Homeschooled students tend to excel, both in content and the eagerness and ability to learn. So, they will often want to enter one of those excellent schools in their mid to late teens. But applying to college, difficult for anyone, can be especially tough for those who acquired an education in a non-traditional setting.
The absence of state, or even licensed private school, transcripts is the first hurdle for most homeschooled individuals. But that barrier has been overcome by thousands, perhaps millions, of homeschooled students. Universities, even the most (and sometimes particularly the most) prestigious accept homeschooled students. Here, too, such students frequently excel.
One common method for tackling ‘the transcript problem’ is to generate one as the child matures. Many homeschooled programs are structured, making it easier to keep records and assign grades much as is done in public schools. Such records are taken seriously by many colleges. It’s best to start earlier than usual to explore which ones might be targeted for admission.
Select a half-dozen possible colleges or universities and ask the admissions department officials what they look for in terms of transcripts. More and more are becoming used to answering the question from parents of homeschooled teens. Over 2 million kids per year are now homeschooled – many of them choose to go to a traditional four-year college.
There are other forms, in some ways even more important, for admissions officials to judge fitness. Decisions for admission, at least the ‘first cut’ of applications, are made based on standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT. Homeschooled students are free to take these like their public or private school peers. On average, homeschooled students do much better on these tests, giving them a leg up for college admission.
Have your high schooler take a number of CLEP tests. Passing a CLEP test proves knowledge of a particular subject.
After gathering these objective data, other criteria come into play. Many colleges have their own admissions tests. Even apart from administered tests, college applications very often have a section requiring students to write some sort of essay. Those sections provide students with an opportunity not only to express intelligent views of the world, but to give admissions officers insight into individual tastes and ability.
Individual essays are often used to ferret out unusual personal interests, aptitude and other unique attributes that make the applicant stand out. That’s an area in which homeschoolers, with their non-traditional education, can easily excel.
A mixture of Advanced Placement courses, many of which can be taken in an independent study mode not requiring attendance in a traditional classroom, is also a good idea. Those help flesh out the ‘transcript’ provided to admissions officers. Some of them can be taken as part of an accelerated learning program, in which the student studies material in advance of the common age of his or her peers.
Those courses help show decision makers that the student is fully prepared. They can demonstrate the common fact that homeschooled students are typically more than ready to tackle the demands of college.