Celeste made smart decisions:

1. She kept a calendar in her notebook and noted every single deadline as she learned about them.

2. She searched locally, as well as far and wide on the Internet, for possible college scholarship opportunities. When she found one that Rebekah would be eligible to apply for, she filed it in her notebook and marked the pertinent dates on her calendar.

3. Most of the scholarships and all of the colleges required essays. Celeste assigned these essays as part of Rebekah’s senior English Course.

4. Celeste kept track of important correspondence from each college and kept good notes of all phone conversations and even personal visits. She then put reminders on her calendar of any follow-ups needed based on her notes.

I could go on but you see what I mean. All of their hard work paid off - Rebekah won enough small and medium sized scholarships to fully her fund her four years at an in-state university. It took much time on both of their parts to do this but Rebekah will leave college debt-free. You’d better believe I’ll be keeping a notebook this time around!

Begin Early

There are good reasons for researching colleges early, at least by 11th grade, if not 10th.

1. By having some idea of which colleges your student might attend, you can better choose the appropriate high school courses.

2. The extra time will allow you to more thoroughly research scholarship and financial aid options.

3. The extra time will allow your student to visit or correspond with schools, ask more questions, and then do a great job filling out those long applications and essay writing.

4. Your student will have more time to prepare for, and more opportunities to take the SAT or ACT for college admission and scholarship consideration.

There are still those who may say that your home-schooled high school student will never get into a good college. Listen carefully: this is simply not true! Home schoolers have been accepted to and excelled in colleges across the nation, including prestigious and Ivy League schools. Home schoolers are even being recruited by colleges who have seen how well these independent, well-educated young people do on college campuses. You CAN provide your student with a high quality education, tailor-made for his or her gifts, interests, and abilities.

A Big Decision!