How to apply to college as a homeschooler

Top Ten Tips for Applying to College as a Homeschooler

Applying to college for any kid is an overwhelming process. When applying to college as a homeschooler though the process can be even more confusing. It’s important for homeschool parents to be prepared and start early to minimize the stress and maximize the potential of your college bound student.

As I am getting ready to go through the process for the third time I came up with a list of tips that will make everything easier for you and your child so you can enjoy this final special year of homeschooling.

  1. Keep book lists. This is really important because often colleges will want some indication from the homeschool parent of what each class entailed.
  2. Write course descriptions. In one or two sentences briefly describe the material that was covered and how the child’s learning of the subject was assessed.
  3. Refine your homeschool philosophy. This seems to be quite random, but you will likely be asked to create a school profile just like other schools. Be sure you are able to communicate your homeschool’s approach to and the broader goals of education.
  4. Take some classes outside of the home environment. Homeschool cooperatives are the easiest way to do this, but also consider online classes, tutors, or duel enrollment at a local college. (Here are my curriculum choices for high school including several online class options) The aim is for at least part of the time to have your child learning with someone other than you doing the teaching.
  5. Don’t sweat the transcript. I use fasttranscripts, but really any format is fine. Colleges aren’t worried about how you list your child’s classes they are worried about the content of your child’s classes so focus on the book list and course description for each class. The transcript is more like a table of contents for a homeschooler.
  6. Do sweat the recommendations. One of the biggest hurdles of homeschool college applications is communicating to the college from an unbiased source (sorry mom, you can only do so much at this point) that the child is capable and well educated. Be sure you have people who have worked with your child in an academic setting who are willing to write a reference.
  7. Take the SAT. I hate standardized tests. I really do. I think they give zero indication of a child’s knowledge and capacity to learn. The reality though is that if your child can do moderately well on the SAT it will further bolster their application and prove they have, in fact, been learning and not watching TV for four years. So even if your choice college doesn’t require it the SAT is probably a good idea for most students.
  8. Ensure you follow state law. Obviously this should probably go without saying, but you would be surprised at the number of rogue homeschoolers out there. Just follow the law so that your parent issued homeschool diploma complies with state regulations.
  9. Start early. Even if you wait until senior year you probably can pull everything together at the last minute, but really it’s much more peaceful if you don’t wait until the last minute.
  10. Relax. Colleges love homeschoolers. Your child will get in where they are meant to go. Don’t let the stress and worry of this last year steal these precious moments with your child. Do something fabulous to celebrate your years homeschooling together. I took my oldest to India to do volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity. My second was supposed to hike the Camino in Spain with my husband (cancelled due to coronavirus, but someday…) And I am supposed to be taking my third to Antarctica in January (if coronavirus cooperates) It doesn’t even have to be that spectacular though. Take some hikes together, go out to lunch, grab a cup of coffee etc and don’t talk about college.

For more advice about homeschooling high school click here.

If you feel like you need more support applying to college as a homeschooler I offer personalized college planning consulting. Please contact me for more information. (Discount available if you sign up for my email list below)

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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