In the last three decades homeschoolers have proven themselves to be more than ready for the college experience. Not only do they score exceptionally well on standardized tests, but they frequently demonstrate exceptional maturity, discipline, focus, independence and self-motivation–characteristics key to college success.
Of course, homeschoolers won’t make it through the college journey on the strength of their reputation alone. There are certain things that homeschool students can do to help improve their chances of reaching their higher education goals. Here’s some advice for homeschoolers looking to earn a college degree.
1. Plan ahead.
It’s never too early to begin planning for college, perhaps especially if you’re homeschooled. For example, once you figure out which colleges you might be interested in applying to you can contact those schools and ask them directly about their approach to homeschoolers and what makes for a successful applicant. The sooner you do this, the more time you and your parents will have to select the classes and activities that will put you in the best position to get into the school of your choice.
2. Document everything.
Since you and your parents will likely be crafting your transcript yourselves, it is important to keep records of everything you do that could be interesting and relevant to a college admissions panel. This obviously includes your academic work, but also clubs, sports, service activities, jobs, special projects, and other extracurricular activities. Being able to show colleges that you have a diversity of social experiences, a broad range of personal interests, and know how to work well with others will go a long way toward dispelling any lingering negative stereotypes about homeschoolers and help you stand out from other applicants.
3. Accentuate the unique.
Believe it or not, being homeschooled may actually give you an advantage in the college admissions process. Rather than downplaying the fact that you were homsechooled in your applications and interviews, talk about it as an asset. Don’t shy away from highlighting the unique and creative ways in which you were empowered to learn that may set you apart from your public and private school peers. Most people have still only had limited interactions with homeschoolers so don’t assume those reviewing your application or asking you interview questions understand how great homeschooling can be for preparing students to succeed well in college and beyond.
4. Consider the back door.
Taking some classes at a local community college and then transferring to a four-year university is an option that many homeschoolers have chosen. Not only could it save you money on tuition (since community colleges are typically much less expensive than 4-year schools), but it removes many of the hurdles to getting in through the front door of a university. Doing well in your community colleges classes can go a long way in dispelling any doubt an admissions committee might have about your ability to do college level work. You can even begin taking these classes while you’re still finishing up high school.
5. Do college from home.
Thanks to the incredible advances in educational technology, many accredited, 4-year colleges and universities now offer undergraduate degrees entirely online. If you enjoyed your homeschooling experience, why not continue it through your college years? Completing an online degree program from home typically requires a greater degree of self-motivation and discipline than a traditional on-campus degree program. But hey, if anyone can do it, you can!