Hard to believe, isn't it? The years have flown by and your homeschooler will soon be facing the next big step in life - college or the work force. If college is the future choice, preparing for this decision should start long before high school graduation. Incorporating these helpful ideas into your planning will provide a stress-free transition and better prepare your homeschooler for college.

Prayer - Without the Lord, your child will be building his future in vain. (Psalm 127:1) God created your child and knows if college is necessary for the future plans that He has for him. (Jeremiah 29:11) Seek God's direction and wisdom first, and don't forget to enlist the prayers of family members and friends.

College Selection
- The key to finding the right college is starting your search early. Depending on your child's abilities and interests, post high education includes many options such as community colleges, specialized colleges (nursing, mechanics, art, etc.), junior colleges, Bible colleges, or four-year colleges. Choosing the right college is time-consuming, but the process can be made easier with Alpha Omega Publications® one-semester Switched-On Schoolhouse® elective course - College Planner. This invaluable course guides you in planning for college step-by-step.

Choosing the right college also involves visiting the campus (many colleges have scheduled visitation days which enable you to sit in on classes), talking to the professors who teach courses that apply toward your child's major, and talking to alumni to see if the program will meet the needs of your child. You should also consider the college's job placement percentages for graduates and graduation-to-dropout ratios. Christian college directories are listed on the Internet or you can purchase directories from retail book stores that include listings for state colleges, universities, and private colleges.

When picking a college, be realistic about what you can afford. Attending a college is expensive, so consider the debt you will incur after four years of education; but also remember, where God guides He provides.

College Entrance Tests - Most colleges require more than a high school transcript for admission. Many accept either the SAT or ACT test for admission; however, verify which test the college requires. You should prepare your child for these important timed tests during your child's sophomore or junior year. Study manuals which include practice tests are available at bookstores, your local library, or online.

When your child is ready to take either test, a registration packet can be obtained from your local public high school guidance counselor's office or you can go online and register for the ACT test at http://www.act.org/ or for the SAT test at http://www.collegeboard.com/. Testing locations and days are listed for sites throughout the United States. Specific costs are involved with additional fees applied for late registration. Read the information carefully to know and understand the testing rules. Due to processing time, these tests should be taken prior to your child's senior year to be eligible for most college scholarships. (Hint: Be sure to list all your child's possible college choices on the registration form - each college must receive a copy of the test results directly from the ACT or SAT testing center. Adding additional colleges later costs extra.)

College Application - The application process is lengthy and most often requires a copy of the student's high school transcript (keep your child's records up to date while homeschooling), SAT or ACT scores (sent directly from the testing agency - make sure you fill out the college's correct number when registering for the test), immunization records, and a non-refundable application fee. Some colleges also require essays or video enrollment presentations to complete the application process.

Getting your homeschooler ready for college doesn't have to be overwhelming. Starting the process early and following these simple ideas will eliminate many frustrations in preparing your child for college.