According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, there are over one million students (and growing) who are home schooled. Home schooling is increasing in popularity, but it does present some challenges to the college admissions process. While most parents feel qualified to educate their own children, they often feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to helping their children research, select and apply to colleges.
So what is a responsible parent to do? Before you run out and hire a pricey consultant, consider the following steps in this guide. These are tried and true strategies that have helped thousands of families successfully survive the admissions process and get their children into great colleges.
Admission procedures vary by college. Fortunately, with the growing number of home-schooled applicants, some schools have created supplemental admission requirements and forms. These specific rules for home-schooled students can be extremely helpful since they address many of the common complaints home-schooled students have voiced in the past when they were asked to apply as traditional students. Be sure to check with each college to see if there are alternative forms or modified procedures that your child should follow.
Your child doesn't have the advantage of a guidance counselor to remind him or her of deadlines, which means that you will need to keep track of them. Set up a calendar that everyone in the family can see and note not only application deadlines but also deadlines for testing and financial aid applications. Schedule period meetings with your child to review these deadlines and assess progress. You can even borrow a page from many public schools that are now offering a semester course in college planning. A tracking plan not only insures that students learn how the process works but it's also a great way to keep tabs on their progress during the critical period of their senior year.
If your child doesn't have a transcript, be prepared to provide colleges with a detailed record of academic coursework. This may include tests, research papers and a syllabus of courses and their descriptions. Your child may also want to include samples of some of his or her best work and a description of a day's schedule. Check with the admissions office to see if the extra documentation will help them in their decision regarding admittance.
One of the best things that a home-schooled student can do is to take a community college course either in person or via distance learning (e.g. online). These classes are not only enriching intellectually, but they also help the college to understand where the student stands academically. Acing a community college course as a high school student shows the admissions officers that your son or daughter is capable of college-level coursework.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
The only how-to book which shows all students how to get into the school of their dreams. Based on the experiences of dozens of successful students and authored by two graduates of Harvard, this book shows you how to ace the application, essay, interview, and standardized tests.