With the arrival of a new year and another year of homeschooling, you may be experiencing new anxiety about the future. Conversations with family and friends are peppered with, “Where are you going to school?” Maybe you are already wearing your school colors. Maybe you have no clue what you want to study, let alone where you want to spend the next four years of adulthood. And of course, the question that is just as, if not more, pressing: “How do I apply to college as a homeschooled student?”
You had unique opportunities to create your own “school,” and decide what kind of person you wanted to be in high school. And now you get to share that person with everyone else through the college application process. But what does that mean in regards to applying to college? Let’s turn these questions into answers about the application process.
What college should I look for?
- Think about your favorite subjects in school and your favorite things to do outside of school. What gives you motivation and drive? Think about why you like what you like. What fascinates you?
- If you do not have a specific academic interest, consider taking electives related to your interests.
- Think about what kind of college you are looking for - size, the type of education, culture, and campus life, religious or political affiliation if any, all matter.
- Where is it located? What opportunities are there for you to grow personally and professionally?
- Think about your career path, if you have one in mind. What kind of work do you enjoy?
What do I need to apply?
- Application and essay- some colleges require an essay showcasing something you are passionate about, or how a moment in your life impacted you.
- Short answers -typically specific to their institution. Ask yourself what you value about the college, their mindset, their values, and let those form your answers.
- Recommendation letters - applications may request one or more letters of recommendation, particularly from your high school counselor.
- For homeschoolers, your counselor will usually be one of your parents but it never hurts to get more letters from outside sources. Another teacher, a coach, a mentor, even an employer can all write excellent letters.
- Activities resume - you may have some teachers ask for this as well to help flesh out their recommendations. Your commitments in high school - jobs, volunteer opportunities, clubs, extracurriculars, sports - are all important to see.
- Transcript - one-page summary of all the courses you have completed or will complete by the time you graduate.
- Include your grades as well as a key to interpret those grades. For example, if you grade on a 4.0 scale and earn an A in Latin and B+ in Chemistry, providing a key helps colleges understand your academic success.
- AP/IB/Dual Credit transcripts - If you took courses from an outside institution that counted for high school and college credit, you may need to request an additional transcript from that school.
- Book list or course descriptions - you can start compiling this list as soon as Freshman year with a short description of your classes, including:
(A) What you learned
(B) How the content was administered
(C) What materials you used to learn
- Standardized test scores - the SAT, ACT, and CLT are the most common tests to submit to colleges. However, many colleges are test-optional. Ask your school what its test policy is and if it will impact your admission decision or scholarships.
- FAFSA and scholarship applications - Fill out the FAFSA to get the best financial aid package possible, and ask your school what financial aid it can provide you. Some scholarships may be awarded as part of your application, or separately.
What expectations do colleges have from homeschoolers?
What can I do now to prepare for college?
Homeschooled students are sometimes concerned about the impression universities have of them, and thus students feel it necessary to “prove” themselves to get into their dream school.
I know both the uncertainty of not knowing what lies ahead in college, and the longing of just wanting to be at my new school. Rest assured, you are more prepared than you think, and you are not alone. That’s why we are here - to answer all of your questions, and then some.
Colleges expect that homeschooled students have a variety of interests and talents. They expect that homeschooled students are disciplined, mature, and achieve all their goals. At the University of Dallas, homeschooled students are our best students. Keep taking classes that interest you, or otherwise just keep fueling that thirst for knowledge. Find ways to fuel your passion.
Last Do’s and Don’ts about College Applications
- DO make note of important dates and deadlines. Colleges may have early deadlines for applications and scholarships, and it’s important to keep track of them.
- DON’T look at the sticker price. Universities and organizations will offer scholarships to ease the financial burden, and they can range from a few hundred dollars to free rides. Ask what scholarships are available, and research 3rd party scholarships too.
- DO visit colleges you are interested in. You may have more freedom to arrange your schedule, so plan a weekend or road trip to see your top schools. Make the most of your visit. Meet with your admission counselor, tour the campus, ask to sit in on classes, and have lunch with students. Imagine yourself as a student at that school.
- DON’T pay money to win a scholarship. The whole point of a scholarship is that it’s free money. If you’re paying money to get money, it’s likely a scam.
- DO get a second pair of eyes to look over your materials, especially your essays. Some colleges are particular about application materials, and smaller schools in particular read everything. Check your spelling, grammar, and consistency.
- DON’T wait until the last minute to apply. You may miss out on important scholarships and financial aid. Plus, it’s less stressful for you if you’re not scrambling to finish an essay or application.
- DO get to know your college admission counselor. Many schools have a specific homeschool liaison or dedicated admission counselor (like me!). Scheduling an appointment or visit with them can help you stand out from the crowd. Ask questions about campus culture, academics, and fun things to do in the area.
One Last “Don’t”…
Don’t worry about your major.
What I mean is if you have a great education, you will not be limited by your major. Often there are certain roles associated with certain majors. But just because you majored in English does not mean you are bound to only English-related careers. Your education prepares you to follow your passions, even when those passions change.
You are at the cusp of adulthood. Your life is filled with two-way doors. The journey is yours alone, but that doesn’t mean you are alone. You have resources to help you find the best fit for you - parents, coaches, academic counselors, college counselors - and we can’t wait to see how you will pursue a life well-lived.
|Natalie Williams was homeschooled her entire life using a variety of programs. Her high school education prepared her for the academic rigor and the Liberal Arts education the University of Dallas offers. Her classes in Literature, Greek and Roman culture, and European Art in high school sparked Natalie’s interests in Art History and French. She graduated in both - B.A. in Art (Art History) and B.A. in French Languages and Literature - in 2022, and has since worked at UD as the Homeschool Admission Counselor. She also serves the Fort Worth and Denton areas.You can reach her at email@example.com to talk about applying to the University of Dallas today.