One of the unique or not-very-common steps we took during our high school years was deciding on taking a gap year for our eldest daughter, Arielle. Arielle took a gap year before she finally entered college. She graduated April 2015 and didn’t go to college right away in Aug/Sept 2015. Instead, she made 2015 to August 2016 her gap year.

After a long process of evaluation and much prayer (along with another homeschool friend whose son was Arielle’s batchmate), we decided to take a gap year even if it was not recommended to us by The Master’s Academy, our homeschool provider.  We were told that Arielle might not get accepted in 2016 because colleges will have no freshman batch entering the universities all because of the K12 program. We did our own research and legwork. We went to U.P., Ateneo, and UA & P, and made an online inquiry with DLSU and asked the different admission offices if they will accept our daughter and our friend’s son after taking a gap year. We just clarified what the requirements were and it was quite a relief to know that there would be no problem at all if they went on a gap year.

Why did we take a gap year? Because we were not rushing. Mike and I were not rushing. Arielle felt she needed more time before going to college. If she didn’t take a gap year, she would be graduating college at the age of 20. We considered it too young for her to be accepted and employed by a company, if there would be a company who would hire her at that age. Also, knowing what she really wanted to take up in college and being prepared for it is better than changing courses along the way and not knowing what to do with her life! That’s even going to be a waste of time and money and stressful for both the child and the parents. We DISCUSSED ALL THESE with Arielle. There was a lot of talking, questioning, reflecting, processing, decision-making…all to let her roots grow and flex/strengthen/tone up her wings.

During her gap year, Arielle did internships (w/ Martine de Luna and Flow Surf Yoga, mainly doing graphic designs, posters). It gave her the experience of how it was to work and with deadlines. She also took basic animation workshop at Toon City Academy which made her experience how it really is to work in the animation industry and learn the basic skills. (God really works in mysterious ways. I met Roselle Rodrigo-Gonzales in one of my art playdates, who happen to be the TCA Administrator!) More importantly, she was able to prepare for her college application at SCAD: art portfolio with 20 pieces of her best traditional and digital artwork, her resume, two 500-word essay (which for me was the toughest and most brain-draining part of coaching her!). We were also able to seek professional help on how to undergo her interview with SCAD. It was totally NOT how the real interview went but it was a good experience to go through.

The gap year also gave us time to learn life skills on living independently: cooking, kitchen management, menu planning, food preparation and storage, what to do with leftovers, house chores, etc, etc! (Believe me on those etc’s…Whatever I was doing, I taught them to Arielle and gave her words of wisdom and lots of reminders!)

Back to the “default system” I mentioned in my earlier post on SOCIALIZING: Is breakfast (or lunch or dinner) always ready at your dining table? One of or the VERY FIRST “Duh?” comment we received on Arielle’s moving in day was when we were waiting for our turn at the elevator with all her pieces of luggage and a bag of rice that Mike bought last minute before moving in.  A parent saw it and said, “You’re going to cook???” SECOND, her male friends called her up one time asking her to teach them how to cook rice…in a rice cooker. Her flatmates also didn’t know how to cook rice in the rice cooker nor did they know how to use the coffeemaker…YET.  So, teaching her the life skill of cooking and other kitchen skills was one of the things I’m glad we had the time and opportunity to learn during her gap year before going to college.  These millennials are lucky to have the technology literally at their fingertips, they can just FaceTime their parents or whoever when they need a live tutorial session on how to cook real food in their dorm kitchen instead of eating instant food all the time!

Moving on to RESUMES. One important tip I’d like to share is start documenting/recording/noting down the experiences that your child had in high school and maybe as far back as grade school, if the experience shows your child’s growth and passion in an acitvity.  Do it as you go and not only when you are about to submit an application to a certain university. It would be more difficult that way. So the EXPERIENCING I talked about earlier, the resume is where they will be put into good use, document-wise.

Also, do a skills inventory of your child. Make a list. What computer programs does he/she know? Can he/she paint? Do graphic design? Does he/she know Photoshop? Can she make videos and edit videos? How about coding?

 

 

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

 

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname “Arielle” instead to make it not sound and look too formal.  After all, art is out-of-the-box and goes “outside the lines”.

 

Overall, our gap year was a good preparation time for college. Emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially, relationship-wise.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our homeschooling journey which truly made Arielle’s education intentional and personalized.

 


 

With the main objectives and tasks of Arielle for her gap year over and done with, as far as college application is concerned (More posts about gap year here, here, and here):

  1.  her college application at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

–  transcript of records

–  English proficiency test

–  (2) recommendation letters

–  certificate of funds (bank statement)

–  application fee

–  enrollment and housing fee

 

2.  Achievement Honors Scholarship application

–  art portfolio (maximum of 20 best works) uploaded to SCAD’s Slideroom

–   resume

–   500-word essay on academic and personal experience, why she would want to go to SCAD, her goals, and how SCAD will be able to help her in her aspirations

–  mock interview

 

3.  International Student Scholarship

–  500-word essay on how an international education would influence her artworks, goals, and

experiences

 

4.  Final Interview and Decision on Scholarship

 

I decided to do a series of short interviews with her on the following topics:

  • college and scholarship application process
  • taking up Animation in college
  • going away for college
  • gap year
  • homeschooling
  • plans after college
  • parting words

 

To start the interview series, I asked her first HOW IT FEELS AFTER HER FINAL INTERVIEW LAST MARCH 3.  (Excuse the quite noisy background and venue.  I wanted to catch her in high spirits after her interview and I took advantage of the time we had before going to another SCAD event.

And so, for this and my next blog posts, I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from the homeschooler herself, for a change 🙂

 

 


 

I last shared with you the meeting we had with SCAD HK’s assistant director of admission, Danny Li. Going to that meeting totally unprepared and with a blank slate, Mike, Arielle, and I, however, went home with a list of things we need to do from that day until he comes back by end-November. Everything suddenly became clear and gave us directions.  The meeting turned out to be a college counseling session which I personally am really, really grateful for and appreciative of because if you were to ask me how we plan to do Arielle’s portfolio, essay, and resume, my ideas would fall short of what would be considered as an excellent portfolio worthy of scholarship.

So the next day after the meeting, Arielle and I immediately brainstormed and planned out for this portfolio-making.  I told her that we can’t afford to waste time because we have about 2 months to put together a good an excellent portfolio.

Scared, overwhelmed, not confident on this whole thing, I prayed and then slowly started to map out a strategy for this task.  With post-its, markers, pens, highlighters on hand, I guided Arielle through the planning process, listing down all the details I could think of at this stage of the process and setting target deadlines.  We cannot afford anymore not to have deadlines!

The scholarship application requires these:

(1) Personal artworks/creations

(2) Essay

(3) Resume

(4) Interview

Arielle has to do all these in order to apply for and be granted a scholarship.

 

This is how we plan to prepare for Arielle’s portfolio. It’s our action plan we have for now on how to actually start it and move to its execution afterwards.

The action plan is basically all about RESEARCH, KNOWING ONESELF, and EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS and CREATIVITY.  This whole process is going to require a lot of thinking and it will teach the LIFE SKILL on PROJECT MANAGEMENT which will be a training ground for research, presentation, interview, and writing skills!

RESEARCH —

Arielle needs to research about SCAD: its history, mission and vision, values, campuses (maybe even down to the address and historical location in HK!), the directors, courses being offered, companies they tie up with, what makes SCAD different from other art schools, and other SCAD facts.  We gave ourselves a September 2 deadline just so we know what we need to accomplish first on our list.

Research on these two important skills:  presentation skills and interview skills.  When Arielle did a mock presentation and interview, one of the things he pointed out was the lack of eye contact.  Yes, Danny Li immediately pointed that out!  So, we need to learn how to do a powerful and effective presentation.  We need to learn how to capture the audience, close a presentation, and everything in between!  And watching TED-x videos is an assignment!

On interview skills, we need to read up on the do’s and don’t’s just like what we need to know on how to make an effective presentation.  DEADLINE:  September 3-4.

Research! Research! Research!

 

Next, Arielle needs to research on essay-writing, specifically for the purpose of college scholarship application with these prompts in mind:

  • What are your dreams and goals?
  • Why do you want to go to SCAD?
  • How will SCAD be able to help you achieve those dreams and goals?
  • Why should SCAD accept and grant you a scholarship?

 

Making her resume will basically be a review of everything she did throughout her homeschooling years:  her achievements, her projects, workshops she attended, volunteer work, internships,  etc.

DEADLINE for RESEARCH ON ESSAY-WRITING, RESUME-MAKING:  September 6-12, 2015.

Lastly, she also needs to do some research on how to design or make her own business card.  Yes, Danny pointed out that when you meet people, handing out your business card to them is the proper way to do it!  DEADLINE:  WILL BE DETERMINED as soon as her laptop has been serviced because she can’t toy around with ideas without the programs in her laptop.

 

Get to know yourself!

 

KNOWING ONESELF — 

On the actual portfolio-making side, I thought having a SKILLS INVENTORY would be a great idea!  I told Arielle to list down everything that she can do and from there, we hope to be able to generate ideas on how to execute her portfolio.

I really like this portion because it will give Arielle a chance to really do an introspection, get to know herself, her strengths, strengths that she is confident with, and even those that she is not so confident with.

EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS AND CREATIVITY —

With a skills inventory, we hope to then be able to really showcase her CREATIVITY and a PORTFOLIO that will be DIFFERENT and REMEMBERED by her target audience.  DEADLINE:  October 31, 2015.  That would give us time to polish and fine-tune everything until her November 28 presentation.

Know your strengths and think out-of-the-box!

 

So many things to do in so little time, don’t you think?  This is the hurdle we are challenged to overcome as of the moment.  This is what I feel as another ultimate test of our homeschooling journey after high school graduation.

Let me end by saying this again:  Homeschooling Arielle is not over yet for me, apparently.


 

Yesterday, Mike, Arielle, and I met up with Danny Li, SCAD Hong Kong’s assistant director of admission, at a hotel coffee shop.  He emailed me last week to say that he will be going to Cebu and will be in Manila as well.  So I took the opportunity to ask him if we could meet up just to review Arielle’s application status.  I particularly requested that we review other requirements we need to submit for her application and scholarship, and a timetable or target dates for all these.

I wasn’t able to prepare for this meeting even if it was scheduled in advance.  It was a long weekend and even if our meeting fell on a holiday, our weekend turned out to be a very busy one.  I didn’t have the time to write down or at least think of questions to ask!  But the meeting went really well and was very productive and encouraging.

I set up this meeting and wasn’t even sure how Danny looked like.  We met another Danny when we went to SCAD HK last March and I wasn’t sure if he was the same Danny we were going to meet.  Apparently, it was a different Danny.  And this was the Danny I’ve been emailing all my questions to regarding Arielle’s application.  I’ve sent him a lot of emails to the point that he thought I was the one, in their records,  applying for SCAD and Arielle is another applicant. He nonetheless assured me that it was not at all an inconvenience on his part and that he is even happy to always receive emails from me, the supportive mother.

When Danny finally gave me a call to say that he was already at the hotel lobby, we shook hands and proceeded to the coffee shop.  Mike and Arielle were seated there and we all finally met him.  The minute he sat down, he handed us (well, me) his business card and the meeting just flowed smoothly.  We covered everything we needed to know at this stage of Arielle’s application.  Here’s what we talked about in our almost-two-hours meeting:

  • He first talked about SCAD as an art school, giving a brief background and quick facts.
  • He, of course, stressed on what makes SCAD one to the top art school choices of students.
  • We reviewed each item in the basic application requirements to check if Arielle already completed and submitted (ALL DONE!).
  • With all basic requirements in place, we both quickly confirmed Arielle’s acceptance to SCAD, as the applicant and as the school representative.
  • He gave us SCAD’s new manual and other paraphernalia to read and keep.
  • He thoroughly reviewed with us the next set of requirements, which is for the scholarship application.     Scholarships are in two categories:  Academic and Achievement.  This was the heart of our meeting that day, and this was what made me truly appreciate the assistance and service that we’ve been receiving from SCAD from Day 1.
  • He gave us pointers after pointers, tips and tips, which helped us get into the mindset of preparing a portfolio, essay, and resume, for the scholarship application.  He cited examples and scenarios, giving us descriptions as clear as possible, on what would make Arielle bag that scholarship.
  • And…here’s my favorite! He gave Arielle a mock interview and portfolio presentation with him, Mike, and me as part of the panel.  This was impromptu, unplanned!  Had Arielle known, then she could have brought the different artworks that she had diligently worked on recently and not just her sketchpad with a cover made from a cereal box and pages almost falling off!
  • We all gave a critique on Arielle’s presentation and Danny’s objective feedback was objective, I believe, motivated and encouraged Arielle even more instead of making her feel embarrassed or negative about what she just did!
  • He showed us new video clips which was sent to him the night before, making us the first ones to see them!
  • I can’t stress enough the key words that kept on surfacing whenever Danny explained what SCAD is looking for in a student and in a portfolio:

CREATIVITY…CONFIDENCE…SOCIABLE…pertaining to the student’s character

DIFFERENT…OUT-OF-THE-BOX…OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE…

SOMETHING MEMORABLE…

SOMETHING THAT WILL MAKE SCAD REMEMBER AND PICK YOU…

pertaining to the portfolio, essay, and resume

  • We pinned down target dates (per my request) in order for us to have a clear timetable on the other half of requirements (scholarship!) we need to work on.  That would be November 28, 2015 for Arielle’s presentation of her 1st draft of portfolio, essay, and resume for Danny Li to review.  He said he would like to go through it first with Arielle before she finally submits them to her admission advisor.  ISN’T THAT JUST GREAT?!!  I haven’t heard of universities giving tips to their applicants and coaching to this extent!   Next would be March 2016 for her final portfolio presentation and interview to the SCAD “judges”.   I thought we would need to fly to Hong Kong for this final stage but we were all happy to learn that this will take place here in Manila and SCAD representatives will be flying back for this special event.  Right after that, we find out if she gets a scholarship or not.
  • It was also reassuring to hear that Danny, being a representative of SCAD, shares the same mindset and principles as we do when it comes to college education, learning, and what it takes to succeed. I take that as a good sign that all roads lead to SCAD and that SCAD will give Arielle great opportunities to grow even more.

 

Our meeting ended on a positive note.  That I can really say.  I now have a bigger challenge and task to do and that is, to guide and help Arielle come up with a really good portfolio, essay, and resume!  The clock is ticking and I pray to God that He will continue to guide, help, bless us with the time, ideas, and resources to be able to pass this ultimate homeschooling test.  Homeschooling Arielle is not yet over for me, apparently.


 

I don’t even know how to start this post.  I am still high on adrenalin and even if I couldn’t sleep last night and wasn’t able to have my 8 hours of sleep, my energy level is high.

Arielle called me up last night (She went home to Batangas for a few days) to tell me that she got accepted at SCAD Hong Kong.  She received an email from them last night congratulating her for being accepted for enrolment to their bachelor’s degree program.  AND… that the committee is considering her for Honors Scholarship.  WOW!!!  Just WOW!!!

I only wanted her to get accepted.  I was just asking God to show us if SCAD is really an option for her to pursue her dream to be an animator.   If she makes it, then my next step was to pray for provision.  For the finances to fund her college.

We only submitted the minimum admission requirements to SCAD and have not even submitted a portfolio of her artworks yet.  Even her official IELTS (English proficiency) test hasn’t been released yet.  Arielle was only able to find out how she did in her IELTS test taken last May 9 AFTER receiving the good news of acceptance from her admission advisor from SCAD.

In case you’re interested to know what documents we submitted to SCAD-Hong Kong, they were the following:

  • Transcript from Walkersville Christian Family School, The Master’s Academy’s partner (We enrolled for an international accreditation for her and Kayla only last schoolyear, SY 2014-2015, and for this schoolyear, SY 2015-2016).
  • Transcript from The Master’s Academy (Philippine transcript)
  • High School Course Syllabus (all subjects taken and books used with ISBNs from 1st year to 4th year) – It’s a good thing I was able to keep a record and recall all the materials we used and still kept most of the books!
  • Certification of TMA Home Education Program
  • Certification of English Proficiency
  • Recommendation/Reference Letter of Academic Consultant fr TMA

 

This is truly a testament of God’s faithfulness to our family and our homeschooling journey.  He has been our guide and provider, and I believe that He will continue to be by our side, every step of the way. Not only for Arielle, but for Kayla as well.

I’d like to end with these truths:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
  • Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
  • Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
  • Matthew 21:22 – And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
  • Hebrews 13:21 – equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

All things are possible for one who believes!

I am still overwhelmed with the turn of events, and my eyes are welling up again as I think of how awesome God is and how unworthy I am to be receiving so many blessings from Him.

May this serve as an encouragement and inspiration to all homeschooling moms, children, and families reading this.  I have wanted to give up homeschooling so many times but God didn’t give up on me (Oh no, I am crying again).  No matter what, it is always God’s plan that prevails and He equips those He calls.


 

Now that Arielle has officially graduated from high school and is officially on her gap year, we are now starting to prepare for her college applications.  So far, she has applied to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Hong Kong, after I personally received a phone call from their Assistant Director of Admission) strongly suggesting that we already do our online application because slots are getting filled up. (What?!!  Slots for 2016???  And I thought we have more than enough time!).  As for applications to local colleges and universities for Academic Year 2016-2017, they have not opened yet.

What steps are we doing to prepare for college?  What steps have we done so far? Here’s my personal list to give you an idea of my preparation and mindset needed:

1.  First and foremost, we identified the course that Arielle wanted to take.  I mean, the course she really wants to take up.  We didn’t have a problem with that because Arielle is dead set to take up Animation.  That is her top choice.  But it would be good to have course choice #2 and #3 because these are usually asked for in applications.

2.  We check the websites of the different colleges and universities for announcements, especially on application and testing dates.  This, we do often, most especially because we have decided to take a gap year which means Arielle did not go through the applications and entrance exams with the rest of her batch.  We are doing to do it on our own, with assistance from TMA, our homeschool provider.  Aside from the dates to take note of,  I go through the admission requirements of each university and familiarize myself with the kind of documents we need to prepare and submit.

3.   We have identified our school choices (although still praying about it!).  This goes with #1 because if you are really after the course your child wants, then you go for the school that offers it or is known for it.

4.  We visited the different school campuses.  We did last year in order for Arielle to get a feel of the environment and how it is like to be in a school!  After all, homeschoolers have had their homes and the real world as their classrooms. We visited Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, University of Asia & the Pacific, Meridian International, and more importantly, SCAD Hong Kong.

5.  We paid the Admissions Offices a visit.  In our case, we asked questions with the local universities about college applications with our gap year in mind (which is not commonly taken by students here in the Philippines) and the current issue on DepEd’s K12 program, to clarify some issues and make sure that by Arielle will have no problem applying for and entering college in 2016.

6.  As for SCAD-HK, we scheduled a campus and residences tour in one day to know exactly where the campus building is, their facilities, the accommodations they offer to students, and again, to ask all our questions about their admission requirements!  We asked about what entrance tests are required (IELTS, TOEFL, or an English proficiency test for SCAD), how to apply for a scholarship, if transferring of credits is accepted, the student population profile of SCAD-HK, various opportunities of SCAD students, etc., etc.!   Doing a tour gave us a chance to know more about the school and how the staff are.  The SCAD personnel have been very accommodating from the time I first emailed them to this day!  That’s a big plus!

This is where Arielle’s target school!

7.  I closely coordinate with TMA, our homeschool provider, with regards to our different college applications.  I inform them all the admission requirements and when we intend to start processing our applications.  I make sure I give them updates so that we get to work hand in hand on this quite stressful task.  So far, these are SCAD-HK’s admission requirements which I’ve already forwarded to TMA.

8.  We already submitted Arielle’s application to SCAD-HK online to start the long process.  I was told that after completing the online application and paying the application fee of $40, an admission representative will be assigned to us to help and guide us in the whole process.  I am loving the assistance I am getting from SCAD so far!  Did you know that they paid for our taxi fare when we had to go back to our hotel after doing their Residences tour? Their Residences happen to be faaaar and commute took almost an hour to our hotel.   Wow!  Mike and I appreciated that very much!

9.  Arielle got accepted as one of the interns for Young Star of Philippine Star (I believe she was the youngest among those who applied because she said everyone else in the registration list were at least 18 yrs old!)

and for Flow Surf Yoga Samba.  Internship is really part of our plan for her gap year to prepare her for college with the work habits, to further enhance her skills and develop her character and the discipline.  This is her first work for Flow Surf Yoga Samba.

10.  We are about to start building her portfolio, especially for SCAD.  Right now, this IS the one stressing me out because Arielle has to make more 10 to 20 2-D artworks (and if possible, 3-Ds) in order to show her BEST WORK.  And we have a long way to go!  We plan to enroll her in art classes to really learn traditional art and are on the lookout for art and animation-related workshops to make sure that she is able to showcase different media, techniques, her other skills, and what is vital is her CREATIVITY and her IDEAS.   This is the time TO IMPRESS in order to get in the school that we want!

Since we’ve decided to be intentional on our parenting, on the education of our girls, and our family lifestyle,  it looks like my role as a homeschool mom isn’t over yet.  Now that we will be releasing Arielle to the real world SOON, she needs me, her mom, her teacher, her coach, her counselor (and the list goes on!) by her side more than ever!