College-bound homeschoolers are no longer a novelty to admissions officers. Indeed, many colleges and universities now actively recruit homeschooling graduates. Yet your admissions process and transition into college studies may require extra planning.
Start by checking the school catalog for requirements, including policies specific to homeschoolers. Find out if a transcript is required or if alternatives, such as portfolios, descriptions of work with reading lists, or simply SAT/ACT scores are acceptable. Ask if there is an admissions officer who handles nontraditional students, and pay close attention to deadlines for applications and financial aid.
As your prepare for college, gather the following documentation:
Test scores: Your SAT or ACT scores may carry extra weight because your records are not easily compared with other students’ files. Therefore, consider investing in pre-test preparation aids to help you achieve the best possible scores.
Transcripts: Maybe you are enrolled in an umbrella homeschooling organization that issues official transcripts. Otherwise, your parent(s) should assemble a high school transcript, which is a simple overview of classes taken, grades, credits, and cumulative grade point average.
Don’t overlook your activities and experiences that easily satisfy requirements for elective classes, such as photography, chorus, home economics, music theory, or public speaking. Numerous books and websites provide sample transcripts, suggestions, and blank forms (check out DonnaYoung.org or Oklahoma Homeschool for these forms).
You’ve heard that old concern about homeschooled students: “What about socialization?“ Help demonstrate that you are socially adept by listing awards, leadership positions, jobs, volunteer work, and club memberships at the end of your transcript.
Portfolios: You may be asked to assemble a portfolio to document your studies and academic performance. Schools may require your transcript, titles of textbooks completed, samples of work, photographs and/or descriptions of projects, and a reading list. Also include personal recommendations, travel experiences, awards, volunteer work, and a description of hobbies. Admissions officers routinely meet BWRK’s (bright, well-rounded kids) and are often drawn to those with a much more focused interest or talent. Use this to your advantage!
Letters of recommendation: Ask adults connected with community service, clubs, or classes taken to write letters of recommendation.
College essays: Your essay is an ideal opportunity to show schools not only your writing skills, but also how your home education experience uniquely prepares you for college.
Transition from Home to Classroom
As a homeschooler, you may not be accustomed to deadlines, note taking, classroom discussion, or adjusting to different instructors. Consider gaining experience through a community college or other classroom setting. Develop a system for note taking, and practice while listening to speakers.
College officials everywhere are discovering that homeschoolers, as a group, are serious students and high achievers. By planning ahead, you stand a good chance of adding to this growing legacy.