Wednesday, July 24, 2013

High School Prep Genius, a Review

Through Let's Homeschool High School, I got the opportunity to review the book High School Prep Genius from College Prep Genius. When it showed up, we were out of town, so I didn't get to start on it right away. I had hoped to have my daughter read it & add her review to mine, but she didn't have time before leaving town again. So, I guess you are just getting my opinion today.

I didn't read this book from front to back. I hopped around, reading chapters in order of their importance to me & our situation. The ability to do this makes the book a more effective resource. You can pick it up & go exactly where you need to go, without constant references to things in previous chapters you have not yet read.

One of the first things this book talks about is creating a College & Career Notebook. This is a great organizational idea. The book gives samples of tables & charts for each recommended section. You can use the tables & charts as a basic template to create your own or just copy the pages. This allows for greater flexibility. Since we do not follow the typical school plan & both kids intend to graduate early, we would need to tweak some of these tables & charts, but others may choose to use them just the way are. The College & Career Notebook is basically about organizing the information colleges will want, as well as information about your college search, in one convenient place. The book also has a timeline starting with planning in middle school and then year-by-year for high school. The timeline has information for the student & for the parents. This way, you both know what to expect & what you should be doing to get your student closer to their goals of college & career. This is all just the Introduction!

The chapters are written to the student. After reading the chapter, there is homework for the student to do. Following the student homework is a guide for parents, including a homework assignment for the parents. Having homework for each chapter keeps you & the student more involved and not just passively reading. The chapters are short, each taking merely a few minutes to read. Since the book is meant to be read by parent & student together, the chapter length is great. It is far easier to schedule both of you to read the chapters & do the homework with the chapters being just a few pages than if they were long chapters, especially with busy schedules that include school, work, volunteer work, sports/music/drama, and social lives.

The chapters cover becoming an adult, having hobbies, health, personal finance, studying, test prep, choosing a college, and more. The chapters give only basic information. So, don't expect the chapter on health to be a comprehensive resource on nutrition. They are good starting points, though, and several list ideas or resources to help you go further into the topic.

There are also 5 appendices providing even more information. The appendices cover how to build a homeschool transcript, a list of great literature, help for test anxiety, and more. As with the chapters, the information is not exhaustive, but is solid.

There is some information in this book that is specifically aimed at homeschoolers. Most of the information, though, would be useful regardless of where your child is educated. Of course, not every piece of advice will work for everybody, which is exactly why the book suggests that you "...feel free to ignore or adjust accordingly if any part of this guide does not apply to you."

Over all, I would say this book has plenty of solid advice, good ideas, and some great resources. With one child already in high school & the other approaching middle school, I am happy to add this book to my personal library. This book is, by no means, the only resource I will use in our preparations for high school & beyond, but it is now in my arsenal.