Homeschool & Applying to College
When you haven’t been to a traditional high school, the process of applying to college may have some additional challenges. You do not have access to high school counselors who help you apply for scholarships and guide you when it comes to choosing schools and it’s hard to show evidence of the rigorous course load most college are looking for. However, a homeschooled student who knows how to navigate the college application process is just as likely to be accepted to college as a traditional high school student.
Transcripts and Other Academic Considerations
One of the first things a college admissions application asks for is a copy of high school transcripts. These transcripts are used to analyze a student’s grades and look at the rigor of a student’s course load. However, as a homeschooler, you may have taken non-traditional courses to meet requirements or may have been graded on a non-traditional scale. If you have them, you will be required to submit transcripts from your home school association or home-school coordinator.
Many colleges also allow homeschool students to submit a portfolio showcasing their work to accompany transcripts or in lieu of transcripts. Included in this portfolio should be course descriptions, a list of textbooks and other materials used in each course, an academic resume highlighting your achievements and a few stellar examples of your work as a homeschool student.
Another way to boost your chances of being accepted to college is to take a few courses at an established institution. Some schools may allow you to attend part-time and enroll in their AP classes and you can also take courses through your local community college. Doing well in those courses will help back up the information provided on your homeschool transcript.
Getting Letters of Recommendation
Without traditional teachers, getting a letter of recommendation can be difficult. If your parent is your main teacher, they can write you a letter of recommendation, but their bias may keep her from being taken seriously. Look for others who can attest to your academic abilities to write your letter of recommendation. If you have participated in academic-based extracurricular activities or volunteered as part of your homeschool experience, ask a coach or mentor to write a letter of recommendation.
College Visits and Interviews
As a homeschooler, you actually have a leg up in the college admissions process because you can visit schools and participate in interviews without losing valuable instructional time. While many colleges do not require interviews, sometimes participating in an interview can make you stand out as an applicant and give you a chance to explain your non-traditional education. Visiting a college and participating in an interview will also help you get a feel for whether you would fit in well with that college. Allen Grove’s College Admissions Guide offers 12 College Interview Questions to help you prepare for an interview. Practicing these questions will help you become more confident before the interview and learn to highlight your strengths to make you appealing to admissions counselors.
What are Colleges Looking For?
At the end of the day, colleges are looking for students who are prepared to meet the challenges of college and are a good fit with their goals and objectives. For example, one of the top questions asked in college interviews, according to Allen Groves College Admissions Guide is “What will you contribute to our campus community?” If you can demonstrate to admissions counselors and those who review your application that you can be successful at their school and add something special to their student body, it will not matter that you were homeschooled. In fact, being homeschooled gives you a greater opportunity to set yourself apart from the rest of the pool of applicants.