Tips for College-Bound Homeschoolers
The homeschooling community is a growing group of American students, and that means that colleges are going to be seeing even more applicants with non-traditional educational backgrounds.
Whether you’ve been homeschooling since kindergarten or became one of the many “COVID homeschoolers” and found out that it was a great fit for you, making the transition from homeschool to college can feel scary. Much of the advice and many of the college admissions forms just weren’t built with a homeschooling background in mind, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a difficult journey.
Colleges, by and large, appreciate and welcome homeschooling students. Research has repeatedly found that homeschooled students who go to college report no significant differences in adjustment to the new environment from their traditionally-educated peers, and the evidence often points to higher academic achievement for homeschooled students as well.
In order to make the transition from homeschool to college a smooth one, there are some steps you can take both before graduation and during the application process.
Plan Your Studies with College in Mind
If a homeschooled student knows (or even just suspects) they’ll be college-bound, there are some steps the homeschooling family can take to make that transition into college easier:
• Contact Your Top College(s)- The easiest way to know what your top college will be looking for on your transcript is to ask! Most colleges are happy to provide advice on what kinds of classes will make for an attractive homeschool candidate. If you get this information early (freshman year of high school is a great time to start working toward these goals!), then you can build curricular choices around that final destination.
• Keep Meaningful Records- Depending on the state where you homeschool, you may not be required to keep detailed records of your educational efforts. However, colleges and universities will likely want to see portfolios of work — especially for competitive slots and scholarships. Even if you aren’t required to do so by your state, keep portfolios that show revisions over time and write up detailed course descriptions. Make sure you keep track of the following:
– Textbooks, texts, and curricula used
– Major assignments completed with scores (on a qualitative or quantitative scale)
– Tests/formal assessments
– Course syllabi (and make your own for classes you design yourself)
– Evidence of feedback and revisions (especially on projects and written assignments)
– Grades that can be converted on a standard GPA scale
Get a Jump Start with Dual Credit Classes
One huge advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows. Many institutions (especially community colleges) offer dual credit classes that are open to students as young as 16 (or even younger when certain conditions are met).
Enrolling in these classes can simultaneously fulfill a high school educational requirement while also providing the student with high-quality transcripts and a clear record of their college-level abilities.
Many of these programs even offer transfer privileges to other neighboring colleges and universities. Be sure you look into all of your options and find the path that will help your students jump-start their college success.
Be Ready to Make Your Case
The hurdles for a homeschooling student when it comes to college admission are often more technical in nature. Admissions boards are used to looking at very standardized qualities in order to determine acceptance. A homeschooled student’s application might look a bit different.
Don’t be deterred, but do be ready to make your case. Make sure that you have evidence of work in all the major subjects. Even if the school does not require a standardized test score for admission, having an ACT or SAT score (especially if it is relatively high) will help bridge the gap between the typical admission expectations and a homeschooled student’s experiences.
Homeschooled students may need to do a little extra work to showcase their skills, but most college admissions boards are eager for self-directed, passionate learners, and homeschooled students often have a lot of work that demonstrates these qualities.