In 2010, things changed. The non profit organization that I worked for was closing. My second grader was struggling in school. My family was at a crossroad.
While losing a part time salary was challenging, giving my youngest child the full attention he needed was a priority. Ultimately, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool this creative and outgoing child. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the foundation for The ACT Mom was being laid.
While my youngest son was being homeschooled, my oldest son was entering high school. Always the planner, I began the daunting task of looking at the costs of college tuition.
Our local university and my alma mater was over $20,000 a year for tuition, room, and board. Private schools ranged from $30,000 to $45,000 a year. What was the average family to do? How did people go to college these days without amassing huge quantities of debt?
As a now homeschooling mother, I was introduced to the concept of standardized test prep. It resonated with me and, ultimately, excited me. I began spending 4 to 6 hours a week studying the ACT.
I knew that I needed ACTUAL RETIRED TESTS published by the ACT. I needed to study the right materials. I bought The Real ACT Prep Guide: The Only Guide to Include 5 Real Tests, published by the ACT writers themselves, and got busy. I now had five tests. I literally tore them apart and began to study them. I put them in sheet protectors, purchased dry erase markers, and began to take them repeatedly. I saw the same patterns duplicated on each test. I saw the same mathematical and grammatical concepts tested again and again. These were STANDARDIZED tests. In order to be fair and consistent, each exam would generally test the same information and skill set.
I realized that if my kids could score high enough on the ACT, they could get a full or partial ride to college. A high score on the ACT could easily translate into tens of thousands of dollars. Would that be worth my time? Would that be worth 4 to 6 hours a week?
In 2011, my ninth grader and I began studying almost every Saturday. We would meet for 1 to 2 hours and work on standardized tests. As with any journey, it was one of starts and stops, mishaps and successes. But we kept going.
In May of 2015, this same son graduated from high school and choose to attend a private, out of state school that offered him a full tuition, merit based scholarship based solely on his ACT score. They even surprised us with additional grant money to cover most of his housing. We had been running a four year marathon and he was about to cross the finish line.
In the summer of 2015, I wrote my first blog post about our journey. Thousands of people read it and many contacted me. I was stunned. Could I really help and encourage others to do the same thing we had done? I had heard that if your passion meets someone else's need, you have found your sweet spot. I was beginning to believe that this was happening to me.
We dropped that first child off at college last weekend, August 14, 2015. Truly, it was a joy. He now has a new race to run. So do I.
I have two more kids at home. They want to learn and I want to teach. I also have a passion to help others. I encourage other ambitious mothers to download these free tests and get started. Test prep does not have to be expensive for those who have the time and inclination to take it on.
This is not the path to overnight success. It takes hard work and commitment. It IS a marathon. But once you have experienced that incredible joy of crossing the finish line, you never want to stop running.