Don’t let the idea of getting your homeschool graduate into college sneak up on you! If your student wants to continue with higher education after homeschooling, then you’ll want to plan ahead. Let’s figure out what you need to know about attending college after homeschool, how to prepare, and how to help your student be successful!
Is it hard to get into college after homeschooling?
The short answer to this question is no. Your homeschool graduate can successfully get into college. In recent years, homeschool graduates are sought after more than public school students. But you may just need to work a little harder than the average public school graduate on the paperwork side. So let’s walk through some of the key steps for helping your teen to get into college.
Homeschool Graduation Checklist
First, you’ll want to make sure that they are meeting their academic and extracurricular goals in the high school years by following a homeschool graduation checklist. Here are the main pieces that need to be in place when your student is ready to graduate.
Homeschool Graduation Requirements
Before starting to homeschool through the high school years, homeschool parents should always check the state graduation requirements and homeschool diploma requirements. Make sure you cover the core courses, including English, math, science, social studies, and a foreign language. Many colleges expect applicants to take four years of all the core curriculum, except the foreign language, which is usually 1-2 years.
Then, most colleges will still want homeschool applicants to take standardized testing or college entrance exams like the SAT or ACT. Having an objective academic standard through nationally normed testing is important for colleges admitting homeschool students. Did you know that homeschool students tend to have higher scores than the national average on both the SAT and ACT? That’s great news for many students, especially because colleges also tend to put more weight on the results of these standardized tests for homeschool students.
If you are in the planning phase and your student has yet to take the ACT, you can utilize ACT Math Test Practice Printables.
Think Outside the Box
Of course, academics are only part of the overall picture of your student. Plan to include meaningful extracurricular activities, volunteering, and work opportunities during the high school years. All of these opportunities help your graduate to shine when it’s time to apply to college. It’s a good idea to make a high school plan before your child starts their freshman year of high school so that you can be sure to meet all the graduation requirements.
You’ll include most of this information on an official high school transcript. Check with the colleges your teen is applying to in order to make sure you include exactly what they expect to see. For example, they may require more detailed course descriptions from a homeschooled student.
Believe it or not, sometimes more information is better than less. Did your teen write an ebook while in high school? Include that. Were they involved in some ongoing community service during the high school years? That’s significant. Include everything that will help your student stand out from the crowd.
Letters of Recommendation
Finally, plan to include a letter of recommendation with your college application. You will want these letters of recommendation to be from two adults that are not relatives, preferably a homeschool co-op teacher or other private teacher from the high school years. This is a good reason to encourage your student to take community college classes during high school. Then you’ll be able to have an outside teacher write a letter of recommendation. Consider asking coaches, mentors, or clergy for letters of reference.
For some reason, many parents are overwhelmed with the thought of making a homeschool high school transcript. But it doesn’t need to be complicated! Yes, as a homeschool parent you will have to take on the role of a school guidance counselor. There are many free online versions that you can use and the final product will look professional. Remember that the transcript is simply your student’s academic record through high school. It helps the college admissions committee verify that your student meets the basic requirements for college acceptance. Potential colleges want to see proof of well-rounded students. The transcript is one way to show this.
Here is a short summary of what to include on this document.
- student’s name
- homeschool name
- home address and phone number
- student’s date of birth
- graduation date
- high school course names and final grade
- number of credits earned each year and cumulatively
- GPA by year and cumulatively
- grading scale
Does my student need an accredited homeschool program?
It’s a misconception that you need to have an accredited homeschool program in order to be accepted into college. Accreditation simply shows that an outside entity has approved of your homeschool program. While you may choose an accredited program for its rigor or acceptability, it is not necessary.
For additional help and resources with transcripts, figuring out credit hours, and options for online courses, please contact the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Many homeschool students take college classes during their high school years. This dual enrollment helps to show admissions officers that your high school student can handle academic rigor of college-level courses. Plus, if your student completes some dual enrollment courses at a local community college, then he will enter college with some credits already applied toward his degree. Some of these dual enrollment options might even include online classes.
Dual Enrollment Shows Academic Readiness
Dual enrolled or online course options in high school help to show that your student has earned a grade from a non-parent on the transcript. This goes a long way to giving evidence of your student’s academic readiness in an objective way. Plus, it helps your teen to be able to learn from someone other than their parent, especially if they haven’t had traditional classroom experiences during their homeschool years.
College Credits While in High School
Homeschooled students tend to earn 14.7 college credits on average during their high school years in comparison with just 6 credits for traditionally schooled students. In addition to earning college credits during high school, taking dual enrollment courses can also help you save a lot of money on your college degree. Some states have in-state discount tuitions for high school students. You can also encourage your teen to ask their employer if they offer tuition assistance.
Show College Readiness and Academic Rigor
Another option you might consider is using CLEP and DSST to receive college credit during the high school years. Your student earns this credit by passing the tests linked to these courses. Or, your student might want to complete AP classes and tests to show high scholarship. AP testing is only offered in May each year. So, you will want to contact the College Board to find a local testing site for the AP tests.
SAT II Subject Tests are additional tests that assess content that is not on the typical SAT or ACT. If you want the application to show college readiness, you may want your student to complete the SAT II. High test scores on any of these standardized tests will help your high schoolers to stand out from graduates of private schools and public schools. Of course, check with the college admissions officers at the college you hope to attend to see exactly what their expectations and requirements are in the process.
As you fill out college application paperwork, don’t neglect to have your student complete the FAFSA each October, beginning their senior year of high school. Your student should do this every year until they graduate, even if they think they might be sitting out a year. If there’s even a chance that they will attend college the next year, complete the FAFSA. This way, your teen will be able to get all the federal student aid, including grants and scholarships, that they are entitled to receive.
In addition to the financial aid your student can receive from completing the FAFSA, there are many various types of scholarships and a differing application process for each one. So make sure you look into these opportunities ahead of high school graduation.
How to Stand Out from Your Peers
Because of all the changes since 2020, including cancellation of many standardized testing options, many schools removed their testing requirements as part of the college admission process. Now more than ever, your teen needs to stand out from his peers as he applies to colleges and universities. And it’s possible. In fact, it might even be easier for homeschoolers than for their public schooled friends.
Other than taking more rigorous courses through the high school years, what else can your student do to stand out? Here are a few ideas.
Ideas to Help Your Student Stand Out
Your homeschooled student has the flexibility to arrange their schedule to be able to complete an internship in their future field. This not only gives them a unique look into their future profession, but it also looks great on their transcript.
Independent Study Opportunities
Consider creating independent study opportunities for your high school student. The skills needed to complete large meaningful projects in a specific field or subject show that your student has the ability to do high level work in college.
Finally, if your student has a proclivity toward entrepreneurship, encourage them to launch a small business during high school and document all the work and skills that go into the launch. This will help your teen stand out from most peers. Plus, the life skills they learn from such an opportunity are invaluable. If they held a job while in high school, be sure to include that info.
Creating a Portfolio
Some colleges are even accepting portfolios in addition to traditional transcripts in an effort to work with homeschoolers. If your teen has had the ability to craft a unique high school experience, a portfolio might showcase their abilities and achievements better than a standard transcript. Check with the admissions office at the college your student is applying to in order to see if a portfolio would better showcase their homeschool education.
You can use your teen’s extracurricular activities to help them really shine. Make sure to document all the activities they are involved in through the high school years. This will help colleges see that your student is well-rounded and can interact well with people outside of their own family. Since non-socialization is a stereotype of homeschoolers, having a robust list of extracurricular activities can go a long way to dissuading that narrative.
What would you include in a list of extracurriculars? Things like sports, band, clubs, dance, theater experience, and other similar activities should be on the list. Also mention accomplishments and awards during high school.
Community Service and Volunteer Hours
Community service and volunteer activities should also be highlighted. Your homeschooled high schooler can really stand out from peers in this way. Embrace the freedom and flexibility to craft a unique and customized high school experience that will help your teen not only gain life skills and maturity, but also look great on a college application.
In summary, the main tasks in high school for you as the homeschool parent relate to paperwork and deadlines. Make sure you keep good records as you go. Definitely check with potential colleges to know what they are looking for from your student’s application. And then plan ahead for deadlines for things like the SAT and ACT, FAFSA, and college application submissions and financial aid applications.
What percentage of homeschoolers go to college?
There are not many studies that answer the question of how many homeschoolers go to college. One 2003 study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, found that 74% of homeschool graduates had taken at least some college courses. This didn’t necessarily mean that they were enrolled as full-time or part-time college students. But, this percentage was definitely higher than that found in the public school population, where only 46% of them had taken college courses.
Once they enter college, homeschooled students graduate at a rate of 66.7% according to a study led by Michael Cogan by the University of St. Thomas. This graduation rate is 10% higher than that of their public school peers.
Why Many Colleges Like Homeschoolers
Many colleges are indeed intrigued by homeschoolers because we are self-starters and engaged in the educational experience. It’s less common to find a passive homeschooled high schooler than a passive public school peer. Homeschooled students tend to enjoy customized educational experiences and many real life opportunities that traditional students just do not experience. So rather than letting your child’s homeschool background keep them from applying to and pursuing a college education, encourage them that they are indeed well-prepared for this next step.
As you are preparing for the college years, it’s also a good idea to visit as many colleges as you can. Let your student get a feel for the academic and social culture at the school and talk to faculty and school representatives. Sometimes a college visit even convinces a hesitant high schooler to consider pursuing schooling after twelfth grade. A college visit or two can also motivate other students to continue to push through the roadblocks and applications because they can envision themselves on that campus.
Do homeschoolers do well in college?
Homeschooling is an asset to many college applicants. In fact, Kelley Hayden, a spokeman for ACT, said “What you can say about the homeschoolers is that homeschooled kids are well-prepared for college.”
In fact, many colleges are actively recruiting homeschoolers because they know they will be successful. Some of the institutions that are hoping to recruit homeschoolers include schools like Harvard, MIT, Duke, Yale, and Stanford.
In fact, homeschool graduates tend to have higher GPA’s than their public school counterparts. Homeschooled students have on average a 3.37 GPA during their freshman year compared to a 3.08 for a traditionally schooled college freshman.
There are dozens of reasons why this would be the case. Let’s consider a few.
Here’s what homeschoolers bring to the college experience:
- Problem-solving ability
- Ability to work independently
- Can study on your own
- Time management skills
- Responsibility for own learning
- Goal setting
- Ability to independently research
This is why homeschoolers tend to do well in college. When we make learning a lifestyle, our kids are much more ready for higher education because they’ve already taken the responsibility for their own education and tend to have a love of learning. So continue to include these wonderful traits in your homeschool program.
Are homeschooled students more successful in college?
We’ve already mentioned that homeschooled students graduate from college at a 10% higher rate than their peers. That’s the first measure of being successful in college – actually finishing your degree! But in addition to higher graduate rates, the studies do show that homeschooled students show other benchmarks of high performance in college.
Deep Community Involvement
One of these benchmarks is that homeschoolers in college have deep community involvement as young adults. Maybe it’s because they’ve already been highly engaged in the community during their homeschool years and they are used to interacting with people at various points in their day. These strong connections help homeschoolers in college to view their experience in a more positive way than their traditionally educated friends. Homeschooled students also have high involvement in volunteer and service projects, which add to a high level of socialization and involvement.
High Value of Learning
Homeschooled students tend to have a higher value of learning than their public schooled peers. This makes sense when homeschool families gear their studies in K-12 to emphasize and encourage a life-long love of learning. Homeschoolers also feel more responsibility for their own education and learning, beginning back in the middle and high school years. This attitude translates to the college years. Professors report that homeschooled students are more engaged in class and open to asking questions and getting help if needed.
Be encouraged! Your homeschool graduate can be well-prepared for the college years. In fact, they can even thrive and enjoy the fruit of the many years of investment that you have poured into them.
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Founded in 1977, Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, support services, and an accredited online academy. Visit Alpha Omega Publications online or call 800-622-3070 to learn more.