One of the most important myths to dispel about homeschooling is that homeschoolers cannot go to college. They are, in fact, often sought after by some universities. To learn more about how homeschoolers can navigate the college admissions process, I spoke with Gen and Kelly Tanabe, founders of Supercollege . As Harvard graduates, they are the authors of 14 books including Get into Any College, 50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays, and Accepted! 50 Successful College Admission Essays.
WW: How is the college admissions process different for homeschoolers than for traditional students?
SC: One of the biggest differences for homeschoolers is that while traditional students have an official high school transcript, homeschoolers may need to create a portfolio to demonstrate their academic achievements. Your portfolio may contain recommendation letters, transcripts that document high school or college courses you’ve taken and other documentation of experiences you’ve had. You may want to take advanced classes outside of homeschooling such as through a local college and consider taking academic summer programs to further demonstrate your academic preparedness.Many colleges will recommend that you provide extra recommendation letters. Typically letters are required from a counselor and two teachers. An extra letter could be from a mentor or job supervisor. Usually parent letters are welcome as well but you must provide letters from objective sources too. You should take any opportunities that you have to interview with the college. This will give them another chance to evaluate your personal qualities.
WW: What should homeschooling students and their parents understand about the application process?
SC: Look at the colleges’ requirements early. Pay attention to how many courses the college may require in traditional academic subjects such as math, English, social studies, science and foreign language.
Many colleges don’t require a high school transcript but will accept other documentation such as a transcript created by parents. Other requirements typically include letters of recommendation, test scores and essays. Some colleges do either require an official high school transcript or that you obtain high enough scores on the SAT or ACT. (Even if SAT Subject Tests aren’t required by a college, you may want to consider taking these exams to show your academic preparedness.)
WW: How have admissions changed over the years as homeschooling has grown and become more popular?
SC: Colleges are looking for similar qualities among traditional and homeschooled students. They seek students with academic passion which may be more explicit for homeschoolers than for traditional students because, as a homeschooled student, you may have more say in the classes you take and the subject areas you focus on. Colleges want to see academic achievement as demonstrated by the grades and test scores you receive. Colleges also seek involvement in activities, volunteering or work experience. Personal qualities weigh heavily as well, and colleges want to understand what values are important to you.
WW: What are colleges’ attitudes towards homeschooling students?
SC: An increasing number of colleges welcome homeschooling students. Colleges know that homeschooled students enhance a college campus.
WW: When should homeschooling students start applying to college since, in many instances, they are “done” with high school before the age of 18?
SC: This depends on the situation. While you may be academically prepared to start college before you are 18, you want to make sure that you are ready socially as well. If you’d like to start college before age 18, you should contact the college to find out its requirements and speak with a counselor to help evaluate the situation.