What Do Colleges Look For in Homeschoolers?

If you are homeschooling a high school student, you are probably thinking about college. You may be wondering what do colleges look for in homeschoolers, and what you need to do to prepare your homeschooler for the college application process.

Colleges are recruiting homeschoolers at very high rates. Many colleges consider homeschoolers to be academically successful. Why? Homeschoolers tend to score higher on standardized college admissions tests. The homeschool average for the ACT was 22.5 in 2003, compared with the national average of 20.8. SAT scores were similar with a homeschool average of 1092 in 2002, and a national average of 1020. Homeschoolers tend to earn higher GPA’s in college then those who are not homeschooled. Homeschoolers are also typically used to working independently rather than in a group setting. So, how can you prepare your homeschooler for the college admission process?

Have a balanced curriculum. What does this mean? Simply put, make sure all subjects are covered. Look at the colleges your child maybe interested in. Do they require credits in foreign language? Chemistry? Look and see what is needed, and make sure you are covering it.

Keep impeccable records. Include grades, high school credits, AP courses, standardized test scores, etc. Make sure you have proof that your child has completed his high school education. You can do this by having a portfolio, and transcripts. For more information on these areas check out HSLDA’s website.

Does your child participate in extracurricular activities? If so, what kind? Colleges will look at this information because they want to make sure your child is well rounded, and one that will fit into their university. Extracurricular activities do not have to be just sports, but can include 4-H, homeschool groups, church activities, volunteering, music classes, and much more.

So, what do colleges look for in homeschoolers? Colleges want to make sure that the students attending have developed their talents in whatever environment they were in. Whether or not they are homeschooled is of little interest as long as they have good academic records, are well rounded, and ready for higher academic learning.

Misty Bailey loves helping new homeschoolers and has Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

 

 

College Application Process for Homeschoolers

You made it through your hardest homeschooling years, High School! And now, you are on to the next step, applying for college! I am sure you and your graduate are excited and overwhelmed. The college application process can be grueling, but one good thing is that the college application process for homeschoolers is really not that more difficult than a traditional highschooler.

Visit Colleges

During your child’s sophomore and junior year of high school, they should visit prospective universities. Make a list of the top 5-10 colleges your child may want to attend, and schedule campus visits.

Take Exams

The SAT should be taken in December of your student’s junior year. They can begin studying in the fall. They can then retake the test in May if they desire.

The ACT should be taken in December of your student’s junior year as well. Then the retest would be in April if your student desires.

Universities typically have a cutoff date for test scores of December in a student’s senior year, so it is imperative that your child takes the necessary tests before that date.

FAFSA

FAFSA is necessary for all students to complete. This will give you an idea of what types of financial aid your child is eligible for and will help you make a plan to pay for your child’s college.

The deadlines for the FAFSA will vary from state to state, and from college to college. For more information regarding FAFSA deadlines check out their website. The general rule of thumb is early spring, but one can apply as early as January the fall before they plan to begin college.

Apply

September of a student’s senior year they should make a list of where they are interested in attending. Then second visits can be made if necessary. College applications can be sent as early as October of one’s senior year of high school.

This site has a great timeline to help with the application process.

Things to keep in mind

  • References- A homeschooled student will still need references, but won’t have teachers or guidance counselors to write them. Volunteer coordinators, pastors, co-op teachers, 4-h advisors, bosses from their job, could all be references for a homeschool student.
  • Transcripts- A homeschooled student’s transcript will need to be top notch! If you feel inadequate writing your child’s transcript seek help, from a friend, local organization, or online company.

Homeschooling has become more and more popular, so of course universities are growing more accustomed to homeschool applicants. Don’t stress about the college application process, and remember that your child’s homeschool experience does not put them at a disadvantage, but at an advantage! Any university would be lucky to have him.

HSLDA has a great resource list to help parents in the college application process.

Prepared for College

The academics, the testing, the applications…the process of preparing for college throws first-time students (and their parents) into a huge new world. Beyond the paperwork, there are other considerations we do not want to overlook. A successful college experience involves adult responsibilities with finances, relationships and time management. While those are all skills your student has been developing over the years, some advance planning may be just the ‘heads up’ needed to avoid difficulties.

Finances

College potentially brings along significant debt. Understanding the implications of a lackadaisical approach to studies, frivolous use of grant monies or simple carelessness is difficult for some youth to grasp. Compound the issue with the bombardment of credit card companies that market to college-age youth and a serious problem can result. Student loans can seem so distant to students that they wipe them out of their mind. Teaching the basics of budgeting (i.e. car insurance, licensing fees, food, recreation, tithing) are fundamental to grasping how one ‘little’ extra payment requires eliminating something else. Looking at a budget in black and white, handling a checking account and practicing tithing and saving are keys to financial responsibility.

Relationships

Beyond the romantic relationship issue–which would be a topic in and of itself–there are room-mate issues, landlord, professor and employer connections that may be entirely new to your college-age student. Whereas most all previous contacts will have been predicated upon existing relationships of caring and commitment, these are ‘simple’ get along and show respect relationships. Learning to choose battles and to battle with respectful restraint are challenging skills. Standing strong, accepting limitations of oneself and others can create some strong winds. Discuss the topics with your youth and stay attentive to stresses as the college adventure progresses.

Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day. Learning to treasure time, set priorities and establish necessary time boundaries is a lifetime process. Our lives continually change, requiring new schedules and new disciplines. College abounds with opportunities for doing exciting new activities–but responsibilities increase at the same time. Healthy living involves establishing the right personal priorities for rest and relaxation–without self-indulgent excess. Most of us make some mistakes in the process. Your teen will as well. Hopefully your student has had opportunity to establish a schedule, set goals and pace themselves in meeting goals. If not, do not delay. Give your student the freedom to fail, to struggle with a bit of fatigue and help them set their personal boundaries. Encourage effort and achievement.