If you are a high school homeschooler, you may be wondering how you should be helping your student prepare for college and college applications. One of the biggest concerns of homeschool families is whether their student will be successfully admitted into colleges. The simple answer is YES as colleges look at your student’s application just as they look at any student’s application. The key is having the details to demonstrate that your student is ready for college, Students do not only need to be prepared academically and socially, but they also need to demonstrate drive, curiosity, independence, concern for others, and willingness to take on challenges. Here are some key points when preparing for college apps:
Plan Your Student’s Homeschool Curriculum
One place to start when planning your student’s curriculum is to look at your school district’s requirements for high school graduation. These requirements are minimum requirements for public school students, and so they just serve as a basic guide. Your student will want to go above and beyond these requirements to indicate college preparedness. Most importantly, include the following five core courses for four years.
- Social Science
- Foreign Language (preferably four years, but at least three years)
Then, be sure to include a variety of electives from a range of disciplines such as arts (e.g., music, dance, theater, drawing, painting), technology (e.g., basic computer skills, computer science, film, photography), physical education, health, and religion.
Consider Outside Instruction and Evidence
It doesn’t matter if the parents are the primary instructor, or your student is instructed by someone else. If you can provide evidence that your student made progress in the subject and covered the material expected in a high school curriculum, then you will be fine. Here are some options for outside instruction and evidence of academic preparedness:
- In-person or online co-op homeschool programs where the instructor is doing the grading. This can be an accredited program or not.
- Dual Enrollment courses at a community college or university
- AP online courses and/or exams (Note: if you want to teach your own AP course, make sure it is approved by the College Board)
- SAT/ACT scores to demonstrate your student’s academic abilities (sometimes these tests are required for homeschoolers)
One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is that your student can more easily pursue passions because they are not in a classroom most of the day five days of the week.
Maybe your student is interested in different cultures, and they may start by using the Internet to research a few different cultures. Then they may travel to different regions to do further research, interview locals, and take photographs. A detailed report bout each culture and a comparative analysis would be a great outcome to demonstrate what they have learned in this educational experience. Similarly, maybe your student is interested in ornithology, and spends a considerable amount of time reading and learning about birds in their home region. Again, a description of this passion along with documented evidence (e.g., science reports, research, videos, photos, etc.) would indicate their level of interest and dedication to the subject. There are so many options for pursuing passions whether it be in a formal setting or an informal setting. Just be sure to document the progress, work conducted, and results.
Participate Beyond Academics
Colleges look beyond a student’s academics so be sure your student is involved. The opportunities are endless:
- Volunteer at a local charity or church (e.g., serve at a food bank, knit blankets for fostered animals, assist a young church class, be a camp counselor)
- Participate in clubs (e.g., Scouts, gaming, robotics)
- Play sports (any sport counts)
- Work a job (e.g., cut grass for neighbors, host at a restaurant, lifeguard)
- Help take care of younger siblings or work on the family farm
- Start a business or create a class
Through these experiences, students develop many different skills such as communication, teamwork, responsibility, empathy, financial literacy, creativity, and leadership. All of these are important for college applications.