Homeschooling is increasing in popularity. More and more people are choosing to homeschool their children in a wide range of methods, curriculum and activities. This works well for many families who feel that this is best for them and their children. Skeptics of homeschooling often say that children who are homeschooled won't be able to get into a good college when it comes time to get a higher education. This isn't necessarily true. Homeschooling parents and students can take several steps to help get the homeschooled child into the college of his or her choice. Even Stanford accepts children who are homeschooled, so don't fear; you can do it! The first section of this how to is directed mostly to parents and the second half mostly to students. Getting into colleges that have tough administration policies will require the work of both the parent and the student.
Start early. As a homeschool parent you should start thinking about higher education early. If you are a homeschool student you should begin as soon as you think you might possibly be interested in going to college. Starting in junior high will help your homeschool student get into whatever college or university that he or she chooses for their future.
Keep good records. Homeschooling is often far superior to a public high school education, however it doesn't mean anything unless you can prove that it is/was a good education. Keeping records is absolutely important.
- Keep special items from junior high including lists of special activities and achievements.
- Keep thorough records of all high school classes including the name of the course, books read, activities done and objectives learned.
- Keep samples of work from each class. This can include tests if you administer tests, papers and essays and other work that has been accomplished.
- Use your records to make a computer generated record of courses completed for thorough and professional looking transcripts.
Go for a college preparatory education. There are certain classes that colleges look for when choosing students. A high school education should contain:
- 3 years of math
- 4 years of English and or English literature
- 2-3 years of science
- 3 years of social studies including history and cultures
- 1 year of visual or performing arts
- 1-2 years of health and fitness
- 2 years (or more) of foreign language
- Electives for a well-rounded education
Many of these classes can begin in junior high and continue on through high school. (Algebra 1 in eighth grade, Geometry in ninth grade and Algebra 2 in tenth grade will work for three years of math.) If you then take college level Algebra in eleventh grade at the local community college, you will look really strong. (College level Algebra is very similar to Algebra 2.) This is a minimum guideline and should include several electives in a few different types of interests.
Become well rounded. Colleges will look at different things when accepting students. These include courses, activities, test scores, letters of recommendation and essay(s). Your child can enjoy several activities that will also look good on his or her college application.
- Sports: Any sports can become an asset to your child's college application. Encourage your child to join a homeschool group and do sports through their programs or look into joining sports at the local high school or private school.
- Speech: There are several opportunities for speech competitions. The student can do debate and or forensics. Many homeschool groups have programs and often high schools will allow a homeschool student to join their team as well.
- Volunteering: Your student can make a huge impression by volunteering in your community. Have fun and help others at the same time. Volunteer year after year for a great addition to the application.
- Other extracurricular activities: Your child can choose to get involved in groups, clubs and other activities for a well-rounded look as well.
- Hobbies: Well-developed hobbies can look good on a college application, regardless of whether or not these hobbies were included in the homeschooling. This can include woodworking, photography and even taxidermy.
Aim for high scores on tests. Start studying for the ACT or SAT early. You can add this to your child's daily lessons starting in eighth or ninth grade. Taking a PSAT at the earliest moment (usually spring of tenth grade) is also a good idea to help get the student ready for the test. Take the SAT (or ACT) during spring of his or her junior year to allow time to retake it in the fall if need be.
Take college courses. One way to stand out is to enroll in a few courses at the nearest community college while homeschooling. Start early and take a couple of courses each semester for a great look on your transcripts. This will also allow you to transfer your college transcripts to the university when the time comes.
Do your research. Begin researching schools early. This will give you enough time to meet the entrance requirements of your specific school, while also allowing you to find the schools that will meet your needs.
Researching schools can include getting the school's packet, meeting with an admissions counselor, going on a school tour (both organized and unorganized) and talking with students. (Often student council members will be available to talk with you.)
Gather letters of recommendation. Gather letters of recommendation from important people in your community, people you have worked with volunteering, other homeschooling parents who have been a teacher to you through co-ops and homeschool groups and professors from the community college.
Write an essay on how homeschooling has given you a great education. Most schools require a decent sized essay. Write your essay about how homeschooling was a great education or how it has prepared you for college. The essay can also include information on what you hope to accomplish during and after college.
Apply early. Once you decide which college you want to attend, apply early. It is always better to be early rather then late. Fill out the application and submit it in January of your senior year. (Some colleges may require an earlier deadline.) It isn't a bad idea to apply to your top three or four schools just in case you aren't accepted to your first choice.
Most of these are the same steps a public or private school student would take to get into college. However, the homeschool student and his or her parents need to make sure these things are accomplished. Getting into the college of your choice can happen; you just need to make sure that you are ready to get all the work done! The earlier you start the better.