If you’ve mentioned to anyone that you homeschool, then you’ve almost certainly heard some seriously uninformed questions or even rude assumptions. Naturally, you have to wonder if some things are true; for example, do colleges look at homeschool applicants as bad or lesser? Whether you’re considering homeschool, new to the process, or you’ve been at it a while, and it’s time to start looking toward the future, your home learner’s adult life is always important. No one wants to think that their hardworking homeschool kids might be passed over for a good education after working hard to ensure they got one in the early years. Luckily I can demystify those concerns. While there are some notable potential paperwork differences, you have nothing to worry about. Your homeschooler can start shopping around and making lists of their top choice schools now while I walk you through the differences and best ways to help them handle applications.
Does homeschooling look bad to colleges? Homeschool does not look bad to colleges. Moreover, some schools seek out home learners because they show exceptional self-motivation, discipline, higher grades, and are more likely to complete a diploma. Some of the most prestigious universities in the US even have unique application officers who are dedicated to processing homeschool applications appropriately.
When homeschool families look at college, one of the most common concerns is that a homeschool diploma will look bad. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth. However, the even better news is that a diploma is not how you get into a college. Many students get early acceptance every year, and none of them are high school graduates.
Once you know that, the next assumption is that everything is based on GPA and grades. Intriguingly this is also not true. First, not all colleges have any minimums for grades or GPAs at all. Secondly, the top tier schools are more interested in test scores, portfolios, extracurriculars, and entrance essays.
Being homeschooled can help your child stand out from a crowd. Some schools specifically seek out homeschooled applicants. By making the process easier for them and extending additional resources to help home learners gain entry, these universities and colleges gain highly motivated learners known for their out-of-the-box problem-solving skills and dedication to their own success.
Some parents prefer not to create and maintain high school transcripts. Do not send your homeschooler to get a GED. While homeschool is widely accepted and looked upon favorably in institutes of higher learning, the GED is often treated as a sign of inability to complete high school education. While it is technically an ‘equivalent’ and many intelligent individuals have taken GED tests, this particular alternate is still frowned on.
Instead, consider using a virtual high school or correspondence school. By allowing older students to earn a diploma from an accredited academy at home, they gain the benefits and safety of learning in a comfortable environment. Parents don’t need to grade papers or keep all the records. Many families opt to do this either in the last four years or at least the final two to have a simpler transition to college or university. While it’s not as important as a good SAT score, it does allow for low pressure, yet still a high-quality learning experience with a more mainstream accredited diploma at the end.
I recommend either the American School of Correspondence or Citizens Online High School. Both these well respected and accredited schools offer multiple options for your high schooler and superb college prep. Moreover, you can combine classes from more than one school if it suits your home learner better.
Getting Homeschoolers Into Top Tier Colleges and Universities
Since they aren’t looked down on, how does a homeschooler get into college or a university? The answer is relatively simple. Other than submitting slightly different paperwork, the process is identical. You will need to scout and visit schools, fill out applications, submit all requested paperwork by the deadline, have your student write outstanding essays, and make sure they get high scores on either the SAT or ACT. I’ll break that down step by step.
First, you need to look at which schools your home learner wants to get into. Ideally, you do this around the beginning of the junior year. Hence, you have plenty of time to handle the rest of the application process without added stress from a shortened timetable. Some schools have almost no requirements for attendance, while others have ultra-difficult minimum criteria.
Contact each school and arrange for a tour. You want to see what sorts of things are available on and near the campus. This allows you and your child to get a more accurate idea of what’s in store. Additionally, you can ask for information on the application process in person and possibly even meet the admittance officer.
Doing this will help you stand out in their mind and give you the most current information for each school. Plus, you may get insider tips and information that you’d miss by making a phone call or looking online. For example, a student with no car might have difficulty if the nearest shopping is several miles from campus in a town without public transportation.
Next, you will need to fill out all the relevant paperwork. If your child is attending a local community college, this is likely to be less involved. Regardless, be hyper-aware of any deadlines and make sure every page has the relevant dates and signatures. Also, mark a calendar to make certain any mailed in forms arrive promptly. Send things in early so your student can get their acceptance letters and schedule well ahead of the crowds.
While not all schools require SAT or ACT scores, it is wise to take them anyway. For those who wish to attend a prominent university, scoring in the top five percent is crucial. Make sure to study for these tests and plan for when and where they will take them in advance. It also helps to have a backup plan if some unforeseen event transpires, causing the need to reschedule.
Schools requiring essays are primarily curious about who your student is as a person. They are looking at their grasp of grammar and spelling as well as word choice. A well-composed essay can make or break an application, but the subject isn’t as important as you might think. A bragging letter that rambles on about how overqualified a child is will not look as good as an expertly written and engaging story about some aspect of their life that led them to pursue their chosen field.
Transcripts For Homeschoolers Attending College
If your student attended an online or correspondence school and received their diploma through that institute, then you don’t need to worry at all about how colleges will see their homeschooling. Since they attended a ‘regular’ school, all transcripts and relevant paperwork come from the school. Don’t forget to request certified copies for your records. Otherwise, a transcript needs to be organized, complete, and easy to read.
- include your student’s name, address, and phone number along with a name for your homeschool if you have one.
- Names and records from any outside institutes where a student took classes. For example, some high schoolers choose to take core classes at a community college in place of a high school class to get double credit and more of a challenge.
- A complete record of any required high school courses for your state in order and any additional classes the student took. Please list the number of credits given for each course.
- A separate list of credits earned. Include a GPA for all work done and the grading scale used to determine this.
- Finally, list the graduation date, note if this is an anticipated date in the future, and complete with the parent or registered teacher/tutor signature and the date.
A portfolio with samples of work and any other classes’ records is not the same as a transcript, but it may also be requested by some schools. Include things like sports, instruments, and other extracurricular activities. Ensure there are records such as letters of recommendation from places a student volunteered and pay stubs with pictures of participation for sports and other paid activities.
There is no reason to worry that colleges will think badly of your homeschooler. As a parent, there are plenty of stressful considerations during the pre-college buildup. How will you pay for school? Will your baby be safe when they fly the nest? Getting into school is relatively simple compared to those issues.
Make sure you take the time to schedule a visit to desirable schools and check out campus life. Regardless of where they are and how highly lauded, different schools have very different campus lives. Some offer little to no social activities, while others are party schools with tons of extracurricular events well suited to social butterflies.
Focus on helping your homeschooler score well on SATs or the ACT and help them put together a superb essay. If your transcripts are in order, then there’s little to be worried about when it comes to admissions.