College Grade Levels High School Homeschool

Should You Homeschool Your College-Bound High Schooler?

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.

high school student studying outside

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

About the author


Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, Homeschool Road Trips, Love These Recipes, and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 30 years ago, and they live in the South. Hannah, age 26, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 24, was the second homeschool graduate and the first to leave the nest. Mary Grace, age 18, is the most recent homeschool graduate. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow an herb garden every summer with limited success.


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  • This is great, Wendy. I have a child in college and one about to graduate and this is almost exactly how I would advise someone who is going to home school their college bound child through high school. Well done!

  • I am homeschooling my high school daughter currently. I am also a retired (30+ years) public school high school English teacher. To further reassure those who are preparing their teens for college while educating them at home, just remember that the students graduating from public schools are not, in general, prepared for college, either. This can be confirmed by reading reports that more students are being forced to enroll in foundation courses upon college entrance than ever before. So, have confidence – and keep good records! More than likely, you are doing a BETTER job than if you sent your teen to most public high schools.

    • Cindy, it is unfortunate that many students who attend public (or even private) schools are not well prepared for college. I know that most teachers try to do the best they can, but with so many students and a limited amount of time, they can only do so much. I think one of the main academic advantages of homeschooling is that, with the teacher-to-student ratio being so small, at least the teacher (usually the mom) generally has a good idea of her students’ weaknesses and strengths and what they know and don’t know. Thanks for your comment!

      • Yes, Wendy — completely agree that most teachers are doing more than should even be expected – unfortunately, governmental “accountability” efforts have imploded on them and made their jobs practically impossible, and removed much of the art of teaching from their control. Here in Tx – there are 45 days of state assessments during a high school academic year, when all the tests are included.

        • Right. That’s sad, but it’s reality. I think it also discourages those who would be good teachers from entering the teaching profession.

    • Thank you, Carlie! This topic is something that sometimes catches us by surprise, and then we don’t feel like we have the tools we need to make good decisions about our homeschooled students’ high school years. We think we have plenty of time, and then we suddenly realize that our children are high school aged, and we wonder why we haven’t considered our options earlier!

  • Thanks for the great post Wendy! I was homeschooled, all the way through high school, got what I consider to be a decent SAT score (1230 out of 1600, with a 700 Verbal score), and got a scholarship to Seton Hall University. You know what? They wanted me BECAUSE I was homeschooled, not in spite of it. I went on to graduate magna cum laude with a double major in English and Religious Studies and a double minor is Latin and Catholic Studies, as the recipient of the Religious Studies honors award, and as a member of the national honor societies for both of my majors. It is absolutely possible to prepare your child for college at home.

    • Bridget, thank you so much for sharing your comment! That is very encouraging to hear! I honestly believe that more and more colleges will be seeking out homeschoolers in the future and that eventually homeschooled students will actually have an advantage when it’s time to apply for acceptance in college.

      • Hi:
        I have a daughter who willl be a Jr next year. I keep hearing students who have taken AP and Honors courses have an advantage over those who have not when a University is deciding admittance. I don’t feel qualified to teach my child an AP course or to create an honors course. I see online AP and honors courses which are financially out of my league and I don’t want to send my daughter to the local community college to acquire a secular worldview on history or literature. How do you deal with this dilemma? I keep hearing about BJU curriculum is this the only Prep/Honors curriculum available. Thanks for any feedback.

        • Hi Alexandra!

          You might want to post your question on the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook wall. Many more folks will see it there than here in our comments. Hopefully you can get some good suggestions. One thing you might consider doing is talking to the college(s) that your daughter might be interested in attending to find out what they have to say about the situation. My honest belief is that homeschooled students are basically getting “AP” classes every day all the time! They have one-on-one teachers, excellent materials, plenty of time to work and study, and so many other advantages. You might find that the college isn’t very concerned about the “lack” of AP classes. I pray God’s blessings and direction for you and your daughter!


  • I graduated as a homeschooler and had no problems getting into the schools of my choice. The biggest thing is knowing the admission requirements at the colleges the student is interested in attending. They do vary widely, from GED, to portfolio, to SAT II Subject tests being required, so research early enough to make sure everything is completed in time for application deadlines.

    Another consideration is scholarships. While a GED may not be necessary for some college admissions, the state scholarship program where I reside now requires homeschoolers to have a GED to receive funds. They will not accept “accredited” programs or parent-issued diplomas.

    • That’s a good point, Brittney! It is important for all students to check into the admissions requirements of schools they might be interested in attending, and this is probably even more important for homeschoolers. It’s also a very wise idea to look into requirements for applying for scholarships, grants, etc. Thanks for mentioning this!

  • Very encouraging post. It should be stated, however, that the military is making more rigorous requirements for homeschoolers state by state. Often, students with homeschool diplomas are required to score higher on entrance tests or may not be accepted at all. Likewise, the ability to get government jobs in certain states is also problematic for homeschoolers without “official”diplomas. This hurdle may possibly be overcome by enrolling homeschool highchoolers in dual enrollment programs.

    We do need to continue to be diligent with lobbying our legislature and voting for homeschool friendly candidates in local elections because there is still much to overcome.

    • Yes, Heather, you are right! We do need to be very diligent to stay informed about homeschool legislation and to support homeschool-friendly candidates! I would think it would help to do dual enrollment programs or other similar programs. Also it might be a good idea to check with the military ahead of time (during the student’s high school years) to find out about specific requirements, etc. That could save a lot of worry and wasted time too. Thanks for your comment!

  • I have two homeschooled kids in college right now. One will graduate with a degree in dietetics in May. Both of them were accepted to college without issue, scored very well on the ACT test, and have received various scholarships. To all those parents out there looking at homeschooling for high school, you can do it!!!


  • Just what I needed to read!
    I’m getting nervous about homeschooling a high schooler….the more I read from others who have done it, the more relaxed I feel!

    • I’m glad you’re feeling better about it, Jenn! I was very nervous about it myself, but I feel like homeschooling through high school is God’s plan for my family. And since that is the case, I know that He will take care of the outcome as long as we strive to do His will.

  • My oldest daughter is in 8th grade and we are planning on continuing to homeschool throughout high school. She is bright and has managed to finish her curriculum early most years. I am expecting her to be completed with high school early. The plan is for her to begin taking community college courses at that point until she is old enough or has completed as much as she can at that level – then she will go to a typical 4-year school.

  • Hi Wendy, I am a chemistry professor and have had several home-schooled students in my courses. Every one of them did well and had good study habits. They didn’t complain about the work load and were self starters. Several people have made comments blaming the poor performing public schools on the teacher workload. I think some historical perspective is in order. My dad, who is 73, often had 40 – 50 students in class with him when he went through public high school but the knowledge and analytical skill of those students is vastly superior to the typical HS graduate today. The previous commenters left out the two biggest factors in giving us poor performing schools, society and the students homelife/parents. Our Bart Simpson society has come to accept poor academic achievement and parents now believe that the entire responsibility for learning is on the teacher. There is no accountability at home for poor or non performance. Our society has also become addicted to entertainment, particularly electronic entertainment, and contrary to what a typical 16 y/o boy may think, there is NO redeeming value to mastering Call of Duty.

    My wife and I are homeschooling our two children and plan on homeschooling through HS as well, doing a blended format of community college and homeschool. I initially was a little apprehensive about homeschooling through HS but am completely convinced now and am looking forward to challenging them and watching them grow.

    • Bill, thank you so much for taking time to comment on this! I think it is wrong, as you mentioned, to place all the blame on teachers for the poor performance of many high school students today. My grandmother and mother were school teachers, and I taught school myself before my children were born. I know that we tried to do everything we could to help our students learn. During my own years in public school, I had many wonderful teachers who honestly cared about each student and wanted each student to be successful. The parents absolutely must be willing to do their part to ensure their own children’s success in school, whether public, private, or at home. And even with good teachers, our students must be willing to study and learn. They can’t spend hours and hours each day on video games and t.v. shows and expect to be good students.

  • This article is so timely. My son’s on a wait list for 2 local (1 private; 1 vocational)high schools, and we’re deep in prayer whether to homeschool through high school or not. This blog was very encouraging. Any tips ‘veteran’ hs homeschoolers might offer for when your child reaches the advanced maths, and needs a computer savvy person in his/her life?

    Thanks again for sharing this!

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m so glad that you were encouraged! You might want to post your question on the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook wall to see if you can get some good suggestions. 🙂 God will let you know what is right for your family, although it’s terribly hard to wait for an answer sometimes, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment.

  • I have homeschooled two daughters. My first was a highly motivated, self-starter. School just always was “her thing.” Her test schools have always been high, really high. She got a full ride at a really strong Christian college and did really well there. My younger daughter (now a senior in high school) has always had a hard time. She does not test well at all. She was not keeping up with the amount of work that would get her out of high school while working for me. She is now finishing her last semester at an online school program. She has done really well there but she is always a bit behind. I am totally convinced that this was the right decision for her. Now, admittedly, the online school does require even more work than I would have but the trade-off is worth is for this child. If your child does not test well (ACT/SAT, standardized tests) or if your child is taking taking direction well from you, you might consider this. If your test scores are not good, then they look a the transcript more closely. Every child is different.

    • Thank you, Cindy! It is good to keep in mind that every child is different. In fact, that’s one of my favorite reasons to homeschool! I can do what’s best for each of my children. I’m so thankful for the freedom to homeschool!

    • Thanks so much for this. My daughter does not test well and she’s lost her passion for school after I placed her in a specialized high school in NYC. I may need to look into an online school program for her. At this point, she just wants it all to be over unfortunately.

  • thanks so much for this! I just started homeschooling my 6th grader this year and already I am concerned about homeschooling for high school. This gives me reassurance!


  • Would love to be able to pin this on Pinterest. Great article. I’ve tweeted, +1’d, and shared on FB. If you add a picture, I can pin.

  • My oldest graduated in 2010 as a homeschooled student. He did a few co-op classes through high school. He received an awesome scholarship to a local Christian college, and has remained on the dean’s list during his freshman and sophomore years, and now has been accepted into the commercial music program as a transfer student at Belmont University. He says, he thinks homeschooling afforded him with more opportunities to focus on his musical training and offered him more individualized education to prepare him for college. I have 3 more kids to homeschool, and sometimes I feel burned out, but I press on…

  • Hi Martha,

    I’m so glad you posted this. It’s good for other homeschooling families to read success stories! I think we probably all struggle with feeling burned out from time to time, but I believe God will bless us for hanging in there! Do you have other homeschool moms that you get together with occasionally? That might help with burn-out. And we’d love to have you connect with us on our Facebook wall!

    • I do have other homeschool moms that I see on Fridays when we all get together for fine arts classes. Usually when the weather starts turning into Spring, is when I feel the burned out . The kids are not the only ones with Spring fever. lol

  • Thank you for this article, Wendy. I have a high school age child whom I home school. I must admit to my fair share of worrying at times!

  • Great post, Wendy! I homeschooled my two kids through high school, and it was a great experience. My husband, kids, and I have never regretted it. My daughter took two concurrent colleges courses at age 15 and was accepted as a full-time student at our local university at age 16. She was also accepted as a student in England and received her bachelor’s degree at age 19 in England. My son went to our local university. Both kids loved their university experiences, got all A’s, and still love learning – thanks to homeschooling! Here’s a post about our homeschool high school:

    • Deb, that’s wonderful to hear! I’m headed over to your blog to read your post. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your post with us!

  • Wendy,
    I am always encouraged to hear from parents who are enthusiastic about homeschooling through high school. Thank you for this post! My kids are in 5th and 6th grade and we don’t keep transcripts – yet. That’s something I am not looking forward to, but something that is clearly necessary. Thanks for that reminder.

  • Hi!!! I just came across your address and thought I would look to see what homeschooling has become. I would like to encourage parents of teenage children to continue homeschooling.

    I’m currently a public school teacher (Yes, I know!). My journey began in 1996 when I left my profession to raise my daughter and then my son came along. I chose to homeschool because of my convictions as a parent. God had blessed me with two beautiful and healthy children. I had just become a born again Christian so the obvious answer was to leave teaching and homeschool. I don’t regret it one bit. My children are currently in their 20’s and pursing their God given talents. My daughter is a nurse and my son is a business major at a Texas university.

    I think one of the greatest fears for parents is that they feel incompetent or may feel that they are “leaving something out”. Even I as a certified teacher felt this way many times. There are ways to get around the hurdles. You have to be willing to ask for help and then do your research. Anyway, blessings to all who homeschool. If you put in the time and effort, you won’t regret it. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

  • We are homeschooling our 9, 10 & 11 yr old girls. As our oldest moves into Middle School we have wondered about High School. Thank you for your reassurance. I think she will do better with homeschool high School. We are hoping for running start for her.
    We have grown kids in their 30’s, things are different now, homeschooling was not an option then and high school was rough. All 3 of our girls have learning challenges.

  • Our son will be 18 in half a year. He has chosen not to go to college but to start slowly taking over my husband’s business. I was homeschooled for 12 th grade myself and got into to college with no problem. I loved your blog post.