Non-traditional students have become more common in recent years. According to its most recent figures, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that 2.9 percent of students in the U.S. are homeschooled — that’s defined as “school-age children (ages 5–17) in a grade equivalent to at least kindergarten and not higher than 12th grade who receive instruction at home instead of at a public or private school either all or most of the time.” That number is up nearly 65 percent over the previous 10 years.
Whether these students are “traditional” homeschoolers receiving instruction from parents or family members, attend classes online or participate in a dual-enrollment program, it’s not out of the ordinary for a young person to complete high school without the brick-and-mortar experience.
As the educational world evolves, colleges are becoming more accepting and accustomed to students applying from different backgrounds. Historically, the process of applying to college as a homeschooled student could be difficult — it wasn’t uncommon for college admissions departments to require homeschooled students to complete additional requirements. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, still looks for homeschool students with extensive work in summer programs, advanced classes and even entrepreneurial activities.
Fortunately, this sentiment is evolving, as well. Many colleges are adjusting their policies to accommodate the influx of applicants coming from outside the traditional education system.
Listed below are five tips for college bound home-schooled students to consider:
- Although colleges and universities are imposing fewer extra requirements on homeschooled students, you should still research each prospective college’s admissions requirements. Be sure you have ample time to complete any additional paperwork or testing. The application process at every school is different! Make sure you know what you’re getting into.
- If you are not affiliated with an accredited homeschool program, you will probably need to create a transcript of the coursework you have completed in high school. This will help the college admissions department determine the rigor of the courses you’ve completed in your secondary education.Students graduating from an accredited homeschool program do not need to create a transcript.
- Many homeschool students wonder if they will have to take the GED to gain admission to a college or to be eligible for federal financial aid. In most cases, the answer is No. A homeschool diploma is a valid diploma.
- What are some of the advantages homeschoolers have when applying for college? You’ll definitely stand out! College admissions are very competitive, and highly-selective institutions are interested in unique students. Being homeschooled also affords many students the time to pursue interesting extracurricular activities.Be sure to ‘brag’ about yourself when applying to colleges and reflect on how homeschooling will set you apart.
- It’s a myth that homeschool students are not prepared for college. In fact, because they have adapted to a more flexible/less-structure learning environment and gained independent study skills that most brick-and-mortar students don’t begin exercising until they enter college, a homeschooler is actually well-prepared for the college environment.
Overall, being a homeschool student does not limit your post-secondary options and may even set you up for success in college. Just be prepared to do research on the admission requirements with ample time. Good luck!
by Cristena Jenner of The Keystone School
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