Sept. 19, 2010
Question: What specific advice can you give homeschooling parents about college admissions? (My child is middle-school age now.)
There is already a lot of advice for homeschoolers in the "Ask the Dean" archives. See the links down below. We also have a very active homeschoolers forum on College Confidential. You've probably found it already. But, if not, go to:http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/home-schooling-college/
Since you say that you're the parent of a pre-high school student, it sounds like you're looking down the road, which is wise. You might find this blog from the MIT Web site helpful because it discusses the types of experiences that homeschooled MIT candidates often put on their applications. It's definitely not something you want to read when your child is already filling out those forms! See: http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/apply/homeschooled_applicants_helpful_tips/
Once it's time to actually apply, homeschooled students should:
1) Use the Common Application homeschool supplement for member colleges and as a guideline for applying to non-member colleges that don't have their own form (or specific instructions) for homeschoolers.
2) Take as many SAT Subject Tests or AP exams as possible to provide objective information about what you've learned. This is especially important when applying to the more competitive colleges where the majority of traditional applicants will be submitting high scores on multiple tests. Remember that SAT Subject Tests can be taken on many dates throughout the school year, but AP exams are only administered in May (with scores available in July) so homeschoolers must plan ahead to take these tests by the spring of 11th grade. Good results from a later administrations (i.e., May of senior year) can earn college credits but won't offer any oomph in the admissions-verdict department.
3) Highlight research, writing or arts projects, museum and field trips, diverse reading assignments, etc. that the homeschool experience may have provided. Standardized test results, as noted above, can help show that you're as good as competitor applicants from traditional schools. So use essays, additional information, resumes etc. to show how you are different and how you took advantage of the unique opportunities that homeschooling can offer.
Here are other Ask the Deans with more details:
NO SAT SCORES/LAST-MINUTE APPLICATIONS: http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/admission-advice-for-home-schooled-student-with-no-sat-scores
There is really too much to this topic to cover within the scope of a Q&A column, but I hope I've given you some information that will be useful. As the parent of a middle-schooler myself, I wish you all the best as you engage with your teenager all day long. ;-)
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