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College & Friendship

Courtesy of College Prep Genius,


One of the best portrayals of friendship can be found amongst the characters of A.A Milne’s famous children stories Winnie-the-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner. The bond between Christopher Robin and his stuffed bear speaks to children of all ages. We all long for the simplicity of the Hundred Acre Wood and the friendships that can weather any trial; especially during those scary times of facing heffalumps and woozles. Solid friendships are an essential factor of success. Everyone needs friends.


While strong relationships are the cornerstone of a fulfilling life, they can be a stumbling block during the final season of high school. For many students, the friendships of high school were forged long before graduation. It is not uncommon for a group of friends to have been together since middle, elementary, or even kindergarten. It can be extremely difficult to part ways with someone after spending every school day together for nearly 12 years. Separation anxiety is a very real aspect of the college decision.  Despite whatever opportunities higher education might offer, the idea of leaving an important person or persons behind is often unbearable.


College choice, however, is too important to be based on any other individual. Too often high school seniors simply pick whatever school their best friends or boyfriend/girlfriend will be attending without any serious thought of whether or not that school is the right choice for them. Friendship is too often considered the most important factor when choosing a school.


The four years after high school are some of the most important in terms of adulthood development. Graduating seniors of 17 and 18 look very different than their 22 or 23 counterparts. Therefore college is really an individual choice. The school that is right for one friend is not necessarily right for another. It is in a student’s best interest to pick the path that will allow him or her, the freedom to optimize their potential. Four years is a long time to commit to a place only because it is where your best friend is going.


Just because you might be the only one from your high school going to a particular school does not mean that you will be alone. The social aspect of college is one of the best parts of the experience. Getting involved with campus activities will quickly immerse you into your new environment and give you numerous opportunities to make new friends.


Likewise, going to a different school than your high school friends does not mean losing their friendships. Winter, spring, and summer holidays are great times to exchange stories and catch up with your old schoolmates. While it is true that your different experiences may cause you to drift apart, this is just as likely to happen even if you go to the same school.


College is a wonderful time to learn, explore, and grow. Don’t fetter yourself to one particular place exclusively because of your friend(s). CPG



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Volunteering, Part 2

By Cafi Cohen

[Ed. Note: Last week, Cafi discussed how her now-grown children engaged in volunteer activities in their community and some of the values therein.]

We discovered that there are basically three ways to volunteer:

• As part of an established volunteer program (these are common in libraries and hospitals and museums);

• For agencies or groups that do not have formal volunteer programs;

• By creating your own volunteer situation.


Volunteer programs in libraries, hospitals, and museums are especially easy to access as a homeschooler. Why? Homeschooled kids can work as volunteers during hours that most other kids attend school. When we lived in Albuquerque, the children’s hands-on room of the science museum specifically recruited homeschoolers to help out with school tours and maintenance during the day.

Established volunteer programs usually require no experience in the field. Hospitals, libraries and similar facilities, expect to train volunteers. They will usually have an award system to recognize time of service and special achievements. Often, participating in established programs is the easiest way to begin volunteering.

Of course, the exception to this statement is that established programs usually have age restrictions. Often the youngest age they will accept is 12 or 13. And you may have a ten or eleven-year-old who is ready for a volunteer responsibility. What then?

Proceed to other venues. AND pursue libraries, especially about volunteering in outside the “program”.  In organizations without specific programs, you may find someone more willing to work with a preteen or young teenager. Most notable examples in my experience are political campaigns and drama groups (for backstage work). Both will take almost anyone.

Also, this is a perfect time to think about family volunteering, that is, creating a project on which you and your children work together. Activities like Meals On Wheels and community trail rehabilitation (in parks and wildlife areas) come to mind here.

With children who just miss age cut-offs for programs, another tack to gain entry is to suggest a TRIAL PERIOD for a couple of weeks. You might also propose both you (the adult) and your child working with the organization for a trial period. After observing your preteen or teen in action, they may make an exception to their age rules.


Teenagers should always consider approaching all organizations of interest, not just those with volunteer programs. Preparation is key. Decide on a field of interest, list organizations devoted to that interest in your community, and write a resume.

The resume need not be heavy on “experience” (although experiences which document the child’s interest in the field should be included). The resume should include the following:

WHY the teenager wants to volunteer with the organization in question;

Any special skills (e.g. word-processing is always in demand);

References (neighbors, coaches, music teachers, scout and 4-H leaders, and other adults with whom the kid has worked);

Availability; be sure to point out that s/he is available during the day, not just “after school”.

Suggest that your teenagers approach organizations without volunteer programs with a telephone call. Your child should ask them if there is a time s/he might come in and talk to them about volunteering (always emphasizing that no task is too trivial – “I’ll do whatever you need done.”). If possible, begin with organizations where the family “knows someone,” and has a connection. Always mention the connection during the initial phone call.

Be persistent. Our daughter, Tamara, called twenty some-odd vets before she found one that would talk to her and give her a trial run. Be flexible. Maybe the local T.V. stations are not interested, but the local radio stations will welcome any help they can get.

When it comes time for an interview, tell your children not to be picky about assigned tasks. Teenagers who indicate a willingness to do any reasonable task will always be in demand. In time, they will be assigned increasing responsibilities commensurate with performance.


Probably the most creative volunteer situations I have witnessed have come out of a deep interest in a particular field and networking to satisfy that interest. In New Mexico, I knew one 13-year-old girl who was consumed with a passion for animals and was especially interested in animal rescue.

Even as a younger child, she collected materials from animal watchdog groups, wrote articles about animal welfare problems, and attempted to help injured birds, dogs, and cats. She all but ransacked the library for any material on rehabilitating injured animals.

She began volunteering at the local zoo – no program, here, just began cleaning cages, whatever they needed. At the zoo, she slowly worked her way up to helping the on-call veterinarian. More importantly, she met an adult wildlife animal rehabilitator, who became a mentor. Through the mentor, this young teenager eventually was assigned her own distressed animals to nurse back to health prior to release into the wild, a project she developed into a cottage industry.

This young lady did not wait for a program or permission or even formal training. She just did it. One thing led to another. And, eventually, she had her own home-based volunteer situation, rehabilitating wildlife.

What kinds of non-program, non-organizationally-based opportunities might present themselves for a child without a specific direction? Here’s short list, to get you thinking:

Picking up aluminum cans at the beach (in California, also a lucrative proposition) or de-trashing any part of your neighborhood on a regular basis

Visiting and reading to an elderly neighbor or friend

Helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or house fix-up

Tutoring younger children

Rehabilitating throw-away toys and books and donating them to a children’s hospital

Reading to younger children

Just look around you, and SEE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!

That is the key. Urge your teenagers to brainstorm what needs to be done and then do it. You may be surprised at the ideas they generate. Second key? Parental example. Do YOU volunteer? Children are much more likely to approach volunteering enthusiastically if they see a role model in the home.

Volunteering At The Library — it’s more than just shelving books. Could your teenagers help with these tasks?
• Computer/Internet docents: help library users with the information superhighway and other computer-related finding aids.
• Storyteller: needed by most libraries that have children’s sections.
• Artists: create special events posters and do other graphics work for flyers, etc.
• Friends of the Library workers: organizing book sales and planning special events.
• Book repairers: learn techniques to extend shelf life.
If these sound interesting, there are many more. Ask your local librarian for the list “99 Ways To Volunteer At Your Local Library.”

• Former President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation:


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Dollar Homeschool – Home of the Eclectic Education Series

3321 Sesame Dr.

Howell, MI 48843

Phone: 517-304-4844



By Ann Phillips


The Eclectic Education Series was used almost exclusively for education in the United States for more than 50 years. It was comprised of several textbooks, all authored by experts in the top of their fields of the day. McGuffey Readers, Ray’s Arithmetics, Pinneo’s Grammars, Thalheimer’s Histories, and Norton’s Sciences, educated roughly one-hundred million students. After disappearing from classroom use after WWII, they have been popping up in homeschools across America. Aaron Jagt is the man responsible for the recent resurgence in popularity of the Eclectic Education Series.


Homeschooling has always been a part of Mr. Jagt’s life. He began using the popular Christian homeschooling method, the Robinson Curriculum, when he was seven. Following the self-teaching methodology of the Robinson Curriculum, Mr. Jagt acquired ownership over his education. By gaining the tools he needed to learn any subject, he felt a new sense of confidence in his ability to pursue his dreams. This sense of empowerment laid the foundation for his adult life and future career in the education field.


Mr. Jagt and his family have been involved in the field of education for many years. His father, Arnold Jagt, had purchased the Eclectic Education Series in the hopes of one day reintroducing these wonderful texts to the public. The senior Mr. Jagt became intimately involved with the creation and development of the Robinson Curriculum and other projects. Arnold Jagt offered his son the EES collection and Aaron took ownership over the project – heart and soul.


The lessons learned from homeschooling could now be applied to life lessons. Aaron Jagt began digitizing the curriculum and creating a website. He soon found more books and re-scanned everything to ensure that these beautiful texts are available as high-quality images. Throughout this process, Mr. Jagt began to network with helpful, like-minded people around the country. He soon collaborated with Sherry Hayes, a mother of 15, a 23-year homeschooling professional, and a brilliant blogger. His resulting website,, now also includes two Yahoo groups, a Facebook page, and incredibly insightful blogs on homeschooling and the education field in general.


Homeschooling also helped build a foundation on which Mr. Jagt could pursue his dreams. The tight-knit family bond was reinforced through education in the home. Father and son even began a wholly new project and created a website: Over 10 years, Arnold Jagt began digitizing the collected works of the theologian R.J. Rushdoony. Aaron Jagt has been dedicated to helping his father create and develop the website. Although the Eclectic Education Series covers the “3 R’s” (reading, writing, and arithmetic), Mr. Jagt felt it was missing a fourth “R” – religion. Pocket College is the perfect resource to fulfill the religious education missing from the EES curriculum.


The Eclectic Education Series are rich, timeless texts that connect today’s generation with American tradition. Each volume can be used independently, or collectively within the entire series, or even as a resource for other homeschooling programs. Mr. Jagt points out that the EES is the perfect addition to the Robinson Curriculum, enhancing and broadening the student learning. It is fitting that Mr. Jagt continue his own family’s tradition of education by bringing American tradition to homeschoolers everywhere. And he is a wonderful example of what a quality homeschool education can produce.


For more information, including pricing and ordering information, please visit the website at A.P.


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Clark Financial Group, Inc. – Solutions for Funding College

(888) 647-1936



By Janet Esposito


“What career is best for me? What college is best for me? How am I going to pay for college?” Helping your student prepare for entering college is similar to taking on a part-time job. There is school selection, entrance-exam preparation, and admissions letters – all incredibly time-consuming efforts for both parent and students. But for parents, the scariest part of the entire process is the cost of secondary education. Tuition, books, meal plans, housing, all add up quickly.


Fortunately, we all know there is financial aid available. Federal money, state money, athletic scholarships, institutional scholarships, private institution grant money – there are all kinds of financial aid available to those who qualify. But where do you begin? There are so many moving parts; so many balls to juggle. The entire endeavor can feel absolutely overwhelming for busy parents, especially those families struggling through these difficult economic times.


Most parents know to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is the first step in obtaining financial aid for college. However, the paperwork involved can be time-intensive and confusing. Just recently, more than 650,000 applicants inadvertently declared their income 100 times more than their actual annual intake. It was a simple decimal error, but this serves as an example of the many pitfalls good-intentioned parents can fall into unwittingly. Thankfully, the Clark Financial Group is here to help every student achieve their academic dreams. Dr. William Clark and the people at Clark Financial Group not only know how to avoid the pitfalls, they also know how to ensure that every family can take full advantage of the opportunities available, to finance secondary education.


Those 165,000 applicants are not alone. According to Clark Financial Group, 75% of the FAFSA forms filed are incorrect. Small errors can cause serious headaches for parents including delays in receiving student aid and possible ineligibility for monies. During their regular seminars for parents and students entering grades 9-12, the Clark Financial Group offer the knowledge the families will need to help plan and prepare for entering college. Students can also take advantage of individual meetings, either in person or by phone. With the experts at Clark Financial Group, parents can cut college costs by 60% (yes – sixty percent!).


Partnered with College Funding Solutions, the Clark Financial Group offers parents the advice and services they need to plan and prepare for their student’s higher education. If your student is still in high school, you can take advantage of the study aids available for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT. Students begin by discussing their interests and goals, both academically and professionally. Which schools are being considered? What plans have been arranged for funding already? The team at Clark Financial Group will help evaluate all of these considerations to aid your family in determining the best choice for your individual student.


Clark Financial Group will help you start your journey by filling out the FAFSA and submitting it for you. That alone is an enormous relief, especially considering the high rate of errors in FAFSA filings. However, the team at Clark Financial Group goes further, by conducting “award letter evaluation”. For example, if your student was offered a scholarship from a school, Clark Financial Group will compare that award to other students with similar backgrounds. This information allows further negotiation and counter offers with the school, saving parents thousands of dollars.


Like most families today, we cannot afford to make a mistake that can potentially cost us thousands of dollars and we want the best for our kids. The team at Clark Financial Group ensures every family can obtain all the financial aid available, while selecting the best school for each unique student. For more information on their seminars, or to schedule an individual consultation, please visit their website at JE


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High School: A Great Time to Homeschool

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

Would you like to homeschool your children through high school? Are you afraid to try? If so, you are not alone. Many homeschool parents consider quitting after eighth grade because high school “counts for college.” However, thousands of other parents have persevered, and colleges all over America have welcomed homeschool graduates.

Should you homeschool high school? Before you decide, review your original reasons for homeschooling. Was it for academic excellence, family unity, or spiritual growth? Was it to give your children the freedom to pursue their interests? Whatever your reasons, they are probably still valid. If your main purpose was to replace negative peer influences with positive parental ones, then high school is one of the most important times to homeschool.


Even though each year brings new academic challenges, teaching high school is not as frightening as it seems. Each grade is just a little bit harder than the one before. If you have come this far, then you can go one more step, and then another, and another. Though the difficulty increases, the rewards multiply as your children grow in knowledge, self-confidence, and responsibility.

With a good curriculum and willing students, you can teach almost anything at home, but if you need help, options are available. For example, students may learn higher-level mathematics, science, foreign languages, and other subjects online or with video programs, computer programs, or textbooks that lend themselves to self-teaching. For science labs, you maybuy your own equipment, share expenses for group classes, or send your children to the local community college.

Homeschooling high school should not add a great deal of time to the parent-teacher’s workload, because most high school students take more responsibility for their own learning. While still actively involved in their children’s education, parents increasingly become advisors and facilitators—finding curriculum, monitoring progress, keeping records, guiding course selections, helping students prepare for college entrance exams, and arranging for outside courses and tutors, when necessary.

One benefit of homeschooling during high school is that you can gear your curriculum to your students’ interests and needs. Budding engineers may build backyard bridges or apprentice with professionals. Students who need extra time to master certain subjects can go at their own pace. In areas of strength, they may forge ahead to college textbooks or enroll in Advanced Placement courses. Homeschoolers may even earn dual credit for both high school and college by taking accredited courses at the non-remedial college level in nearby colleges, by correspondence, or over the Internet.

Extracurricular Activities

Admittedly, extracurricular activities are more available at traditional high schools than at home. However, group activities may be available in your area, such as 4-H, a city youth orchestra, or a homeschool debate team. Homeschoolers also have some advantages traditional students miss. For instance, they many participate in apprenticeships, volunteer work, and paid work while other students are at school. They also have the flexibility to go on short-term mission, educational, or performance trips during the school year. Many homeschooled students develop entrepreneurial skills through home businesses.

For homeschool athletes, city, county, or homeschool teams may be available. Even if they are not, the lack of high school sports team experience does not preclude participation in college varsity sports. Coaches will want to see evidence of your students’ athletic talents, but NCAA(National College Athletic Association) eligibility is based solely on academics. The NCAA has special rules to accommodate homeschool students. [Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and standout quarterback at the University of Florida was homeschooled.]

Colleges Want Homeschoolers

Perhaps you have heard that colleges penalize homeschoolers during the admission process. My national survey of over 250 selective colleges refutes that assumption. Over 94% of admissions departments would welcome homeschoolers, 91% have accepted homeschoolers, and many have begun to actively recruit them. Homeschoolers compare well with, and often outshine, their traditionally-schooled peers. Some of the qualities that colleges have observed in homeschoolers include academic strength, self-discipline, responsibility, and maturity.

In most cases, homeschoolers can also qualify for financial aid. If your school is treated as a homeschool or private school under your state law, then your homeschool graduates are eligible to apply for federal aid. Colleges also offer private scholarships, and several now offer homeschool scholarships.

Records and Transcripts

Most admissions departments require written documentation of applicants’ high school coursework and extracurricular activities. Although some homeschool parents are nervous about writing transcripts, over two-thirds of colleges will accept parent-prepared documentation. Once you know how, high school records and transcripts are easy to write. (My book Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission gives detailed instructions.)

Even if a college will not accept your transcript, homeschoolers may receive transcripts, and in some cases diplomas, through umbrella schools, correspondence schools, or community colleges. With challenging coursework that has been verified by one of these sources and good SAT and/or ACT scores, your students would be welcomed at most colleges.

Final Preparation for Adulthood

Even though there are many advantages, the best reason to homeschool high school is that the teen years are the final preparation for adulthood. Parental influence is crucial at this stage of development, because teens are so easily influenced by their peers and teachers. At home you can ensure that they develop personal, financial, and civic responsibility as well as survival skills such as cooking, laundering, and car maintenance. Your curriculum can be filtered through your worldview as you prepare your students to deal with conflicting ideas that they may face in college or in the workplace. Best of all, the daily contact you have at home will help you keep the communication lines open as your children become increasingly independent.

Homeschooling high school is a huge commitment, but if you have homeschooled before, you already know the price of commitment. You have also seen some of the fruits of your labor. Why quit while you’re ahead? If you have not homeschooled before, high school is an exciting time to start.

Jeanne Gowen Dennis is a homeschool speaker and the author of Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission available from YWAM Publishing at 1-800-922-2143 or You may email her at


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by Cafi Cohen

At age 13, our daughter, Tamara, volunteered one-half day each week in a veterinary clinic. Her initial duties were mundane: Filing, answering common questions, making appointments, and escorting animals and their owners to examination rooms.

Once she mastered those tasks and the staff had gotten to know her, Tamara progressed to weighing animals, taking vital signs, assisting with examinations and treatments, making up inoculations, and preparing laboratory specimens (all well-supervised, of course). After several months, she could identify common microscopic veterinary parasites. Several times she was invited to observe and assist with biopsies and autopsies on dogs, cats, and horses.

Quite an experience! We ended up calling it “Tamara’s Middle School Life Science Course.” Judging from some preteens I have interviewed who took “real” middle school life science, Tamara learned a lot more. Unlike her schooled friends, she had no text, no exams – just real-world biology, microscopy (with a much nicer microscope than you would find in any secondary school), parasitology, and a smattering of chemistry and math. It was nice for me, the homeschooling parent, also. My responsibilities began and ended as a chauffeur.

Tamara escaped from the house, learned some hands-on biology, and worked with a veterinarian who valued her contributions enough to write her a nice letter of recommendation. She also experienced small clinic veterinary medicine from a “career” standpoint and reaped the intangible rewards (those warm, fuzzy feelings!) that accompany community service.


Volunteer work has always been on my short list, roughly – and paradoxically in this case — titled, “You have no choice about this.” (This short list also included daily reading and writing, math, household chores, basic computer skills, and exercise).

Others may argue for the benefits of prioritizing Physics or Latin or World Geography. But I feel teenagers will master those subjects when they need them IF they already have good communication skills, basic math proficiency, computer literacy, fit bodies, and an interest in community service and helping others.

To my mind, volunteer work and homeschooling are made for each other. While it is possible to attend school AND volunteer, homeschoolers — who do not need to spend six to ten hours daily on classes and homework — clearly have more time for such endeavors.

Volunteering offers homeschooled teens many opportunities and benefits. First of all, it gets them out of the house. Especially as they grew into their later teens, both our son and daughter looked forward to their community service activities. They viewed their volunteer positions not only as useful, but fun. Through their volunteer jobs, they learned new skills, worked with teams of people, and made friends of all ages.

Homeschoolers who volunteer often develop relationships with adults, who then serve as mentors and teachers. Many of the adults supervising our children wrote letters of recommendation for them, for paying jobs and college applications. It was wonderful to have so many unbiased references confirming their character and abilities.

In volunteering, homeschoolers sample working conditions in various fields. This may lead to an early start on a career. Or, as happened with our daughter, the experience may convince teenagers that their interests and talents lie elsewhere.

As much as she enjoyed the veterinary clinic volunteer position, Tamara decided that animal medicine was not for her. This beats an alternative I have observed too often: Dreaming about veterinary medicine (or some other field) as a teenager and studying the subject in college only to learn later (in one’s mid-twenties, after a great deal of time and money) that the actual working conditions hold no appeal.

Our children had a several different volunteer jobs as older homeschoolers. Jeff worked for the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), helping servicemen overseas relay messages to their stateside families. Both our daughter and son volunteered in hospitals, Tamara in a day surgery unit and Jeffrey as part of a hospital transport unit.

Tamara entered computer data for our church. She also worked as a props manager for a community drama group. Jeff and Tamara both assisted in soup kitchens staffed by our church. One summer, our teenagers spent three weeks across the country in a poor neighborhood in Pittsburgh, renovating houses with teams of kids and adults.

In general, our teenagers much preferred their volunteer positions to some of their paying jobs. They found that the volunteer jobs involved more challenge and more responsibility.

For example, as a volunteer, Tamara had complete responsibility for procuring all the props for a community drama production. With her first paying job at a dry cleaner, her most interesting task was making change. While making change IS a dying skill in our county, it DOES get old.

From my point of view, as a homeschooling parent, the volunteer jobs often provided hands-on experience in fields that we could call “school”. Tamara’s drama work became Language Arts, as did Jeff’s MARS time. The hospital work was Science; the soup kitchens generated interesting Civics discussions (as well as teaching them how to cook for a crowd, which, for all I know, may be a more valuable lesson!).


Our two teenagers only had time to sample a small fraction of the volunteer opportunities available. They had homeschooled friends who volunteered in an incredible variety of settings: Libraries, clinics and nursing homes, community drama and musical groups, radio and television stations, museums, political campaigns, community service groups like Habitat for Humanity, hobbyists groups, government agencies, private businesses, and even educational institutions like public schools!

[Continued next week]. In the meantime, you might want to check out former President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation:


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