Homeschooling and College Admissions – a survey for homeschoolers AND for colleges! Genius!!
My husband and I made the decision to homeschool our two sons in the middle of their 1st and 4th-grade years. It was the end of January, the testing season was about to begin again, and we decided enough was enough – it was time for a change. So we jumped into the deep end, knowing instinctively this was the right choice for our family, but without any real plan of what we were going to do or how we were going to do it. As I reflect back on those first few days and weeks, I can only describe them as a time of treading water, trying to stay afloat and “do it right”, without any capacity to think beyond the next week, let alone the coming months or years.
Flash forward to today, over four years later, and the scene is much different. We’re completely in the flow of homeschooling and can’t imagine any other lifestyle; we know that this was one of the best decisions (as scary as it was at first) we’ve ever made. Now, as our oldest son winds down what would be his 8th-grade year, we have the ability to look ahead and have realized it’s time to think about what our version of high school will be.
We already know that Sam will likely go to college – he’s very interested in science, particularly physics, and loves to build things, so he will probably need a college degree to pursue a career path that interests him. How do we help prepare him, though, as we continue homeschooling through high school? How can we support him (and his younger brother) to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience they’ll need to apply to college? Will college admissions officers view his homeschooling background favorably?
Do these questions sound familiar? Maybe you’re asking them, too. If so, it turns out we’re not alone – these are common questions amongst home schooling families. How do I know? I asked.
For weeks now, home schooling families from all over the country have been sharing their questions and concerns about the college admissions process with Teach Your Own (a homeschooling support organization I founded a couple of years ago) and the Oregon Home Education Network, as part of a research project we designed and launched last December. As you might imagine, many of the questions parents are most interested in relate to one of two primary topics: the admissions process, and financial aid. Some of the questions submitted so far include:
- “What are the most important things for homeschoolers to put together? Are there types of exams and classes that are preferable?”
- “How can we best communicate our academic experience, knowledge and life lessons so that you can apply them to your entrance requirements?”
- “Are homeschooled students more or less likely to receive financial aid?”
This is just a small sample of the wonderful and probing questions we’re receiving. If you’d like to participate in the homeschooler survey and share your questions and ideas, it’s not too late. Here’s the link (and please feel free to share it with others in your homeschooling community):
Based on this input from homeschoolers, we developed and recently launched the second phase of the project: gathering information from college admissions officers. As of last week, admissions officers and counselors from across the country began responding to a separate online survey we created just for them. Already the respondents represent a wide range of institutions and programs, from large well-known universities like MIT to smaller, lesser-known liberal arts colleges. The trends in their responses and the great advice they’re sharing will be incredibly useful to so many families like ours!
In the next couple of weeks, the fun will really begin, though, as we start conducting interviews with some of these college representatives, digging deeper into their ideas and recommendations for homeschooled students applying to college. We’ll be asking them questions like:
- “What activities and documents best demonstrate that a homeschooled student is a great candidate for your school?”
- “How do you view community college classes taken in high school?”
- “What are some common mistakes homeschooled applicants make?”
If you’re interested in learning more, hearing about the results of this project, or participating, you can do any of the following:
- Go to www.teachyourown.org and sign up to “follow” us. We’ll be releasing preliminary insights and results over the next few weeks and months, even before the final report is complete and made available for free this summer to anyone who is interested. We’ll also be posting the recorded admissions officer interviews and related resource links within the next few weeks.
- Complete the survey for homeschoolers (see link above). Share your questions and concerns with us, and we’ll include them in our research!
- Encourage admissions officers you know to complete their survey. Feel free to share this link with those you know who work in the college admissions field:
Our goal is to help every home schooled student interested in pursuing a college degree to gain acceptance into their college of choice. To do this we need to bridge the information and perception gaps between homeschooling families and the higher education community, ensuring that requirements and expectations are clearly communicated, and making the process easier for both sides. We look forward to having you join us!