Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tips for Homeschoolers Applying to College

You did it! You made it through homeschool high school. Now what? It can be a bit confusing to try to navigate through the college admissions process as a homeschooler, but it's not impossible. I was in your shoes last year, and I was accepted to my dream school. Here's some tips that worked for me.

1. The number one thing I can tell you right now is to start studying for either the ACT or SAT.  In the world of applications, test scores speak louder than words. Read about each test and decide which one would be best for you, and which one your desired college requires. I've found Prep Scholar to be one of the best resources for that. I also used CollegeConfidential's what are my chances thread to compare my stats with others who were accepted to the schools I was applying to.

Next, find a way to take some practice tests. Ideally, you should be prepping between a year to six months in advance, but I know life can get in the way! It's never too late to start studying. Purchase a prep book, find a test online - just time yourself taking a full practice test. See what you struggled with and what came easy. Focus on those problem areas.

Another thing that's true regardless of where you were educated is that you'll have gaps. Most schoolwork was pretty easy for me but math was a struggle, particularly because our curriculum didn't put that much emphasis on it. Find your gap area and really work on it.

If you do poorly, study up and retake. I went from a 28 to a 31 on the ACT between September to November, and that was while working and taking dual credits. You can only go up!

2.  Start researching schools and their entrance requirements. Decide what you want in a school. Big, small, Christian, public, private, high emphasis on academics or athletics, etc. Pick a safety school - one you KNOW you can get into based on your GPA and ACT scores, and be sure to apply there. Apply to the school you really want, and apply to maybe one reach- one that might be  a little hard for you to get in.. You get four free schools with the ACT purchase, so I'd suggest picking the 'big four' you can actually see yourself at. Don't make all four reach schools or you might be disappointed!

3. Do EVERYTHING on the college application. If essays are optional or you have the choice to submit a resume' , do it. Don't be so lazy you get waitlisted. Start the application early so you have time to get everything in. Who would you want, the kid who went above and beyond to fill out every inch of the application, or one who did the bare minimum? See if there's "extras" that your college would appreciate knowing about. If it's a faith institution, there may be a chance to write an essay on your faith. Is there a legacy section for you to fill out at your parent's alma mater? Are you considering joining a program unique to the school, like TAMU's Corps of Cadets or Baylor's Golden Girls?

4. Apply a month or so before the application is due. You'll need time to get everything together, essays written and scores back. Plus, as a homeschooler you may have special challenges like VOE forms, explaining why you don't have counselor's letters, and transcript verification. If you apply early you have time to communicate with the school and send them what they need before it's too late!

5. Know that you can do this. It may feel intimidating or that NO OTHER HIGH SCHOOLER in the state is doing their college application entirely on their own but you are, and you can rock it. If you have doubts, get a dual credit teacher, co-op leader, or teacher friend to look over your essays or tutor you for an ACT section. Don't be afraid to reach our for help.

Anyway, these are just a few tips that worked for me. I know every homeschooler is different but I hope I helped a little! <3

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