How Your TEEN Can Help PAY for COLLEGE

Summary:  Do you have a college bound teen?  With tuition so high these days, how can anyone pay for it?  This article answers that question with ways that your teen can actually help with that, even now, with current college costs. Over 5,000 have read this article. This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Do you have a college bound teen? 

Are you wondering how you and your husband can really get them there, with the high costs of college these days?

You've looked into college scholarships, but have found that many programs are quite picky as to who can apply for their scholarship?  

And not many are focused on homeschooled applicants.

 But that is not really where the money is at, for college scholarships.

Did you know that the big money is usually offered by the colleges themselves.

Did you know that most every college offers merit scholarships?  That is where much of the college scholarship funds are.  Colleges look for students who are highly likely to succeed in college, and often offer them merit aid.

So what is the best way to compete and help your teen get that aid?  

The biggest factor that they look for is test scores on the college entrance tests, ie, SAT/ACT or alternative testing.  Doing well in the college entrance testing, SAT/ACT is the best way to qualify for these merit scholarships offered by the colleges.

SO your teen can actually help pay for college by doing well on their college entrance testing!

In our house, we even made SAT prep a course, so that our teen could get high school credit for her test prep work.

Yes, preparing for the SAT, ACT, or other college testing can yield big results!  My teen received merit scholarship offers from each college that she applied to.  And that could be your teen, too.


But does the thought of having your teen taking the SAT give you pause?  

It did for me.  Knowing that my daughter was not a natural test taker, neither of us were looking forward to it at all. 

It was so nice to see some that some colleges in our area are dropping the SAT/ACT requirements.

But most colleges in the U. S. still require them and rely on them a lot.  We both knew that for us, the SAT or the ACT  had to be done, if she wanted to go directly to a 4 year.  And that was her goal.  Did you know that the SAT, along with your student's GPA are the two most important factors in getting scholarships?

Today I'd like to share how we went about dealing with the SAT, including preparing for it in the early years of high school, scheduling it, and doing SAT prep.

Since this is sort of a dry topic,  I have included some pictures of my college junior's fun times at college, to help us keep our eyes...on the prize, so to speak, lol.

Back to the SAT.  Let's start with early preparations....

Preparing For the SAT - In 9th Grade

Since my daughter was uncomfortable with test taking, we started adding in tests and quizes, just for practice, during her 8th and 9th grades years.   It was easy to do, by choosing curricula that offered some testing along with it, such as Switched On Schoolhouse.

This practice helped to build up confidence for later SAT testing.  We made sure that she had practice with testing not only in math, but also in the softer subjects, like Social Studies and English.  If you haven't done this ahead of time, there is always time to build that in now.

Once she had built up her confidence in test taking skills, she was ready to try her hand at the PSAT.....

Taking the PSAT

We did the PSAT in 10th grade.  Why?  Again, it was for practice.

Most families do the PSAT in 11th grade, when it counts for the Merit Scholarship awards. But we did it in both grades. And for us, the practice was worth it.  You know your student, and of course, we all know that each one is different and has unique needs.

The PSAT is usually given at the public schools, in October, only once a year.  We called our local ps and scheduled it.  We did that in early September to be sure that we could get it all arranged.

Meryl from Funda Funda Academy has lots of resources to help your teen prepare for the PSAT.  Click here for Free PSAT Prep Resources.

Are you unsure about having your teen take the PSAT?  Vicki at 7 Sisters Homeschool offers a nice discussion on whether or not to do the PSAT.  It is here -  Should my Homeschooler Take the PSAT?

Our next step was to decide when to take the SAT itself.....

A College Trip to Victoria, British Columbia
Scheduling the SAT

The SAT is offered 6 to 8 times a year.  It is helpful to have already had Geometry and Algebra 2 before taking the SAT.  So we decided to aim for taking the SAT during spring of 11th grade.  Some families do it earlier.  

Register for the SAT here.
We began studying for the SAT, then, in winter quarter.  Why do SAT prep?  Even if your student is rockin' it in English and Math, they are sure to encounter different types of questions in the SAT test itself.  The questions vary a lot from what they would see in their high school courses.  

SAT prep is so valuable as it helps your teen learn how the test works, and to become familiar with what the questions will look like.  We made time every day, and did the SAT questions of the day, and worked through some test prep books prior to her test date.

After her first SAT test, we considered whether we wanted to go ahead and do the SAT again.....

Take the SAT again?

This is a question that often comes up re college testing.  Is it really necessary to take the test again, to try to raise up the scores?  

I see two considerations here, for retesting....or not.  First, looking at the scores, do they reflect your student's abilities?  If yes, then why retest?  If not, if you think that the scores are really lower than your student's ability, then it may make sense to test again.  For us, testing stress was a big factor.

The other factor in play is the specific college or colleges that your student is considering.  If you wonder what a specific college is looking for, regarding test scores, it is not hard to find out.  

So, for us went online, and checked with our colleges.  Each of our colleges had the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen on their websites.  We compared them to my teen's scores, and decided to take the opportunity to retest again in the fall. 

Just an aside - Re-testing just to get into a prestious college may not be a good idea.  If a student has prepared and the scores seem to reflect their abilities, then maybe it is not the best idea to re-test.

If a student gets into a college that they really are not ready for, based on high scores from multiple re-tests, then they may end up where they were not meant to be.  That it might, after all, not be a good fit.

For us, we did a second test, and we set up more formal SAT prep, even making it it's own course.  We called it College Planner, and assigned it one/half credit.  And this credit was accepted by our colleges!  I'll be blogging more about that homemade course at a later date.

Next, let's look at resources for studying for that SAT test.  What did we use for our SAT prep? .......

On Campus, doing a Photo for College Admissions

SAT Prep Resources

Here's our favorites for SAT Prep, and some new resources that have popped up since my teen took her test.

1.  Daily Practice for the New SAT - One question a day, from College Board

2.  SAT Practice Tests - Take the test on paper, then use your phone to score it.

3.  Khan Academy SAT Prep - They have come together, Khan Academy and the College Board, to provide expert college test practice, working together.  They will give your student personalized practice on the things that they need the most.  Wow!  Wish we had this option when my teen was preparing for her test.  Here is how to link your PSAT scores with Khan Academy, right here. It sounds complicated, but it is really easy to set up. 

4.  Official SAT Practice Tests  also available.

5.  Hack the SAT  I liked Hack the SAT because it is so approachable. This author shares tips and how tos for dealing with the types of questions that can stump even well educated students.  And he does this is a very easy to understand manner!  Read more of my review here.

6.  SAT Book Camp - This is by Mr. D at  I have not used this resource, but they offer both SAT and ACT prep.

7.  SAT Preparation  A site called For Such a Time as This offers curriculum for SAT prep and also for ACT prep, too, specifically for homeschoolers and private schools.  This was recommended to me by a homeschooling mom who also is a college professor.

8.  Free e-books from Prep Scholar They offer many free e-books on the SAT, including 200 vocabulary words to study, and much more.

Now that we have looked at early preparations, the PSAT, when to schedule the SAT, whether to test again, and what resources you might consider for SAT prep, are you ready to take a moment and take a breath?  

From one of our mini-nature road trips, we needed a lot of these while doing SAT prep.

Also key to the whole SAT thing is to get a cat or dog, if you don't have one.  Our cat was a super and patient study buddy for my high schooler.....

For me, the most important thing to consider with the SAT, and really everything about homeschooling, is that each child/teen is different, and has unique needs.

Isn't that why we chose to homeschool?

Are you wanting your teen to take the ACT test instead?


We didn't use the ACT, but many homeschoolers prefer it.  Most colleges give you a choice of either one, the SAT or the ACT.

Here are our recommendations for ACT prep:

1.  Free ACT Test Prep from Union Test Prep - Including practice tests, flash cards and study guides

2.  ACT Online Prep FREE online ACT test practice using sample test questions from ACT tests from earlier years.

3.  The Real ACT Test Book - On Amazon

4.  Barron's ACT Math and Science Workbook -  Exercises in Math and Science, plus sample tests and solutions

5.  SAT and ACT Grammar Workbook - Detailed grammar review and more

Have you seen my book yet?   

Kindle is on Amazon

Create your own unique and nurturing high school program for your teen and showcase their accomplishments to the colleges.  

This book CAN help you do just that.

But what about all the record keeping involved?

You will also get 12 downloadable high school homeschool planning printables plus a transcript form for you to just fill in.  The kind of transcript form that the colleges are used to seeing.

College in Mind - 2nd Edition

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschool
collegegifted/2e and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool 2020
Updated 2019

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  1. I really appreciate your SAT and ACT resources - thank you!

    I'm just getting my feet wet in understanding high school credits, testing, and finding & applying for scholarships. I'm looking forward to browsing around your site.

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your nice comment, Lauren! I hope you find encouragement and resources on my site, as you explore more about high school at home.


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