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Lea Ann Garfias

November 9, 2010

When I was in Bible college, I learned that the definition of success is “finding God’s will and doing it.”  I like that definition, mostly because of what it doesn’t say.  That definition does not include what vocation I follow, what educational choices I make, what financial goals I achieve, or what grades I score.  Success is measured, then, in light of eternity.  I hope that my life is measured positively that way, too.

I was home educated from 7th grade onward.  Being an over-achiever and a glutton for punishment, I decided to complete the 6 years of my secondary education in 5 years, without skipping any grades. I had to work through the summers, but I enjoyed it for the most part.  My favorite subjects were English and mathematics.  My mother made me write a lot of papers, and she was a very good editor and stylist.  I had no idea how much I would use her wisdom and training later in life.  My father taught me Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, and Statistics.  We played games like “what is the probability of having all 12 beans in the Twelve Bean Soup in your bowl?” during dinner conversation.  Learning was a regular part of our life.

My younger sister and I not only learned our academics during our homeschool years; we also took regular piano and violin lessons.  Disciplined practice time was part of our daily routine.  Homeschooling made musical success possible, and we both took frequent awards in state and national competitions.  This paved the way for us both to study music on the college level as private students when we were teens.

By the time I was nearing graduation, I knew where I wanted to attend college.  My parents registered me for an ACT prep course at a local community college, and I’m glad I took it.  The course not only prepared me well for the test I would receive, but also acclimated me to the environment in which I would be tested.  Even though I was ill the day of my test, I scored in the 99th percentile and was offered scholarships from Harvard and my state’s university.  Instead, I chose to attend Bible college and study Church Music.

After two and a half years of university work, I met and married the love of my life.  David is a Peruvian immigrant who came here during his high school years. Together, we are rearing four children in the Dallas area. At first, I didn’t want to homeschool; I knew how much work it is! But my husband insisted we try it for “just one year,” and now we are hooked.

Home education is much different now from when I was a student.  For one thing, I was a student in the late 80s and early 90s in Michigan, where homeschooling was nearly illegal.  We didn’t go out of our homes much during the day, and we made up a name for our “very exclusive private school” in case people asked us questions. Today, we can proudly say, “We homeschool!” and strangers are not only unsurprised, but they have neighbors who home educate, too.

Another big difference in home education is because of the computer. When I was a student, very few people had home computers, and they still weren’t connected by internet (I feel so old typing that!).  This made it so much harder to obtain materials, reach out for support, and even to find other homeschooling teens.  We really felt isolated.  But not now! So, as a result, I get very excited every time I meet another homeschool graduate; it is like meeting a classmate!

There are many things I wish I had done differently during my 5 years of home education.  I wish I had not given my parents a hard time about the hard assignments.  I wish I had studied harder.  I wish I had not argued with my father over the math answers; he was always right and my answers were always wrong.  I wish I had taken my mother’s English corrections graciously.  Most of all, I wish I had valued the learning more, and worried about the grades less.  Who cares what grade I got in Trig? But do I really know why the Fall of Rome changed the course of history? I am shocked and dismayed how much I need to go back and re-learn before I can teach my own children properly these and many other things.

I hope that as I continue the home education tradition with my children, I can pass on a true love of learning to them.  Whether it is God’s will for them to attend college or not, whether or not He would have them tackle the sciences or the arts, it is the desire of their parents that they each find God’s perfect will for them.  Then, we pray, they can study to do it.

Lea Ann Garfias is a homeschool graduate and home education consultant in the Dallas area. Together with her husband of 13 years, she is teaching their four children at home and encouraging young families to raise their godly heritage for His glory. She is a classically trained pianist and violinist and avid reader. The Garfias family enjoys learning from a variety of resources, including great books, experiments, and family trips. You can read more of Lea Ann’s writing on her blog at http://whateverstate.wordpress.com, in Home School Enrichment Magazine, and on the Dallas Morning News neighborsgo.com Home Education blog.

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Southwestern College

October 1, 2010

Southwestern College Offers the Home School Learner Grant

Southwestern College in Phoenix, Arizona, is looking for students who can think, speak, and write well. They want students who understand the value of academics and have a passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. The faculty and staff at Southwestern College recognize the qualities that homeschoolers bring to campus – such as initiative, independent learning, and critical thinking.

To honor homeschooling families for all those years of working to provide their children a quality education with Christian values, Southwestern College has introduced the Home School Learner Grant for non-graduated home schooled students seeking college level courses* taught from a Christian worldview.  The grant reduces the standard tuition rate for up to 6-8 credit hours per semester – for credits that transfer to any college and university and apply towards degree or certificate programs. (*Students would complete the non-degree seeking application and will not be eligible for Title IV funds.)

Students need to provide one of the following sources to demonstrate ability prior to enrolling: SAT, ACT, PSAT, AIMS, Sanford 9 (Norm-Referenced Achievement Tests), or placement test such as the Compass or Accuplacer. In addition to academic readiness for college level work, students should also possess the requisite maturity appropriate for the respective subject matter. Some students choose to take classes as a dual credit program when they are 16 years old and that is acceptable as an addition to their homeschooling program. However, the college normally only enrolls students full time who are no more than a year younger than the freshman class.

WHEN: Spring classes begin January 11, 2011

WHERE: Southwestern College, 2625 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85032

COST: Home School Learner Grant – $125.00 per credit hour

CONTACT: Tami Lopez, Admissions & Financial Aid Specialist for information about the Home School Learner Grant, 602-386-4109

WEBSITE: http://www.swcaz.edu

Southwestern College has welcomed homeschool students for many years. While the college does not require applicants to have a GED or state certified diploma, they do require all students to have a transcript of courses and grades taken during high school years. The high school transcript should be a comprehensive transcript, detailing the course work from ninth through eleventh grades as well as the course work for the current year in progress. There should be a grade listed for each course and a cumulative grade point average based on a 4.0 scale should be given at the end. Finally, the transcript must be signed and dated by the preparer and sealed in an envelope. Southwestern College supplies a transcript template that can be used as a guideline.

Since 1960, Southwestern has been an evangelical college focused on ministry. It offers both Associate and Bachelor degrees in various fields of study for students who prefer to be taught from a Christian perspective. Bachelors in the arts and sciences degrees are offered in Behavioral Health, Biblical Studies, Business Administration, Christian Ministries, Education, & Music. Two-year Associate degrees in the arts and sciences are offered as well as a one-year “Certificate in Bible” program for those who wish to be educated in theology without earning a degree.

Southwestern College has the same regional accreditation that the state universities have, plus a Biblical worldview is interwoven into the curriculum – whether it’s an elementary education degree, counseling, or business. Southwestern College also emphasizes the importance of communication, critical thinking, biblical literacy, technological literacy, personal and professional ethics, and interpersonal skills.

Small class sizes and exceptionally qualified faculty create an unparalleled educational environment with lots of individual attention and plenty of opportunity for personal interaction between professors and students. Southwestern College provides the high level of academic preparation students need to succeed, the full college experience that helps them to mature, and the biblical foundation to guide their behavior.

Applicants with the most likely chance for admission have academic credentials that include at least a “B” grade average, an ACT or SAT test score above the national average, and a strong testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Once you are ready, applying to Southwestern College is an easy process: http://www.swcaz.edu/Admissions/HomeSchoolStudents/tabid/273/Default.aspx

BREAKING NEWS!

Homeschool Dad becomes President of Southwestern College

The Board of Trustees of Southwestern College has just announced the appointment of attorney, public policy expert and experienced non-profit leader Len Munsil as the 6th President in the 50-year history of Arizona’s only fully-accredited, non-profit Christian liberal arts college. Southwestern College, founded in 1960, is a non-denominational Christian college nearing 500 students for the first time in its history.

“I am honored to have this chance to lead Southwestern into its second half-century,” Munsil said. “This is an exciting time in our history. I believe we are poised to explode into a new era of growth and influence as a top-notch liberal arts college in the Southwest, while maintaining our ‘intentionally Christian’ heritage.”

Len Munsil, a third-generation Arizonan, has been a principled conservative leader in Arizona for more than 20 years, going back to his days as editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper at Arizona State University, where he wrote strongly-worded editorials in support of President Ronald Reagan and a strong national defense.

Munsil helped found The Center for Arizona Policy, which quickly became one of the largest and most influential state-based family policy groups in the United States. As President of The Center for Arizona Policy, he devoted nearly two decades to influencing public policy on behalf of children and families.

Len and his wife Tracy have both taught political science classes at Southwestern College, and they are parents of two students currently attending Southwestern – Anne, a junior Biblical Studies major and member of the women’s basketball team, and Michael, a sophomore Education major. The Munsils are huge fans and advocates of home education, having homeschooled their children from 1991 through 2005.

Southwestern College offers degrees in Behavioral Health, Biblical Studies, Business Administration, Christian Ministries, Elementary and Secondary Education, Music Education and Music Ministry. Recently the College added emphases in pre-law and pre-medicine, along with a fully accredited Adult Degree Completion program. The College competes in athletics at the NAIA level, and added baseball this year with the hiring of former Major Leaguer Thad Bosley.

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Rachel Starr Thomson

October 1, 2010

Rachel Starr Thomson of Ontario, Canada, is a writer of novels, short stories, essays, and the occasional poem. She was homeschooled for most of her life along with her eleven younger siblings. The family tended toward the unschooling method of learning from life experiences and traveling, although they also pursued some formal academic studies over the years.

Rachel’s very first novel, Theodore Pharris Saves the Universe, was written when she was thirteen. Ever since then, writing has been her chief discipline. Rachel is a regular contributor to Focus on the Family’s Boundless.org and Homeschooling Today Magazine. She serves as copy editor for Home School Enrichment Magazine. Her articles have been published in various magazines, ezines, and websites. She also oversees a multi-author serial fiction project titled “The Romany Epistles.”

As CEO of Little Dozen Press, Rachel has self published several of her books in the last few years including Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord’s Prayer, and the discipleship-focused Letters to a Samuel Generation. Her novels Worlds Unseen and Burning Light are fantasy adventures in the tradition of C.S. Lewis, enjoyed by readers from age ten to adult. Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled is a collection of humorous vignettes and essays that Rachel co-wrote with Carolyn Joy Currey, another homeschool grad. All of these books are available at www.RachelStarrThomson.com – including a free eBook of Worlds Unseen, a free online edition of Letters to a Samuel Generation, and chapter excerpts from Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled.

A stay-at-home single adult, Rachel wrote an article titled “20-Something Reasons to Live at Home” about the advantages of living with one’s family. In addition to her own writing, Rachel offers editing, proofreading, and coaching services – both independently and through WriteAtHome.com, a combination writing course/private tutoring service for high schoolers. “I wield a mad red pen,” she says, “but I’m nice about it.”

In all of her work, Rachel explores the intersections of faith, life, and creativity – not just through writing but by the artistic disciplines of storytelling, singing, and dance. She and her friend Carolyn co-founded the Soli Deo Gloria Ballet, a Christian performing arts company. Their mission is to glorify God and tell His story through the powerful and expressive medium of dance.

Rachel’s other interests include: reading, nature, Celtic music, Sense and Sensibility, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings. Rachel likes playing Scrabble, drinking tea, collecting books, going for long walks, and waxing eloquent on many topics. She believes “life would be far, far better if we all chucked our television sets out the window.”

Ten Years Ago

By Rachel Starr Thomson

If I had one message to give homeschooling teens (well, all teens, really), it would be this:

Where you are right now is not where you’ll be tomorrow, but what you do right now shapes who you’ll be tomorrow.

This is one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling: our parents have given us opportunities our peers don’t have, and so they’ve given us the opportunity to become what our peers may never become.

They’ve given us time with our families that will shape us and our future relationships.

They’ve given us academic freedom to pursue what we care most about, freedom that will shape our passions and maybe our future careers (or our ability to homeschool our own kids).

They’ve given us time and space to build our relationships with God, affecting eternity.

They’ve given us time. Did I mention that?

You’ve probably noticed that most adults don’t have a lot of time because their jobs claim most of their waking hours. Before people grow up and get jobs, most of them go to school, and school claims most of those waking hours. But homeschoolers are different. We have time for relationships, serious Bible study, ministry, creativity, long walks. We have time for things that matter most to us.

I graduated from homeschooling nine years ago (gah—it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long). My homeschool story has a lot in common with yours, also some differences. I went to kindergarten at a local Christian school, but my dad was a visionary and wanted to homeschool because he felt education was a task given to parents by God. Our family grew over the years: we started with me and ended up with twelve, ten girls and two boys. We also moved a lot. Our schooling was very loose and unstructured. My parents taught us to read, pointed us at a library like a kid playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and let us loose to see where the tail would end up. (Well, that’s more or less how it went.)

This unstructured education worked very well in some areas and not so well in others (I am not the only homeschool grad who used to fall asleep over her math book), but a combination of time to develop passions and pursue them, unique experiences, and relationships with family and non-peers led to me doing a lot of things that have shaped who I am—and what I do—now.

Ten years ago I spent several days a week volunteering with a missionary training center and attending meetings there in a multicultural, passionately spiritual setting; my relationship with God and sense of the world is still under-girded by those years.

Ten years ago I was not heavily under the influence of negative peer pressure and teen culture, so those things have never taken root as serious considerations in my life.

Ten years ago I was jotting down poetry or writing story manuscripts here and there, and also reading like a fiend; today I’m a full-time writer, editor, and writing coach.

Ten years ago I was helping my parents in their small business; today I run my own.

Ten years ago I found out that I loved music and dance and that the arts could be a powerful part of worship; today I co-direct a ballet and performing arts company that tours around my home country of Canada.

Ten years ago I developed friendships and relationships that still challenge, inspire, and comfort me. The people in my life, a vast variety of them not bound to my age group or neighborhood, have each left their mark on who I am now.

The loose, interest-led education I got as a homeschooled teenager still shapes my approach to learning and life as an adult. I value curiosity and new experiences; I love to learn; I know I can learn anything—it’s as simple as heading toward a paper donkey with a pin, knowing you’ll get off course and make some mistakes that don’t ultimately matter. You’ll win if you stick with it.

What you’re doing today matters; it will shape who you are tomorrow. Homeschooling gives us unique and powerful opportunities, starting with time and then many valuable ways to use that time. I’m grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made and the chances they took so that I could also take chances, make sacrifices, and live an unusual life.

I hope you do the same.

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CollegePlus!

September 5, 2010

CollegePlus! is an alternative approach to earning recognized undergraduate credentials. It’s actually a Christian coaching program that helps students earn their bachelor’s degrees faster, for less, and for sure through CLEP exams, online courses, and onsite classes from local colleges and universities. Depending on their major, students may use all three or just one of these.

There are two degree tracks open to CollegePlus! students, depending on their degree plan. Most students take the maximum amount of CLEP and other exams possible, and then enroll in a distance learning college. This degree track typically saves students $25,000 or more on their degree costs! Other students complete a limited number of CLEP exams before enrolling in a traditional classroom environment at the college of their choice. These students save an average of $7,000 by enrolling with CollegePlus!

CollegePlus! students usually decide to graduate with broad degrees since statistics show that 80% of college grads work in a field unrelated to their college major. Students graduating through a distance learning college such as Thomas Edison State College can choose from over 20 different majors. (Starred majors indicate the ten most popular.)

Bachelor of Arts (BA) major fields include: Anthropology, Biology, Communications*, Computer Science*, Criminal Justice, Economics, English*, History*, Humanities*, Journalism, Liberal Studies, Music*, Natural Science/Math, Political Science, Psychology*, Social Science.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) specialties include: Accounting*, Computer Information Systems*, Entrepreneurship, Finance, General Management*, Human Resources/Organizational Management, International Business, and Marketing.

Other specialty majors include Engineering and Pre-Med.

To help students who are unsure about their major, CollegePlus! recommends Life Purpose Planning, a series of assignments that help identify a student’s passion in life and how to pursue that life calling. Completing Life Purpose Planning and choosing a broad degree are ideal for younger high school students who want to do college in high school but aren’t sure what to major in. They can eventually complete graduate school in the field of their choice since just about any undergraduate major is eligible for any master’s level program.

Every CollegePlus! student is guided by a degree coach that walks them through their entire degree process. This coach is knowledgeable in study skills, CLEP exams, and navigating the distance learning college the student will graduate from.

Michael Back, Director of the Christian Home Educators of Ohio, says “We home educators are always thinking outside the box. CollegePlus! is certainly outside the box! A college degree in half the time, at a fraction of the cost with real life and work experience and parental involvement. CollegePlus! is the way to go.” For more information about College Plus!, visit: http://collegeplus.org

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Natalie Wickham

September 5, 2010

Homeschooling Teen Profile: Natalie Wickham

Natalie Wickham was homeschooled from 4th grade through college alongside her five siblings. After graduating from high school, Natalie continued her education through distance learning. In March 2006, she achieved her goal of becoming a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. Natalie owns and operates a successful piano studio. In addition to her involvement in music, Natalie is a strong proponent of character education. She helped implement the Character First! Education program in local schools and churches, and she currently serves as the director of Adventures in Character. Natalie wrote the book, “Pajama School: Stories from the Life of a Homeschool Graduate,” in which she shares candidly about the experiences that led her to conclude that education is about much more than academics. In her article for Homeschooling Teen magazine, Natalie focuses on the importance of creativity.

Redeeming the Time with Creativity

A crowd of teachers eagerly took their places as the session got underway. I waited expectantly as one of the organizers of the event introduced me to the group. They had asked me to present a workshop on marketing and running a successful music studio. I was excited to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years. But I wasn’t prepared for the specific remarks of my colleague and how they would give me a whole new appreciation for the decision my parents made many years ago to home educate their children. His words still echo in my mind, “Natalie comes from a somewhat untraditional background…” (I’d heard that before!) “…and I think that’s what contributes largely to her fresh and creative approach.” (Wow, I’d never really thought of that!)

Pondering that statement over the last several months has led me to realize what a tremendous gift my parents gave me when they pulled me out of school to start our homeschool journey. Not that I always felt that way, mind you! Our first year of transition, in particular, was wrought with lots of frustration and tears. But as we learned to replace society’s educational model with a more biblical understanding of true education, a whole new world began to open up before us. Instead of being constrained to a classroom for hours at a time, life became our learning ground. I was free to explore areas of interest and pursue skills I wanted to develop.

In a recent interview with Kevin Swanson (another homeschool grad!) on Generations Radio, he shared a vivid analogy: those who are raised in our modern schooling system tend to approach education and life as a paint-by-number piece of art, whereas those who are raised outside the system are likened to a sculptor. In a paint-by-number, as you know, someone has already determined the final design and you – the artist – are just coloring in the spaces. There’s some room for artistic expression, but only insomuch as it falls within the parameters of the original designer’s intent. A sculptor, on the other hand, employs a host of tools and materials to create a unique work of art – limited only by his imagination and ability. Obviously these are generalizations, but I love the thought that a homeschool education can be the catalyst for ideas, discoveries, and approaches that might otherwise lie dormant in a tightly-structured, conformity-based classroom environment.

My favorite definition for creativity comes from CharacterFirst: “approaching a need, a task, or an idea from a new perspective.” In a homeschool environment, the opportunities to develop creativity are endless! Consider these needs: lunchtime meals, clean clothes, money for school curriculum. Or what about some daily tasks: practicing an instrument, doing a math lesson, cleaning the bathroom. And we could never exhaust a list of ideas: hosting a Bible study, organizing a field trip, creating a short film. One of the biggest advantages we have toward developing creativity in these areas is time. The average graduating high school senior will have spent almost 30,000 hours at school, plus even more on homework! When you consider that the recognized number of hours it takes to become an expert in a given field is approximately 10,000 you begin to realize the incredible potential that exists for homeschoolers…if we use our time wisely.

Ephesians 5:16 says that we should be, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The idea behind the word “redeeming” is that we spend our time on that which is profitable. In other words, we are trading in our time to get back something more valuable. You could contrast this with the opposite – squandering time, which is frivolously spending time on things that have no lasting value. With that in mind, I’d like to outline three ways that you can redeem the time by developing creativity in your life:

1. Spend time with the Creator. Proverbs 2:6 is one of my favorite verses, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Whatever your questions, whatever your needs, whatever your problems, the answer is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. The more time you spend with the Lord, reading and studying His Word, the more you will be able to draw on His wisdom and creativity as situations arise in your life. We are promised “good success” if we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night and do all that is written in it (Joshua 1:8). Likewise, the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night is said to prosper in all he does (Psalm 1:2-3). Talk about a return on your investment! Filling your heart and mind with the wisdom and knowledge and understanding of the Lord is the source from which the fountain of creativity springs forth!

2. Take time to think. Victor Hugo once said, “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” Isn’t that great?! Whether due to busy schedules or hours wasted on mindless entertainment, there is precious little time given to just thinking. One of my favorite things to do is to make my way onto our deck late at night, gaze up at the stars, and just…think. Sometimes memorized Scriptures come to mind; sometimes I present questions to God; sometimes I ponder a difficult situation with a student and how I should address it; sometimes I reflect on attitudes or behaviors in my life of which I need to repent; sometimes I contemplate upcoming events or special occasions and what I can do to make them more meaningful and memorable; and so on. Another essential for me is my “idea book.” It’s just a plain spiral-bound notebook, but I use it to jot down thoughts and brainstorm about everything from goals for the year, to lesson plans for students, to book marketing strategies, to articles, and more. Society today undervalues just sitting and thinking because it is perceived as being unproductive. Quite the contrary! It is an essential underlying element that produces an even greater level of productivity.

3. Make creative plans and put them into action. There’s a certain amount of risk in being creative because you have to be willing to try something that you haven’t done before. I like to think of scenarios in terms of a “means justifies the end” philosophy. “Will the benefit derived from the planning, preparation, implementation, and evaluation of this project be worth it even if the endeavor itself is deemed unsuccessful?” Not only does this serve to bolster enthusiasm and diligence for the project, but it also offsets the discouragement that accompanies a failed venture. So put on your creative “thinking caps” and just give it a try: treat your family to a fancy lunchtime tea and scones, make your own set of flashcards and work with a sibling on math facts, invite a mature Christian to share their testimony and host a group of friends for fellowship and encouragement in their walk with the Lord. As you develop creativity, you will discover all sorts of ways to be a blessing to the people around you. Not to mention that you’ll always keep them guessing as to what you’ll come up with next!

Creativity is an amazing gift from the Lord, and homeschooling affords us the time and environment to develop it in our own lives. I’ve had to throw away my fair share of “paint-by-number” coloring sheets as the Lord has led me to re-think the customary way of doing things in society. It’s a little scary, but what an adventure! So, grab your block of marble (i.e. whatever needs, tasks, or ideas are facing you today) and start sculpting away. Let’s become everyday artists who fill people’s lives with creativity and cause them to marvel at the ingenuity of our Creator!

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Natalie Wickham is a lover of all things creative. She enjoys trying new things and looking for better approaches – whether it be in teaching, writing, speaking, cooking, or whatever else seems interesting at the moment! She has tried many approaches that haven’t worked so well, but finds great security in the unchanging character and Word of God, which remains her anchor in the midst of it all. She is the author of the book, “Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate” and producer of the CD “Journey to Self Publishing – 12 steps to successfully publish your book.” Natalie also founded and runs MusicMattersBlog.com – an on-line compendium of creative, practical, and up-to-date resources for music teachers. Feel free to stop in and visit her at PajamaSchool.com !

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Jacksonville State University

August 10, 2010

JSU Logo

Jacksonville State University… Where You’re Going

From the moment you step foot on the campus of Jacksonville State University in Alabama or enroll in our online studies program you’ll discover that you are not the only one invested in your future. For more than 125 years our focus at Jacksonville State University has been on one thing: getting you ready for where you are going.

Jacksonville State University is a public university — a comprehensive teaching institution that provides educational, cultural, and social experiences for a diverse undergraduate and graduate student population. Located in northeast Alabama in Calhoun County, the school’s 459-acre campus is set in a picturesque area in the foothills of the Appalachians. The school is situated just north of Interstate 20 nearly mid-way between Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga.

Where You’re Going… a top-notch education is waiting.

As a student-centered university, JSU strives to balance academic challenges with a range of support services for students, academic, career and personal goals. As an academic institution, JSU seeks to produce broadly educated graduates with skills for employment, citizenship, and lifelong learning. As a comprehensive university, JSU supports scholarly and service activities consistent with its academic and professional strengths.

JSU offers more than 150 courses of study including 24 graduate majors, seven graduate degrees, and extensive online offerings. Historically, JSU has graduated more teachers than any other college of education in Alabama, and the Princeton Review ranks the JSU College of Business among the nation’s best. JSU also offers excellent opportunities to pursue advanced degrees online. There are complete online undergraduate and graduate programs in emergency management available, as well as the online STEP (RN-BSN-MSN) program for nurses.  In December 2010, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute selected JSU for the Science Education Alliance’s National Genomics Research Initiative.

Where You’re Going… the faculty actually knows your name.

The first step toward helping you succeed is really getting to know you. Our faculty works to build a strong learning environment that works for every student. The individualized attention and smaller class sizes at JSU translate into bigger academic success for you, and that is something worth knowing!

Where You’re Going… is the Friendliest Campus in the South.

According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, JSU deserves the title “Friendliest Campus in the South.” Factor in the local area’s national reputation for Southern hospitality and this may just be the friendliest campus anywhere. At JSU, being friendly isn’t something we do, it’s just who we are.

Where You’re Going… you can go the distance.

Jacksonville State University currently offers twenty academic programs online, including bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and graduate certificates, with even more coming online in Spring 2011. Check myjsuonline.com often for the latest offerings.

Where You’re Going… there are more paths to uncover.

Jacksonville State University is surrounded by 375,000 acres of the lush Talladega National Forest and recently completed the 23,000 square foot Little River Canyon Center, which serves as home to the JSU Field Schools. Also near JSU are the Chief Ladiga Rail Trail and Mt. Cheaha, Alabama’s highest peak. With such great outdoor activities right at your backdoor, JSU offers plenty of room to explore your future. So whether you’re into hiking, biking or simply relaxing, you’ll find that enjoying campus life at JSU just comes naturally.

Where You’re Going… has a rhythm of its own.

For the nationally acclaimed “Marching Southerners,” excellence is the norm. This award-winning band has been leading the way both musically and stylistically for more than 50 years. And every year, they carry on the tradition of captivating stadium crowds throughout the Southeast.

Jacksonville State University is ready to help you tackle the exciting challenges that lie ahead and achieve success personally and professionally. We look forward to helping you get ready for where you’re going next.

Visit us online at www.whereyouaregoing.com, call 1-800-231-JAX1 or e-mail jaxfacts@jsu.edu

More Quick Facts About JSU

·    JSU began in 1883 as a two-year school to train teachers.

·    In Fall 2009, 9,351 students were enrolled at Jacksonville State University (59% female, 41% male). 3,334 of those students took courses via Distance Education.

·    Jacksonville State University’s International House Program began in 1946. In 2009, JSU’s student body included 234 international students representing 71 countries. Today, Jacksonville State University has an English Language Institute and partnerships with four Chinese universities.

·    Students at Jacksonville State University experience a low student to teacher ratio (20:1) and have the opportunity to participate in more than 100 clubs and organizations while pursuing their degrees.

·    Prestigious alumni of JSU include Randy Owen, lead singer of the award-winning group Alabama; and Heather Whitestone McCallum, Miss America 1995.

·    JSU is the only school in the nation to lay claim to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national titles in football (1992), men’s basketball (1985), baseball (1990 and 1991), and women’s gymnastics (1984 and 1985).

·    JSU’s colors are red and white and our mascot is a Gamecock.

·    To follow JSU online, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleStateUniversity or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JSUNews.

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Amy Puetz

August 10, 2010

Amy Puetz

My homeschooling adventure began in the 8th grade. My life drastically changed once we began homeschooling. The world just had a different light to it, and I actually felt truly alive for the first time. There was such freedom in homeschooling. I was no longer confined by the opinions of my peers, and the shell that I had put up to protect myself from the harsh world started to crumble. It wasn’t long before I began thinking about my future and what God wanted me to do with my life. Over the years I had many ambitions-I wanted to be an archaeologist, a photographer, a counselor for troubled teens, or the owner of a movie studio that made Christian films. Most of all, I wanted to fulfill the God-given role of being a wife and mother. At 15, I began experiencing some serious health problems after a tonsillectomy. I went from being a healthy teen in 1996 to a very sick person in 1999. Simply walking across the room was terribly fatiguing. I knew college was out of the question and that even my dream of marriage and children was hazy. After all, I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. I needed to look at my future realistically and ask the question, “What can I do?”

Around this time I began designing fliers and newsletters for a business my sisters and I had started. I realized that I truly enjoyed creating things on the computer. It didn’t drain me too much physically, and it was something I felt gifted in. That is when I found out about a correspondence course in Computer Graphic Arts from Harcourt Learning Direct. (Harcourt Learning Direct is now Penn Foster. You may visit their website at http://www.pennfoster.edu.) After I graduated from high school in 2000 I began taking the correspondence course. I completed the two-year course in nine months. That in itself was a huge accomplishment, because most of the time my brain felt like it was in a fog!

Completing the correspondence class was easy, compared to trying to find a job that I could do with my limited energy. I began creating cards and t-shirts and tried to sell the ideas to Christian companies, but it never panned out. While I was waiting to land my first job, I had the idea of creating a historical costume book. The idea sprung from my love of dressing up as a child. My sisters and I had this wonderful collection of dresses and we would use them to create different characters. In my book, I wanted to show people how to take one dress and add accessories to make it look like different eras. It took me about a year to complete the ebook, Costumes With Character, and this year I’m actually working on revising it to offer as a printed book!

I managed to get a few jobs creating designs for some businesses, and for a few people in my church. One of my t-shirt designs landed a contract with Victory Won, a pro-life company. The front of the shirt says, “Americans born to be free” and the back says, “If only they are free to be born.” God gave me that statement one day, and I just knew I had to create a t-shirt that shared it with the world.

Over the next few years I continued to grow my business by adding a website, www.AmyPuetz.com , and writing ebook unit studies about inspiring, Christian ladies. I can’t help but smile at God’s sense of humor. If someone had told me when I was a child that I would eventually be a writer, I would have laughed out loud. I didn’t exactly hate writing, but I certainly wasn’t very good at it either. After I graduated I went through an Excellence in Writing class from Andrew Pudewa. Writing might not be easy for me, but I now have the tools to do it. God can redirect our paths when He wants us to do something new. I have 5 books in my Heroines of the Past ebook series and several others on the way.

In 2004 I started writing a historical column for Home School Enrichment Magazine, and I have compiled those articles into a printed book – Uncover Exciting History. I also have two other books published, Countdown to Christmas and Countdown to Easter. Homeschooling really helped prepare me for the different hats it takes to be self employed. While being educated at home, I learned perseverance, dedication, and the importance of working hard.

As a homeschool grad, I can look back over the last ten years and be thankful that God led me to start a business that would encourage and bless homeschool families. I’d like to say a few things to encourage you as you look ahead to your post-high school years. This is directed mostly to girls, but guys may get something out of this too!

Because of the wonderful Christian examples of our mothers, most homeschool girls have one goal in life, and that is to get married and raise a family. This is a wonderful and God-given aspiration, but before God brings the right man into our lives, many of us will experience a season of singleness. It is imperative that we have a plan of what to do with our lives during this season, and a direction to go in case we never marry. For one, if we stay active it is much easier to be content, and two, if we look at the time of singleness as a learning time, we will grow.

Homeschool families should teach their girls how to cook, clean, and take care of a house and children, but those should not be the only skills they learn. Most homeschool families have a bit of entrepreneurship blood in their veins and a stay-at-home daughter can certainly benefit from knowing how to do some basic home-business skills. Here are a few things I would recommend if you are thinking about starting a home business:

·     Learn how to create a website. HTML may not be very fun to learn but something that will come in handy.

·     Learn how to write articles. As I mentioned before, Andrew Pudewa has some very good curriculum available. Visit his website at http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/

·     Learn basic book keeping skills.

·     Learn a little about marketing.

·     Continue dreaming. When starting a home business, we will run into many roadblocks. It’s important to never give up on our dreams.

·     And most important of all, seek God’s will through prayer.

Have goals of what to do after high school. It doesn’t have to include college! There are lots of different options for getting more education without going to a secular school. Correspondence classes worked really well for me. There are also online classes available and you might even consider taking a class in a specialized area at a local college. What I especially liked about my correspondence curriculum was that I learned about the particular subject I was interested in, instead of taking two years of boring classes that I didn’t need.

When I graduated it seemed like the general consciences among homeschoolers was that girls should be preparing for marriage instead of a job. I’m not disagreeing with this, but I think that we need to have a backup plan in case the looked-for prince charming is a long time in coming. So many girls spend years in discontented singleness because they didn’t plan for those years while still in high school. Choosing to have a career during singleness is a wise decision, but it is also important to keep in mind that if God changes our course and we marry and have children, the career may need to be laid aside. For people like me who are looking at a lifetime of singleness, I’m glad that I decided early on to be content in pursuing a job that I could love.

While I was in high school I took a career test from Crown Financial Ministries, called Career Direct. This was very helpful in determining the kind of job I would enjoy. Based on the answers I gave it determined the kind of work environment I should have and also the areas I had weakness and strengths. Although I wanted it to tell me that “Amy, you should be a __________” and the blank would have the name of a profession, it was more of a road map to what kind of job I would find rewarding. Several different jobs fit into the categories where I have strengths. For instance, it told me that I’m a very detail-oriented person, and that I would be better at working with details than with people.  I would highly recommend that every high school student take the Career Direct assessment. You may get more information at http://careerdirectonline.org/.

Most homeschoolers have a deep love of learning. We should continue to expand this after completing school, and we will always be growing. We should also make goals for the future, both spiritual and physical. Where do we want to be in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? What are some practical steps that we can take to accomplish those goals? A Bible study I went through several years ago that really encouraged me in this area was A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

In closing, I would like to say that God is in control of our future, and He has plans for us. Bathe every decision in prayer and ask Him to show you what He wants you to do. God has created every one of us with a unique assortment of gifts that He wants us to use for His glory.

About the Author: Amy Puetz (pronounced Pitts) is a homeschool graduate, a self-taught historian, and a servant of Jesus Christ. She is the author of Uncover Exciting History and Countdown to Christmas. History has been a passion for her since childhood. Years of in-depth study (both in modern and old sources) have equipped her to write history related books. She especially loves to dig for little-know stories that show God’s providential hand. Because of a chronic illness (fibromyalgia) that limits what she can do, the Lord led her to start an online business which she can do from home. She is the author of several e-books. In her spare time she enjoys sewing and reading. She also publishes a bimonthly e-zine for ladies of all ages called, Heroines of the Past E-zine. Visit her website at www.AmyPuetz.com to see many resources relating to history.