It concerns me that many parents of teens feel like they “need” to send their teens to public or private school for the high school years. Parents sometimes make the choice to send their teens to school because they are worried that their children won’t be able to get into a good college. While that may have been the case in the past, it is quickly changing.
Homeschooling Is a Great Option for College-Bound Students!
Homeschooling is becoming so widespread that many colleges now realize that homeschooled students in most cases are a benefit to their college. In fact, colleges are beginning to actively pursue homeschooled students in many cases.
There is no reason to feel like your student must go to public school (or private school) from 9th to 12th grades! You can homeschool during these years and see your student gain acceptance into a reputable college! There are a few tips to keep in mind, though, that will make the process of getting into college easier and less stressful.
Keep Good Records
This does not have to be a difficult, tedious process. There are plenty of good transcript programs available that will help you if you’re interested in investing in one of them. While transcript programs make it easier to keep up with classes and grades, they can be expensive, and they are not a necessity. For my high schoolers, I simply keep a written record of the title of each course, a general description of each course, and each of my students’ scores when the course was completed.
When my son got ready to apply to college a few years ago, I found the necessary “formula” to calculate his GPA for each class and his over-all GPA. I’ll do the same for my youngest child when she gets ready to go to college next year.
Keep in Mind That the GED Test Is Not the Same as a Diploma
Some colleges have required a GED from homeschooled students before acceptance. It is becoming more common, though, for colleges to accept diplomas issued by the parents—especially if those diplomas are accompanied with a well-kept transcript. You don’t want to simply submit a GED score without a transcript and diploma because the college may assume that your student didn’t complete the work he or she needed to do to graduate from high school. (And of course colleges that require the ACT or other testing will also require that test of your homeschooled student.)
You may find it interesting to know that, unlike publicly schooled students, homeschooled students are not required to have a certain number of “credits” in order to graduate. (You need to double check the requirements in your particular state, though, just to be sure! Requirements can and do change from time to time.) I like to have an idea of the credit requirements for my state just as a general guide for my high schoolers, though, even though I don’t stick exactly with those numbers.
Take Time to Prepare Your Child with Skills–Not Just Knowledge
Remember that, while you do need to prepare your child academically for college, he or she also needs to be ready with the skills necessary for doing well in college. You’ll want to do your best to prepare your child for budgeting time, studying, giving presentations/public speaking, writing papers, doing research, and of course typing and using a computer. It’s also a good idea to prepare your child with life skills such as stress management, information about proper sleep and nutrition, and even things like how to do laundry and clean bathrooms and kitchen. You have probably already taught your child many of these skills, but you might want to work on those that you haven’t yet addressed.
Prepare for Standardized Testing
At this time, most colleges require standardized testing such as the ACT or the SAT. In some states, homeschooling parents must give their children standardized tests on a yearly basis. Others require standardized testing at certain grade levels. In other states, it’s not required at all. In other words, your student may have quite a bit of experience taking standardized tests or hardly any at all. There are many study guides, courses, and online programs to help your college-bound high schooler prepare for taking these tests, though.
I do suggest keeping in mind a couple of things.
- First, be sure to begin preparing your child for standardized testing ahead of time. You don’t want to wait until just a few weeks or even months before the test to start preparing. Many homeschoolers enjoy the freedom of not having to rush our children through school, and it’s a good idea to begin far enough ahead of time that you don’t feel the need to rush your child to cram in everything he or she needs to know to be ready for the test.
- Take advantage, if possible, of the opportunity for your child to take an in-real-life prep class in addition to whatever study guide, virtual class, or online program your child uses. Even if your child takes a half-day prep class with a practice test, it’s worth it! My daughter had taken a couple of online prep classes for the ACT, and she wasn’t thrilled when I had her take a half-day in-real-life prep class with practice test, but it turned out to be a good thing for her! The class and practice test allowed her to know exactly what to expect on the day of the test in order to minimize anxiety.
Check with Colleges for Specific Requirements for Homeschoolers
If there are specific colleges your student is particularly interested in attending, be sure to check ahead of time (years ahead if possible) on any specific requirements for homeschoolers. There may be extra documentation you’ll need to provide, and you don’t want to be in a panic at the last minute working to gather records and information.
Have Your Student Take a Dual Enrollment Class if Possible
If your student is willing and able, have him or her take a college class during high school. This is a good way for your child to get an idea of what college will be like while he or she is still at home with your support and guidance. Some colleges offer lower tuition on these classes too, so of course that’s a bonus! Not only is this a great way for your child to “try out” a college class, but it’s also a great way to prove to the college that your student will be able to handle college classes. Note: You may want to encourage your student to take a class that he/she is particularly interested in. This will help ensure better performance and a willingness to work hard. A boring class or extremely difficult class (while probably necessary at some point) is probably not the best class for a first-exposure-to-college class.
Keep Track of Extracurricular Activities
Be sure to keep careful track of extracurricular activities, jobs, volunteer work, etc. Also, it’s great if you can show that your child worked more extensively in an area that he/she plans to pursue in college if possible. For example, if your child wants to major in music, be sure to keep track of music lessons, keep records of times your child played music at weddings or parties, music lessons your child taught to other students, music-related clubs, and other activities related to music such as participating in youth band at church, etc.
If your child has a job, you’ll also want to keep up with the places he/she has worked as well as job responsibilities at each job. This could be something as simple as babysitting or housecleaning, or it could include a job at a grocery store, department store, or somewhere else.
Try Not to Put Too Much Stress on Your Child
Yes, college is important! But so is your child’s health and mental well-being. Remember to talk with your child and give him/her a chance to express feelings and concerns throughout the process of preparing for and applying to college. If you put too much emphasis on college-prep and make it the focus all day every day, your child may become stressed and anxious. While you do, of course, want to prepare your child for college, you also want college to be something to look forward to with anticipation, not anxiety.
Consider Getting Help from an Organization That Can Offer Advice and Assistance
There are organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association that can offer advice and assistance. While you may never need their services, I believe it’s worth the money to join and maintain your membership just in case you ever need them. (HSLDA also provides free legal representation to HSLDA member homeschooling families who need legal help due to a homeschool-related situation.)
Keep in Mind That Not All Students Will Want or Need to Go to College
Our sweet friend Durenda wrote a couple articles on this topic. (She also wrote a book called The Unhurried Homeschooler. You can find it on Amazon.) Her articles are When He Doesn’t Want to Go to College and Is College a Must?
Yes, preparing your homeschooled student for college can seem a bit intimidating. It is something you absolutely can do, though! Just keep a few basic tips in mind and ask for help if you need it.
Do you have tips or recommendations to add? Please leave a comment with your info!