In this blog post, I’m going to share a few tips on how to prepare for college as a homeschool student. I know that a lot of students are getting a taste of what it’s like to be homeschooled (or at least schooled at home) during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I also think that it is important for all students to have equal access to the resources needed to obtain higher education.
As a homeschool grad myself, (go class of 2020!) I know what it’s like to spend hours, weeks, and months looking into information about college and still come up empty-handed, confused, or just plain exhausted! So, I’ll start from the beginning and take you through a few steps that helped me get into college.
Step 1: Don’t overdo it.
I know it can be easy to forget about everything else around you when college comes into play. It is easy to get caught up in your college search. I learned this first hand when I first started preparing for college. The key is to plan throughout high school, that way it is easier to start carrying out the plan when you reach your senior year. Spend some time doing fun things in between your college prep. As my parents always say, “it’s all about balance.” Apply for some scholarships, hang out with friends, apply for an internship or volunteer experience, get involved in the community, job shadow a friend or relative, research majors of interest, etc. The list goes on. Enjoy yourself, don’t stress. A few programs that can help include RaiseMe, scholarshipowl.com, Fastweb.com, and volunteercrowd.com.
Step 2: Plan early and pursue it!
Two phrases: plan to succeed and succeed to plan. Don’t wait until your senior year to begin thinking about college. Most schools will probably still require an SAT, ACT, or CLT for homeschool students. It’s good to begin preparing in your sophomore year, at least. Make a college plan checklist, begin applying for scholarships (check NSHSS scholarships), start visiting campuses and college fairs, and start looking into internships and volunteer opportunities to beef up your resume.
Oftentimes, high schoolers are hesitant to begin applying for college or taking steps early on because they haven’t decided what they want to major in. No biggie. If you don’t know what you want to be yet, do some research on job markets and/or simply plan to go into an Interdisciplinary major until you decide. Interdisciplinary degrees are fairly new majors that allow students to choose 2 or even 3 unique areas of focus for their degree. For example, if a student were interested in botany and nursing, but couldn’t decide which to major in, Interdisciplinary degrees give you the option of choosing both without getting a double major or deciding on which area of study would be relegated to a minor. This can help you focus more on getting into school than choosing a major. I say this because once you have around 12 college credit hours, you can pretty much transfer to any college of choice (pending grades and acceptance) because you are no longer considered a homeschool applicant but a transfer college student.
Step 3: Get the records straight.
Homeschool students need good and accurate records. Things like portfolios, transcripts, course descriptions, and the high school homeschool diploma. Now, if you attend an umbrella school or accredited online school, the admissions process will be much easier for you. But if you are homeschooled by your parents, they will need to sign your diploma and all your high school records. HSLDA has a service that can help you with this, as it can be a tedious process. Be sure your portfolio contains everything you have done in your high school years, things like field trips, science experiments, hobbies, as well as academic records. This helps colleges recognize how well-rounded you are as an individual, even when you do not have an “accredited diploma” from a public or private school.
Step 4: Research homeschool-friendly colleges and universities.
The list I used was found on Time4Learning. You can look up the term “homeschool-friendly colleges and universities” and you’ll get a plethora of answers. Some of the best that I’ve found are Regent University, Liberty University, and Arizona State University. Some of these schools require you to take college entrance exams, while others do not. Some colleges require more information and records than others. It’s a good idea to look into the required admissions documents before making a decision. You’ll need your list of colleges when you fill out the FAFSA (put homeschooled on your FAFSA, not a high school to speed up the process).
Step 5: Have fun!
For me, I enjoyed my college search. Others dread it. Either way, always remember to follow your heart and have fun.
Nasiyah Isra-Ul is a homeschool graduate, a current sophomore at Liberty University, an NSHSS Collegiate Council Member, and the founder and CEO of Canary Academy Online Inc. She loves working within her community to advocate for awareness on a plethora of topics, including homeschooling, diversity in history, and equity in online education. She enjoys mentoring peers, reading, volunteering in her community, working with young children, and is currently studying to be an early childhood educator. She is also a $10,000 Be More Fund grant recipient.
Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career, and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved.
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