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Homeschool to College – Navigating the College Admissions Process

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It is never too early to start planning for which colleges you will apply to! If you are a homeschooled student, there are some things you will need to plan and consider beforehand as compared to traditionally schooled students. College admissions officers may weigh factors differently as part of the evaluation process. However, most of the criteria such as transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, the applicant’s background, and the opportunities they have had (such as volunteer work) tend to be consistent. This article will help you make the homeschool to college transition smoother and help you learn about the various components of the college admissions process as a homeschooled student.

Homeschool to College – Do Colleges Welcome and Accept Homeschooled Students?


Colleges are very interested in having homeschooled students apply and attend.

From community colleges to highly selective universities, these schools tend to have the same admissions standards for homeschoolers as everyone else, making the homeschool to college transition a bit easier.

For example, Harvard’s policy is to hold homeschoolers to the same admissions standards as other applicants. If someone is interested in researching the admissions standards for homeschoolers looking to go an Ivy League school, check out this article by Homeschool Success.    

See our related post on the Best Online Colleges for Undergraduates for 2021

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The College Admissions Process – What Do I Need to Have in a Transcript?

Colleges will still need a transcript or GED to show proof of completion.  Homeschoolers will not need a GED if a transcript is produced. The best thing you can do as a homeschooled student, parent, or primary teacher is to create a high school transcript that contains the same information you would find in a traditional school before sending it to your colleges.

Some parents work with a homeschool academy or group that produces transcripts and diplomas. Some outsource the transcript creation to a company that can come at a high cost. Many students and parents choose to create their own transcript.

If you choose to create your own transcript, there are some great resources that can alleviate a lot of the anxiety.  For example, The Homeschool Mom has some free templates that you can download. 

While there is no such thing as a “correct” or “standard” transcript, your transcript should include all of the following information when preparing to go from homeschool to college and beginning the college admissions process:

Homeschooling Transcript Checklist for College

High School Courses Completed

The high school courses completed along with the grade, grade scale, credits given, and course GPA.  I recommend you list by year and follow a traditional grades 9-12 format.

Courses Taken Elsewhere

Note on the high school transcript if the course was taken somewhere other than at home such as with a homeschool academy or community college.

Please note that even if noted on the transcript you produce; the college admissions officials will need the official transcript from that institution

AP Courses

Note on the high school transcript if the course was taken as an AP course. As a result of the course, if the student then proceeded to take the AP exam.

The College Board will need to send over the official scores to show the test score. Typically scores of 3 or above may qualify the student for college credit.

SAT or ACT Scores

The SAT or ACT score (if taken). It is nice to note the score on the high school transcript, although official scores will need to be sent from either the College Board (for SAT) or ACT.


Your overall GPA will be needed.

Graduation Date

Expected graduation date (or completed graduation date) will need to be provided.

Parent Signature and Date

This is to certify the information provided is accurate as you, the parent, are acting as the homeschool official.

Homeschool to College – Will Colleges Need to Know More Information About Your Homeschool for the College Admissions Process?

If you are applying to a competitive college or university, the answer will most likely be yes. 

The Common Application is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to any of more than 800 member colleges and universities across the country and world. In addition to having the student apply via the common app, parents (or the administrator of your homeschooling program) will need to complete the counselor letter as part of the college admissions process.

The goal of this letter is to let the college know important information about your homeschool such as GPA scale is used and how many honors or AP courses are offered, and the structure of the homeschool. Parents should note that when filling out the school report, a number of spaces will be marked N/A because they depend on comparing students to others within the same school.

Don’t worry if you have never filled out a counselor letter before. Fearless Homeschoolers has some good practical information for parents and a free guide.

To access the profile online, log on to the Common Application, find the “Education” section and click on “Find School.” A window will pop up that lists all the schools in your area.

Scroll down to the very bottom of that window and select “I was/am homeschooled.” The site will then prompt you to enter your counselor’s contact information where you will enter the parent information.

The parent will then receive an email to set up a counselor account, which is where the school profile and counselor recommendation are completed.

How Much Are Standardized Tests Factored Into the College Admissions Process?

Overall, a lot of weight is places on standardized tests such as SAT and ACT scores in the college admissions process.

For competitive colleges, how they are ranked are partially factored by the average SAT or ACT score of the students they accept.

For open admissions institutions such as community colleges, they tend to use the SAT or ACT score as part of the placement process. Colleges will typically place even more weight on your SAT/ACT scores if you are homeschooled. Make sure you check with each school to see what their testing requirements are and research the average SAT or ACT score of those that are accepted.

Will the College Also Need Letters of Recommendation as Part of the Admissions Process?

The answer is the same as the counselor letter. 

If you are applying to an open admissions college, such as a community college, then the answer is no.

However, if you are applying to a competitive college, many colleges will require one to three letters of recommendation.

It is good to be prepared and obtain three letters of recommendation.

Colleges typically prefer to have at least one letter of recommendation from external teachers as opposed to recommendations from a parent.

What I do recommend is to have a student take a course during their high school years at a local community college so they can ask that teacher to write a recommendation on behalf of the student.

Additional letters of recommendation can also come from a coach, mentor, clergy member, or volunteer coordinator. In those letters of recommendation, the writer will want to focus on how the student will add value to the academic, social, and/or cultural aspects of a college campus.

The best thing you can do is plan and see if the college/s of your choice require letters of recommendation, how many, and who should be writing the letters.

From Homeschool to College – Other Than Academics, What Else Can I Highlight?

It is important to remember that colleges understand the unique nature of your homeschooling education and they will tend to evaluate homeschool applicants through a more holistic lens.

Competitive colleges want to see students have at least a few activities that demonstrate their character and interests. Participating in volunteer opportunities is an excellent way to show a commitment to the community (or world) and that the student had enriching experiences outside of the classroom.

Colleges want to envision how an applicant might fit and contribute to their campus community and culture.

It is important to remember that colleges understand the unique nature of your homeschooling education and they will tend to evaluate homeschool applicants through a more holistic lens. #homeschooling #collegeprep #homeschool… Click To Tweet

College Admissions Process – How Much Financial Assistance Will I Receive?

From 2008 to 2018, the average tuition at four-year public colleges increased in all 50 states. On average, tuition at these schools has increased by 37%, and net costs (including factors like scholarships and grants) have increased by 24%, according to a 2019 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Paying for college is a growing concern for many parents and students.

Regardless of family income, I always recommend students fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are three key reasons to fill out the FAFSA:

  • First, you do not know how much aid you may qualify for until you apply.
  • Second, many states that have a “free” college program are actually last dollar program, meaning they cover what is not covered by FAFSA and thus require you to fill it out first.
  • Lastly, scholarships that are needs based will want to take a look at the FAFSA to factor the expected family contribution (EFC) to determine need.

After factoring in what Uncle Sam can provide via federal funds, you will also want to find out what scholarship or aid package the college itself will provide as part of the college selection process. 

Homeschool to College – Going Through the College Admissions Process Summarized

Homeschooled students are attending and succeeding in college just like their traditionally schooled peers.

By having a solid plan in place, you can successfully navigate the college admissions process when going from homeschool to college.

The first step is determining if you want to attend an open admissions college such as a community college, a high-quality online institution, or a competitive traditional college. From there you can determine what is needed beyond a transcript such as a counselor letter, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendations.

Finally, develop a financial plan in coordination with the college you wish to attend in order to graduate with as little to no debt as possible.

Want a useful tool to help? Get our FREE Homeschool College Application Checklist below!

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Dr. Dave Ferreira

College Administrator

Dr. Dave Ferreira is the wonderful husband of Diane from Worth Beyond Rubies! He holds a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership, with his dissertation on College First Year Experience Seminars. He is an experienced college administrator who has worked at both 2 year colleges and comprehensive 4 year universities. He is the author of the book The 2nd Edition of the Insider’s Guide to College Etiquette for Bedford /St. Martin. He also has two college students and a high schooler doing school online so he also understands education from a parenting perspective.

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