Tea Time with Annie Kate Rotating Header Image

Homeschool ‘Mommy Marks’ and Universities

Approximately 10 days ago we got the surprise of our lives.  Mr. 18 applied to a university that does not award scholarships based on ‘mommy marks’, but he received their highest level marks-based entrance scholarship anyhow!

I’ve been puzzling about that.  Why did this university ignore its own regulations in such a spectacular way?  Of course, being a mom, I know my kid is special…but, realistically speaking, so is every mom’s kid.  So what is going on?

Here are two factors that probably influenced this decision.

  1. My son had done an extraordinary amount of learning.  He had read widely, fiction as well as non-fiction, new work as well as classics.  He took difficult courses—Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Physics, Calculus, Omnibus.  He approached some courses in creative ways:  much of his world geography course consisted of making short movies of different regions of the world.  He had a variety of long-term hobbies (beekeeping, nature photography, judo) and interesting volunteer experiences.   And his SAT score (which this university says it does not accept) was very good.
  2. My son’s ‘mommy marks’ were extremely well documented.  Using Lee Binz’s Comprehensive Record Solution (reviewed here) and a great deal of time, I prepared a 60-page explanation of my son’s 1-page transcript, with course outlines, course descriptions, test marks, book lists, volunteer activities, and hobbies.  The admissions office implied that the university spent quite a bit of time comparing my course descriptions with standard Ontario courses, making all this effort worthwhile.  While my son did not have any of the required ‘official’ course grades, his SAT score, CEMC math competition scores, and Legion writing contest awards helped to validate his ‘mommy marks’.

If you and your teen want to homeschool high school on your own without outside courses, here are two things to focus on:

  1. Teens should work hard, following their interests while getting a solid basic education.  They should read widely, learn the techniques in How to Read a Book (reviewed here), individualize courses, enjoy hobbies, volunteer, enter competitions, and be balanced.  This will prepare them for life, for university, for the SAT, and for scholarships.  Preparing for life is, of course, most important of all but,  really, the same methods apply to all of them.  “Characteristics of Top SAT Scorers” outlines this in greater detail.
  2. Moms should be diligent about preparing careful records of what their teens have studied.  There are many ways of doing this, but two aspects are crucial:
    • Keep track of all reading, educational activities, volunteer activities, hobbies, and competitions.  Back your records up, even if all you do is email them to yourself.
    • Present all this in a way that university admissions officers will understand and appreciate.  Believe in the value of the education you are providing and let that shine through in your description of your teen’s education.

Finally, remember, you do not need to enroll in government-approved courses in order to educate your teens and prepare them for life and for post-secondary education.  Instead, you can choose the best homeschool curricula for your teens and provide them with a truly great and godly education.

Update:  My daughter had a similar scholarship experience two years later.

You may also be interested in my other articles about homeschooling high school

Photos courtesy of Mr. 18.

This post has been linked to Finishing Strong.


  1. That is really helpful. Well done to you and Mr18.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      I’m so glad it’s helpful, Sarah Elisabeth!

      Years ago I read something similar and it really encouraged me to look for the best education for my kids rather than do what everyone said we needed to do for university admission. I pray this article will encourage other families in the same way.

  2. […] Annie Kate  of Tea time with Annie Kate has just had the pleasure of seeing one son admitted to a University and (better yet) offered their highest scholarship – even though they say they don’t accept the sorts of documentation they sent.  Homeschool ‘Mommy Marks’ and Universities […]

    1. Annie Kate says:

      No, it was not their highest scholarship, but their highest MARKS-BASED one. (I’ve now italicized those words in the article to make it more obvious.) But that makes it all the more surprising, since they officially don’t accept ‘mommy marks’ for this.

  3. Laraba says:

    That is so encouraging! I know you were ill through many of your son’s high school years and you and he were able to provide a wonderful education anyway. I am feeling pretty overwhelmed right now with 8 children ages 13 to 1…really need to lean on the Lord that we’ll provide a good education for all our kids in spite of the many distractions.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, God can use all kinds of circumstances. Even your busy life.

      I encourage you to look at the busy-ness of your family as a golden opportunity for your children’s education. In some way it is; you’ve just got to be open to finding it.

      And never forget that the character traits that are needed for success in high school (and in life) can come from activities that abound in large families or where there is sickness: caring for little siblings, knowing you’re needed for the work you do and the smile and peace you can bring to tired hearts, tending to chores diligently, finding easier ways to do things, tackling tough jobs cheerfully, making your own fun with little people around, and working independently.

      God has put each person in the right place of the right family. Just keep on reminding yourself of that, and you will be able to be at peace more.

      Blessings on you and your crew!

  4. Amy says:

    That is so interesting how they broke their own rules. Great encouragement for working hard and keeping good records! Thanks for linking up to Trivium Tuesdays!

  5. Tricia says:

    What an encourager you are Annie Kate! Thank you for sharing details with your fellow homeschoolers. I have two high schoolers now and your post is spurring me on! Yes, God designs families and we homeschoolers “can choose the best homeschool curricula for your teens and provide them with a truly great and godly education.” Congrats to you all!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      I’m glad to be an encouragement to you, Tricia!

      Just keep right on working with your teens, giving them the best education you can…and not only academically. They grow up so quickly! These are truly the best years.

  6. […] Annie Kate’s high school guidance counseling – Homeschool Mommy Marks and Universities […]

  7. Susan W says:

    Wonderful! I am going to share this with my children. We are getting ready to begin the high school journey and I’m always looking for ideas like this showing how other children found creative ways to follow their interests while furthering their education.

    Thanks for sharing at the Finishing Strong Link-up.

  8. Mary says:

    Well done. A lot of the above suggestions are consistent with my philosophies on focusing on higher order thinking skills, teaching how to think not what to think and having the child take the lead with their passions and interests. I would love for all of you to check it out and let me know what you think, http://studentledlearning.com.


  9. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for the great resource.

    I am printing 2014 as we speak (as I type?)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *