Here are some pointers for the college-bound homeschooler:
- We strongly recommend that you contact the colleges your student is interested in attending and request a copy of their admissions policy for homeschooled students. Mailing a copy of the policy to your STAA advisor is also recommended so we may outline a course of study that will help you meet the college's academic requirements. (Of course, our standard College Preparatory and Catholic Liberal Arts Diploma programs far exceed the admissions requirements of most universities.)
- Follow the course plans laid out for you by your STAA advisor. Minimize your course substitutions as the Academy has a comprehensive College Preparatory and Catholic Liberal Arts study plan.
- College-bound students will want to focus on taking College Preparatory (CP) and Catholic Liberal Arts (LA) courses through St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.
- Take the SAT and/or ACT. Check to see which your favorite colleges prefer.
- Adopt St. Thomas Aquinas Academy's "strong or mastered before moving on" approach to math. Minimally, students will want to have completed a year of Algebra I and a year of Geometry before taking their SAT and ACT tests. While it is recommended that college-bound students complete Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus, it is best if they apply themselves to the study methods recommended by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. The goal is not to quickly get through advanced math texts, but to easily and independently demonstrate mastery of basic math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry, and Algebra II no matter where the student encounters the concepts. Math grades tend to "roll downhill" if the student is not taught a quality method for studying and internalizing the concepts and given the time required to master the new material. So, without a good structure in place for approaching math, a "B" in Pre-Algebra can too easily lead to a "C" in Algebra I, a "D" in Geometry, an "F" in Algebra II, and very poor showing on standardized testing such as the ACT and SAT.
Study Latin! Why Latin? Consider these reasons excerpted from Andrew Campbell's article Why Study Latin and Greek which appeared in Classical Teacher, Spring 2007
"#1 Knowledge of classical languages increases English vocabulary. About half of all English vocabulary comes from Latin and another 20 percent from Greek. These words tend to be the difficult, polysyllabic ones—“SAT words.” A thorough knowledge of classical languages will increase the student’s English vocabulary tremendously.
#2 Classical languages aid in the understanding of English grammar. Studying a highly inflected language—that is, one that marks grammatical changes with a fully developed system of case endings—gives students a better grasp of English grammar. In fact, generations of teachers have observed that Latin teaches English better than English by requiring students to accurately identify each part of speech for every word!
#3 Latin is the key to modern languages. Knowing Latin makes it much easier to learn the grammar and vocabulary of the modern Romance languages (e.g., Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian), since they take about 80 percent of their vocabulary from Latin. Both classical tongues (Latin & Greek) greatly aid in learning other inflected languages, such as German or Russian.
#4 Latin students perform exceptionally well on standardized tests and are sought after by competitive colleges. As a result of increased vocabulary and facility with English grammar, students of Latin consistently outperform their peers—including those who have studied modern languages—on the verbal portion of the SAT. Between 1997 and 2006, Latin students outscored the average by 157 points. Higher scores open doors to competitive colleges and scholarships.
#5 Several careers require knowledge of classical languages. The technical vocabulary of the medical and legal professions and the hard sciences rests on the foundation of Latin and Greek. Latin is still a required subject for some higher degrees, as is Greek for many entering the ministry."
Collect words! An avid interest in understanding the words encountered in STAA CP and LA courses will go a long way towards improving English and reading comprehension scores. Energetically develop a scholar’s vocabulary and use the words in your daily life.
It is important for the student to develop neat, fluid penmanship. The written aspects to tests like the CHSPE, SAT, ACT, and college entrance exams require hand-written essays – and there will be many in-class essays to write in college – so make sure the student is not held back by sloppy or slow penmanship skills.
Focus on completing the STAA course plans for Essays B, Essays A, Logic, and Critical Reading complemented by strong grammar and punctuation labs such as our Punctuation A-D and Grammar I-III courses. If your student is not ready for these courses, be sure to ask your advisor about the plan to get there.
Consider a class or two at your local junior college starting at age 16. Classes to consider are advanced math, science labs, foreign languages, art practice, music practice, theater, public speaking, or introductory computer skills.
Develop relationships with your local priests, professors, coaches, instructors, professionals, or other individuals who interact with your student in academic, athletic, vocational, charitable, or community service activities -- and then ask them to write letters of reference about your student to submit with college applications.
- Stay on track with your semester reporting so your four-year transcript from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy will always be ready for sending off with college and scholarship applications.