College Admissions for Homeschoolers- Part I: Preparation

High school is an exciting life season. With life after high school on the horizon, students apply for jobs, serve volunteer hours, and practice essay writing, hoping to land their dream job or attend a first choice university.

Parents worry if they have done enough, kept the right paperwork, and poured everything they possibly could into their young adult's minds and hearts.

I have been there. Still am.

Truth be told, even with the experience of four high schoolers (two, soon-to-be three grads), I still have doubts.

For me, one of the best means of alleviating concern as been to  gather knowledge--to be prepared!

This blog series is meant to help you glean answers to common questions you are likely asking.

Will my homeschool grad be able to apply for admission at his or her schools of choice?

Over the past thirty years, homeschooling has grown from a pioneering movement to a popular, viable educational option. It's been proven that homeschooling through high school graduation often provides graduates with essential soft skills colleges and employers seek--problem solving, initiative, self-discipline, work ethic, and time management. Colleges, universities, and employers often find these qualities in homeschool graduates. 

Some colleges pursue home grads. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers an admissions page specifically for homeschoolers. This quote from that page is especially reassuring.

One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, taking full advantage of opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants really shine in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themselves and others, and more.
— MIT website

MIT is not the only university seeking the accomplishments of home-educated young adults.

Bellhaven University in Jackson, MS states on their website

Belhaven welcomes home educated students! Approximately 22% of our current freshmen class was home educated. We encourage home schooled students to consider Belhaven if they are looking for a Christian college that is committed to preparing them academically and spiritually.
— Bellhaven website

Covenant College also admits a significant number of homeschooled grads. In fact, Mike and I personally consulted and evaluated two students who have recently completed their first year at Covenant. 

Covenant College enjoys a large number of home-schooled students in our student body. In fact, our population of students who come to Covenant from a home-school background has risen from 4% in 1995 to 23% today!
— Covenant College website

Colleges are making efforts to become well-versed at evaluating the extraordinary achievements of home educated students working to understand and accommodate the methods home educators use. To that end, universities have begun to hire home education specialists in their admissions departments. Bryan College is one of those colleges

In addition, more and more universities are leveling the field, asking for the same admission and testing requirements from all applicants, public, private, and home graduates. University of South Florida is one of those schools. 

Many of USF’s best students have completed home education programs. As a home schooled student, you must meet the same admission criteria as your peers graduating from traditional high schools, including:
—A comprehensive transcript for the equivalent of grades 9 through 12, including work completed through home school, Florida Virtual School or dual enrollment. You may use our Home School Transcript template to generate an acceptable transcript.
—An official SAT or ACT score with the writing component included
—A portfolio or additional documentation may be requested if deemed necessary to complete an appropriate evaluation for admission
—Additional factors are also considered for home schooled students.
— University of South Florida website

Colleges are also offering practical helps and tips for homeschool graduates on their websites, all in an effort to insure homeschooled applicants indeed feel welcomed. Parents are encouraged to do their research, communicate with admissions departments, and become familiar with requirements. 

College admissions for homeschoolers doesn't have to be scary!

Be Prepared

Many years ago when my first learner was mid-middle school, I began to realize I was--in the not so distance future--going to be wearing another hat--guidance counselor. YIKES! Knowing I wasn't alone on my journey was refreshing, helpful, encouraging. Like many homeschooling parents who had become their high schooler's guidance counselor, I was stepping into the ranks, into good company. 

I was relieved to know what I was embarking on was possible. 

In between diaper changes (I still had littles!) and essay edits, I attended workshops and seminars, talked with admissions counselors and advisers. And, I took time to breathe! Eventually, the high school lingo--credits, transcripts, academic electives, and GPA--became familiar, and I began to feel more comfortable in my budding new role as admission's advocate for my son. That was fifteen years ago! 

I must admit, I felt overwhelmed at times. Being a guidance counselor was a lot of work! And, somehow, like many other moms, I carried the weight of admissions on my shoulders, even when I tried not to and in spite of the moms who told me it wasn't my job to do so.

Toward the later years of his high school journey, I realized being familiar with admission requirements and deadlines for his top five or ten colleges would be just as important as preparing him for standardized tests, accumulating community service hours, and practicing essay writing. Doing a little bit each day, eventually, preparation in these areas--admissions included--helped us create a strong student profile. He applied to five or six universities, several highly selective, and was accepted to all.  

It was all coming together. Good thing! I had another high schooler right one behind.

As I mentioned, one of the most helpful things for us (he and I) to do was to find out what the admissions requirements were for his top college choices. In those days--before bookmarks and Pinterest--we wrote notes and printed pages. Today, I keep a running log of college and university homeschool admission requirements on my blog. It has been a huge help to me and to others Mike and I work with. In fact, it is one of my most popular blog posts--College Admission Requirements for Home-Educated Students. This post may be one of your first stops on the research journey. I hope you find it helpful! 

As read through the webpages, you will begin to find commonalities in admission requirements. I will discuss some of those requirements in my next post, College Admissions for Homeschoolers- Part II: Admission Must Haves.


This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.