5 Tips for Homeschooled Students Applying to CollegePosted In Homeschool Assistance | Posted By Kristy Robins
Applying to college can be a tricky process, especially for homeschooled students. While the process for all students is basically the same, homeschooled students may experience more challenges when it comes to providing all the documentation required of college applicants. Check out the tips below for a smoother college application process.
Tip 1: Keep Detailed Notes about Coursework for Students Who Plan on Applying to College
Colleges will want to see which subjects homeschooled students have studied. Homeschool parents should keep track of all the courses or subjects studied throughout high school so that they can create a detailed transcript for college applications. Applicants also will want to include documentation for any courses pursued outside a homeschool setting such as online classes, dual-enrollment college courses, or vocational classes. If the student attended any summer institutes or programs, those details should be presented as well. Providing a complete record of the student’s academic studies, especially those that highlight rigor, will help the college admissions officers to accurately assess the student’s academic background.
Tip 2: Take Standardized Tests
While traditional standardized tests, like the ACT and SAT, have become optional for many universities, it is still a good idea for homeschooled students to take them. Standardized test scores allow colleges to compare a student’s academic skills and college readiness to that of their peers. For best results, students may want to take a prep course and take the test more than once. It is also a good idea for students to do a little research about both tests in order to take the one that best matches their academic strengths. A good score on the ACT or SAT can go a long way toward convincing admissions officers of a homeschooled student’s solid academic skills.
Tip 3: Document Participation in Extracurricular and Service Activities
College admissions officers are interested in more than a student’s academic abilities. They want to build a community of well-rounded students who will add value to their university. For this reason, applicants should take care to document participation in extracurricular and service activities. By including information about their non-academic interests and activities, prospective students can provide a clearer picture about who they are as individuals, including their potential for leadership, and their capacity for hard work and dedication.
Candidates for admission should catalog their engagement in sports and fine arts, as well as any volunteering or entrepreneurial activities, as they fill out their applications. Colleges aren’t necessarily looking for a long list of activities but, instead, want to see the kinds of contributions students have made, as well as the important life lessons they’ve taken from their experiences in extracurricular activities.
Tip 4: Find a Recommender
Furnishing letters of recommendation can be a bit of a challenge for homeschooled students. Most universities frown on letters of recommendation penned by the student’s own parents. If possible, students should seek a recommendation from a teacher or tutor who has worked with them directly. It could be an instructor from a dual-enrollment college class or a summer program, or even a tutor or private lesson teacher. If that isn’t possible, a student can also turn to coaches, volunteer coordinators, youth group leaders, and even employers.
The purpose of these recommendations is to provide an evaluation of the student’s work ethic, character, and other important traits that may not be apparent in their transcript and resume. The student should request a recommendation letter from an adult who knows them well and can attest to the positive qualities they have to contribute to their community. Requests for recommendation letters should be made well in advance of the submission deadlines, so that the recommender has at least two – four weeks’ notice. Students should always follow up with a thank you note to express their appreciation to their recommenders.
Tip 5: Write a Thoughtful College Application Essay
The college application essay is an incredibly important component of college admissions, especially for homeschooled students. Through the essay, college admissions officers have the opportunity to hear the student’s voice through his or her writing. What are college admissions officers looking for in these essays?
First, they want to ensure that the student’s writing skills demonstrate their readiness for college. That means students should approach the essay thoughtfully, working through several revisions to create a polished, error-free final product. Students should put their best foot forward by incorporating vivid language and descriptive details to make the essay “pop.” It often helps to get an outside perspective, so if at all possible, students should work with a parent or other trusted advisor to help them revise for content and style.
Secondly, admissions officers want to understand the applicant on a personal level, especially in regard to character, personal ambitions, and interests. While it might be tempting to portray oneself as “perfect” in the essay, college applicants should avoid simply writing a summary of their high school achievements. That information should already be included in the application, so writing an essay of this type does little to further a student’s chances of getting into their college of choice.
In reality, admissions officers place more value on understanding how the student responds to challenges and adversity. They want to fill their freshman rosters with students who will dig deep to overcome obstacles and who will learn from their mistakes. By getting “real” in the essay, potential applicants can reveal their potential for growth and make a strong case proving their suitability for participation in higher education.
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