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Articles / Applying to College / Are Home-Schoolers on Equal Footing With High-Schoolers in Ivy League Applicant Pools?

May 6, 2010

Are Home-Schoolers on Equal Footing With High-Schoolers in Ivy League Applicant Pools?

Question: I have been homeschooling and I am about to enter high school. I want to know if a student who was home-schooled throughout high school and took AP courses and had many ECs and volunteer work would be at an equal advantage as someone who attended a private school? Does it matter what high school I attend? Will universities (Yale is the university I am concerned with) judge on that?

There is already a lot of advice for home-schooled students on College Confidential and in "Ask the Dean" as well.

Here are a few links that you might find helpful:

CC's HOME SCHOOLING AND COLLEGE forum: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/home-schooling-college/





Admission officials, even at the uber-selective schools like Yale, are always interested in applicants who have taken non-traditional paths, and this can include home-schooling, although it's certainly become more common than it used to be. (For home-schoolers, this is both good news and bad. It's good because there are now some protocols in place for evaluating such students. But it's bad news because home-schoolers aren't unique in applicant pools as they often used to be.)

It is incumbent on home-schooled applicants to provide proof that they have tackled demanding school work and are ready to do it at an even higher level in college. Thus, you should be prepared to furnish detailed information about the courses you took at home, text books you used (if any), books you read, research you did, etc. Test scores will also play a starring in role in most of your admissions verdicts because they will provide an objective way for admission committees to compare you with applicants from more usual academic backgrounds.

Applicants from public and private schools--as well as home-schooled students--are all on equal footing at decision time. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to each route, but the pros and cons ultimately balance out ... at least more or less. (That's a subject that would require another 900,000 words!)

When you apply to college you will be evaluated in the context of whatever opportunities you have had. But, no matter where you spend your high school years, places like Yale will be looking for evidence of a highly rigorous high school curriculum as well as additional interests, talents, and accomplishments that will make you stand out in the crowd. A couple decades ago, being home-schooled was often enough to make a student stand out, but this is no longer true.

Be sure to follow the links above for additional information, and good luck as you make plans for your future.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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