Review: College Prep Genius
Review: High School Prep Genius
With my high school junior, we’re obviously working our way down the final road or two on the trip to college. He [believes he] has made up his mind in regard to school choice, desirable careers, and we’re taking stock and seeing what “holes” we might have missed that it would be a good idea to fill. Of course, we’re doing all this in mid-stream, adjusting the course as we go. While he’s content to be flexible and adapt as needed, it’s a bit nerve-wracking for the parent; are we *sure* we haven’t missed anything that we should have considered?
So of course, I’m checking into various titles about building transcripts and course descriptions, and into the midst falls a slightly different sort of tool: High School Prep Genius from a company we’re already a bit familiar with, College Prep Genius. While our previous experience was with their self-titled SAT preparation book and video set, High School Prep Genius is just a little bit different.
Crafted for high and middle school students and their parents, High School Prep Genius isn’t limited to testing; instead, it’s a comprehensive tool that covers a wide range of topics, including planning classes, tracking community service, plus financial, personal, and interpersonal health. Special consideration is given to topics important to homeschoolers, such as transcript-building, but High School Prep Genius would be just as beneficial to public or private school students.
High School Prep Genius is a 400+ page softcover text. While some parts of the book do have room to write inside the book, I’d highly recommend choosing to write on your own paper instead, for two reasons. First, writing on separate paper will allow the text to be reused, and second, High School Prep Genius recommends putting together a notebook to use both as the student works their way through the book initially, and then to review and update in progressive years. It would be better, in my opinion, to keep all of the student’s written materials in their notebook, so they’re not having to search for it at a later date. (“I know I wrote it down somewhere… where did it go?”)
The introduction to High School Prep Genius describes who should use it, and how to go about doing so. Written for students and parents to use together, this isn’t a title that the parent would just hand to a student and expect them to read; instead, to best use it, it’s recommended that on first use, plan to work through approximately a chapter per week. Students will set up a “College and Career notebook” and will use it to keep together all relevant materials. A large binder and at least seven dividers is optimal, but binder size can always be increased at a later date; don’t let this minor issue delay your start.
Also included in the introduction are timelines: one for before a student begins high school, and four others, that include detailed month by month lists for students for each of the four high school years. A second set of lists is for the parents. For most effective use of this book, I absolutely recommend starting by 8th grade. Knowing what you’re getting yourself in to is half the battle, and I’d have absolutely loved to have a detailed schedule laid out for me a few years back, rather than at the end of the junior year.
Practice makes perfect, they say – I’m learning so much more about how to manage homeschool high school as we go through it! And it’s never to late to get more info, so if, like me, you’re learning as you go, check into High School Prep Genius. It’ll answer a lot of those what-do-we-do-when questions that otherwise will take a lot of your own time and research. Both my junior and I wish we’d had just a bit more method to our madness – and High School Prep Genius would have helped a great deal. (In my opinion, start with 8th graders – earlier, 6th or 7th, if your student is interested. If you’re working with older students, include the middle-schoolers in the conversation, whether they’re ready to plan for themselves or not. My 7th grader thought it a bit silly – he’s a long way from graduation – but it will pay off in the end.)
The second section, Foundation for Personal Success, has six chapters. First is Personal Development, and I would describe this chapter as both a description of acceptable “adult” behavior and a personal examination of character. Growing up is a lot more than a number on the birthday cake, and when you’re an adult, and expected to behave as one – this is a good way to find out just what that means. Chapter 2 and 3 are about personal interests and beliefs, and again, touch on both character and becoming your own person. Chapter 4 is about managing your own health, while chapter 5 is about understanding and creating a healthy relationship with money. Nourishing healthy relationships with family and friends is the basis of chapter 6.
Part three, Foundation for Academic Success, examines all things academic. It begins with an examination of why education is important, and how education relates to future life. It’s followed by two chapters on effective studying in general, and tests and papers in particular. Organizational skills are highlighted next, followed by the nitty-gritty details of how grades, credits, and transcripts work. Good record-keeping is essential. Rounding out academics is a discussion of all the “extras” that are possible; things like honors courses, AP classes and tests, anything beyond the minimum requirements to graduate.
Part four, Foundation for Future Success, is all about goals and what is next. It’s essential that there is always something around the corner, for if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s awfully hard to get there. Choosing schools, test preparation, and college applications all have chapters devoted to them. Paying for school is highlighted, too; understanding relative costs and gains is important to making good choices, and a clear understanding of the cost makes a student much more likely to appreciate the college education they will receive. A short discussion of things that the student should know before college winds up this section with chapter 18.
At the end of High School Prep Genius, you’ll find five fantastic appendices. These include: Homeschool Transcripts, Talent Searches (for gifted and talented students), a hefty list of Great Books to read, Relaxation Techniques to help with Test Anxiety, and Terminology regarding Admissions.
I would *highly* recommend not waiting until you have a high school junior on your hands to pick up this book – it’s a tool best taken in small quantities, so it can be used most effectively – and planning ahead beats last minute, any time. Yes, you can wing it – many have done so, and will continue to – but having a title like High School Prep Genius in your toolbox will keep you ahead of the pack. Peace of mind, and a solid plan to follow, High School Genius is priced at $29.95.
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