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College Admissions for Homeschool Students (Part 3 of 3)

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The admissions process into selective colleges is not “fair” by any measure. The process is often determined as much by the parents of the applicant as it is the accomplishments of the applicant, sometimes more so. If you are middle class, your child has a much lower chance of getting into a selective college than the son of someone worth hundreds of millions of dollars. If you work 40 hours a week, your child has a much lower chance of getting in than the daughter of a Hollywood personality, the son of a Senator, or the daughter of a professor of the selective college. If you never graduated from high school, your child has a much lower chance of getting in than the daughter of an alumnus of the selective college. If you are an East or South Asian, you child has a lower chance of getting in than the child of white parents; while that white child has a lower chance of getting in than the child of Hispanic parents; and that Hispanic child has a lower chance of getting in than the child of Black parents. These are realities, you cannot change them. Fortunately, as a homeschool parent you can better position your child for admission into selective colleges better than any district public school can, and better than the overwhelming majority of all private schools can.

Transcripts: Grades matter, a lot. There were 30,489 applications for the 1,664 slots in the Harvard College class of 2014. When the well-connected students listed above are taken out of the pool, as well as recruited athletes, the school is left with many thousands of outstanding applicants to choose from for a limited number of at-large spots, including a few thousand high school valedictorians (most of who will be rejected). Grades and class rank will do much of the admission committee’s work in eliminating otherwise great candidates. Many so-called informed people may tell you that grades don’t matter as much as the strength of the courses taken. Nonsense, if you aren’t at the top of your class at a regular public school then good luck. Homeschoolers don’t really receive a benefit with regards to GPA and class rank, what they get is to avoid a kiss of death. Homeschoolers should graduate with a 4.0 and at the top of their class (a class of one).

Where the homeschool student really benefits is in the substance of the transcript, which the colleges look to after they dump the majority of applicants (despite their rhetoric about giving each application multiple looks). The great thing about a homeschool transcript is that it is not limited to a public school curriculum that is meant for the masses and that needs to satisfy certain political and special interests. There is not a public district school in America where a student can build a tailored curriculum around his or her unique interests. On the other hand, in addition to studying Algebra, Chemistry and American History as they do in public schools, a homeschool student can develop real expertise in select areas which allows them to truly stand out in the admissions process. For example, a student interested in the life of Ben Franklin can replicate his experiments on electricity, research his influence on the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, study French and perhaps even visit his former dwelling as Ambassador to France, and take up an internship working at a newspaper printing facility to better understand his work as a master printer and publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Standardized Test Scores: Because homeschoolers don’t have the disadvantage of being ranked in a class of hundreds of other students based primarily on their relative strengths in linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, standardized tests take on added emphasis. Despite the rightful disdain that many homeschool parents have for standardized tests, homeschool students still outperform their public and private school peers on the SATs and ACTs. In another post I’ll explain the various reasons why homeschoolers continually outperform on these tests, and how homeschoolers can do even better on them.

Extracurricular Activities: Homeschoolers are advantaged and disadvantaged when it comes to extracurricular activities. The disadvantages are that parents often have to pay more out of pocket because extracurricular activities for homeschoolers are not subsidized by the government (no drama club at home), and the parent and student need to work harder to find and get involved in certain activities. However, the advantages are significant. First and foremost, a homeschool child isn’t tied to the limited selection of activities and sports available at a given school. If a child is best served by participating in debate and fencing they won’t be left out in the cold just because Public School #125 only offers choir and wrestling.

Parents should help their child identify the activities that they can get most passionate about, and that they can excel at. Parents should not be tied to the belief that their child needs to be like every other child. In fact, it is far better for your child to love and excel at something that is relatively uncommon than it is for them to be decently good at football or basketball. The beauty of homeschooling is that unlike most public school students, because homeschooling is far more time efficient and learning happens 24/7, students can dedicate much more time to developing their unique talents. By excelling at something, they greatly improve their admissions packets. This is especially true when it comes to sports. The number of slots that are reserved for athletes at the most selective colleges is sizeable. For example, approximately 1,500, or 20% of the 7,000 undergraduates at Harvard College are student athletes.

Recommendations: Homeschoolers have another advantage when it comes to recommendations. First, a parent is going to write one of them. Of course, it has to be properly written, but unlike recommendations from high school teachers, there is little chance that the parent will say that the student is only among the top 20% of students they’ve ever taught. Second, supervisors of various activities (coaches, scoutmasters, etc) are more likely to write outstanding recommendations for someone who excels in and is fully committed to their organization, as the case likely will be as I’ve alluded to above, in extracurricular activities. Third, because many homeschoolers take college level courses through local community colleges, homeschoolers often have a powerful and relevant recommendation that speaks to their ability to handle university level academics.

Interview: Finally, though the interview is often optional and of little importance, homeschoolers shine. Because homeschoolers haven’t been told to sit down and shut up, only speaking when spoken to, and are not just one in a class of thirty, they learn to actually interact with others. Not just teachers and children their age, but adults in all lines of work throughout all times of the day and weekend. Homeschoolers are better socialized than their public school counterparts, and it gives homeschoolers another advantage in the application process.

In conclusion, not only do children most often receive a vastly superior education homeschooling or unschooling than they do in a standard brick and mortar school, they also have a more direct path into select colleges and universities.

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4 Responses to " College Admissions for Homeschool Students (Part 3 of 3) "

  1. YaleMommy says:

    Are you saying that homeschooling can get any kid into these elite universities?

    • Antonio Buehler says:

      Absolutely not. There are a limited number of slots at elite universities, so no matter what there will always be children on the outside looking in. Homeschooling is also not the best option for all children. Some children actually perform best in a sit down and shut up environment and may have a better shot at getting in through a private or public school. Some children simply aren’t academically suited (from a “g factor” intelligence perspective) for college. However, the vast majority of students would be better served through homeschooling from an intellectual development perspective, and homeschooling would improve their college admissions prospects.

  2. These home school articles are great.

  3. [...] the most competitive programs in the world. We marry this expertise with our understanding of the tremendous benefits of homeschooling and our ability to effectively convey those benefits in a powerful way to give the homeschooler the [...]

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