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Homeschool to College

by Mary Ann Kelley

TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool to College

Can Homeschoolers Attend College?

Homeschoolers are often asked (or may even themselves ask) if it’s possible for homeschooled students to go to college. Although some homeschoolers are opting out of college altogether, preferring entrepreneurship or apprenticeship instead, many others are following the traditional path to college. For those that go on to a college or university, the process can seem intimidating because most of the resources available are geared toward public school students. Colleges are aware that homeschoolers do not fit the typical student mold and understand that the components of their application may look different. Admissions departments are very helpful, and some colleges (ranging from Princeton to Biola) have even set up special pages for homeschooled applicants.

In terms of applications, most schools put more weight on standardized tests like the SAT & ACT for homeschooled applicants. They may also ask the applicant to submit additional testing (such as SAT II tests) that they do not require of other applicants. If a student does not test well, they may wish to begin their college career by taking classes at a community or junior college to build up a transcript of college level courses (and save money, since tuition at those institutions is much less expensive per credit hour), which will lessen the weight put on test scores.

The University of Virginia asks that homeschoolers help them to see “their academic performance in the clearest possible context” through such things as “taking courses in a local college; joining organizations in their community; providing samples of academic projects (e.g., essays, research papers, articles) they have completed; sending multiple recommendations from non-family-members who know them well; taking more SAT II Subject Tests than we encourage of all candidates.”

College admissions departments will not ask to see the student’s diploma, which is basically a pretty certificate meant for hanging on a wall. Instead, they will want to see an official high school transcript, which can be created at home (or through an umbrella school if they provide that service). Our Homeschool Planner Plus has a spreadsheet to create transcripts that will automatically calculate grade point averages based on the grades entered. The credits that a college wants to see listed on a high school transcript may vary from school to school, but usually they will include the following at a minimum:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3-4 years of Mathematics
  • 2-4 years of Foreign Language
  • 2-4 years of Lab Science
  • 2 years of Social Science/History

In addition to making sure that the basic credits are covered, these are some things to consider if your child plans to attend a 4 year college:

  • Dual enrollment at a community college. Attending community college for basic courses saves on tuition by paying for credits where they cost less, and taking the classes as a dual enrolled (or joint enrolled as some schools call it) homeschooler allows the classes to count for both high school and college. Use our community college course planner to keep track of credits earned, and be sure to match them up to the credits needed for the chosen major at the desired 4 year school for the most savings. Dual enrollment courses should be listed on the high school transcript as DE and can be weighted. Check with your local community college for their requirements regarding dual enrollment.
  • Credit by testing. CLEP and DSST are 2 ways to receive college credit by testing. DSST tests are frequently used by military members. DSST courses are listed on their website, and both test centers and a list of institutions accepting credit for DSST tests can be located with their search tool. CLEP tests are administered by the College Board; check their website for details about institutions accepting credit for CLEP tests as well as dates and locations for testing. Another credit by exam option is UExcel through Excelsior College; check their site for details.
  • AP testing. Although it is becoming less common for colleges to award college credit for AP tests, a good score on an AP test shows a college that a student is likely to succeed in a college setting. You do not have to have taken an approved AP course to sit for an AP exam, but the courses cover all of the material that will be on the exam. Exams are administered by the College Board for several subjects and are scored on a 1-5 scale, with credit being awarded at a college’s discretion (usually credit is only awarded for a score of 4 or 5, and sometimes not even then).
  • AP classes. A class can only be called an AP class if it has been approved by the College Board, so you should only use that designation on your transcript if the student took an AP course approved by the College Board. The terms Honors or Advanced can be used as appropriate for advanced material and coursework and be weighted heavier.
  • SAT II Subject Tests. These tests allow a student to display their knowledge of subjects not tested by the SAT or ACT. No credit is awarded, but for some schools students have much less chance of getting accepted without taking one or more SAT II tests.

Things to be aware of when preparing college applications:

  • SAT/ACT testing availability is limited to certain dates and locations. Sign up early and make sure the date you choose is well before the application deadline for the college. All portions of an application (including test scores and official transcripts) are expected to be received by the deadline date, so if you choose a testing date within a week or two of the application deadline, the scores will not be received by the college before the deadline.
  • AP testing is only offered once per year (in May). Homeschoolers can contact the College Board to find a local school that will allow them to sit for the AP exams.
  • Test scores must be submitted to the college directly from the testing company. Colleges will not accept copies of a student’s scores from any other source.
  • Transcripts should be submitted to colleges in a sealed envelope with the signature of the administrator or guidance counselor of the school across the seal. This is true even for homeschoolers where mom is the administrator. If possible, include the student’s name, SSN or college ID number (if one was assigned during the application process), and date of birth on the front of the envelope. All pages of the transcript should include the student’s name, date of birth, and (at a minimum) the last 4 digits of the student’s SSN.

General Information for Homeschool to College

50 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students

This list covers colleges that are more accommodating in 4 different ways: Designed for non-traditional students, choose your own ed-venture, unique schedules, and alternative approaches.

College Confidential

The largest online college community with lots of articles and helps; the most valuable resource is the very active forums, which are the web’s busiest discussion community related to college admissions with parents, students, and admissions representatives participating in the discussions.

Campus Explorer

A fun college matching tool that actually works. Photos, videos and advice to help you get to know what a school is really like, and you can create a personal profile to save and compare your favorite schools.

Homeschool2College Group

If you have a child that will be making the transition from homeschool to college in the near future, this very active Yahoo Group may help with some of your questions.

Homeschool-friendly Colleges

Listings of colleges and universities that are homeschool-friendly; schools are listed by state. Not as complete as the listing at Learn in Freedom.

Selective Colleges That Have Accepted Homeschoolers

“More than 1,000 schools of higher education appear on this FAQ and its subpages, and links to over 980 college Web sites appear on these pages.”

Give Me Scholarships

Learn how to improve your chances at getting scholarships by taking advice from someone who has spent a lot of time awarding them at Give Me Scholarships.

Princeton: Tips for Home Schooled Students

“We recognize that your experience as a home schooled student will be somewhat different from students in traditional schools. We’ll look at your academic record and non-academic interests and commitments within the context of your particular home school curriculum and experience. We understand that for many home schooled students there is not as clear a distinction between academic and non-academic activities as there might be for students in a traditional high school…”

Helpful Books

Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook: Preparing Your 12- to 18-Year-Old for a Smooth Transition

Book by by Cafi Cohen, Linda Dobson (Editor)

And What About College? : How Homeschooling Can Lead to Admissions to the Best Colleges & Universities

Book by Cafi Cohen, Patrick Farenga (Editor)

Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents

SAT/ACT Prep

Parliament’s Custom Diagnostic SAT Quiz

Print and take the diagnostic test, then either enter your answers to be scored or download the scoring sheet to score yourself. Sample student essays with scoring are available for viewing to help you evaluate your own writing.

VarsityTutors

The site offers a comprehensive suite of completely free practice tests, digital flashcards, and questions-of-the-day for standardized tests and academic subjects of all levels. The platform also includes free web-based classroom assessment software.

Kaplan College Resources

Although not geared toward homeschoolers, there is a large collection of helpful resources on Kaplan’s Getting Into College page.

Transcripts and Record-Keeping

A Homeschool Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts

If you didn’t have a chance to attend our free webinar ,"A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts", the full webinar recording is now online. Lee Binz of TheHomeScholar covers a variety of topics and spends over 45 minutes answering participants’ questions at the end of the webinar, so be sure to listen to the Q&A session as well as the presentation itself. Read More »

Ask Jeanne: Do Homeschoolers Get a Diploma?

Dear Jeanne, Do homeschoolers get a diploma? Half of my family is pro-homeschooling and half is anti-homeschooling. How do I convince my family that homeschooling would be a better and more positive solution than public school?S.H. in Colorado You have a couple of overt questions and a couple of implied ones. Let’s see what we can tease apart here, because these are common concerns for prospective homeschoolers. Homeschool Diplomas What you are talking about when you mention the diploma, I think, is whether homeschooling will open or close doors for your children. It sounds like your family – and maybe you – have concerns ... Read More »

College Admission Requirements: Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling is not public schooling, and homeschooling parents have wide latitude in what their children should study, how they should learn, and what qualifies a teen for graduation or a diploma. Homeschooling is governed by state laws, which vary from state-to-state, and you should check with a homeschooling organization in your state to see if there are course or “subject” requirements, and how homeschoolers show they have met those requirements in that state. If there are no course requirements, as with homeschoolers in most states, what should your child study and learn during high school, if college is on the ... Read More »

EdSpeak or Educationese for Progress Reports

Learning activities that we once knew by simple names have been given new industry-generated names in recent years that are supposed to be more descriptive of subtle differences. Called “edspeak” or “educationese”, these words or phrases are often used by professional educators. If you are required to file some form of proof of progress to your school district, you may find some of these terms helpful in describing your child’s activities. Additionally, if you are working with a school system because your child has an IEP, the ability to understand the language commonly used by professional educators is helpful. Read More »

Help! My Home Is Overflowing With School!

Whether you’re just starting out or have been on the homeschooling journey for years, organizing your homeschooling routine can seem like an immense undertaking. The key to any successful organizational system is to keep it simple and make it part of your normal daily routine. The first year that I homeschooled my son Matt, I worked hard to make sure that homeschooling didn’t throw our entire household into chaos. By the time his little brother Mason was ready for school, I had gotten a whole lot better at it. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about homeschool organization. Hopefully ... Read More »

High School Graduation Checklist

Parents can provide a college preparation during high school for every student, which can benefit every child. If they ultimately don’t go to college, then your homeschool education will be the only education they get. Make it great! They’ll be well prepared for life and their civic responsibilities. Plus, if they ever change their mind and decide to go to college, they will have a much easier time getting in. On the other hand, some parents know early on that their children are college bound. ... Read More »

Homeschool Accreditation

We have all been conditioned to think that when something is labeled “certified” or “accredited,” it is somehow superior to those things that are not.  While this might be true for “Certified Angus Beef,” it is not necessarily true for education. Homeschoolers seem to have certain fears in common, and one major fears is how to homeschool through high school.  When I started homeschooling high school, I was filled with insecurity and self-doubt.  Could I educate my children independently or would I need to become “accredited” to avoid crippling their chances to go to college?  Even if they did manage to ... Read More »

Homeschool Record-Keeping and Organizing

1 – BE PREPARED AND ORGANIZED – in how your home operates and in presentation of lesson work on a daily basis. You’re on top of it, not it on top of you! Helps you prepare for the academics you want to teach; have materials on hand for creative projects that you OR the kids initiate. 2 – DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE “Something to Show” …that “education” is taking place. Who would want or have good reason to know this? College? Grandparents? School officials? Legal/Court? Applying for a scholarship? … I testified in a court case that made me feel very thankful I ... Read More »

Kids Blogging Unit Studies

What do you get when your child combines a unit study and notebooking with a blog? You get the homeschool version of a Virtual Learning Environment (a fancy way of saying learning that is enhanced by the Internet). Homeschooling parents can use what they already know about unit studies and notebooking to have their children create their own unit study blogs on specific topics — their own VLE’s. Read More »

Successfully Navigating the College Admissions Process

Despite all of the benefits of homeschooling, many students (and parents!) can feel apprehension when it comes time to apply for college. The college admissions process is not easy for anyone, but homeschooled students can put their best foot forward and know what to expect by following these tips. Read More »

Transcripts and Delight-Directed Learning

Some people just aren’t textbook people! What do you do if your homeschooler learns by living, instead of studying textbooks? What if your child soaks up knowledge like a sponge, without being directed in any way? Can you still create a serious-looking high school transcript? Read More »

Suggested Reading About Going From Homeschooling To College

College Admission Requirements: Homeschooling High School

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: College Admission Requirements for Homeschoolers Homeschooling is not public schooling, and homeschooling parents have wide latitude in what their children should study, how they should learn, and what qualifies a teen for graduation or a diploma. Homeschooling is governed by state laws, which vary from state-to-state, and you should check with a homeschooling organization in your state to see if there are course or “subject” requirements, and how homeschoolers show they have met those requirements in that state. If there are no course requirements, as with homeschoolers in most states, what should your child study and learn during high school, if college is on the ... Read More »

Talking To Your Teen About College Debt

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Talking to Your Teen About College Debt I’m a fan of natural consequences, but sometimes the lessons are too big – with consequences that last a lifetime – for the maturity level of the child. One such example is when a child wants to take on significant debt in the form of college loans. Most 17 year old high school students do not have the life experience to be able to understand the impact that taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt will have on their lives. While I encourage young adults to have freedom in making their own decisions, wise and carefully presented parental ... Read More »

Successfully Navigating the College Admissions Process

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Homeschooling and the College Admissions Process Despite all of the benefits of homeschooling, many students (and parents!) can feel apprehension when it comes time to apply for college. The college admissions process is not easy for anyone, but homeschooled students can put their best foot forward and know what to expect by following these tips. Read More »

College Prep Homeschooling: Worldview and Confirmation Bias

College Prep: Worldview and Confirmation Bias A big emphasis of homeschooling at our house is thinking critically about the resources we use for information. I have always wanted my kids to understand that books, websites, presentations, magazines, television, and newspapers have a point of view, and that in order to be well-educated, we need to challenge ourselves with information that comes from a variety of editorial viewpoints. As part of my commitment to inquiry-based learning, I have frequently played “devil’s advocate” with my kids, especially by the later elementary years, and certainly throughout the middle school years, high school years, and beyond. Sketching out the corresponding ... Read More »

The Open Textbook Challenge

As college tuition and costs continue to rise, many students are finding it difficult to foot the bill. Fortunately, some are investigating ways to save students money by creating low cost and cost-free alternatives to traditional college textbooks. Read More »

A Homeschool Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts

Homeschool Guide to High School Grades, Credits & Transcripts If you didn’t have a chance to attend our free webinar ,"A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts", the full webinar recording is now online. Lee Binz of TheHomeScholar covers a variety of topics and spends over 45 minutes answering participants’ questions at the end of the webinar, so be sure to listen to the Q&A session as well as the presentation itself. Read More »

What About College?

Being the parent of 3 teens (and a 10 year old), I’ve been looking at the options I can give my kids for college. A priority for me was to be able to pay for college without having any of us take on debt. I really wasn’t sure if I was being reasonable. Then I stumbled upon the book Debt Free U by Zac Bissonnette. He put me on the road to charting a path through college that will meet my kids needs AND my financial goals. Read More »

Transcripts and Delight-Directed Learning

Transcripts and Delight-Directed Learning Some people just aren’t textbook people! What do you do if your homeschooler learns by living, instead of studying textbooks? What if your child soaks up knowledge like a sponge, without being directed in any way? Can you still create a serious-looking high school transcript? Read More »

What’s Next? 8 Options After High School, Part 2

Last month, we explored four of the traditional college options for what comes after homeschooling high school.  This month, we will continue our discussion by looking at four less-traditional options – options that are growing in popularity and should be explored with your teen.  I say four options, but really one of them is a path I would not recommend.  Read on to discover some of the roads less traveled for homeschool high school graduates.  You may discover a path that fits your family perfectly. Read More »

What’s Next? 8 Options After High School

Graduation is not an end, it’s a beginning. A starting point. A fork in the road. Which way will your children go? There are many options available! While in the midst of homeschooling high school, it’s a good idea to take a step back once in a while. Consider what is more important than the four years of high school. Consider what’s next. There are decisions to be made, and many options available. Discuss ... Read More »

High School Graduation Checklist

High School Graduation Checklist for Homeschoolers Parents can provide a college preparation during high school for every student, which can benefit every child. If they ultimately don’t go to college, then your homeschool education will be the only education they get. Make it great! They’ll be well prepared for life and their civic responsibilities. Plus, if they ever change their mind and decide to go to college, they will have a much easier time getting in. On the other hand, some parents know early on that their children are college bound. ... Read More »

When Your Homeschooler Hits College Age

When you first decide to homeschool your child, it can be overwhelming. All sorts of questions abound: what should we study; how; am I qualified? After you’ve gotten yourself into a routine, though, many of those uncertainties seem to fade away as you and your child discover the world together. However, after you’ve been at it for a few years, you’re bound to notice that your child is reaching the age where people start asking about college. Read More »

The Big Transition: Homeschool to College

This is the time of year when homeschooling parents traditionally begin contemplating next year. (Sometimes with that daunting 2nd semester ahead, it is more appealing to consider next year than to finish this year.) Parents of 8th graders may be terrified as they consider what they are going to do next year for high school.  They might wonder whether they measure up academically; if they’re capable of leading their children through high school and preparing them for college. Even as their high schoolers pursue college dreams, parents often speculate whether their kids will ... Read More »

Will Secular College Undo What You Have Done?

“Our daughter has just finished tenth grade. The Home-Designed Form+U+la has been working quite well for us. Our daughter is thinking about college. Her passion is horses and at this point she wants to prepare for a career with horses. On her own initiative, she wrote to twelve colleges asking about their Animal Science courses. Seven of them have answered her. My concern is that neither of the only two ... Read More »

Preparing for College

If you child will be going to college, there is a tremendous financial benefit for high SAT test scores.  Students with very high scores receive the most scholarship offers.  You can easily achieve this by using a high quality SAT workbook as an additional textbook in your homeschool.  Begin in eighth or ninth grade and your student will know the material very well by the end of twelfth.  She won’t be worried about taking the test because it will be so familiar.  And she will encounter exactly the same types of questions she studied for five years.  She will get ... Read More »

Helping Colleges Choose You

I realize that many of you reading this letter may not have high school age children or maybe even college bound students. My hope is that the information that is included in these college information articles will be helpful to all our students. The ideas included could apply to most jobs as well. After all, a college is a student’s job for a few years! On this note, I thought I would talk a little bit about things we can do to help our students be successful in their application ... Read More »

7 Key Questions to Ask a College Admissions Officer – And what NOT to ask!

You’ve heard, endlessly, about the high level of competition for plum spots at state universities and big name colleges alike. Increasingly, being selected for admission is about standing out. How can you “shine” at those upcoming college fairs, college nights, and college interviews? Read More »

Miscellaneous Helps

In a Class by Themselves

Article in Stanford’s alumni magazine about several homeschool students at the university as well as some details about Stanford’s homeschool admissions policy.

Is a college degree worthless?

Although the conclusion of this article (testing instead of diplomas) is questionable at best, the points raised about the value of a college degree are valid and deserve to be examined further. Perhaps 4 years spent exploring and developing entrepreneurship would better serve our young adults.

Homeschoolers and College

Random thoughts on homeschooling high school while preparing for college admissions

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