Homeschoolers take different educational paths than typical high school students. In the past, these differences made the college admissions process harder to navigate. These days, though, institutions of higher learning are becoming more open to homeschoolers, which makes the college admissions process a little smoother.
Still, families and students involved with homeschooling might not know how to navigate the transition from homeschooling to college, especially as they prepare for the college admissions process. In this post, we’ll answer your questions about college admissions for homeschooled kids and walk you through the various elements of college applications.
What Should Homeschoolers Applying to College Keep in Mind?
Applying for college as a homeschooler doesn’t have to be complicated. In most cases, they follow the same steps as regular high school students, but Homeschoolers should still keep in mind a few differences.
Notably, homeschoolers and their parents must maintain records of a student’s performance. Colleges need to see which courses students have taken and what their academic life has been like. Because some homeschoolers don’t keep as meticulous records as do schools, this is a frequent source of difficulty. Below, we’ll describe in detail what documentation homeschoolers must maintain to create an effective application.
It’s easy for high school students at public and private institutions to keep track of grades, course descriptions, and their overall academic progress, because schools maintain records on all these topics. Students can simply ask their school for transcripts. For homeschoolers, though, providing transcripts can be more troublesome.
Homeschooling parents must keep records that track their children’s progress in school each year. Because of this, we recommend that parents start preparing for college admissions early. Starting in students’ freshman year, parents should record their children’s course descriptions, grades, and overall GPA. Parents should update these records often and write detailed descriptions for courses. Some colleges don’t simply want course names and grades they want to know what homeschooled students were taught. By being proactive, parents and students won’t have to scramble to come up with records at the last minute.
In years past, homeschoolers needed to obtain a GED or high school diploma—things most homeschooled students lacked. This is no longer a problem since homeschoolers colleges no longer require homeschooled students to provide a GED or high school diploma. Instead, to apply to colleges homeschoolers must meet their state’s educational requirements.
Each state has different requirements, and parents must research those requirements and create and execute a curriculum that fully meets them. They must also indicate on their student’s transcript that their child’s education met the state’s requirements. Once those requirements are met and documented, parents can issue their students a diploma to include in their application.
Alternately, if homeschoolers were taught through an online academy or virtual school, those institutions will issue them a diploma. However, students must still click the “Homeschooled” option when filling out their application so the admissions process can continue without delay.
Letters of Recommendation
If homeschoolers apply to a college that requires letters of recommendation, we have a few tips you should keep in mind. First, students should try to get letters of recommendation from external sources—not from parents, even if that parent was their child’s teacher.
If your child took courses online through online homeschooling, they can ask their online teachers for letters. Students who took college-level courses for credit at a local college can also ask their professor for a letter of recommendation.
If homeschoolers don’t have other teachers to ask besides their parents, private tutors, employers, and other community figures who know their child can write a letter. For instance, if a homeschooler was involved in community service or volunteer work, they can ask their supervisor for a letter of recommendation.
Because they attend schools with sports teams, clubs, and other student organizations, high school students from private and public schools have a major advantage when it comes to extracurricular opportunities. By contrast, homeschooled students must create extracurricular opportunities for themselves. By doing so, students can demonstrate their leadership skills, dedication, and work ethic.
To this end, we recommend homeschoolers volunteer and get involved in non-profit organizations that help their local community. Homeschoolers can also join local sports teams and participate in summer programs to beef up their extracurriculars.
Internships, part-time jobs, and even hobbies can be included as extracurriculars. It’s just a matter of framing these activities in the right way as students fill out their college applications.
Standardized testing is the final component of a homeschooler’s application to consider. The SAT and ACT are major parts of the college admissions process, helping schools determine students’ readiness for college-level courses. Homeschoolers should prepare for these tests ahead of time.
Students taught from home generally do quite well on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, but only if they don’t slack off. The sooner students begin preparing, the better. Parents can help their students prepare by using prep materials, hiring private tutors, or enrolling their child in prep classes. Students should take standardized tests only when they feel fully prepared. We recommend taking the SAT a few times, then submitting your scores in your application.
Final Tips For Filling Out Applications
Homeschoolers will have a different journey when they prepare for college admissions than will students enrolled in conventional high schools. But, by keeping meticulous records of their progress throughout their high school career, college applications can be made easier.
Additionally, some sections of a college application might indicate that a guidance counselor should fill them out. These fields will include information on how classes were graded, how GPA was determined and weighted, disciplinary history, and other relevant information. In the case of homeschoolers, parents will have to fill in these fields. Parents should be thorough and take their time filling out the application, creating an accurate description of their child’s academic career and accomplishments.
Do you want to know your chances of getting accepted to your dream school? Schedule a consultation with our Founder, Kevin Krebs today!