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Applying to College as Homeschooler Guide

If you’re making the transition from homeschool to college, you probably have a few questions. What is the application process like? How do I get my homeschool transcript? Do colleges even accept homeschooled students? Don’t worry, because we’ve got the answers. Read on to learn everything you need to know about applying to college as a homeschooler.

Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Can you go to college if you are homeschooled? 

Let’s clear this up before we go any further. The answer is yes – homeschoolers can go to college just like traditional students. Homeschooling has exploded in popularity, and colleges have taken notice. Not only do most colleges recognize homeschooling as valid, some schools even seek out homeschooled students through recruitment sessions. Colleges and universities are often intrigued by homeschoolers because of their unique background. But in order to catch the attention of admissions officers, homeschoolers need to translate their experience into an effective application. In the next section, we’ll talk about how you can do that. 

Application checklist for homeschoolers

Applying to college as a homeschooler takes some extra work. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist to help you navigate the process. Here are 7 things that homeschoolers should keep in mind when preparing their applications: 

1. Transcript

Unlike public and private school students, homeschoolers do not receive a transcript from their school. Instead, homeschoolers and their parents are responsible for producing a transcript on their own. Transcripts should provide a record of the student’s academic accomplishments, including but not limited to courses taken, grades earned, and overall GPA. There are services that specialize in professional transcript production, but there are also transcript templates that can be downloaded for free. For example, pdfFiller provides this free high school transcript template. Check out our guide on homeschool transcripts to learn more. 

Don’t miss: What to include on a high school transcript for homeschoolers (includes template!)

2. School report

School reports provide information about your school, such as the grading scale and the rigor of the course curriculum. At traditional schools, this report is provided by the school administration. For homeschoolers, it is completed by the parent or the administrator of your homeschooling program. Fortunately, the Common App compiles school reports for homeschoolers who input the necessary information. 

To create a school report through the Common App, to the Education Section and click on “Find School”. A drop-box will appear that lists all the schools in your area. Scroll to the bottom of this box and check the “I was/am homeschooled” option. You’ll then be prompted to enter your counselor’s contact information. Enter your parent’s contact information instead. Your parent will then receive an email to set up a counselor account, which is where they can provide the necessary school report information. To learn more about this process, check out this guide by Fearless Homeschoolers. 

3. Standardized test scores

Because there’s such a wide variation in homeschool curricula and grading standards, many colleges lean more heavily on standardized test scores when evaluating homeschoolers. Even schools that are test-optional sometimes require SAT or ACT scores from homeschooled students. As a result, homeschooled students should take SAT/ACT prep seriously and strive to earn the highest scores possible. If you’re not confident in your standardized test scores, you can demonstrate your college readiness through other exams such as CLEP and AP. 

See also: Free SAT prep resources 

4. Diploma or GED (not required) 

Homeschoolers who have a valid transcript do not need a diploma or GED equivalency to apply for college. As long as your homeschool education has met state requirements, you’re good to go. That being said, you may receive a diploma anyway depending on your particular situation. If you’re homeschooled through an online academy or organized homeschool program, you will likely be issued a diploma. And if you’re homeschooled independently by your parents, they have the option of issuing you a diploma if your transcript satisfies state requirements. The important thing is that colleges do not expect an official diploma from homeschoolers. Your transcript, school report, and standardized test scores are the most important components of your application. 

5. Letters of recommendation

If you can, try to avoid recommendations from your parents. Your parents would undoubtedly write a stellar recommendation, but colleges prefer letters from non-family members. Instead, look outside the home for potential recommenders. If you’ve taken external classes at a local school or community college, see if one of your teachers will vouch for you. Other potential recommendation sources include coaches, mentors, clergy members, employers, and volunteer coordinators. Whoever you ask, make sure it’s someone who knows you well enough to speak to your strengths as a potential college student. 

See also: How to ask for a letter of recommendation

6. Personal essays 

Personal essays are a great place for homeschoolers to stand out during the admissions process. Most colleges will be curious about why students chose the homeschooling route and how they benefited from the experience. Use your essay as an opportunity to elaborate on your homeschool life. What was unique about your education? Is there anything you learned at home that you wouldn’t have if you had gone to a traditional school? How did the experience shape you as a person? Consider these questions as you’re writing your personal essay. 

See also: How to answer the Common App essay prompts 

7. Extracurricular activities 

Just like public and private school students, homeschoolers can benefit from having at least a few extracurricular activities on their resume. Examples of popular activities include sports, community service, local clubs or organizations, and employment. Getting involved in these types of activities demonstrates that you have something to contribute outside of academics. 

See also: What are extracurricular activities and why do they matter?

Other ways to prepare for college as a homeschooler 

As a homeschooler, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re ready to take on college-level coursework. Focusing on the application components that we’ve talked about is a great start. But to further boost your chances of admission, consider the following options: 

Dual enrollment 

For homeschooled students, taking dual enrollment courses are a great way to demonstrate college readiness. Dual enrollment allows students to take college courses while they’re still in high school. Students typically take classes at a community college or four-year university in their area, receiving instruction from college faculty. Through dual enrollment, homeschoolers can show that they’re ready to handle college-level courses. Not to mention, students can earn college credit and save on tuition costs as well. 

Test for college credit

Students can also demonstrate their academic potential by taking tests such as CLEP exams and AP tests. CLEP exams allow students to earn credit for intro-level college courses using their existing knowledge of the subject. Not only can homeschoolers earn college credit through CLEP, but they can also demonstrate college readiness with passing scores. The same goes for AP tests, which can be taken even if you didn’t enroll in the AP course. Contact the College Board to find a local school that will allow you to sit for the AP exams. 

See also: Ultimate guide to self-studying for AP exams

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