How Homeschooling Can Impact Your College Admissions

October 15, 2020
By AdmissionSight

How Homeschooling Can Impact Your College Admissions

In the United States, approximately 3.4% of students are homeschooled. That means that approximately 2 million students in total! While homeschooling comes with a lot of benefits for some students, it is important to keep in mind how it might impact your chances of getting into the most competitive colleges and universities in the United States.

Believe it or not, college admissions for homeschoolers are handled very similarly for students who are taught through homeschooling compared to students who are taught in traditional schools. In fact, many admissions officers at top colleges and universities actively seek out homeschoolers.

A homeschooled student studying in her bed.

The truth is that each and every student is evaluated within the context of his or her own background and the opportunities that they have been afforded. College admissions officers aren’t always looking for the students who have received the most opportunities up to this point in their lives. Instead, they are looking for students who have made the most out of the opportunities that they have been given. With that being said, there are some differences regarding how homeschooling students submit specific materials related to their college application.

Here at AdmissionSight, we make it our priority to help each and every student get into the college of their dreams. That of course includes homeschoolers.

So, if you have been homeschooling through your high school years, here are some important things to keep in mind with regard to college admissions.

Be Mindful of Your Transcript

As a student who is homeschooling, your parent or primary teacher is in charge of creating your unique high school transcript and sending it to all of the colleges that you are interested in applying to. When it comes to parents who are working as primary teachers, they have a few different options in terms. Of creating that transcript during the four years of high school.

The four primary options include:

  • Working under an umbrella school that creates official transcripts and diplomas
  • Creating your own transcript and diploma
  • Taking advantage of a service that specializes in transcript and diploma creation
  • Joining a homeschool group that products professional transcripts and diplomas

Due to the fact that the day-to-day activities of students who are homeschooling are quite a bit different compared to students who are attending traditional schools, making sure that a homeschooler’s academic challenges, experiences, courses, and credits stack up to that of a traditional school may seem very difficult. Luckily, parents of homeschooled students can gain serious confidence knowing that there simply is no wrong or right way to craft a standard transcript. That’s even true amongst and within school districts.

With that being said, every student’s transcript should include all of the following important information:

  • You name, the name of your school (if this applies to you), address, and phone number
  • Your high school course list that is ordered by year (freshman to senior year)
  • The institution in which each course was taken, this can include homeschool, online courses, community college, and more
  • The grading scale that is being used by your homeschool
  • The student’s overall GPA
  • Credits offered per course (listed per semester and per school year)
  • Expected graduation date
  • Parent signature with a date

If a high school student who is learning through online courses or outside of homeschooling in any way, make sure that students should contact each and every institution to make sure that they also send an official copy of the student’s transcript. The transcript that a student’s parents create should absolutely be cumulative and include both the student’s homeschooled classes and of the classes that they have taken outside of the institution.

GED and diploma

One very important thing to keep in mind is that students who are homeschooled do not need a GED or diploma in order to apply to college or qualify for merit-based or need-based financial aid. Instead, high school students simply need to declare that their homeschooled education meets state law requirements.

Overall, most students who are homeschooled do not end up electing to take the GED if they have transcripts that are fully valid. The reason why is because colleges will put the vast majority of their emphasis on your transcript, standardized test scores, and personal essays.

Keep in mind that if a student is homeschooled through an online academy, virtual school, or organized homeschool program, then the program will award a student their diploma according to their own specific and unique standards. If a student is homeschooled independently by their parents, then the parents have the option of issuing the diploma as long as the transcript does indicate that the student has met the basic state requirements for graduation. When filling out the FAFSA, make sure that the “homeschooled” option is checked with the application asks for high school completion status.

Remember, even if a student’s homeschool curriculum is administered through an umbrella organization, you should still check “homeschooled” instead of “high school diploma” to make sure that any delays in processing are avoided.

A student’s school report

In a more traditional school setting, the school report is typically completed by the guidance counselor. However, in the case of homeschooling, the student’s school report is completed by the parent or the administrator of the homeschooling program.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that in college applications, there is an area where students get to report facts about their school such as what GPA scale is used and how many honors or AP courses are offered at the school. Parents of homeschooled children should make sure that when they are filling out the school report, a number of spaces on an application will be marked N/A due to the fact that they depend on comparing students to others within the same school.

Here is how parents of students who are homeschooling can access this profile online. Basically, they should go to log on to the Common Application and find the “Education” section and click on “Find School.” After that, a window will pop up that lists the schools in the student’s area.

From there, they should scroll down to the very bottom of the window, and then they will find the “I was/am homeschooled.” From there, the site will then prompt them to enter the counselor’s contact information. They’ll want to enter parent’s contact information instead. The parents will receive an email to set up a counselor account (a My Recommender Account), which is where the school profile and counselor recommendation are filled out.

Here, a parent can provide some additional context about your homeschooling and how they homeschool is structured. The parent should upload the items listed below with a student’s school profile:

  • Their cumulative transcript (including homeschool classes and classes taken outside of the home)
  • A document with course descriptions of their homeschooled classes (what materials were used, reading lists, major assignments, and/or scientific experiments conducted)
  • Grading methodology for each homeschooled subject Rationale for how grades and credits were awarded
  • Their homeschooling philosophy
  • Sample academic papers or descriptions of science projects with teacher’s comments (optional)
  • Free time reading list (optional)

One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to a college application is that for the Common Application specifically is that the counselor recommendation form will only become accessible to counselors once the School Report has been submitted. Once that has been submitted, the Counselor Recommendation will become available for colleges to download if the student has submitted his or her Common Application to that specific institution.

Here is a screenshot of what to look for in on the Common Application’s site:

Councelor recommendation form for homeschooled students

Letters of recommendation

There is no doubt that letters of recommendation are a really important part of any high school student’s application to the college. Overall, universities do tend to prefer letters of recommendation from external teachers as opposed to recommendations from a homeschooled student’s parents.

Letter of recommendation

For that reason, if a homeschooled student has taken classes at a local community college or online, it is certainly a good idea for that student to ask a teacher from one of those institutions to write a recommendation on their behalf.

Beyond that, other letters of recommendations can come from lots of different sources of education authority such as a sports coach, mentor, clergy member, club or group leader, or volunteer coordinator who can share valuable and important insights into how a homeschooled student may contribute to a college or university’s academic, social and cultural aspects of college life.

Policies on recommendation letters vary wildly from one school to the next so if you are worried about this aspect of your college application, it is probably best that a homeschooled student contacts each college directly and asks what that school would like to see when it comes to what kinds of people write a student’s letters of recommendations or whether or not they accept a letter from a parent educator.

Extracurricular activities

Overall, colleges want to see that students have a few activities that they have invested in a lot of their time and energy over the years of high school. Overall, these skills should be able to show a student’s ability to demonstrate long-term commitment and unique passions and interests.

Students gathered in a table

Remember, colleges and universities want to see above all that students have been able to commit to things seriously over a span of many years rather than trying out different things each and every year and not investing in things seriously.

Students who take part in extracurriculars are able to show that they are seriously involved in their community and they are looking for ways to enrich themselves outside of the classroom – or homeschooled classroom if they are homeschooled.

When students are thinking of what kinds of extracurriculars to invest in, they should think about what they are passionate about and what they want to invest their time in. While keeping college admissions in mind when it comes to choosing extracurriculars, the best way to stand out as a student is to pursue passions fully throughout high school. Colleges want to envision how a student might contribute to their community in the future. For that reason, it is helpful for students to paint a picture through their extracurriculars to prove how they have gotten involved in the community.

Whether you are an art student who loves the theatre, a writer who is hoping to one day be a journalist or reporter, a young scientist who is passionate about STEM programs, or anything in between, just make sure that you invest your time and energy the right way to look your very best!

Standardized testing

It’s no secret that colleges and universities place a large amount of weight on a student’s SAT or ACT scores. That is even more true if a student is homeschooled. In fact, many colleges even recommend that homeschooled students take two or three SAT II tests even though it is not required by all schools. If you are curious about what a school wants to see out of homeschooled students in terms of standardized testing, simply contact their admissions office and ask them the question directly.

Personal statement

Whether or not you are homeschooled, you are going to need to absolutely nail the personal essay if you want to absolutely stand out when it comes to your college applications. There are some great ways to make sure that your personal essay stands out above all the rest.

A student writing in a desk with a computer and a notebook

In fact, there are some pretty big benefits to being homeschooled. One of the things that schools are looking for in every personal essay is how a student stands out. Without a doubt, your unique education will help you stand out from the jump.

On top of that, here are some fantastic things to keep in mind regarding your personal essay.

  • Reveal something about yourself. This is something to absolutely keep in mind. When it comes to your personal essay, you should make it your number one priority should be to use your words in order to let the college admissions counselor in. Show them who you are and why you are special and why you will be a fantastic member of the university community.
  • Brainstorm your topics. In order to make the very most out of your personal essays, make sure that you spend the time necessary to come up with the very best ways to craft your personal essay and answer questions that the university may want you to answer. While the Common Application essay questions are super helpful, it is up to students to choose a personal topic that ties in with the Common Application prompt. Make sure not to simply jump at the most obvious topic that you come up with, take the time necessary to craft something that is unique and special. Think of events, themes, experiences, and other things that are unique to you and will prove how you are different from all other applicants.
  • Be mindful of tone and voice. Your essay needs to sound like you wrote it, so don’t just run to the thesaurus every other sentence in order to come up with fancy words that you think will impress the admissions officer. It is not the words that you use that will impress admissions counselors. Instead, focus on using words that you are comfortable using to craft a story about you! On top of that, keep in mind that your personal essay really should demonstrate your great writing skills, so take your time to carefully craft your essay and edit it comprehensibly.
  • Practice makes perfect. It is pretty rare that anyone’s first draft of anything is as perfect as it should be. Just like with anything else, you will get better with practice and your personal statement will get better with every progressing draft. If you are looking to sharpen your writing skills, consider starting a journal, writing on a blog, or using some other writing outlet in order to improve as a writer.
  • Don’t put it off. You do not want to have to cram for any part of your college application, especially if it is for an application of one of the schools that you are most interested in getting into and going to. When it comes to your personal essay, remember that the more time you have, the better it is likely going to be. Try to give yourself weeks, or even months, to craft the best personal statement as possible. In fact, if possible, you may even want to consider getting started on your personal statement before your senior year of high school starts so that you can get some of the most difficult work – such as coming up with a topic and starting the brainstorming process – before your senior year of school even begins.

Conclusion

It is important to keep in mind that colleges and universities appreciate the unique nature of homeschooling education. On top of that, remember that schools evaluate all of their applicants holistically. In this day and age, more and more students are being homeschooled in high school and go on to attend traditional colleges. If you need additional guidance, consider contacting us at AdmissionSight and we will help break down everything you need to know about the college application process no matter your dream school!

Good luck!

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