Graduation Photos and the lists I used for college applications

Dan, Chris and Ben with the Diploma
Dan, Chris and Ben with the Diploma

Ben had declared that the only speech he wanted at his graduation was grace for the food. But a diploma was important to Dan, so we ordered one. Despite having played in the band for the last 5 graduations at AHS, Ben didn’t seem to know what a diploma was for, so we had to make him read it, and pose for photos. Like I said, this part was our thing. Um, maybe it was Dan’s thing.

He gets to have a thing.

Ben's friends at the graduation picnic
Ben’s friends at the graduation picnic

Ben’s thing was definitely the friends. Initially, the chess, church, Band, Good Company Tutorials, and Family friends didn’t mingle very much. But as the frisbes and chess boards came out, people started to find common ground beyond being friends with Ben.

People played Balderdash with my Mom!
People played Balderdash with my Mom!

To my Mom’s delight, a whole bunch played Balderdash with her, she has trouble getting us to sit down for word, social, or non-strategy games.

Colleen and Grandma
Colleen and Grandma

I made a whole bunch of scrapbooks when Ben was my only student. I initially thought I’d create a scrapbook to treasure, AND report to the superintendent all at once. But once I had M and K, I couldn’t sustain it. Which was a good thing in a way, because it was information overload as far as the school was concerned, and more than one homeschool family mentioned that I was over reporting. Yeah, it takes me a while to calibrate paper work.

So, even though I wouldn’t (can’t) make scrapbooks like that anymore, I brought Ben’s along thinking people would like to see Ben as a kindergartner. To my surprise Ben’s friends from Chess are also homeschoolers, and wanted to know what sorts of things I’d kept track of for college.

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It turns out that my brain doesn’t remember what I wrote when I’m speaking. So once I got home, I dug around and mailed Ben’s friend the files.  Then I thought, hey, M is in eighth grade next year, I’m going to want to know what I did.  Go ahead and click away if you are bored, the rest is all specifics, no more story.

The books that helped were the Well Trained Mind (I forget which chapter) which talks about grading, and what counts as school credit. Lee Bin’s books were helpful for college applications, creating a transcript and applying to scholarships. Various Practical Homeschooling issues were also helpful.

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Most of the colleges had their own homeschool supplement questions. One that I sidestepped was

“Will the student be obtaining a high school diploma, certificate of completion, or a
GED?”

I wrote “I’ve attached the letters from the Attleboro School Superintendent’s office indicating
our compliance with Massachusetts case law.”

Which seemed to do the trick once I digitized the letters and e-mailed them.

I wanted to say, “GED over my dead body,” but I was good.

Some applications asked for the information in one form, some in another. All of these documents were used at one time or another:

  • Books Ben had read, including text books.
  • Resume including work and volunteer experience
  • Just Volunteer Experience
  • Just Work Experience
  • Classes I taught with the rubrics I used to grade him
  • Classes others taught Ben with the rubrics they used to grade him
  • Formally formatted transcript with GPA

If there were impressive adults who know Ben, I made Ben ask them to file letters of recommendation – chess club, library, church, work, F.I.R.S.T. Lego League volunteer, Band, flute, and Good Company Tutorials were all fair game. Not everyone was willing or able to log onto the common app, I had to do some technical assistance with e-mail login and how to turn a .doc into a .pdf.

Since several colleges wanted the math teacher and science teacher and guidance councilor to write letters of recommendation, I wound up with two accounts on the common app, one as guidance councilor Christine, one as math/science teacher Christine.  It was embarrassing that I wrote more essays for some colleges than Ben did – but – I actually was his math teacher, science teacher and guidance councilor.

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