Homeschooling parents tend to feel confident when it comes to guiding their children through the elementary years and even through the middle-school grades.
But when it comes to high school, the task of providing an education that will prepare their kids for college and maximize their opportunities for college admission cranks up the heat for a homeschool educator.
There’s a lot to know about what colleges are looking for from homeschoolers and how to portray their experiences and accomplishments as homeschool students. I asked Daniel E. Santos, CEO of Prepory, an online college counseling program, about his advice for high school homeschoolers and their families. Here’s what he said.
The Epoch Times: How do college admissions offices generally view homeschool applicants?
Daniel E. Santos: Typically, admissions officers view homeschool applicants as they would any other applicant—holistically. Most colleges and universities use the holistic review process to understand the candidate as an individual rather than a collection of numbers. Admissions officers rely on essays, extracurricular involvement, letters of recommendation, socioeconomic factors, and other information in order to make a holistic decision on each applicant’s application.
The challenge in reviewing a homeschool applicant’s application lies in how this student is compared to others. Because homeschool students often don’t have the same curricular opportunities as traditional students, it can be difficult to understand how a homeschool student challenged themselves academically.
The Epoch Times: What advantages do homeschoolers have in the college admission process?
Mr. Santos: As many colleges and universities typically advertise, students are evaluated in the context of their school; as a result, homeschool students are evaluated in the context of a student who did not have an unlimited number of courses to select from nor a plethora of state-funded resources to support them through their education. This means homeschoolers are not expected to take as many or any “difficult” or “advanced” courses (for example, AP, IB, honors, AICE, and/or dual enrollment) in order to demonstrate they’re challenging themselves.
Moreover, homeschoolers who choose to take these types of courses online or demonstrate impressive academic promise despite lack of access to traditional learning spaces are seen favorably by admissions officers.
The Epoch Times: What disadvantages do homeschoolers have in getting into college?
Mr. Santos: The main disadvantages homeschoolers have in getting into college is the lack of substantial curricular offerings and college guidance resources. Due to limited curricular offerings and the lack of standardization of homeschooling curriculum, It is often difficult for admissions committees to compare homeschoolers to traditional students. As a result, admissions committees rely on standardized test scores in order to better understand the homeschool applicant’s academic ability.
Also, the college application process is complex and begins in ninth grade. Oftentimes homeschooled students do not begin college planning early enough and lack access to school counselors to assist them when selecting courses or making decisions about their college application process.
The Epoch Times: What do you recommend parents of high school freshmen homeschoolers do to set up their high schooler for college admissions success?
Mr. Santos: Parents of high school freshmen should begin conversations regarding college very early. They should encourage students to explore colleges and get them excited about the prospect of attending college.
Parents should explore additional curricular offerings including online AP courses and dual-enrollment at their local college. This will help the student demonstrate that they’re challenging themselves despite limited curricular opportunities.
Finally, parents should consider speaking with a college admissions consultant to discuss their child’s academic and collegiate goals. The admissions consultant may help the student select courses, enroll in advanced learning opportunities, develop an extracurricular plan, and begin developing the student’s college admissions profile.
The Epoch Times: How, if at all, does the college application process differ for homeschoolers?
Mr. Santos: The biggest difference homeschoolers may experience in their admissions process is in the administrative part of their process. While this will vary from homeschooler to homeschooler, homeschool students’ transcripts will likely look different than that of traditional students. Homeschoolers may also struggle to obtain letters of recommendation from objective non-related teachers. Finally, some colleges and universities may require homeschooled students to complete additional standardized testing (SAT subject tests) to better understand the student’s academic ability.
The Epoch Times: What’s your best advice for homeschoolers who have their sights set on college?
Mr. Santos: Start college planning early. Challenge yourself academically and find ways to engage in extracurricular activities across all four years of high school. Consider hiring a private admissions counselor to guide you through the college application process.