Homeschooled Students and College Admissions
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.
1. Reach out early.
Give yourself an advantage by taking the initiative to start early. Place some phone calls to the admissions and placement offices to ask them about how they will assess your homeschool education. It's very unlikely that you're the first homeschooled student to be interested in them, and the college or university may already have protocols in place for you to follow. If it turns out that you would be a pioneer at their school, building strong relationships with these individuals can mean a much smoother transition into college.
2. Expect to defend your education without being defensive.
Perhaps you are used to this already, but many people are interested to meet homeschooled students, and college admissions officers are no exception. Expect to be asked many questions and be prepared to answer similar questions repeatedly without showing frustration. More to the point, be prepared to fully demonstrate that you have achieved at least the same level of education as your peers. It may seem unfair that you have to do this, but look at the situation from the admissions officer's point of view: They need to know -- without a doubt -- that you are prepared for the challenges of college, including the social aspects of college. Have examples ready to show that you can succeed in a typical classroom environment.
3. Consider going to school in a big homeschooling state.
Some states, like California and Texas, are more open and familiar with homeschooling. Choosing a college or university in a state that has many students who were homeschooled can be a significant way to reduce stress and frustration. Also, it will allow you to more easily connect with other students who were homeschooled to share your experiences about the rewards and challenges of college.
4. Realize you might need to move on.
If you are encountering significant resistance to your homeschooled education at a particular school, consider broadening your horizons. It's not your job to counteract other people's preconceived notions and prejudices. You know that you have much to contribute to student life at any college or university, so why not go where you are wanted? Especially if the college is insisting that you are going to need to take numerous remedial courses to demonstrate your education, it might be time to let go and find a better program elsewhere.
5. Take pride in being part of a revolution.
While things are getting better all the time, we are still in the early days of homeschooling gaining mainstream acceptance. Remember that homeschooling contributed to you becoming the confident, articulate person and critical thinker that you are. Diversity does not mean simply socioeconomic or ethnic diversity. It also signifies the wide range of educational choices available to us.
Every obstacle that you overcome in the college admissions process makes things that much easier for the homeschooled students who will follow in your path. Take pride in the opportunity to be a shining example of homeschooling and the unique perspective that you will bring to class discussions and membership in campus activities.
Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.