Homeschooling and Applying to College
Colleges receive increasing numbers of applications from homeschooled students each year. There are many ways in which homeschooled applicants can utilize their experience outside a traditional learning system to craft an impressive and attractive application.
LEVERAGING YOUR HOMESCHOOL EXPERIENCE
Emphasize the many ways in which homeschool differentiates you from a normal applicant. Studies suggest that homeschool applicants fare better in college than their traditionally-schooled peers, graduating at a rate more than 10% higher. This may be because homeschool gives you an opportunity to take responsibility for your own learning and to be a self-sufficient, independent student and person, one who will be successful in a college learning environment.
Since homeschooling usually does not involve a traditional grading system, you can show colleges that you are genuinely interested in learning for its own sake, rather than for a grade. Homeschooled students often select their own academic and social pursuits because they find them meaningful, rather than being compelled by school requirements. Colleges are drawn to this authenticity.
Especially in your essays and recommendations, as well as in whatever type of portfolio or record of your academic work which you provide to colleges, you can demonstrate the way in which your non-traditional curriculum shaped you into the person you are today. Through your application, you can show that you are curious, confidence, resourceful, independent, and able to deal with challenges.
Homeschooled applicants are often better socialized than their traditionally-schooled peers. While this may seem counterintuitive, upon further reflection, it makes sense. Homeschooled students spend less time in class and more time in the real world, interacting with adults and people of all ages, rather than just teens their own age. In your application, you can demonstrate how this experience with the real world, rather than just a classroom, has prepared you for college.
Standardized testing is crucial for a homeschooled college applicant. Unfortunately, colleges will usually look for homeschooled applicants with especially strong test scores. This is because colleges need some objective way of measuring applicants, and, without a grade point average, must utilize standardized testing scores. Luckily, homeschooled students have plenty of time to prepare for standardized tests.
Most schools accept and even welcome applications from homeschoolers. These schools include places such as Stanford University. You can also see where some homeschooled applicants this year have been accepted on College Confidential. All schools have separate types of requirements and admission recommendations for homeschoolers, and you can usually get a sense of how friendly the college will be to homeschoolers through these guidelines.
Colleges recognize that most homeschooled students are completing a thorough curriculum through a non-traditional channel, and want to gain the most complete picture of these applicants. To that end, colleges usually ask as much information of homeschooled applicants as of applicants from traditional-style schools, and sometimes more. Colleges usually like to see transcripts or course evaluations from any formal classes an applicant has taken, as well as courses taken online or through correspondence program. Furthermore, courses set up through homeschool associations usually have printed syllabi, which should be submitted as part of an application, along with any curricula borrowed from other school districts. Finally, colleges like to see descriptive listing by applicants or supervisors of individualized classes, as well as examples of research papers, projects, etc. done by the applicant. Home School College Advisor contains examples of good academic portfolios, as well as several lists of some homeschool-friendly colleges and universities (those which focus on the Great Books or have non-traditional learning programs).
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