If you’ve been homeschooled, you may be wondering how homeschoolers get into college. Follow along to learn how homeschoolers can get into elite colleges.
Getting into a good college is no easy task: you have to show the admissions committee why you’re an excellent candidate strategically through your application materials. Admissions committees evaluate all application parts, including your grades, test scores, community involvement, essays, and more.
So, can homeschoolers get into college? Absolutely! Here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how applying to college is different for homeschoolers, how hard it is to get into college, and considerations to take into account on your college application.
College applications often require similar standard materials: transcripts, letters of recommendation, a school report, essays, and more. However, some of these regular requirements are different for homeschoolers applying to college. Below we’ll explore the college requirements for homeschoolers:
Students often have school counselors send their official transcripts and mid-year reports to colleges in a public school setting. As a homeschooled student, your parent or primary teacher is responsible for crafting your official transcripts.
Ensure all the following information is present before submitting your homeschool transcripts for college admission:
If you’ve taken classes online or at a community college, contact the institutions so they can send you official transcripts as well, even though the transcript your parent or teacher will make should encompass all the work you’ve done to date.
A common concern that students have when asking, “can homeschoolers go to college?”, is whether they require a GED. If you’re a traditionally homeschooled student, you can have your parent or primary teacher create a diploma which is often enough for most colleges.
If you attended an online homeschool or took courses under an umbrella school, you may get a diploma from those institutions.
Thankfully, you don’t need a GED or diploma to apply to college or qualify for financial aid. You only need to ensure your homeschooled education has met all of your state’s requirements. If you’re unsure, feel free to contact the admissions office for more information.
Despite more schools becoming test-optional, as a homeschool student you want to take every opportunity you can to prove your academic talent. As such, you should write the SAT or ACT when applying to college.
The SAT includes sections on evidence-based reading and writing, math, and an optional essay. Students should aim for scores of around 1450 or higher to be considered competitive applicants at top colleges.
The ACT assesses students in English, math, reading, and science, along with an optional writing section, providing a comprehensive overview of their abilities to succeed in college. Students should aim for scores of around 32 or higher to get into elite colleges.
To further enhance their academic profiles, homeschoolers are highly encouraged to earn college credits. There are various options to consider:
Homeschooled students can take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which are college-level classes designed to prepare students for AP exams. Earning high scores on these exams can earn them college credits at many institutions, demonstrating their readiness for rigorous coursework.
Homeschoolers can also utilize the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests to earn college credits. CLEP offers exams in various subjects.
Dual enrollment programs enable homeschoolers to take college-level courses while still in high school.
These courses are typically offered through partnerships with local colleges, allowing students to earn both high school and college credits simultaneously, strengthening their applications and allowing for a smoother transition from homeschool to college.
Considering the importance of your grades on your application, you should consider homeschool tutoring to ensure you excel in all of your courses!
School counselors typically fill out school reports in a more traditional setting, but your report will be completed by either your parent, primary teacher, or homeschool program administrator.
Your school report will detail your GPA scale, AP, or honors courses offered. Many spaces where you would usually be compared to other students will be marked N/A when your school report is completed.
Students will also be asked to provide further insight into their character, passions, and experiences through personal essays. Your essay(s) should be used to show off your impeccable writing skills and share more about your unique journey to college.
A great place to start is to review successful personal statement samples, taking note of your favorite elements from each of them!
In general, colleges ask for letters of recommendation from non-relatives who can attest to your work ethic, academic achievements, and character. Community college teachers, tutors, and bosses are all excellent people to ask for recommendation letters.
Additionally, you can ask other people to write recommendation letters for you like coaches, mentors, volunteer coordinators, or anyone who has worked with you closely and can speak to your academic aptitude, personality, and character.
Getting into elite colleges can be challenging, even for students with excellent applications with high grades and test scores. Overall, you can expect to see at least that same difficulty level for college admission after homeschool, if not more.
Homeschoolers need to understand how their non-traditional education background can add value and differentiation to colleges. Some of the nation’s best schools accept homeschooler applications with open arms, understanding how students’ unique experiences and perspectives can add to their cohort and campus culture.
“We recognize that your experience as a homeschooled student will be somewhat different from students in traditional schools. We'll look at your academic record and nonacademic interests and commitments within the context of your particular homeschool curriculum and experience.”
MIT is another elite school that encourages homeschoolers to apply. MIT states the following:
“Homeschooled applicants, like all of our applicants, are considered within their context, which includes schooling choice, family situation, geographic location, resources, opportunities, and challenges.”
Most schools express similar sentiments: Yale University, Brown University, Harvard, and many more encourage homeschoolers to apply. You won’t be put at a disadvantage compared to other applicants as long as you can clearly outline your academic success.
No, homeschooling does not look bad to colleges. As many elite colleges emphasize, you won’t be penalized for not having the same type of education as your peers. However, you may have to work a little bit harder to demonstrate your readiness for the challenging academic demands of college.
So, the simple answer to the question, “can homeschoolers go to college?” is yes, absolutely! While you’ll need to do some parts of your application a little differently, colleges generally don’t discriminate against homeschooled students with the right experiences and credentials.
However, there are some things you should consider adding to your application as a homeschool student. College admission committees will appreciate if you go above and beyond to prove you’re the perfect candidate, and here’s how:
If community college courses are available to you, it’s in your best interest to take advantage of them. Taking dual enrolment courses can show you sought out the most challenging curriculum you could, displaying your college readiness and love of learning. Community college can also help you acquire excellent LoRs later on.
Admissions committees use applications as an opportunity to get to know you better without ever having met you. Explain the context surrounding the decision to pursue a homeschool education to give them a better understanding of your life, background, and experiences.
Using the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you can take advantage of the optional essay to provide that needed context. Homeschooled or not, an excellent essay can go a long way in the admissions process!
You must have a transcript created to apply to college but take care that it shows a complete picture of how you’ve spent your time.
Add rich details, provide extra materials, and shoot for too much information rather than too little. The more you give the admissions committee, the more informed they are to make a decision.
You may not have the same access to extracurriculars as a homeschool student. College admission committees recognize this challenge and factor it into their decisions, but will still expect some extracurriculars on your application, especially community service.
Think about ways you’ve been active in your community despite being a homeschool student. Extracurricular activities can include volunteer work for charity or religious organizations, getting involved in an athletics team or the arts, working a part-time job, or even taking on a great deal of responsibility at home.
Summer programs or projects can make excellent additions to your college application. Colleges want to see students willing to collaborate, an attribute that may be hard to show from a homeschooled background alone. Demonstrate your ability to work in a team, which will fortify your application.
Undergrad programs typically ask for one to three letters of recommendation, depending on the school. Students in a more traditional education setting may submit two letters from their teachers and one letter from their school counselor.
While you can certainly ask a parent for a letter of recommendation if they are your primary teacher, admissions committees will need to see more than that. Think about anyone who knows you well and can speak to your abilities. As a homeschooler, you should send the maximum number of recommendation letters allowed.
Your essays are an opportunity to provide more context about your life and experiences while simultaneously showing your writer’s voice and personality. Essays are the best way for an admissions committee to get to know you beyond your academics, so as a homeschooler, writing stand-out essays should be a main focus.
These essays require time and dedication: they may be the most time-consuming element of the college application process. Your narratives should be compelling, easy to follow, and impactful. Use your unique experience to your advantage!
There’s no one right way to show how you take the initiative. For example, MIT seeks homeschool applicants who take the initiative, show an entrepreneurial spirit, and make the most of the opportunities available to them.
Think about how your untraditional education has given you the flexibility to do things and gain experiences more traditional applicants haven’t done.
Although some schools may currently have a test-optional policy in place, admissions committees are very interested in seeing your SAT or ACT scores as a homeschooler.
Do your best to achieve high scores on the SAT or ACT. High standardized test scores can strengthen any application and show the admissions committee you have an excellent handle on foundational knowledge.
Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about getting into college as a homeschooled student.
Whether or not a college will accept a homeschool diploma depends on the individual school and the strength of your curriculum. You have to have transcripts and diplomas from your guardian that show your learning is at a college level.
You may have a stronger chance of acceptance if you work with a reputable umbrella school, tutoring agency, or online school.
Homeschooling can be complicated for colleges to understand as they don’t have the same understanding of your curriculum. That’s why it’s important to provide as much context as you can.
If you provide a detailed syllabus, create a comprehensive portfolio (with writing samples, exams, etc.), and can demonstrate your ability to understand a typical college curriculum through standardized testing and/or taking college courses online, you’ll have a better chance of gaining admission.
Gaining admission to Harvard is challenging for any student. However, Harvard has stated that they do not treat homeschoolers differently in the application process and it is entirely possible to gain access to Harvard as a homeschooler.
Yale does accept homeschoolers, however, you must provide some additional information. If you’re applying to Yale as a homeschooler you must provide two letters of recommendation from academic teachers and one letter of recommendation from a school counselor.
Yale asks that you do not submit letters from a parent, which is a good rule when applying to any school.
Studies and reports vary when it comes to calculating the amount of homeschoolers who go to college. Generally speaking, most reports state that over 60% of homeschooled students go to college, which is about the same as the national average of 60.9%.
Since homeschoolers face unique challenges when applying to colleges, such as not having official transcripts or the same access to school resources, it can be harder for them to get into college.
The shift from homeschool to college can also be more abrupt, especially compared to students who are already accustomed to larger classes and school sizes!
However, colleges do not penalize homeschooled students. They bring unique perspectives that help them stand out and they can still demonstrate their academic potential by earning college credit and scoring high on their SAT/ACT!
Some homeschoolers may feel anxious about college applications as they wonder how their experiences and grades stack up against students from more traditional education backgrounds. Don’t worry: homeschoolers can get into college without a GED or traditional diploma!
Hopefully, we’ve thoroughly answered your question, “how do homeschoolers get into college?” To summarize, remember to highlight your test scores, extracurricular activities, get multiple recommendation letters, and write stellar essays. When you work hard and remain dedicated, you have a fair shot at any college you want to attend!
And, if you’re still feeling unsure, let our Quad Education counselors reassure you! Through one-on-one guidance and tailored application support, they’ve helped countless homeschoolers get into the most elite colleges!