who out there homeschooled in high school and got into college?
September 21, 2015 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Hello, Have any of you been homeschooled in high school, and then went on to apply for college? I'm looking for details on how you applied for college, that is, did you take the ACT or SAT and how did that go for you? Did you dual enroll, so that the colleges could see some actual grades, or did you just send in a portfolio with lists of books you read, book reports, or essays you wrote?

We are considering homeschooling are daughter, and we are trying to find out from people who have "already been there and done that"...............how does a college decide to accept you if you don't have actual class grades and a G.P.A.

And if you are not used to taking tests all the time, how would you fair well in taking an ACT test anyway.

Thanks in advance.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Education (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you're in the US. I was homeschooled for high school, took the ACT and the SAT, and did concurrent enrollment at a nearby university for a semester. (There was no convenient community college.) I also took 5 AP exams.

Test-taking skills are ESSENTIAL for scoring well on the ACT and SAT. (In many states, homeschooled kids have to take yearly tests anyway, but you would also want to prepare specifically for the ACT and SAT by using software that simulates it.) A kid who's never taken a high-stakes standardized test before would be really ill-served by taking it with no preparation.

IMO, since things change over the years and they're different for every state and university system anyway, you should specifically research the universities your daughter might be interested in. Contact admissions and ask how they evaluate home-schooled students.
posted by wintersweet at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

(There may also be a local homeschooling community; if their politics aren't too incompatible with yours for conversation, they can probably give you specific advice about how things work in your area.)
posted by wintersweet at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, the cover of the current issue of Boston Magazine is plastered with, "Homeschool Got Me Into Harvard: Why The New Road to the Ivy League Just Might Lead Through Your Living Room." Here's the lead article.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

How old is your daughter, approximate age? Things could change a lot by the time she wants to attend college.

I almost exclusively home schooled in the 80s and 90s. I attended a community college for one or two classes a semester for about two years and I took the SATs when I wanted to apply to colleges (since I was looking exclusively Eastern US schools). I ended up only applying to two schools, a small liberal arts college in Ohio and mid-sized state school. Both had no issues with me being home schooled--I took the time to do in-person interviews and submitted my SAT scores and community college transcripts. I also submitted recommendations from supervisors at my volunteer activities. I thought about doing AP tests, but decided against doing so.

My younger sister did a similar path, but applied to a ton more colleges than I did. I believe she was accepted at all she applied to, but one private university gave her a hard time about being home schooled so she chose not to apply.

I know of home schoolers who successfully were accepted to college without going to community college. They took the route of submitting statements from volunteer work they did, additional writings, or other portfolio type items depending on what sort of major they were looking at perusing.

But, this was awhile ago now so things may have changed! Getting involved in home or un-schooling groups you feel comfortable with may be a good path forward.
posted by skynxnex at 11:56 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW: In my local area, homeschoolers who will go to college tend to go to either community college, or one of the larger Christian colleges (Liberty, Pensacola, etc) that pretty much have open-enrollment when it comes to homeschoolers of a like mindset.
posted by k5.user at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2015

I was not homeschooled, but I have a co-worker who homeschools his children and I do some mentoring for a group of high-school age homeschoolers.

What I have been able to gather is that, at least in my area, parents of homeschooled children form a co-op group through local churches. A parent who is good in, say, engineering might volunteer to teach a weekly class at some time that works with his/her work schedule and the entire group of kids attends that class (and others). There are certain tests that are state-mandated that they take just like any other students from this state, and they get a yearly refund on their property taxes (because they are not using the public schools, funded from property taxes) that must be used on education-related expenses.

My understanding is that the state has educational requirements that must be met with documented classes and work assignments and so on and so forth, in order for a parent to be allowed to homeschool their children.

Several of the kids have applied to and attended or currently attend various colleges - so it can be done. Some of the kids that are equivalent to high school juniors and seniors also take classes at the local community college which are (at least) transferable to the state university system, so that gives them a head start.

Homeschool kids take the SAT or ACT like any other college-bound high school students.

My suggestion would be to look for a homeschool co-op in your area and talk to some of the parents involved. They seem to (mostly) be run through churches, so if you are a religious person, ask around the next time you go to mass.
posted by tckma at 1:07 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You take SAT/ACT, you get graded like a regular student (by your parents or a test proctor depending on the kinds of classes you take. It's also common to transfer into a high school by senior year and then the transcript comes solely from them. Sometimes this is done just for athletics and the transcript and the student continues to take all their classes at home, by correspondence, or at a community college for dual credit. Sometimes homeschooled students will work with a school just to do the AP tests.

If you're doing a kind of schooling that doesn't organize easily into classes and grades, you document the learning and turn it into a transcript. There are books and other resources for this and you can probably find many parents who have done it. There are unusually structured private schools that have to do the same thing; you can probably find some resources through them as well. I don't have specific recommendations off-hand. Participating in a co-op (good idea) will help with this since you won't have to do all the grading and at least some of the learning will be in easily named and dated chunks.

Typically, homeschool college applications have a strong essay and service work, travel, creative/entrepreneurial experience, athletics, etc. that play well in admissions. It's not prep school good, but it's pretty effective.

You can administer as many practice tests as your daughter needs. Usually homeschooled students around here take the same test prep classes as the other students.

I would read a few books on college admissions regardless of what schooling you do, talk to parents and talk to people who work in admissions because it is a big topic.
posted by michaelh at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was homeschooled, and knew many people who went to college having homeschooled all their lives or with a little elementary school only. (I ended up going back to a "regular" school for part of high school, so I'm not sure my own experience is what you're looking for.) My friends went to Ivy League schools, big state schools, small liberal arts schools, religious schools, and community colleges. We all just applied like everyone else: we sent in transcripts created by our parents, took the SATs or ACTs, got recommendations(not just from parents!) and wrote application essays.

The admission process will vary from school to school, but MIT's page on homeschool admissions demonstrates some of the ways homeschoolers make themselves competitive. It's a very good outline of best practices for getting into the most selective colleges as a homeschooler.

Just to be clear, my sister and I had transcripts from our homeschooling that reflected what we did at home or in group classes with other homeschoolers. We didn't take any courses at a regular school or community college for grades, although some homeschoolers do. Frankly, unless an admissions officer is familiar with a specific highschool, an "A" from some regional unknown high school in a different state doesn't mean much more than an "A" on a homeschooling transcript. Also, in the state where I homeschooled, we had to do end-of-year standardized tests every year but no specific test was mandated, so my family decided that some of those years would be the SATs. I took the SAT for the first time in middle school, and wasn't intimidated at all by them by the time it actually mattered.

Most college these days actually like homeschoolers, at least in my experience. They are no longer some wacky unknown fringe group -- in 2013, the US Dept of Education estimated that there are currently 1.8 million homeschoolers in the US. Homeschoolers can be virtuosos in a specific field already, or have spent time in the community volunteering or starting a business. Others have through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, or spent years with their family traveling all over the world. A lot of my friends were heavily involved in theater and film-making. Another one of my friends was an elite swimmer. If your daughter is old enough to have academic or extracurricular passions that you have the resources to support and encourage, homeschooling might be an advantage over a regular school.

Good luck with your family's decision!
posted by alligatorpear at 4:05 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was homeschooled some (not exclusively), got great SAT scores, but couldn't get into any of my preferred colleges (Harvard, Yale, MIT, UVA, Washington & Lee) in part because of my lack of a high school diploma. But Kenyon was eager to accept me. I got into Virginia Tech because, admissions informed me, my kid sister went there, and I was considered a "legacy." OTOH, my wife was homeschooled some (again, not exclusively), also didn't have a high school diploma, and she went to a community college for two years before transferring to UVA, from which she got a degree.

Basically, if your kid wanted to go to an Ivy, home schooling would probably be an issue. But if your kid wanted to go to a liberal arts school, it may well be a positive attribute.
posted by waldo at 6:55 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was homeschooled, but "transferred" to a school for my junion/senior year of HS. The way everyone was handling it here was through homeschool resource centers. I know this isn't a "thing" everywhere, but it was basically a registered school with the district that would handle testing, and also issue you a diploma. They were very permissive with how you handled things and creative with generating credits. There were also rules here that high schools had to allow you to take classes, and help you in a similar way with getting a diploma(but they were very foot-draggy about it, i had heard).

I know very few people who didn't transfer to a high school like i did, but that was one of the solutions available.

Many people did "running start" where you could start community college in high school, then transferred to a 4 year university out of that. I'm not totally sure how people handled transferring out of state that way. I know it was possible though.
posted by emptythought at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

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