If you’ve ever been nervous about your child’s transition from homeschooling to college, you’re in good company. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 1.7 million children in the U.S. are homeschooled, and many of these students will be preparing college applications at some point in the future. Thoughtful, early planning is the key to setting the foundation for college success. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways to prepare your homeschooler for college.
1) Research college entrance requirements.
Make sure your homeschool curriculum matches college entrance requirements. Most schools will require a certain number of years of math, art, English, science, social studies, and a foreign language. Ideally, your student should have this information handy a few years before applying to college so that their high school curriculum will fulfill all requirements.
2) Map out deadlines and schedules in advance.
There is a lot to keep track of in the college prep process. Luckily, staying organized makes it all easier. Create a schedule with all standardized test dates, college application deadlines, and financial aid deadlines. That way there are no nasty surprises for you or your child the night before something is due.
3) Explore potential programs and universities.
Research which colleges offer the programs that your child may wish to pursue. To aid in the college research process, Study.com offers its own School Search function that provides information about different schools’ locations, academic offerings, and more. Study.com also includes video reviews of different colleges and universities so you and your child can learn more without needing to travel.
4) Visit colleges and speak with admissions counselors.
When possible, visit the college campuses your child is most interested in. You can also attend college fairs in your area to speak with admissions counselors from schools around the country.
5) Determine who will write letters of recommendation.
In addition to test scores, colleges pay careful attention to letters of recommendation to get a holistic view of an applicant. Your child may consider asking for a letter from employers, volunteer supervisors, spiritual leaders, or any other authority figure who can speak to your child’s character and work ethic. Recommenders should have at least four full weeks to craft a letter that will best highlight your child’s strengths.
6) Prepare for the SAT or ACT.
Unless your student is applying to a test optional school, he/she will most likely need to take either the SAT or ACT. You can often find prep classes offered through your local library, or use online SAT prep classes such as those offered by Study.com.
7) Earn college credit through CLEP.
Students who attend public or private schools often earn college credit in advance through Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Homeschool students have similar opportunities through the CLEP exams, which can confer college credit but are not usually attached to a high school class. CLEP introduces students to the rigor of a college curriculum in topics like Spanish, Biology, and American Literature. Each CLEP exam costs $85, and a passing grade equates to college credit. Study.com offers CLEP test prep including study guides, video lessons, and practice tests to help homeschooled students prepare for these exams. An added benefit of CLEP is that earning college credit in advance can save thousands of dollars in tuition. Students with several CLEP exams under their belt may even be able to graduate early.
8) Do extra-curricular activities.
One of the main advantages of homeschooling is having a flexible schedule. This means that homeschooled students are uniquely positioned to engage in extra-curricular activities, volunteering, internships, and other experiences that can strengthen their college applications and give them a well-rounded experience.
9) Apply for scholarships and financial aid.
College is a big investment, but scholarships and financial aid can make it more manageable for families. Prepare all financial documentation needed for the FAFSA and CSS Profile, and encourage your student to apply for external scholarships. Scholarship search engines such as Fastweb and Cappex are a great place to start.
10) Find a community and mentors to help.
Remember you don’t need to go through this process alone. Find other homeschoolers and their families who are going through, or have gone through, the college application process. You can reach out through local Facebook groups or local support groups to start.
Do you have a child going through the college search and application process? What resources have been most helpful for you?
ACT and SAT: https://study.com/academy/goal/test-prep/act-and-sat-prep.html
School Search: https://study.com/directory/degree_type/Undergraduate.html