Preparing our children for their future is one of the first thoughts we have for them, often long before they are even born. Unfortunately, doing something about it is another thing. We have good intentions, thinking about colleges, careers, marriage, . . . laundry. Then the long list of chores, finances, dinner, commitments all seem to get in the way. If you're anything like me, you'll find your oldest child in her Senior year and realize. . .she, nor you, are prepared for beyond graduation.

Jean & Judah Burk have created a wonderful little book (just 440 pages, lol) that can help your student, and you, prepare throughout high school for that inevitable step she or he will be taking sooner than we expect. College Prep Genius offers High School Prep Genius: An Academic Guide To Excellence to give your student practical steps that will help navigate through the many facets of life beyond high school. 
Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to review Jean's revolutionary curriculum, College Prep Genius, an SAT/PSAT prep course. I have now had the privilege of reviewing the book she and her daughter wrote, High School Prep Genius (HSPG). Jean and Judah worked together to create a guide that can be "a student roadmap for high school success" (HSPG, pg. 5). It's not just a simple "how to" book, but rather a comprehensive guide to various aspects of your student's life inside, outside, and beyond, high school. Areas like: subjects to take, likes and dislikes, healthy eating, timelines, friends & relationships, investments, lifestyle skills, attitudes (emotional and mental), career choices, surveying colleges, and much more.

HSPG is designed for students in 9-12 grade, but can be used with 7th and 8th graders that are focused and determined. Many of the steps and strategies are common sense, like eliminating test anxiety by focusing on something else instead of a test. But just because they may be common sense, doesn't mean we think about them in a common sense way. Sometimes we may not even think about the topic until we are faced with a problem, and by then we haven't created a strategy to manage the situation. 
The premise of the book is to have the students work through each chapter, with a "parent's homework" section near the end (of the chapter).

High School Prep Genius offers 4 units: Introduction, Foundation For Personal Success, Foundation For Academic Success, and Foundation For Future Success. 

Each unit has several chapters and there are 5 appendixes with great extras. Throughout the book there are worksheets that the students can use and guides for writing a high school transcript, high school plans, college money chart, and more. 

High School Prep Genius has 18 chapters and is loaded with information. (click the photo to enlarge)

My favorite unit is the one on personal success. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's about growing and maturing in a way that will benefit you in life and relationships.

Each chapter has excellent tips, and then expands the thought to help your student understand and apply it to herself. For example, chapter 10 on getting organized has "Prioritize Your Obligations", "Balancing The Obligations", and "Beat Procrastination". Each of these topics has a few paragraphs dedicated to explaining why it's an important trait or skill, and then gives ideas on how to accomplish the goal.

Most chapters have a "Think About It" section for the students to answer questions. This is useful to get the students, well, to think about the subject. The photo on the left is an example of this section The photo on the right is a worksheet that can be filled in.
How To Purchase: High School Prep Genius is available for $29.95 and is an excellent value.

What We Thought: Honestly, I wish I had this before my 17yo was graduating from high school! There is so much information in this book that we could have used to better prepare. But on the good side, I can use this for my 7th grade son. He's not ready to be thinking about high school even, but there are many steps that we can take to get headed in the right direction.

What I liked the most is that Jean and Judah speak directly to the students. They ask pointed questions and offer advise that is straight forward, and typically easy to follow. Though most of the book is on preparing academically, there is plenty of helpful tips for growing and maturing with qualities that are admired and desired.

This book is neither Christian or Secular, necessarily. It can be used for students that are in public school, private academy's, or homeschooled. You just modify to your needs.

How We Used It: First I read this book cover to cover. I wanted to understand what it was all about. Each page often brought a sigh, wishing I had known that before, or done that before. But that's what learning is all about. I then had my daughter read through it. She liked it, too. She thought there was nice information and liked that it wasn't just for homeschoolers or "public school kids". She didn't like that this book doesn't start until 9th grade. She felt that, for example, with test anxiety, it's something that should be learned throughout the school years, not just in high school. "It's something that takes time to learn". She also didn't think that the organization section for academics would be totally useful for homeschoolers. But I think that's because she doesn't see all of my IHIP's or quarterly reports, lol.

After she finished reading it through, we started to use some of the worksheets and projects. Jean & Judah first write about starting a binder/notebook with tab for a 4 year plan, classes, test prep chart, college searches, awards, etc. This is something that we can utilize throughout my son's high school years. We then went through the chapters and worked together answering the questions (since my daughter is almost done with her senior year and my son is in 7th grade) and using them as learning tools. This was nice. There is a section on faith and beliefs and it suggests sitting down with your student and talking about the family's beliefs and traditions and what he or she believes. Encouraging thoughts about difficult questions. We have always talked about things like this, but I like that it's included in the book.

I believe High School Prep Genius will be a wonderful asset for your family. It's offered me many great ideas and avenues to take in order to get my son headed in the right direction. I believe we can also use it for my daughter, to help her make those decisions that are literally right around the corner.


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