Do Ivy League Schools Accept Homeschooled Students: Important Distinctions

If you have an older homeschool student, then doubtless, you’ve begun thinking about colleges and universities for a while. Those who are hopeful of sending kids to Ivy League schools are especially anxious to know how homeschool will affect their chances. Even the youngest students often have parents who are concerned about their children’s future educational opportunities. Whether you’ve just begun a college savings account for your first grader, or you have a bright eleventh grader who will soon be looking into university life in preparation for next years’ applications, it’s important to know whether they qualify for the best programs. Although it’s no guarantee that they’ll get in, your homeschooler can look forward to those prestigious applications if they’re so inclined. It may pleasantly surprise you to learn that it’s not where your child is educated that determines whether they qualify for the best schools. I’ll help you understand what does matter and what challenges your home learners will face. 

Do Ivy League schools accept homeschooled students? Ivy League schools do accept homeschooled students. The qualities these incredibly prestigious universities are seeking have nothing to do with how many kids they shared a class with, or whether they have a traditional public or private school transcript. However, it’s worth noting that the same standards apply to all students, and getting into a top tier university is never easy. 

Preparing Homeschoolers For Ivy League

Homeschool students are not at a disadvantage for getting into Ivy League schools. Realistically, they are often better prepared for university life in general. Since home learners tend to be more mature, civic-minded, and well rounded in their studies, it makes them uniquely qualified when all else is equal. Additionally, because homeschoolers can learn at their own pace and advance as they prefer, they may be ahead in subjects where a traditional school didn’t cover advanced material. 

Before we get into the details of applying for Ivy League life, it’s important to note that these eight schools aren’t the only prestigious institutions around, and indeed may not be the best fit for your academic achiever. The “Ivy League” refers only to those eight schools that are part of a particular athletic conference. Thus, if your kids want to go to MIT or U Cal Berkley, it’s worth knowing that these are not in the Ivy League despite their incredibly high education standards and elite student body. 

The eight Ivy League schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Every one of these schools receives tens of thousands of applications per year, and few accept more than two to four thousand students. According to Homeschool Facts, the following list is the 2020 acceptance rates, in order from the easiest to get into to the least likely.

  1. Cornell- The class of 2020 acceptance rate was 13.96%.  By far, the most willing to take in new students, Cornell received 44,966 applications and accepted 6,277 new students.
  2. Dartmouth- The 2020 acceptance rate was 10.52%. This school received 20,675 applications and took 2,176 new students.
  3. The University of Pennsylvania- The 2020 acceptance rate was 9.41%.  Penn received 38,918 applications and admitted 3,661 new students making it the second-largest number admitted despite being third in terms of admission percentages. 
  4.  Brown University- The class of 2020 acceptance rate was 9.01%.  Brown had 32,390 applications and admitted 2,919 new students.
  5. Princeton- 2020’s acceptance rate was 6.46%.  Princeton received 29,303 applications but allowed in a mere 1,894 new students making this the smallest number of admissions, partly due to the lower number of applications. 
  6. Yale- The class of 2020 acceptance rate was 6.27%.  Yale got 31,455 applications and has 1,972 new students.
  7. Columbia- The 2020 acceptance rate was 6.04%. With 36,292 applications, the school took in 2,193 new students.
  8. Harvard- By far, the most difficult to get into, at Harvard, the 2020 acceptance rate was 5.2%. Of 39,041 applications, the school accepted 2,037 new students.

    BONUS TIP: Because of the Covid nineteen lockdowns,  the need for an ACT/SAT test score was waived by many colleges and universities.  For example, Texas A&M has suspended scores for the 20/21 school year while UCLA  through 2024. Please check your school for the latest development

Ivy League Requirements

To get into an Ivy League school, your home learner will need to write an incredible essay. Regrettably, this is only the beginning of a long list of requirements. Naturally, there will be pages of forms to fill out. Having some stellar, equally well-written letters of recommendation will also help, although they aren’t, strictly speaking, necessary to qualify. 

The fees for getting into Ivy League schools are substantial, to say the least. Some, like Harvard, make allowances for students whose families make less than a hundred thousand dollars per year. However, you will have to ask each school each year. Scholarships and grants may be available. However you finance the education; it will need to be paid for along with housing, books and materials, food, clothing, and other incidentals. 

It might surprise you to learn that the GPA isn’t everything. Students with grade point averages as low as 3.7 can qualify. For a homeschool student, the GPA requirements will likely be forgiven if your student passes their equivalency at a high enough rate, or otherwise tests incredibly well in SAT/ACT and similar scholastic assessments.

Families who want to send children to Ivy League schools might want to consider independent study for the last one to four years. Showing that the student took the highest possible academic classes, such as AP Physics, is one of the easiest ways to gain entrance. Some schools have a special admissions officer who handles homeschool applications, while others have the usual staffers handle them. Thus, each school has its own system, and they won’t all be the same. 

Being well rounded and showing that you have many extracurriculars is vital. A student aiming for academic excellence is not enough. Your child should learn a language or two, play an instrument, or two, and spend a great deal of time volunteering at various community events they find interesting. Playing a sport is also helpful.

Additionally, all of these extracurriculars need to make sense for your child in particular. Some generally civic-minded activities, like feeding the homeless, look nice. Still, a holistic, well-rounded set of interests and activities gives schools a better idea of who your child is, and what sets them apart from the crowd. A kid who is an incredible mathematician should volunteer to play chess with the elderly or tutor local math students.

Meanwhile, a champion baseball player might want to coach softball, rather than spending all their volunteer time doing something they have no vested interest in to pander to a school. They’ll see right through it. This isn’t to say your track star shouldn’t volunteer to work with the elderly, but adding blatant activities just to ‘make it look good on paper’ isn’t the way to get in. 

Many colleges and universities have specific admission pages for homeschoolers. Once you’ve chosen your top school, seek out the information specific to home learners. If you can’t find it, call the school directly and ask. While you’re talking to the admins, set up an appointment to visit in person. Not all schools, however prestigious, are right for all students.

Have a backup school, or six, and apply to all of them. It’s far better to be spoiled for choice than to have none because you banked all your hopes on one big-name school, and they didn’t say yes. Click here for a list of schools that accept homeschoolers

BONUS TIP: Because of the Covid nineteen lockdowns,  the need for an ACT/SAT test score was waived by many schools.  For example, Texas A&M has waived scores for the 20/21 school year while UCLA  through 2024. Please check your school for the latest development


Is It Really Worth Going to Ivy League?

Hopefully, you already realize that the Ivy League is not the end-all-be-all of prestigious universities. There are plenty of outstanding schools that do not fall into that particular sports conference group. If you came into this expecting to see Standford or Oxford on the list, I am pleased to help demystify the misconception that ‘Ivy League’ is an umbrella term for ‘Best.’ 

Look at what student life is like at each school you consider. Some prestigious schools have a lot of social interaction, while others have very little. Consider the housing options, costs, programs, and services offered. Ivy League is worth it, but only if your homeschool student is well suited to one of these particular schools. 

When looking into top their schools, consider non-Ivy League options that may suit your child just as well or better. For example, Julliard is the most prestigious music school, and both MIT and Berkely are incredible for budding inventors and scientists. None of these schools participate in the Ivy League sports conference, and yet they are undeniably among the very best. 

Final Thoughts

Going to an Ivy League school isn’t something most people fall into, but rather something carefully planned and actively sought over four or more academic years. Studies, non-school activities, the ability to express oneself through essay writing, SAT/ACT scores, and more go into the decision to admit a student to the Ivy League. Fortunately, homeschool is not a bar to getting in. 

If your child has their heart set on going to one particular Ivy League institution, help them learn all they can about it and encourage them to broaden their search and apply to multiple schools. Likewise, if they think that Ivy League is ‘the best’, then make sure you correct that idea. While many of the top universities in the US are in the Ivy League, it’s not the sole marker of higher educational quality. 

Most importantly, make sure your home learner picks a school that is the right fit for them. Musicians will be happier at Julliard than MIT, and neither group belongs in Harvard’s Law School. 

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