This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
This is college application season for many college-bound homeschool high schoolers. It can be a stressful time for these teens (and their parents), especially if this is the first child heading off to college. How can you be sure your homeschooler is completing the forms well. What is a homeschool parent’s role in the process.
7Sisters Vicki served the local homeschool community for almost two decades as college admissions advisor. In her work with homeschool high schoolers and trainings with college admissions officers, she picked up some tips that have been helpful to her five homeschool graduates and hundreds of other local teens. In honor of college application season, Vicki is sharing some basics of the process to get you started.
Ten tips on how to apply to college as a homeschooler
Before you start, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode on what colleges are looking for in homeschoolers.
Tip #1: Write your application essay early
Trust Vicki on this. If your homeschool high schooler writes his/her essay early. We would tell our local advisees to write their essay during the summer, that would give them time to have parents or teachers look it over and give advice…AND do multiple rewrites. Even if the topic changes at application time, details can easily be tweaked once the guts of an essay is created. Remember multiple rewrites take a good essay to a great essay (use grammar checkers like Grammarly to help.)
Also, if you have a college that allows your teen to skip the essay, don’t skip! That essay might give your homeschooler an edge if there is a lot of competition for entrance.
If your homeschool high schooler will be using the Common Application or other applications that publish essay prompts early or have standard prompts, it is much easier to start that essay. Even if an essay prompt is not available for their preferred college, have your teen choose an exciting or inspiring story from their life and write an essay to be tweaked later.
For help: Here’s a freebie post and a downloadable college admissions essay writing guide from your 7Sisters.
Tip #2: Ask for recommendation letters letter early
PLEASE, take us seriously on this. Recommenders need a little time to write an excellent recommendation. Give them time.
Also, if your recommender will be writing a paper recommendation, give them self-addressed, stamped envelope to the college. If your recommender will be writing a digital recommendation, let them know where the link will be coming from. (And also approximately when it will come, so they can check the spam file if it seems late.)
ALSO, please train your teen to ask the recommender politely. In fact, use the word, “Please.” This is a skill that will help them the rest of their lives. AND when they are done with the recommendation, be sure to have your teen thank them.
Your teen can (and in many cases) should give the recommender a fact sheet about themselves and/or a resume to help them fill out the recommendation with good details.
Tip #3: Find out what the colleges are looking for
Make sure this is shown clearly on your homeschool high schooler’s transcript. Check the college website for “requirements for incoming freshmen” or “requirements for application”. Sometimes, you and your teen will best find this information on a college tour or online workshop with admissions officers. Check out this interview with Dr. Renae Duncan, Associate Provost of Murray State University (ret.).
Tip #4: Make sure your teen’s transcript is complete with grades through the point they apply
Colleges often want to know that teens are not goofing off their senior year, so they will ask for first quarter grades (and often, first semester updates). This means that moms need to have the transcript up to date! Here’s a post on how to do this.
Tips #5: PDF your homeschooler’s transcript for online applications
Sometimes an un-pdf version transcript gets scrozzled.
NOTE: If you are sending in a paper application, you might have to have the transcript sealed and/or stamped. Check with admissions officers at the college for this information.
Tip #6: Have your homeschooler take his/her time in completing the application
College applications take a long time to complete. If your teen puts off the application process until the last moment, they will not be able to put their best foot forward.
Keep in mind, when your teen is filling out their application, they are talking to a real person. Have them write in complete sentences where applicable using a professional version of their own voice. (Do not fill out applications for your teen.)
Tip #7: Have your teen think about which schools to apply to ahead of time
For many teens three to five colleges is a good number. (If they are applying to twenty schools, they have not done their research. This will waste their time.)
- Choose one college as a reach college but might be too expensive or competitive. (This would be an act of God if they get in.)
- Aim for a college that your teen would truly like to attend and are a solid fit. NOTE: If you can find a college’s average SAT or ACT scores of admitted students. Aim for colleges where your teen’s scores are similar.
- Aim for an easy, guaranteed acceptance college. This school would be fine but not a dream college, per se.
- Aim for a financially-reasonable college. College debt is such a problem. (And why many homeschooler are doing their first two years at community college these days.)
- For more tips check this post and another Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.
Tip #8: Decide when to apply
Some colleges give dorm preference, better financial aid opportunities and/or other benefits to students who apply early.
If your teen is applying to a reach school, regular admissions might be better, since it is easier to get bumped to a waitlist with early applications. (Of course, each college handles this differently.)
Some teens need extra time deciding. So give them space to pray and research. They may need to skip early admissions.
Tip #9: Teens need to remember they are selling themselves with their essays and applications. This is not bragging!
Many homeschoolers are concerned that they will be prideful if they tell their outstanding points and stories. Just have them remember it is God who makes them successful, so writing about it is not bragging!
Remind your homeschool high schoolers to check the grammar in their college admissions essay. Give them some grammar support with our Grammar Granules- Essential Elements of English, affordable help for homeschool high schoolers.
Tip #10: Pray
Teens can have a lovely growth process through their college application process if they know that as they roll their works on the Lord, he will direct their path.
Also, check out this useful Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode for first generation college students.
Hey, join our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group so you can ask college application and other homeschool questions to all your 7th Sisters!
Here’s a timeline of important things to cover each year in high school to get ready for college and tips for finding scholarships.
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How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler