Homeschooling is a great option for many students, but what happens when you start looking at going to college? How do you navigate the college admissions process as a homeschooling family? In this three part series, we’ll address school naming, counselors and teachers, qualifications, grades, transcripts, GPA, standardized tests, and paperwork such as letters of recommendation and essays. Read on for part one now!
How Colleges Review Homeschoolers
When I worked in admissions, applications were assigned to committee members for review based on the high school the applicant attended. In other words, each admissions counselor was in charge of knowing certain high schools and reviewing or presenting applications from those high schools. So, where does that leave students whose high school is “my house?”
Where I worked, homeschool applicants were treated like they all came from the same high school. I was assigned the “homeschool” students. I learned quickly that homeschooling experiences are widely variable and that homeschool transcripts are even more so. So, I’d like to lay out some tips related to the application process for any students whose high school was “Homeschool.” Figuring out homeschooling and college admissions can be like fitting a round peg in a square hole. But we’re here to help.
What’s Your School Called?
First, let’s address the name of your high school. Colleges are getting better now about providing a “Homeschooled” option in the application drop down box. However, there are sometimes other places on the application or your transcript where you’re going to feel compelled to name your high school. Please don’t. I know it sounds prestigious to say you’ve attended “Oxford Way Academy” because your mailing address is 243 Oxford Way or fun to say “Smith School” because your last name is Smith, but this is just confusing for the person trying to decipher your application for review. It’s preferred to simply note “Homeschool” in any blank where you’re asked to list your high school name.
Your Counselors and Teachers (i.e., Your Parents)
Next, let’s talk about who to list as your high school counselor. In most cases, that’s going to be your Mom or Dad. Just say so. If the application includes a form that needs to be completed by your school counselor, call the college and ask them if they still need this form. They may not. If they do, give it to Mom or Dad to complete. Now, quite honestly, if said form asks this person to rate you in comparison to other students at the school and comment on your ability, behavior, etc., the committee is not going to take it very seriously. The ratings/rankings tend to lose meaning when you’re compared only with your siblings. But if the college said they needed it to complete your application, just do it.
In addition to this counselor form, it’s helpful if parents include a supplemental instruction description utilized for the homeschool education. I would receive supplements from homeschoolers that included every single detail down to the biography of each instructor and wouldn’t even fit in an expandable file folder! This is unnecessary.
How Was Instructions Provided
What IS helpful, though, is something that explains the nature of instruction. Was all of the instruction designed and delivered and evaluated by the parents in the home? Did you participate in a local homeschool co-op where different parents taught different subjects? Was the instruction completed through an established online high school or online college program with third party evaluators? We’re looking for schools like Keystone, Northstar, Penn Foster, Liberty University Online Academy, etc.
Did the student utilize the local community college and earn grades and credits there? Or, most commonly, did you use some combination of all of the above? Most of the people reviewing homeschool applications will be familiar with each of these options. So you don’t have to provide detailed explanations but rather something that walks through the types of instruction used. Essentially, provide a one page summary of what you might tell someone over dinner who asked, “So how did you homeschool?”
Next Up: Transcripts and GPA
In the next article about homeschooling and college admissions, we’ll be discussing how you should report transcripts, grades, and GPA. Look for part two soon on Smart College Visit!