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How To Write Great Course Descriptions

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Course descriptions are the key to getting your teen a full ride scholarship to the college of their choice! Yes, by learning to write dazzling course descriptions, you can catapult your child head and shoulders over fellow applicants, where they can stand out in a crowd of teens that all have the same essential transcript.

As Emily heads into the finish line of her junior year, we are trying to do everything we can to position her in the best possible way for college, keeping her options opened.

As our FamilyPastime readers know, in her freshman year, we were in a car accident. Emily had a brain injury, considered a “mild TBI” which had a major impact on her life and schooling. She went from being on track in 9th grade, to having to learn to read all over again. The slate was wiped clean, much of her education, books, memory and ability was simply gone. For months, she could not grasp normal “high school” stuff.

We have since realized that brain injury means that life varies, and that she will be plugging along, doing everything right, and it seems like she is getting back to normal, then all the sudden, memory, vision and recall will begin to fade and she will “crash.” We are still learning, praying and working through every aspect of this.

College seemed totally out of the question. Her neuropsychologist agreed after testing Emily right before her junior year. He recommended we throw her in public school, after all, she “tested at a 3rd grade level in everything.” He was brutal, telling us “she would NEVER make it to college, and that she would be lucky to work at Target.”

How do you recover from that?

It was precisely at that moment that the Lord put Lee Binz, the HomeScholar, in our life. Lee has written the Total Transcript Solution (reviewed in FP in Dec 2010) which will help you create a fabulous transcript that colleges want. Course descriptions are the backbone to the transcript. The Comprehensive Record Solution will demystify the entire process for you, explain what CDs are, and how to create them.

Lee knows what she is talking about, having used her creative system to get both of her sons full scholarships to the college of their choice. Yes, 4 FREE years of college X 2 sons = $180,000 in free education. You can learn how to do exactly what Lee did and implement it into your own homeschool whether your kids are in 7th grade or seniors about to graduate.

Course Descriptions

What exactly is a course description? Simple, the who, what, where, when, why and how of your homeschool courses! This encompasses everything you did in each and every class your kids complete in high school. Course descriptions begin with a simple paragraph on what you are studying, what books, materials, and labs will be used, for each class. This permanent record can include field trips, events, competitions, anything that paints a clear picture of your child’s unique education. You can even include methods of grading, test scores, etc, for each class.

Why create course descriptions? CDs help you stay on track now, creating a solid record for colleges to peruse in the future.

I cannot recommend Lee Binz, the Homescholar’s Comprehensive Record Solution highly enough. Rather than figuring out HOW to do it all yourself, Lee has outlined precisely what you need to do. Then all you have to do is follow Lee’s simple instructions, grab that year’s books and carve out a few hours of time. The Comprehensive Record Solution is full of examples, and will show you everything you need to do, step by step, to write clear, concise course descriptions.

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Throw away doubt and insecurity and just begin writing the CDs! The dread is bigger than the doing…

Throw away worry and stress on whether or not you have “done enough” just record it accurately, keep it in a notebook and finish each year strong.

If you are like us and dealing with an illness, special needs, a brain injury, or whatever the case may be, relax. Believe me, I understand the stress, that constant, nagging, pulverizing question on whether we are doing enough.

Writing up course descriptions solved all of that. For some strange reason, the more I write, the more I had a total blast. I decided to stop worrying about what Emily can't do and fill her Course Descriptions up with what she CAN do.

So what did we do? We chose to write up her unique classes, life and homeschool adventures!

She may never “get” math again in the traditional sense, it may continue to flow through the colander of her brain forever. That leaves us with a choice, let math haunt everything we do, and make us feel like failures, or move forward and excel at what she can excel at. She knows how to handle money, has a financial plan for her future. Calculators and computers can get her through in real life. We can stay stuck, the truth is I will never figure out what to do with math and this particular child - but who will care 10 years from now? What will matter is whether or not she has the ability to function financially in society, not whether she can figure out complex algebraic equations, so high school.

Have the courage to focus on the good.

Emily has done so many much she can get credit for and sound absolutely INTRIGUING to colleges! So focus on that. We can choose not to worry about what may well be gone forever. Instead, we can focus on what is, on the gift of today and what she IS able to do. So math will be light on Emily’s overall transcript, but experience, heart, courage and a really cool education will still come to light with well written and documented course descriptions.

We have decided to focus more on her computer prowess, entrepreneurial bent and her passion for horses. All of these things flow through her life, are a huge chunk of her life and are incredibly valuable skills for the future. Real life. Will the fact that she can create an entire website from scratch, post pictures and videos, dovetailing social networking be a better benefit to an employer, or the fact she did not get through geometry? Will learning the fundamental skills of running a barn at therapeutic horse riding facility not plump out her resume more than pi?

Course descriptions can completely revamp your idea of high school, whether your child is a top student in honors classes, or whether they struggle. Course descriptions give you insight into today, they show strengths, talents, skills and abilities. CDs will help every single family look at the education of their children in a whole new light, focusing on what is real, what they have accomplished and they will give great clues into career paths your child may be headed down.

A Few of Emily’s High School Course Descriptions

  • Comp Sci Introduction to CMS Administration (Content Management System)
  • Comp Sci - Advanced CMS Admin (this is for her Senior Project NEXT YEAR) where Emily will completely design a large, complex website
  • Living History Sites - which goes with our website Emily has done all the pictures on it, she has been to over 150 historical sites, why not give her for this?
  • Equine Management – Emily volunteers 5 hours a week at a therapeutic horseback riding facility and does EVERYTHING there - from leading, lessons, care of horses and barn, etc. She puts the time in, she should get credit.

Whoever teaches the class, can write the Course Description. My husband is an IT guy, the resident computer genius in the house, so he explained what they were doing, and we created a CD out of it. He wouldn’t write it himself necessarily, but he knows his stuff and knows what his daughter can do so I “translated” that into the format of a Course Description! Use what your life is, use what your talents are, and trust someone ELSE with a clue to write the bulk of it!

Emily has the put in the time, studied and did the work, why not give her an edge in these very unusual and complicated classes. Everyone wins and Emily gets credit for some amazingly talented work she has DONE already. She also has a clear cut expectation and CD for her "senior project!"

As I went through all she has done, it occurs to me that perhaps some of the really cool classes we design for our kids in high school, are probably more like college classes. Despite everything going on, my expectation level of Emily remains sky high! Rigorous classes are good, they are excellen preparation for college and the real world.

So you can see from a very personal level how the Homescholar's Comprehensive Record Solution revolutionized our homeschool, our confidence level and the ability to head toward the finish line of high school strong.

Great article on how to begin pulling course descriptions and transcript together.

You can order the Homescholar’s Comprehensive Record Solution here, and be sure to tell Lee that I sent you!

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