One of the things that was concerning to me, when it was my turn to homeschool high school, was how to do course descriptions. I was not an English major, I was a nurse. I know a lot about Math and Science and not so much about writing. Also, I got the impression when talking to people about it, that you had to have some sort of Master’s degree in education in order to write a course description!
I had never seen one and I did not know what course descriptions looked like…I just knew I was supposed to write them, but I did not know how. I handled that stress the way I usually do – I did research. Around the time my children were in 6th grade, I started doing this research. Every time I went to a convention to buy curriculum for my children, I also bought a book for myself about how to write course descriptions and every year I picked up a book or two.
In all of my research, I found out that nobody agreed, which was really concerning to me. They were using terms such as voice, person, verb tense…that I had not thought about since high school. I had no idea what I was supposed to do – I only knew that course descriptions were like college catalogues, and they looked scary. I thought I had better take my research to the next level and ask the real authorities; these were the homeschooling moms that were older than me, who had done the job, and got their children into colleges with good scholarships. I asked them how they put together their own homeschool records.
Then, I talked to colleges. As we were looking at colleges over the 4 years of high school, every time I went to a college – whether it was for an event or a visit – I always asked them what they wanted to see included with our homeschool records. It was interesting, the whole body of knowledge that I gathered from all this research.
One of the things that I found was that colleges really just wanted information. One time we were visiting a college and I gave them a one-page course description of an English course that we had done and I showed it to the admissions representative. I told her that I had this kind of information for all of the classes that we had completed in our homeschool and asked if it was too much, too little, the information the college wanted, and how did they want it?
It was interesting because this college admissions representative said that she loved the course description and it was exactly what she wanted to see. She wished all the public school kids had to submit course descriptions exactly like it! She was so frustrated with the state of public education because kids would come to college and their transcript would simply read English 1,2,3,4. The kid would go into college but often could not read and write well at all. She said that she did not know how she was admitting these students. She had no idea what the students were being taught in English and wished she had this quality of information from all the kids that applied, and not just from homeschoolers.
I found that encouraging on so many different levels. It was nice to know that we stacked up quite well against our peers, but it really sort of said to me that more complete records would definitely be better to really give them what they wanted.
Giving colleges thorough records can help you in the college admission process. You can learn how to write course descriptions and more in the book, “Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Records and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships”.