Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

What’s the Best Preparation for High School English Essays?


Questions about course extensions, the grading queue, or the best way to prep for an English essay? Your Seton Counselors are here with answers.

What’s the Best Preparation for High School English Essays?

The student’s first step is to review the assignment guidelines in their course manual or SetonOnline to verify:

  1. Which books they can read to complete the assignment. We will not accept book analysis essays on titles not listed in the assignment guidelines.
  2. For what kind of essay(s) is the assignment asking.

The second step is to download or print the chapter note questions on SetonOnline. The chapter notes are reading questions that help focus the student’s attention on important parts of the text (plot, characters, theme, conflict, etc.).

I suggest students read the chapter note questions before reading the chapter. Additionally, I recommend viewing the sample essays on SetonOnline. The sample essays can help the student see what the organization and format should look like.

The third step is highlighting, flagging, underlining, or annotating while reading. Writing a character sketch essay will be easier if the student has marked relevant text sections related to the main character’s traits.

Lastly, students are free to call or email the HS English Academic Counselors (540-622-5560; hsenglish@setonhome.org) to see if the core aspects of their essays (traits, theme statement, climax, etc.) are on the right track.

Although we cannot pre-grade their entire essay, we are happy to let students know if they are going in the right direction.

Sean O’Connor, Academic Counselor

When will our work be graded?

Many things can affect the time it takes to grade an assignment, but generally, any item sent electronically is graded more quickly than a mailed-in item.

Our goal is to grade electronic items within one week and mailed-in items within three weeks. We can keep to this schedule for most of the year, but the wait can be significantly longer in October/November and May when a large number of items are received in a short period.

For online tests or assignment uploads, your MySeton page can help you estimate when the item will be graded. From your MySeton page, choose a student, click on Courses and then click on either Uploads or Online Tests.

For any ungraded item, the “queue status” will be displayed. Queue status indicates how many days an upload will take to be graded. For example, if you uploaded an item on July 28 and the queue status says July 27, the uploaded assignment will likely be graded in the next day or so.

However, if you uploaded on July 28 and the queue status says July 20, it will probably be a week or so until the item is graded. If your family’s email address is on file, an email notification is sent as soon as an assignment or test grade is posted.

Kevin Clark, Seton Admin

What do we do if our Rosetta Stone or Teaching Textbooks license expires?

Rosetta Stone software licenses and Teaching Textbook software licenses both last for 12 months. If your Rosetta Stone license expires, contact our Admissions team, and we can help you purchase a new software license. If your Teaching Textbooks license expires, you can get a 60-day extension from Teaching Textbooks.

To receive the 60-day extension, contact Teaching Textbooks and tell them that you are a Seton Family. Once you are beyond the 60-day extension, you can contact Seton’s Admissions team to purchase a new software license if you still need more time.

Amy Nutt, Admissions Counselor

Does Seton offer extensions when our school year runs out?

Yes, Seton does offer extensions. Enrollment terms for Grades 2-12 last 12 months (plus a 2-month grace period) from your chosen start date. When the enrollment term expires, families need to either re-enroll or purchase an extension to continue to use the lesson plans and submit work for grading. Extensions are six months each, and families can buy up to 2 extensions.

The fee to extend a single course is $25 and a full grade level extension is $75. If more time is needed, the student must re-enroll in the course.

Families can purchase extensions after the date on which their enrollment expires.

Amy Nutt, Admissions Counselor

Can I drop a course?

Yes, but we ask that you contact the counselors at counselors@setonhome.org.

In elementary school (K-8), Seton provides a family whatever courses they want to take. If you don’t want to take specific courses, Spelling or Science, for example, you do not have to. Religion is the exception; as a Catholic school, Seton must enroll students in Religion.

Before contacting a counselor and asking for an elementary subject to be dropped, check your state requirements. While we don’t require courses, some states do have subjects they mandate. If you drop out of a mandated subject with us, you must do that subject at home or with another program. Check state-mandated subjects for high school, as well, before you contact the counselors.

If a student is seeking a Seton diploma, there are courses that we require to be taken with us and which cannot, therefore, be dropped. We also require a specific credit count. Ask the counselor if dropping a course will put your student behind on credits.

Lastly, if Seton has already graded two quarters’ worth of a high school course, the course can no longer be dropped. Instead, we may award a half credit (if merited) and close the course out. If you anticipate dropping a course because a student is failing, don’t wait until after they’ve completed half the course. Reach out to the counselors before you reach that point. We’re here to help.

Theresa O’Connor, Academic Counselor

Can I order standardized testing?

Yes! You can order from Seton Testing Services, our standardized testing department. We offer standardized ability and achievement tests, including the CAT, Stanford, Iowa Achievement, and others. Test prep and practice tests are also available. To order standardized tests or to learn more, please visit the Seton Testing Services website at www.setontesting.com. During business hours, our testing consultants are available on the website via live chat and will be happy to help you.

Christina Nutt, Academic Counselor

Should I be concerned that my students have completed most of their first and second-quarter work, except their English and Reading writing assignments?

Yes, this can be a matter of concern. Writing assignments can be a challenge for some students. Many students complete their “easiest” coursework first, leaving their writing assignments to be completed at the end of the school year. This causes anxiety to build as another writing assignment fails to be completed by the end of the quarter.

Make it a habit to complete at least one writing assignment from the first or second quarter before beginning the next quarter’s work. Consider completing the book reports at the beginning of the quarter instead of the end for your elementary students. Knowing that a major assignment has been completed may relieve some anxiety during the rest of the quarter. For your high school students, check in with them regularly to make sure they are on pace to complete writing assignments on time.

Laura Fusto, Academic Counselor

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