Overview: When you're wondering how to pay for college, this SAT/ACT prep course is one of the best and easiest ways to get some help. It's reasonably priced and effective, a win-win! Note: this post is sponsored by College Prep Genius, but all opinions are my own. Referral links are present.
College is looming and you're wondering how to pay for it. (And right about now you're already starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.)
Your teen is prepared for college, wants to go to there, and would do well in that environment — but you're worried you can't get them there due to lack of funds. Raising kids costs a lot of money, and there never seems to be enough to put into savings of any kind, let alone for their future education which has always seemed so far away—until you realized that it's actually only a year or two from now. How did that happen?
Now you're wondering what is the best way to pay for college in a hurry. Is there a quick and dirty way to get it all taken care of? Or at least a huge chunk? Debt is not something you want to play with, if it can be avoided. But you see the tuition numbers and don't know what else to do.
And for homeschoolers, searching for scholarships can seem like an exercise in futility. I speak from experience on that one. My eldest daughter was very diligent to look for scholarships and even applied to some; but it seemed they were all skewed to the public school population, and those that weren't were designed for very specific nationality groups, or were dependent on where your parents worked, or had some other highly specialized criteria that she didn't fit. (We never bothered searching again with any of our later kids.)
But an amazing thing happened when she received her acceptance letter to the college she decided to go to—in the same envelope, they offered her a merit scholarship! We didn't even know such a thing existed, and there it was in black and white!
Turns out that merit scholarships are probably one of the easiest ways (in terms of time spent and frustration level incurred) for homeschoolers to get help paying for college.
And do you know what merit scholarships are usually based on? Standardized test scores, like the SAT and ACT. So for many, the best plan for getting their kid to college is to make sure they score high on those tests.
And guess what? Not one to leave you hanging, I have a recommendation for one of the best ways to help your teen get the score you're looking for. Woot!
College Prep Genius: a great way to help pay for college (or maybe get it ALL for FREE!)
I'm going to refer you to Jean Burk, of College Prep Genius, who says she knows how your kid can get college for free. Yup. FREE. And even better, she's happy to tell you how to make that happen.
Jean is definitely qualified to let us in on her secrets—her children didn't have to pay a dime for college!
True story: When Jean's oldest child was looking at colleges, they began to understand that big scholarship money could be obtained based on standardized test scores. So Jean scoured for all the information she could find about how the tests were made, what types of questions there were, etc. and began to work with her son to teach him everything she had learned.
You already know the end result: he was a National Merit Scholar and got a full ride after choosing from numerous offers for everything to be paid for. Jean's daughter had a similar experience. Both kids have since also been offered free grad school based on their GRE and LSAT scores. So what Jean teaches definitely works!
Listen to my podcast series with Jean Burk all about preparing for the college entrance exams, plus a lot of nitty gritty it's helpful to know! You can find the episodes here: Preparing for the ACT, SAT, & CLT with Jean Burk.
Jean says it's not about the content on the test as much as it is about beating the test at its own game. It's about logic and time management, not necessarily knowledge of every topic within a subject area. And ANYONE can learn the tricks necessary to improve their score and thus their scholarship offers—Jean has testimonials galore to prove that. Like this one:
How do standardized test scores affect how much you have to pay for college?
Before we go any further, le me just say that I know how frustrating it is that these tests aren't measuring the depth of a student's education. I know that we wish these tests were a more thorough indication of who your teen really is, not just of how they can do on test day. I know that there oughta be a better way to determine scholarship elibility.
But facts are facts, and it is indeed a fact that colleges give scholarships to those who score well. All of my teens were offered something based completely on test results. The transcript was secondary, y'all.
To be fair, the schools have to level the playing field by looking at objective test scores, since grades and standards vary so widely all over the country. The transcript isn't really a reliable indicator of a kid's abilities, either, when you think about how subjective it can be.
I want you to be encouraged, though, by the reality that each college decides these things with their own metric, so the same score will earn different money at different colleges.
The trick is to find the ones that will give your kid the most for the score they got. My son received full tuition at a junior college for an ACT score of 28. And my daughter with a 26 and a 3.3 GPA also got offered a little money from two different colleges. Woot!
Related Reading: The Truth about How to Look Good on College Applications
So you don't HAVE to be in the highest percentile to get a scholarship… but it sure helps, hello. And the higher the score, the more money is offered, no matter which college you are looking at. Colleges like kids with high scores, because that makes the college look good, and they get more funding as a result. Mm hmmm.
Conclusion? Like it or not, it is what it is (or as I heard the other day, IIWII (pronounced “eewee”)—don't you love it? LOL), so since this is the current system, we might as well learn to crack it.
And Master the SAT, the ecourse that Jean created with all the tips and tricks she learned with her kids, is a great way to do that.
A quick clarification: the ecourse is indeed called Master the SAT, but it will also work for the ACT. Jean says that these days the SAT is written by people who also wrote the ACT, so the tests are VERY similar. (Only the science section of the ACT would not be addressed in this course, but Jean says it is like the SAT reading section, so any instruction she gives there will carry over. Good to know!)
How can this ecourse help pay for college?
Starting at a reasonable $139 for the Fundamental ECourse, Jean's
I've had the opportunity to examine the ecourse and all of the materials, and I am super impressed with the scope of what Jean has done. She walks teens step-by-step through the process of learning how to take each section on the test, even breaking it down further to each type of question within those sections—and then provides the practice necessary for students to fully own the techniques that she teaches.
She isn't trying to cram their heads with grammar rules or the quadratic equation; they either know that stuff or they don't, by this point. Instead, she builds their confidence by presenting strategies that they can apply quickly and easily, with acronyms to make the techniques easy to remember in the high-pressure test environment. The teen learns to approach each question from the standpoint of narrowing down wrong and deceptive answers to arrive at the answer that makes the most sense.
But I think the best thing about the course is not only the tips and tricks to learn, but also the overall attitude of YOU CAN DO THIS that is presented to the teen in many ways throughout the course. Jean empowers the student to believe they will do well. She gives them the tools they need, and she encourages the mindset of success. I think it's a great combination!
The basis of the 12-week course is the set of online video lessons, a textbook, and a workbook, along with the Homework Guide (which is really a lesson plan for what to do each day), the Class Outline (a place for note-taking), and the Journal for Success (a place to keep records of progress). Also, inside the Journal is a re-usable essay template.
For $50 more, the Comprehensive Ecourse includes an additional ereader called High School Prep Genius, which Jean says is like a “guidance counselor” to help both the student and the parent navigate through high school and prepare for college. It's 469 pages of uber-helpful information about achieving not just academic success during high school but also personal growth. It also talks about the college search and other options for financing the college education. It's written to the student but includes parent homework, which is a great way to help parents gain confidence to be sure they are not missing important information. I'm a huge fan of this book, especially reading it from the eyes of experience. Jean has covered just about everything I had to learn the hard way!
Also included in the Comprehensive package are six ereaders that they call the Vocab Cafe readers. These are fiction
Jean has literally thought of EVERYTHING when it comes to motivating students to prepare well—and to help them do so.
Lemme give you an example of the type of advice you can find in her course:
“The SAT likes to frighten students by taking simple problems and making them appear scary. If you read carefully, you will realize the questions are not as scary as they first appear. Although they make you think you'll have to write out a long equation to solve them, they are probably asking you to solve something much simpler. Always circle what the question is really asking. What is the bottom line?”
I don't know about you, but I remember taking the SAT and seeing some questions that absolutely freaked me out upon first reading. Then when I distilled them down to something much more simple, I thought that *I* must be wrong. I must have missed something! Yikes! But Jean reassures kids before they take the test that this is very normal and that they don't need to doubt themselves. Wish I'd had that!
Her materials are rife with this type of helpful encouragement, always accompanied by specific examples and methods for answering the given type of question more quickly.
Due to the depth of the content, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, LOL. The teen will need to commit to taking the time to go through the course and practice the strategies, including taking multiple full practice tests. But I think the results will be worth it. Truly, even a small difference in score can mean THOUSANDS of dollars more in scholarship money!
Why, then, do I say that this is one of the easiest ways to pay for college?
Because you can use this course as a test prep
Related: Our Recommended College Supply List
And one more thing: Jean also offers LIVE bootcamps to groups, if you would rather get a bunch of people together and have her come teach her techniques in person. That sounds like tons of fun! I've heard her described as a “firecracker”—and she really is! Your kids would NOT be bored; trust me on that one! :-)
I highly recommend that you head to the College Prep Genius website and take a look at what Jean has to offer. I think you'll be glad you did! Click here: College Prep Genius Website.
You can also find College Prep Genius on Facebook.
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