Welcome to our weekly quarantined with high schoolers blog post. We’re Simplify Homeschool and just like you, we’re also confined to our homes with wonderful, creative, hungry, grouchy teens. We wanted to start this as a regular check in especially for parents with older kids since so much of what we’ve seen is geared toward younger ones. We do homeschool counseling and college admissions support for homeschoolers and others who are applying to college from non-tradtional backgrounds, which suddenly might include a lot more folks. We’re going to post every week with some stuck at home learning resources and updates on things that are key to a lot of high school students such as college testing and college admissions.
We’ll also be doing a free weekly check in and chat via Zoom. It happens on Mondays at 2:00 EST, to remind you that there might be a weekday in there somewhere. You can find this week’s link here.
This week, settling into the new reality was rough for many of us. One thing I’ve had to do for myself is limit my anxious news-scrolling and lean in on being with my kids in new ways, especially socializing with them. For our families, not a lot has changed with academics, but extracurriculars and normal life are in flux. We think the first thing for everyone – homeschoolers and new to having kids at home schoolers – is to take a breath and let yourself settle in. If everyone is out of alignment and less is getting done, then that’s okay. I’ve found that I’ve been super productive in some ways, but super unproductive in others. Finding a new groove takes time and you should give your teens that time too. And for school parents, we want to emphasize that no one is obligated to do school at all. There have been a lot of good pieces in the media about how you don’t have to run a magical homeschool during quarantine, and we want to echo that. Be together as a family above all else.
But since we’re homeschoolers, we also wanted to lead with some ideas about productive ways for teens to spend their newfound time. We don’t feel anyone should pressure you or your kids to try and add too much to your plates. However, we do firmly believe that teens who challenge themselves to lead an online social activity, read a new book, learn something new, or make something during this time will have an edge over their peers in getting into college. And we think they’ll also enrich their lives, so it’s a win-win.
So this week, we’ll suggest Great Courses, specifically the course called An Introduction to Infectious Diseases, which Jill and her high school son dived in with this week. If thinking about diseases right now raises your anxiety level, then definitely skip this one, but Great Courses has a ton of options. We really like Great Courses for high schoolers because they provide a simple resource that’s straightforward to use and implement. All the courses come with a pdf book that includes readings, questions and occasionally other assignments, and additional resources such as books and films. However, you can also just watch it. You can buy individual Great Courses, subscribe to Great Courses Plus which gives you access to most of their courses for a monthly subscription cost (there’s a free trial, of course), or you can see if your library provides a selection of them for free, since many do.
As everything shut down this week, it was a big week for announcements about testing. The April and May dates for the SAT and ACT were cancelled, including the SAT subject tests. Currently, the College Board says that AP exams will continue, probably from home with online proctoring, however they have not yet announced details, which seem to be delayed. Students who plan on AP exams should keep prepping for them. We suggest EdX’s free AP courses as a good starting point if a schooled student did not receive teacher materials or support. Homeschoolers self-studying or in online classes are probably best poised to take these exams, so they should definitely continue.
We’ve heard about some colleges reaching out to admitted students in an effort to be sure that admitted students actually enroll. Several schools have moved to a rolling admissions deadline or extended their deadlines to May 1st. If you have a senior who is experiencing regret about their applications, there may be some new opportunities. As decisions continue to be mailed out, many students are extra anxious because they won’t be able to visit their schools. Because some institutions are already talking about not being able to open in the fall, students and families may be more reticent to commit. The biggest concern for many families is financial aid packages that are now based entirely on pre-outbreak incomes. There is a process to appeal your financial aid award. Reach out to colleges and talk to them, but be aware that a lot of families are doing the same thing now.
For the future, it’s hard to say what will unfold in admissions for next year and the following year. But families should know that many people in admissions are pushing for more test-optional schools and for policies that will take this time into account. The landscape will change and we just don’t know how exactly yet. However, our hunch here is that students who continue to do productive work – whether it’s academic, creative, or leadership related – will fare better than others. And that those outside the box things may matter even more in the next couple of years than the test scores.
Stay healthy and inside to flatten the curve, everyone. We’ll be discussing all this and more on Monday so please join us. And we will be back with this same format next Friday to give you any specific updates on things like testing and the rapidly changing college admissions landscape, as well as a resource or two for while you’re stuck inside.
~ Farrar and Jill