Homeschool graduates can and do go to college—all the time. Homeschooled teens who are prepared for college-level work and who can submit strong applications are often admitted to multiple colleges, just like their public school friends and peers.
That said, homeschooling parents and their teens benefit from learning more about the college admissions process and the best practices they should follow as they prepare for higher education and submit their applications. There is no official guidance counselor in every homeschool family, so parents take on that responsibility and need to stay on top of what is expected of prospective college students.
While some homeschoolers prefer alternatives to college such as a trade, the arts, military service, entrepreneurship, or apprenticeship, many others follow what some would consider a traditional post-high school path to college.
- Can homeschoolers go to college?
- Do homeschoolers get into good colleges?
- Which colleges have accepted homeschool graduates?
- Do colleges accept homeschool diplomas?
- How do homeschoolers get into college?
- What are common routes for homeschoolers' college admission?
- What does college prep learning look like for homeschoolers?
- Are homeschool graduates eligible to play NCAA sports in college?
- Do homeschoolers need the GED to get into college?
- Helpful college-related resources
- More homeschooling to college information
Can homeschoolers go to college?
Yes! Because homeschoolers make up a small percentage of the population, many people are not aware that homeschool grads are regularly admitted to colleges and universities all over the United States and beyond.
Not only are homeschoolers admitted to college regularly, they've been successful in graduating from colleges and universities for years. They also go on to med school, law school, nursing school and other professional schools and grad schools.
You may be working with or living next door to a college grad who was previously a homeschool grad, and you just never realized it!
Many homeschooled high school students use homeschool dual enrollment at community colleges as outside evidence that they will be successful at a four-year college or university, or they attend community college after they complete their homeschooling and then transfer.
Do homeschoolers get into good colleges?
Yes! Homeschoolers get into all kinds of colleges, from flagship state universities to elite private colleges to Ivy League universities. Homeschoolers have gained admission to Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Princeton and other top universities. Many homeschool grads also get great educations at quirkier, less expensive, less selective, and more unique institutions, too.
MIT says, "MIT has a long history of admitting homeschooled students, and these students are successful and vibrant members of our community.
Virginia Tech says, "Virginia Tech attracts highly competitive students nationwide and from over 100 countries. An increasing number of these students have unique educational backgrounds that require additional evaluation. The university administration recognizes that students from educational backgrounds other than accredited schools may not study in the traditional classroom environment and that they are unable to provide the traditional documentation needed to evaluate their academic performance. Virginia Tech believes that providing this population the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in their college preparatory curriculum through the above-listed documentation will be beneficial to both the student and the university."
Princeton says, "Princeton welcomes applications from home-schooled students. Although they still make up a very small portion of the applicant pool, applications from home-schooled students have been increasing. 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 nonacademic interests and commitments within the context of your particular home-school curriculum and experience."
William & Mary says, "William & Mary is happy to accept and review applications from students who have been home-schooled. We feel that in order to strive for the most diverse student population here at William & Mary, all students should be given the same opportunities for education. A student who has been home-schooled will be subject to the same review as a student applying from a traditional high school. There are no special requirements for home-schooled students."
You'll see many other top colleges and universities which have accepted homeschoolers among those listed by friends of TheHomeSchoolMom contributors.
These universities and most other colleges and universities have specific web pages to guide homeschoolers who are prospective applicants. While they do accept homeschoolers, they also have specific requirements for admission for all students, and they each have suggestions on their websites for ways homeschoolers can provide outside evidence to show they meet homeschool college admissions requirements.
Some institutions may have additional requirements or want extra documentation from homeschool grads—which many homeschoolers are well-prepared to provide.
Like public school students, homeschool students who wish to attend a selective or highly selective university must have competitive applications that go beyond expectations of less selective colleges. Parents and their homeschooled teens work together to develop a plan to meet colleges' academic and other admission requirements, often even before the high school years.
Which colleges have accepted homeschool graduates?
Colleges and universities in every state in the United States admit homeschool graduates. Honestly, we have not heard of any colleges which categorically do not accept homeschool graduates.
That said, contributors at TheHomeSchoolMom got curious about the many colleges our kids and our friends' kids and their friends' kids have been accepted to—so we asked them—and we made our own informal list of colleges that have accepted homeschoolers from our own circles.
In addition to the well-regarded colleges and universities mentioned above, the list of colleges reported to us includes many other prestigious institutions as well as colleges that change lives, great books colleges, liberal arts colleges, work colleges, engineering colleges, unconventional/alternative colleges, arts colleges, public and private colleges and universities, and more.
Many homeschooling parents and students who reported where homeschool grads have been admitted mentioned attendance at community college first. However, this list is largely made up of four-year institutions because we didn’t specifically ask about two-year colleges. Community colleges have definitely provided "a way in" to college for many homeschoolers, either through dual enrollment or enrollment after homeschool graduation and then transferring.
Do colleges accept homeschool diplomas?
The short answer is yes, definitely. The long answer is, a homeschool diploma is not actually what a college wants to see when a student is applying for admission. A college wants to see a high school homeschool transcript —not a diploma.
Parents prepare transcripts, reflecting a student's learning while homeschooling during the high school years. TheHomeSchoolMom has a free homeschool transcript template parents can use, complete with instructions.
But colleges aren't interested in the diploma or the graduation ceremony. They want homeschool grads' applications to show they meet the college's admission requirements.
How do homeschoolers get into college?
- Homeschooling parents and teens research and plan to meet colleges' admission requirements during their high school years.
- Parents provide high school homeschool curriculum—sometimes in unexpected, inexpensive, and especially rewarding ways.
- Teens get busy learning and building skills: by taking classes, by working through a homeschool curriculum, through homeschool dual enrollment and testing for credit, through experiences, through independent study, by conducting research, or by creating original work.
- Teens make sure they'll have outside evidence of their preparation for college. They work with teachers, mentors, and coaches. They volunteer or pursue a passion. They plan for testing.
- Parents discuss paying for college with their teens, using resources for talking to teens about college debt. They can use our subscriber-exclusive College Cost Workbook to make paying for college a financially sound decision. They can also begin exploring scholarship opportunities.
- Parents assign high school credits for their teen's learning, including credits for interest-led or delight-directed learning.
- Homeschooling parents prepare homeschool transcripts to document their teen's learning. Parents should create the transcripts even if the homeschool graduate doesn't plan to attend college, wants to take a gap year or wants to enter the work force after graduation. Plans change, and every teen who was homeschooled during any part of their high school years deserves permanent access to permanent records—that their parents are responsible for creating.
- Teens, with the support of their parents, explore potential colleges they may want to attend.
- The prospective college student submits all the elements of college admissions applications.
- Teens who take a less usual approach to learning or who start college after working a few years can consider alternative colleges or enroll as nontraditional students in a few years. Community college is a great way to get started.
High schoolers who are looking to get into a competitive or specific major may need to gain admission into a "school" within the universities they apply to. For example, a school of engineering may have additional math and science requirements. A school of art or architecture may require a portfolio with specific elements. A school of music or dance may require auditions. Be on the lookout for any extra requirements, so you can prepare to meet them.
What are common routes for homeschoolers' college admission?
Homeschoolers, like their public school peers, take many routes to and through college.
Many homeschool graduates:
- Attend four-year institutions beginning at age 18, meeting college admissions requirements during their homeschool high school years and having the outside evidence needed to have strong college applications.
- Begin taking community college classes after they graduate from homeschool, or they continue taking community college classes if they were already dual enrolled in community college classes during their high school years. They may attend community college part-time or full-time. They may transfer to a four-year college or university after a semester, after attaining an associate's degree, or through a guaranteed transfer agreement that is available in some states.
- Take a gap year and delay applying to college or defer admission for a year.
- Work, attend trade school, start a business, join the military, or choose other alternatives to college after they finish homeschooling. They may decide to attend college after a few years in the workforce or even many years later. Responsible homeschool parents will have provided them with permanently accessible permanent records, so prospective college students will have the documents they need to apply to college no matter how long it has been since they completed homeschooling.
What does college prep learning look like for homeschoolers?
College-bound students need authentic skills and knowledge that will equip them with tools to succeed once they begin studying at the college level. It's not enough to have teens step through cursory courses in expected high school subjects and just "check them off."
Some high school curriculum marketed to homeschoolers may purport to "cover the subjects" or "meet college admission requirements," but students who do not find the content engaging will not develop the knowledge they need for college success.
Some curriculum is low quality. One-dimensional curriculum with multiple choice-type assessments and no contact with a teacher or mentor may not give students practice in writing or guidance in scientific thinking, for example.
Parents may find unique approaches to high school homeschool curriculum stimulate more authentic learning than some seemingly-comprehensive-but-sometimes-lower-quality versions of some online schooling platforms.
On the other hand, some online learning experiences are meaningful and engaging.
Academic preparation should include an opportunity for students to practice and learn:
- deep reading
- scientific thinking
- making interdisciplinary connections
- presentation skills
- keyboarding and computer user skills
- math skills
Additional academic and executive function skills your child will need will include:
- time management
- note taking
- test taking
- stress management
- life skills
A student who doesn't remember to eat well and get the laundry done will struggle even if they are academically well-prepared.
Homeschooled teens who strongly resist a "cover-the-college-requirements" approach to high school may still gain authentic learning and skills through interdisciplinary approaches such as interest-led learning and unschooling-done-well. Parents can document the learning and write descriptions for credits they award on a non-traditional high school learner's transcripts.
Some of these learners may segue into community college classes to cap off their unschooled or interest-led teen years; others have unique transcripts and portfolios of interesting research, art, music or projects that will serve them well as they apply to colleges.
Certain colleges may be real sticklers for exact adherence to their requirements in traditional ways. Other colleges may welcome a teen's alternative approach to learning, as long as it is well documented and shows both range and depth—along with the ever-valuable outside evidence of college preparation. Finding the right college "fit" becomes important.
In either case, homeschool grads will need to be able to write well, think well, read well, math well, and get themselves to class on time during college. An occasional high school class that "merely checks off a box" won't mess up college prep, but a full slate of classes or curricula that encourage a teen to just "go through the motions" to earn credits won't help develop the skills and knowledge needed for college.
Even so, remember there is forgiveness baked into the system. Like their public school peers, homeschool grads often find life satisfaction with alternatives to college, start with community college after homeschooling, or decide to attend college later. Life will continue to provide meaningful learning, and they may become committed to meeting requirements later. A parent can certainly make this "later" commitment easier by doing a good job of making permanent homeschool records permanently accessible.
Are homeschool graduates eligible to play NCAA sports in college?
Homeschoolers can be academically eligible to participate in NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 sports in college if they follow NCAA requirements carefully. This includes planning all high school credits so they will meet NCAA guidelines. Some common homeschool curricula and learning approaches do not meet these guidelines, so homeschoolers cannot make assumptions about what will be accepted.
Parents and students must inform themselves of how to meet the NCAA class requirements and plan their studies accordingly.
The NCAA Home School Students web page provides comprehensive information for homeschooled student athletes and their families. The Homeschool and NCAA Academic Eligibility Facebook Group is a supportive group for parents who share how they are helping their teens meet NCAA requirements.
Do homeschoolers need the GED to get into college?
Homeschool grads usually do not need the GED to gain admission to most colleges and universities.
The GED used to be a common way homeschoolers verified their learning some years ago, and students can still use a GED for that purpose, but today, most homeschoolers typically gain admission to college based on:
- their parent-created high school homeschool transcripts
- meeting homeschool college admission requirements
- outside evidence that verifies they are authentically prepared to do college level work
Even MIT's homeschool admission page says, "Please note that we do not require a high school diploma or GED from our applicants." They go on to explain what they are looking for in homeschool successful homeschool applicants.
The GED is more commonly required by some trade schools and for-profit colleges.
While the GED is not commonly expected by most colleges and universities in the U.S., your teen's specific path or your state's homeschool laws may create an exception. Many colleges and universities will have homeschool admissions policies that reflect the homeschool laws in their state, even though they also accept out-of-state students.
For example, New York's laws are more complicated. While students don't have to show acceptable completion of homeschool high school to be admitted into college, they do have to show that in order to receive their college degree! The New York State Education Department has information about homeschooling high school in New York, and parents should contact state or local homeschool advocates to learn best practices for meeting these state requirements.
As de facto guidance counselors, parents who are homeschooling teens take on the responsibility for learning whether a GED is required based on:
- their state homeschool laws
- admissions requirements for colleges their child may want to attend
- career paths their child is interested in
Sometimes, parents themselves decide to ask their teen to complete the GED as part of their family's requirements for graduation even though colleges and employers don't typically require the GED from homeschool grads. Homeschool grads who successfully pass the GED will still need to have competitive applications for college admission, providing transcripts and other documentation.
All of this also goes for the newer High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) that some states offer in addition to or instead of GED.
Helpful college-related resources
Be sure to check out our Homeschool High School page for resources to help you choose and track high school academics.
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.
This Facebook group has thousands of parents who are homeschooling college-bound students or who have graduated students who have already been admitted to colleges and universities. The group is run by the counselors from Simplify Homeschool, who are veteran homeschoolers offering both free resources and paid counseling services for help with college planning and applications.
More homeschooling to college information
- Colleges That Have Accepted Homeschooled Students
- Homeschool Dual Enrollment & More: Earn College Credit While Homeschooling
- Community College After Homeschooling
- High School Homeschool Curriculum
- The Congressional Award
- Outside Evidence of College Readiness
- College Requirements for Homeschoolers
- Talking To Your Teen About College Debt
- Homeschool Plan: Debt-Free 4 Year College Degree
- High School Graduation Checklist