As their numbers continue to surge, homeschool students are catching the eyes of college admissions advisors and recruiters, who are viewing today’s college-bound homeschoolers with growing attention and newfound respect.
Bright homeschoolers are in demand on campuses across the nation where colleges and universities have finally realized that these well-mannered high achievers are a boon to academics and student life.
“Those who prepare thoroughly can be admitted with full scholarships at those selective colleges that some parents daydream about their children attending,” said homeschool dad and educational consultant Karl M. Bunday, who compiled an online list of over 1,000 colleges that have admitted homeschoolers.
“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Susan Berry, who researches and writes about educational topics like the fast growing rate of homeschooling. “Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers.”
Educational consultant and former homeschool mom Dori Staehle recruited both homeschool and public school students in her job as a college admissions counselor. Staehle said that schools have caught on to the fact that homeschoolers represent a desirable pool of talent, often possessing impressive reading lists, letters of recommendation, AP credits, and experience in volunteering and the arts.
“Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics,” said Staehle in an article titled “Casting a Wider Net.” “Homeschoolers not only enhance classroom discussions, they tend to get involved in campus life and student leadership, and they hold their own academically as well.”
The trend of recruiting homeschoolers has spread from Ivy League schools to Christian, public, and private colleges that want their own campuses to reflect that well-rounded quality. According to Bunday, every year homeschoolers are admitted to hundreds of colleges in at least five countries.
In his article on the rise of homeschooled college applicants, author Bruce Hammond advises homeschool parents and college-bound homeschoolers to be prepared for wide variation in how their credentials are reviewed. Hammond also offered six ways in which these students can increase their chances of getting into the schools of their choice:
1. Strive for a balanced curriculum. Colleges will probe for areas of weakness, especially in math and foreign language. Many colleges have graduation requirements in one or both of these areas.
2. Create a portfolio. Students should assemble examples of their best work across the widest possible range of subjects. A portfolio allows admissions officers to see the quality of the applicant's work rather than grades or course descriptions.
3. Attend a residential summer program at a college. Such programs provide a nice introduction to college life and proof that a homeschooled student can function well in a conventional classroom. As an alternative, students might consider enrolling in classes at a local college during the academic year.
4. Prepare diligently for standardized tests. In the absence of a conventional academic record, SAT scores become more significant. Consider taking the SAT II Subject Tests and the ACT for additional opportunities to score high.
5. Schedule a campus interview. Not all colleges routinely offer campus interviews, but I recommend that homeschooled applicants make every effort to get one. If the secretary who answers the phone does not seem receptive, ask to speak to an admissions counselor. If you call far enough in advance, most colleges will accommodate.
6. Let the student take center stage. After playing the role of parent and teacher for so many years, some homeschooling parents have a difficult time letting go. A relationship that seems overly dependent will set off alarm bells in the admissions office. Each applicant must step forward and make the case for him or herself.
“Success in college admissions comes to those who keep an open mind and explore a variety of options,” Hammond said.