Most people assume that homeschoolers will have a hard time getting into college. This may have been true two decades ago, but today’s universities have been admitting homeschoolers without discrimination for years.
If you are a homeschooler wanting to get into college, there are important things you must know about proper college admissions. Capital College Consulting’s college admission consultants emphasize that to ensure a smooth and successful college application process, it’s important to be aware of the following crucial details.
1. Colleges are modifying their admissions policies
Do not assume that getting into college is difficult just because you are homeschooled. These days, many colleges are already adjusting their admissions policies so they can become more homeschool-friendly.
For instance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT and Stanford University accept work portfolios instead of transcripts and offer an easy and flexible admissions procedure. Some colleges like Hamilton College and Princeton University also are aware that there are homeschool programs that don’t follow the traditional high school curriculum, so they ask homeschool students to provide them with a detailed and complete documentation of their high school coursework. In addition, they require homeschool students to submit evaluations of progress from a reputable and approved homeschool supervisor or evaluator.
2. A homeschooled student can stand out in school
Students may find it too difficult to differentiate themselves from the other applicants vying for the same spot in extremely competitive admissions situations. But if you have a homeschooled experience, you can have a huge advantage. This is because you are different, in a good way.
For instance, inform the college if you have entered into competitions in sciences or debates, regardless if you won or not. This will allow you to shine over students who attended a traditional school.
Did you publish a research project? Ask a letter of recommendation from someone you have worked with on the project or from your tutor with an academic background.
You need to play up your strengths. Are you a math wizard? Are you an exceptional violinist? If you have taken piano classes or any music classes, that can go on your transcript.
3. There’s no need to wait to start earning college credits
Today, you do not have to be in college to have college credits. You can start earning credits while you are still in high school. You can take advantage of distance learning, AP courses, and dual enrollment.
Michael Cogan, a researcher at the University of St. Thomas, claimed that homeschooled students usually earn more college credits prior to their freshmen year than other students. On average, homeschoolers had 14.7 college credits while traditional school students had 6.0 credits.
4. Know what is expected and keep good records
Most colleges expect to see that you have met certain criteria. Therefore, make sure that you understand in advance what you need to complete while in high school. For instance, most homeschooled students are required to take the ACTs or SATs if they want to attend college. Standardized scores on these examinations will give the college objective data as to what your abilities are. Your test scores will make a huge difference.
Also, keep a record of all your academic work and be ready to share what you have learned in a transcript. This way, colleges can understand what you have been working on.
5. Know the deadlines
You need to know when to take the SAT and submit your application. Also, work out your financial aid ahead of time. Make sure to add these important dates in your calendar; do not let them slip.
Be aware of all the testing prerequisites before applying so you will have scores to submit with your application. Look at sample questions and take some practice tests. This way, you’ll know what to expect and become prepared on the testing day.
6. GED and diploma are not necessary
You won’t need a GED or a diploma to apply for college. Lacking either of them won’t have any impact if you qualify for financial aid. You will just have to make it clear that you are homeschooled and that, most importantly, your homeschool has met the laws in your state.
7. Extracurricular activities are your best friends
Extracurricular activities are especially important for homeschoolers. There will be suspicions that the course load or the grading method at a homeschool is less strict than academic institutions.
Extracurricular activities are an excellent way to eliminate this concern because it gives colleges a window through which they can look into your interests and social life. Most colleges want to accept students that perform academically and contribute in many other areas to the university.
Extracurricular activities will show that you are involved in the community. It also shows that you have a multitude of talents. It confirms that you have also learned valuable knowledge outside of what a transcript depicts.
8. The application essay is extremely important
Schools that do not often read each application essay will most likely read those from homeschoolers. The reason for this is that most admissions officers assume a bias in a transcript. Thus, they give attention to other documentation. This means that you must excel when it comes to letters of recommendation, test scores, and a school application essay.
College admissions are challenging and stressful for any student. If you were homeschooled, it’s crucial to be aware of the specific college admission requirements for homeschoolers. Make sure to comply with all of these so you can successfully get into college. Attending pre-college programs for high school students can be of help as well.
Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.
Brian’s experience includes 18+ years in education serving multiple roles as educator, athletic director, and college admissions consultant.