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Applying to College as a Homeschooled Student

If you've been homeschooled throughout high school and have decided to apply to a four-year college or university, you likely will have several questions about the application and admissions process. For example, how does the process of applying to college differ for homeschooled students than those who attended a public or private high school? Will your application be taken as seriously? What are your chances of getting in?
Fortunately, many colleges and universities in the U.S. consider homeschooled students alongside other students just as competitively, and in some cases the homeschool experience can help students stand out in the crowd of applicants. There are, however, some special considerations that homeschooled students and their parents or guardians should keep in mind to improve their chances of being accepted by the four-year college or university of their choice.


Start the Preparation Process Early to Apply to College as a Homeschooled Student

If you know that you want to attend college, start gathering records and keeping track of your academic progress and performance early on. It's critical that you and your parents keep accurate records of all courses you take, the length of the courses, the curriculum covered, textbooks used, and any supporting materials used. You must also keep track of all grades, tests, schooling dates and hours, and possibly other information. Homeschooling criteria is regulated by state, so it's important to check with your state education agency for the complete list of required records.


Find out if Colleges Have a Specific Homeschooled Student Application Process

Many colleges and universities welcome applications from homeschooled students, but have a specific application procedure that they will need to follow. Be sure to check with the admissions office of any colleges or universities that you are interested in early on -- as early as your sophomore year of high school -- to make sure you will be able to produce all required records and documents for their homeschooled application process.


Be Prepared to Document Your Homeschool Academic Performance

While being homeschooled should not necessarily put you at a disadvantage compared with other college applicants, the schools you apply to do want to be certain that the education you have received is solid, and comparable to that obtained by other students who will attend their institution. Because homeschooling is regulated by state, this is especially true in cases where homeschooled students are applying to an out-of-state or private college or university. In general, you should be prepared to document course curricula and grades through a homeschool transcript, as well as SAT and ACT scores in line with admissions criteria.


Participate in Extracurricular Activities

Do be sure to participate (and document participation) in activities outside of your homeschool curriculum, including community sports teams, civic and church groups, artistic endeavors, and volunteer organizations. These activities help demonstrate your willingness and desire to branch out into communities of people beyond the tight-knit homeschool community, which college admissions officials will often view as an important indicator of your likelihood of having a successful college experience.


Let Colleges Know How the Homeschool Experience Has Shaped You

Your college application essay is an ideal format in which to explain how being homeschooled has shaped and benefitted you as a person, and your plans to transition from a homeschool setting to the in-classroom environment at a college or university.


Get Letters of Recommendation from Someone Outside of your Homeschool Structure

As you gather application materials, consider who will write your letters of recommendation. Students attending public high schools often rely on teachers for recommendations, but in the case of homeschooled students, your teachers are often parents or guardians. Therefore, in most cases you will need to seek recommendations from mentors outside of your homeschool environment. Even if the college or university you are applying to does permit a recommendation from a parent teacher, it is in your best interest to submit at least one recommendation letter from a mentor or leader in your community who is not related to you.


Visit Colleges and Request an Interview

After you've narrowed down your list of prospective colleges and universities, visit as many colleges as you can and request interviews with an admissions counselor. Meeting with an admissions counselor in person can help you form a personal relationship with them, allowing you to explain first-hand how the homeschool experience has benefitted you.

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