Homeschoolers and college

As a college counselor, I know that college is hard to get into for everyone. They are looking for the best and strongest candidates.  Some of those are homeschooled students.

This week I signed three homeschooled students to my college counseling business, International College Counselors.

First I want to say, good news for homeschooled students and their parents — the college admissions process for homeschooled students has become easier, and more and more homeschooled students are entering colleges. 

In the past, homeschooled students had to fight hard for equality in the admissions process because federal government guidelines made it unclear to universities how their eligibility to receive federal funds would be affected by admitting homeschoolers. This changed in November of 2003 when the U.S. Department of Education sent an official letter to all universities. The letter stated that the admission of homeschooled students to college would not jeopardize federal assistance and clarified the position on compulsory age and self-certification of completion of secondary education.

Subsequently, colleges made adjustments in their admissions process and, today, a majority of colleges, including Harvard University, evaluate homeschooled applicants using the same college admission requirements as those for traditional students.

Requirements for college admission vary by institution but the most common requests include a homeschool transcript, SAT, ACT or SAT II test scores, written essays, external recommendations, and an interview. Other requests may include a GED, student portfolios, a list of texts used, and/or entrance examinations. In addition to academics, schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who have participated in varied extracurricular activities.

The key is start early!  If you’re not working with a college counselor, like the ones we have here at International College Counselors, check with the admissions office to find out what the colleges you’re interested in require, and stick to the guidelines.  Keep detailed transcripts and make sure your student takes the classes required. Colleges prefer an ideal four-year preparatory program. Colleges also place more emphasis on other criteria when one, such as class rank, is missing.

Like traditionally schooled peers, homeschooled students can also qualify for federal financial aid like Pell grants, work-study, and federal student loans to

help pay for college.  You will need to check the requirements for these.  Start early so you have the time to prepare. 

On thing to note, the number of homeschooled students is rising.  This means, that like traditional students, they too will have to work harder to set themselves apart. 

 Mandee Heller Adler, Founder and Principal of International College Counselors