Best Colleges for Homeschoolers in the US

Homeschooled student reading a book
Updated:
January 29, 2024
6 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 1/29/24

Are you a homeschool student looking to get into the traditional education system? Look no further as we dive into the top colleges that welcome and value homeschoolers like you!

 

You might think homeschoolers have difficulty getting into college, but as it turns out, homeschoolers often get into top colleges nationwide. Some institutions explicitly state expectations for homeschoolers during the application process and offer a supportive learning environment for a smooth college transition. 

These schools are often referred to as “home-school friendly” due to the various accommodations they provide. Below, we’ll outline the best colleges for homeschoolers and break down the types of accommodations you can expect from each. Let’s get started! 

Top 20 Colleges for Homeschoolers

In no particular order, here’s our list of the top 20 colleges for homeschoolers, chosen based on specific criteria that benefit homeschool graduates.

These colleges have been recognized for their commitment to accommodating the unique educational experiences of homeschoolers, ensuring that these students receive the same opportunities and resources as their peers from traditional schooling backgrounds.

mother homeschooling daughter

Ranking Criteria:

  • Admissions Flexibility: How the college accommodates non-traditional education backgrounds in their admissions process.
  • Support Programs: Availability of resources and programs specifically aimed at assisting homeschoolers in adapting to college life.
  • Community Involvement: Opportunities for homeschoolers to engage with the campus community through extracurricular activities and organizations.
  • Academic Recognition: Acknowledgement and valuation of self-directed learning and other unique aspects of homeschooling education.
College Tuition Fees (approx.) Acceptance Rate
MIT $53,790 6.6%
Harvard $54,269 4.5%
Stanford $61,731 4.3%
Duke University $63,500 7.4%
Georgetown University $64,896 14%
Notre Dame University $59,794 15.4%
University of California $14,253 (in-state)
$44,007 (out-of-state)
In-state: 25%Out-of-state: 32%
UCLA $14,478 (in-state)
$42,945 (out-of-state)
8.6%
University of Virginia $15,324 (in-state),
$52,254 (out-of-state)
19%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $8,998 (in-state)
$39,338 (out-of-state)
17%

College Tuition Fees (approx.) Acceptance Rate
Princeton University $59,710 5.8%
Yale University $64,700 5.9%
Williams College $64,540 12.4%
Amherst College $66,650 10.8%
University of Chicago $65,619 5.9%
Columbia University $65,340 5.1%
Cornell University $65,204 10.6%
Brown University $65,656 6.6%
Dartmouth College $63,748
7.9%
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) $60,816 6.4%

MIT

MIT has made the application process easy and straightforward for homeschoolers. Their application process is the same for all students, no matter their educational backgrounds. However, the admissions committee recommends that homeschoolers should demonstrate the following qualities in their application:

  • Initiative: show entrepreneurial spirit and they’ve made the most of their opportunities.
  • Advanced classes: such as IB or AP classes, taken outside their home school environment, through a local college, or online.
  • Extracurricular activities: Show that the student has engaged in their community.
  • Summer programs: can be taken to show that you can work with other students.

You can apply to MIT as a homeschooler by showing these criteria in your application.

Harvard

Harvard is dedicated to ensuring homeschoolers have the same opportunities as their other applicants. To make it easier for homeschoolers to apply, transcripts can be created by the family member in charge of their schooling. 

Harvard also does not require students to submit their SAT or ACT scores as a part of the admissions process. These exams can often be difficult for homeschoolers due to their unconventional curriculum. Not having to sit these exams means you do not have to take extra time out of your schedule to learn what is tested and how to study for them.

By making these special considerations, Harvard has become one of the best colleges for homeschoolers. 

Stanford

Stanford welcomes homeschoolers and allows them to enroll in an online high school program designed for students in grades 7-10. This program allows homeschoolers to take courses that showcase their academic abilities and enhance their college applications.

Stanford also provides clear guidelines to homeschoolers on what they need to do to increase their chances of being considered a strong candidate for admission. They recommend students submit a detailed description of their curriculum to answer the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to homeschool?
  • How was your learning organized?
  • What were the benefits?
  • What were some of the academic choices you had to make to finish your schooling?

By addressing these questions, homeschoolers can help Stanford assess their application on an equal footing with other applicants.

Duke University

Students who demonstrate dedication to their community are highly valued at Duke, and homeschoolers often excel in this area by participating in valuable extracurricular activities that involve community service. This provides homeschoolers with an opportunity to showcase their community involvement.

Duke also takes a proactive approach to building a supportive community for first-year students. By living on the East Campus and taking some courses together, first-year students can easily get to know each other and smoothly transition to college life. This is particularly advantageous for homeschoolers from small or rural communities.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University has become an attractive option for homeschoolers as it offers summer courses that are available to all students. These courses allow homeschoolers to visit the campus and get a feel for the school before applying.

Attending these courses also allows homeschoolers to connect with other prospective Georgetown students and make friends before the semester starts. This makes the transition from homeschool to college much smoother, as they get a glimpse of what it would be like to be a student at Georgetown and can reduce anxiety about attending.

Similar to other universities, Georgetown has clear guidelines for what they are looking for in their students. This is especially helpful for homeschoolers unfamiliar with the application process.

Georgetown is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all students, including homeschoolers.

Notre Dame University

Notre Dame is a Catholic university that significantly emphasizes building a strong sense of community among its students. This focus on community extends to homeschoolers, making it easier for them to transition from home-based learning to a traditional college setting.

Many homeschoolers come from small communities with religious ties, which makes Notre Dame's environment a good fit for them. By emphasizing the importance of community, it's easier for students from rural areas to feel connected when attending Notre Dame.

Notre Dame also advises homeschoolers on how to gain acceptance into their school. They strongly recommend having someone outside the family write a letter of recommendation. This allows applicants to demonstrate their connection to their community, which Notre Dame values highly.

University of California

The University of California is another homeschool-friendly college. One way you can get into UC is through admission by exception, a program that helps admit students who may not have all the admissions requirements due to being homeschooled.

To do this, UC asks students to answer the personal insight questions and use the application’s comment section to tell their unique story, illustrating why they chose to be homeschooled.

This makes it easy for those applying from a home school to know exactly how to illustrate to the school why they are a good candidate for admission. 

UCLA

To make homeschoolers feel like they belong at UCLA, the university offers events specifically for freshmen homeschoolers to connect with other students. UCLA also has various clubs catering to different interests, providing opportunities for homeschoolers to find their niche.

For those from small communities, UCLA's emphasis on building a strong sense of community can make the transition to college much smoother. This is why UCLA can be a great choice for homeschoolers looking for a welcoming and inclusive environment.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia takes a unique approach to evaluating homeschooled students for admission. 

Instead of relying on traditional transcripts, they assess the student's academic performance within their home school curriculum. They also consider college-level courses and community involvement as part of the student's academic standing. 

To further showcase their abilities, UVA encourages homeschoolers to submit samples of their academic projects demonstrating their capability to tackle challenging coursework at the college level.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

To create a welcoming environment for homeschooled students, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a “small town feel” with big city resources. This especially benefits students who may feel more comfortable in a familiar setting.

Almost half of UNC's students come from rural counties, providing a sense of community and connection. Additionally, UNC values a student's academic and community involvement and encourages homeschooled students to explain their curriculum on their application.

UNC does not require an official transcript but instead seeks to understand the academic activities the student participated in and how they engaged with their community. This approach shows why UNC is considered one of the best colleges for homeschoolers.

Princeton University

Princeton's approach to education is centered around intimate seminar classes and a strong focus on undergraduate research, which aligns well with the homeschooling model of in-depth, personalized learning. Homeschoolers can thrive in this setting where individual attention and mentorship are paramount. 

The university's renowned undergraduate research opportunities, including the Junior Paper and Senior Thesis, allow students to delve deeply into subjects of their choice, fostering the academic independence that homeschoolers often seek.

Additionally, Princeton's residential college system creates a small community feel within the larger university, providing a supportive and engaging environment. This aspect particularly appeals to homeschoolers seeking a sense of community and belonging as they transition to college. 

Each residential college offers academic advising and cultural, social, and recreational programs, making it easier for homeschoolers to integrate and find their place in the university community.

Yale University

Yale stands out with its excellent residential college system, which fosters a tight-knit community environment similar to what many homeschoolers experience. Each college has a dining hall, library, and student-led activities, creating a strong sense of belonging and community. This structure especially benefits homeschoolers seeking a more personal and supportive environment within a larger university. 

Yale's emphasis on liberal arts education encourages a well-rounded academic experience, allowing students, particularly those from homeschool backgrounds, to explore a broad range of subjects and discover new interests.

Yale also offers the Yale Directed Studies program, a highly regarded first-year program focusing on Western literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought. This program is known for its small, discussion-based classes, providing an environment similar to homeschooling where students can engage deeply with the material and their peers. 

For homeschoolers who have experienced a more self-directed and discussion-based learning environment, this program can be an excellent transition into university-level studies.

Williams College

At Williams, the emphasis on close student-faculty interaction is a standout feature. The college offers tutorials modeled after those at Oxford, where two students engage in deep discussions with a professor, mirroring the one-on-one learning environment familiar to many homeschoolers. 

These tutorials and small class sizes ensure personalized attention and foster an atmosphere of intense academic discourse, allowing homeschoolers to continue the kind of engaged, mentor-guided learning they may be accustomed to.

Williams also emphasizes experiential learning, which is often a key component of homeschool education. The college's exclusive Winter Study Program allows students to take a month-long course in an unconventional area, participate in internships, or conduct independent research. 

This flexibility appeals to homeschoolers who are used to a more adaptable and self-directed educational approach, providing opportunities to explore interests outside of the traditional academic curriculum.

Amherst College

Amherst's open curriculum appeals to homeschoolers for its flexibility and emphasis on student choice, mirroring the freedom often experienced in a homeschool setting. Without core requirements, students can design their educational path, exploring various interdisciplinary studies. 

This freedom to tailor one's education is aligned with the homeschooler's experience of a customized learning journey, allowing them to dive deeply into their passions or explore new academic territories without the constraints of a fixed curriculum.

Amherst's commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in its vibrant community and wide range of student-led organizations. It can be particularly appealing to homeschoolers seeking a diverse and inclusive environment. 

The college's Center for Community Engagement offers numerous volunteer opportunities, allowing homeschoolers to connect with the community and apply their learning in real-world settings, fostering a sense of social responsibility and civic engagement.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago's core curriculum provides a structured yet broad foundational education, allowing homeschoolers to engage deeply with classic texts and fundamental ideas across various disciplines. This approach is ideal for homeschoolers who value a well-rounded education and the opportunity to engage in critical thinking and debate. 

The university's emphasis on interdisciplinary studies also allows students to integrate knowledge across different fields, fostering a comprehensive and holistic educational experience.

The University of Chicago's vibrant urban setting also offers numerous opportunities for cultural and intellectual engagement outside the classroom. 

With world-class museums, research institutions, and a diverse cityscape, homeschoolers can extend their learning beyond campus, taking advantage of the city's rich resources and experiences. This environment is conducive to the homeschooling ethos of learning as a continuous, multifaceted process.

Columbia University

Columbia's Core Curriculum particularly appeals to homeschoolers, offering a shared learning experience focusing on critical inquiry and cultural understanding. This program exposes students to various disciplines and ideas, similar to the interdisciplinary approach often embraced in homeschooling. 

The curriculum's focus on classic texts and contemporary issues encourages students to engage with broad, pivotal topics and develop a well-rounded intellectual base.

The university's location in New York City also offers homeschoolers a dynamic and expansive educational environment. Columbia's integration with the city provides many cultural, academic, and professional opportunities. 

For homeschoolers, who often learn to seek out and integrate diverse learning experiences, the city's resources - from internships and workshops to cultural events and community projects - offer an unparalleled extension of classroom learning.

Cornell University

Cornell University's diverse range of academic offerings across its multiple colleges provides a unique opportunity for homeschoolers to pursue their specific interests deeply or explore new fields. This variety mirrors homeschool education's flexible and varied nature, where learning is often tailored to individual interests and strengths. 

The university's emphasis on research and practical application allows homeschoolers to engage in hands-on learning experiences, from laboratory research to fieldwork, aligning with the experiential learning component common in homeschooling.

Cornell's cooperative extension and outreach programs also connect students with communities and real-world issues, offering homeschoolers practical experiences that complement their academic pursuits. 

These programs, along with the university's beautiful campus and natural surroundings in Ithaca, provide a nurturing environment for exploration and growth, both academically and personally. This setting is ideal for homeschoolers who value a connection with nature and community as part of their educational experience.

Brown University

Brown University's distinctive open curriculum is a compelling draw for homeschoolers, as it allows students to be architects of their education, a philosophy many homeschoolers are familiar with. 

This level of academic freedom enables students to explore a wide range of subjects without the constraint of general education requirements, encouraging interdisciplinary learning and intellectual exploration. 

For homeschoolers accustomed to a more self-directed and personalized approach to education, Brown's curriculum offers an environment where their unique educational backgrounds are accepted and celebrated.

The university's collaborative and inclusive community culture is another crucial aspect that resonates with homeschoolers. Brown's emphasis on student-led learning and the plethora of clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities provide ample opportunities for homeschoolers to engage, contribute, and develop leadership skills. 

The supportive community at Brown ensures a smooth transition for homeschoolers into college life, fostering a sense of belonging and enabling them to thrive academically and socially.

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College offers a unique blend of rigorous academics and a strong focus on undergraduate teaching within a close-knit community. This combination can be particularly appealing to homeschoolers. The college’s emphasis on small class sizes and personalized education mirrors the homeschooling environment, where individual attention and close mentoring relationships are typical. 

Dartmouth's D-Plan, which allows students to customize their academic calendar, offers the kind of flexibility in learning that many homeschoolers are accustomed to, allowing them to engage in off-term internships, research, or travel.

Beyond academics, Dartmouth's commitment to experiential learning and outdoor education through programs like the Dartmouth Outing Club aligns with the homeschooling ethos of learning through experience. 

The college’s location in Hanover, New Hampshire, offers a serene and close-to-nature setting, ideal for homeschoolers who appreciate outdoor activities and a strong community spirit. This integration of academic rigor with practical, real-world experiences and a focus on community and nature makes Dartmouth a compelling choice for homeschoolers.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is renowned for its small size and focus on science and engineering. It offers an environment where homeschoolers can engage deeply in their areas of interest with like-minded peers. 

The emphasis on research and collaboration at Caltech mirrors the hands-on, inquiry-based learning approach often found in homeschooling. 

Homeschoolers at Caltech benefit from working closely with faculty members on cutting-edge research, an opportunity that aligns with the homeschooling preference for in-depth exploration and mentorship.

The Caltech community is close-knit, fostering a collaborative rather than competitive atmosphere, which can be particularly comforting for homeschoolers transitioning to college. Additionally, Caltech’s House System provides a supportive residential community, offering a family-like environment where students can form lasting friendships and receive peer support. 

This emphasis on community and collaboration, combined with the school's strong focus on STEM fields, makes Caltech an ideal choice for homeschoolers with a passion for science and technology.

female student studying in bed

FAQs: Homeschool-Friendly Colleges

Now that we’ve explored a list of the best colleges for homeschoolers, look at these common questions about homeschool-friendly colleges.

1. Do Homeschoolers Get Into Good Colleges?

Homeschoolers can get into good colleges but need to provide the school with additional information about their curriculum. 

Homeschoolers are often given the chance to show their academic prowess in different ways than traditionally taught students. They should look into precisely what is needed by each school they apply to. They have the same chance of getting into a good college as any other student.

2. Can a Homeschooler Get Into Harvard?

Yes, homeschoolers can get into Harvard. Harvard allows homeschoolers to provide an unofficial transcript, meaning their grades will be looked at just like any other applicant. They do their best to treat homeschoolers in the same way as any other student.

3. Do Ivy League Colleges Accept Homeschoolers?

Ivy League colleges do accept homeschoolers. Make sure you look at what they require for application, as some schools might have different requirements for homeschoolers. 

4. What States Are Most Friendly To Homeschooling?

Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan are among the most homeschool-friendly states.

5. How Do I Transition from Homeschool to College?

Transitioning from homeschooling to college requires aligning your homeschool curriculum with college prerequisites, improving social and time management skills, and utilizing college resources like counseling and tutoring. Preparing for this shift involves practical steps like refining college applications and exploring scholarship opportunities.

Final Thoughts

While the college application process can seem daunting for homeschoolers, many excellent colleges welcome and value homeschooled students. 

When researching colleges, homeschoolers must look for schools that prioritize community and support non-traditional students. Remember that each school has unique accommodations for homeschool applicants, so pay close attention to their specific requirements when applying. 

Ultimately, we hope this guide will be a helpful resource on your journey to college.

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