With the rising costs of free college, it’s no wonder many students would love to have free college. Here’s how to do it!
You homeschool your kids for many great reasons. One of those may be to distance yourself from traditional education methods. Another might be to remove the negative effects of peer pressure. Now that you and your teen are working out your postsecondary education options, the chances are very good that you are not as familiar with the ins and outs of getting to college.
As removed as you want (or need) to be from mainstream high school education, if you or your kids dream of going to college, you simply have to slot yourself right back into the system, despite your reasons for avoiding it in the first place. Unless you’ve been very diligent about staying up to date with all the latest information, you could be feeling a bit despondent about your chances—and especially when it comes to the ultimate prize: getting free college.
So read on if you want to:
- Open the doors to your child’s career of choice
- Transform your dream of free college into reality (and we’re talking about the possibility of any or all of these: free tuition, free room and board, other stipends or perks).
Just the thought of taking on expensive student loans is daunting. This very big financial burden usually takes around 20 years to pay off. The way I see it, it’s either crippling to your family to commit the money (which could even have disastrous effects on the future), or your college-bound child is saddled with enormous debt from the get-go. The questions I most hear are these:
Where do we start? And how do we manage without using our retirement, savings, or home equity? How indeed.
College tuition has increased 600% in the last 25 years, and all indications are that prices will continue to escalate. Right now, the nation as a whole has college debt to the tune of 1.2 trillion dollars.And with a huge college dropout rate, only about one-third of enrolled students will graduate. This means there is a lot of wasted money without a degree to show for it.
I have made it my mission to be the bearer of great news for families on the verge of putting their kids through college. There are 24 billion dollars of scholarships available each year, and this is money you do not have to pay back! So how do you get your hands on this money and take the stress out of the college equation? To arrive at the answer, you really have to know how the system works.
How the System Works
Here’s a pretty startling fact for you:
The work your child does in high school—and the grades they get—really don’t have a lot to do with the way colleges award placement. You may not even realize that 85% of colleges admit and give scholarship money based solely on SAT scores. Colleges are ranked nationally based on this standardized scoring system, so the higher the score, the more money you get!
It all sounds very simple to work the system in your favor and get an amazing scholarship especially if you have an intelligent kid, right?
But that’s where a lot of people’s college dreams fall flat.
You see, tens of thousands of smart students bomb the SAT every year and although it isn’t logical, that is what happens. Being intelligent is not good enough. It doesn’t guarantee that your kid will bring home the scholarships or the placement offers at their college of choice.
The truth is that college placement tests like the SAT (and other similar tests) are tests of logic and critical thinking. On top of that, many of the questions are designed purposely to misguide and confuse students and often steer them towards appealing—yet wrong—answers.
To master these tests, many (teachable) strategies are needed. For example, it is currently not possible to answer the whole paper if you can’t read the question, formulate a response, and record your answer—all in 30 seconds or less per question. Strategies to ace the test are not taught in most schools, so students are at a loss when they find that their test scores do not reflect their GPA.
It is unreasonable to expect school counselors—who are already overwhelmed with a lot on their plate—to spend quality college prep time with each student. And as a homeschool parent, this might not be your area of expertise either. As I said before, it starts with the broadly-held misunderstanding that you’ll get the big scholarship money with good grades.
However, a switch in priorities is needed: students need dedicated SAT preparation—and they can start early. This preparation has to avoid the content-based learning that they are used to at school and instead focus on specific specialized strategies.
There is help out there, but unfortunately, not a lot of it gets the outcome you are seeking. Families just like yours often seek help and may spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on test-prep programs that teach content memorization and information irrelevant to the actual test, resulting in little or no improvement. Any test-prep course that works takes an entirely different approach.
When you attend the right program, you are far more likely to increase your SAT score and find yourself with access to significant funding to the University of your choice. Once your student learns the right techniques, with practice they recognize the hidden recurring patterns in these tests; they stop falling for the trick answers; they answer questions quickly, efficiently and correctly; and their scores rise.
It does not seem fair that students who have GPAs of 4.0 and above might not benefit from their hard work at school.
However, with such an enormous national network of tertiary institutions, the only fair way to compare all students equally is by applying a standardized test like the SAT; it is the yardstick that levels the playing field for everyone regardless of where you attend school.
That’s all great news for homeschoolers too. You should really be encouraged by what might have appeared, at first, to be quite shocking information.
Another forgotten fact is that the makers of the SAT (the College Board) also wrote the highly misunderstood PSAT. This test is touted as a practice-SAT but the truth is that this is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship contest.
The test counts only in the junior year, but students should start taking it in 8th grade. If they start early, students determine their weaknesses so they can focus and improve on them before the junior year by putting quality practice time on their side.
There is no need to study separately for the PSAT because as you study for the SAT, you are “killing two birds with one stone” and covering the techniques and strategies that you need for the similar PSAT test.
Discovering how to use the SAT score can open doors to life-changing benefits such as a full-ride, free room and board, graduate school money, honors doors, and more!
Multiple Attempt Scores
This could very well change the SAT landscape for you and your child: the SAT is not a one-shot deal. Your child can take the test multiple times up to seven times per year and over a number of years.
Most people don’t think about putting time on their side, but the truth is that there is no age limit on taking the SAT, so start early. Even if you’ve graduated, you can still take the SAT and receive scholarships.
Here’s something else that not everybody knows:
Most colleges take the highest scores from different tests to give an overall composite score. This merged figure—which can actually combine the best elements of your scores from the different test results—is known as a “Super Score.” Because of Score Choice, you don’t have to send any scores to any college until you want to.
In the next article in this series, I’ll discuss some specific strategies for the different sections of the test.