“I love this approach, my children are delighted to learn. I’ve never seen them light up like this before with schoolwork. But is it enough for them to get into college?” I’ve answered dozens, if not hundreds, of messages like this from mothers over the years. We’ve seen many Fun-Schoolers successfully go from Homeschool to College. While our students can’t walk into their high school guidance counselor’s office, today we’ll offer a few tips and resources for your college-bound student.
To Dos for College Bound Homeschoolers
First and foremost, make sure you know your state/country’s legal High School requirements. Your child’s ability to graduate with a valid diploma depends on ensuring the proper laws are followed. We have found the HSLDA to be an irreplaceable resource for understanding your local laws. This is good research to do in between 8th and 9th grade before your student starts high school.
Next, check with the school(s) your student plans to apply to. You can’t start too early. Freshman or Sophomore year is a good time to start looking. Ask specifically for resources for homeschooled students. As home education has grown in the last few years, many Universities provide guides for what they’re looking for from kids who didn’t attend traditional school. Also ask about standardized tests, prerequisites, and credit requirements for admissions.
Ensure you know how to write a strong transcript and assign credits. Last year we wrote a comprehensive guide to doing this as a Fun-Schooler. Don’t forget about volunteer work, jobs, clubs, athletics, etc. when considering what to include on this transcript!
How does Fun-Schooling prepare a student to go from homeschool to college?
One of the biggest advantages we’re giving our children through Fun-Schooling is teaching them how to learn vs teaching them how to study. Schools teach kids to study for a test and memorize rote information. We ignite a love of learning in our children which helps store the information for the long-haul. Fun-Schooling parents with kids in college have told us how impressed professors are with students’ abilities to learn and hold onto information vs spitting it out for a test and then forgetting it.
Fun-Schooled students often work above their “grade level,” and in many cases can test out of courses once they get into college as well. By giving them a chance to deep dive into their passions and providing them with a broad feast for learning, they’ll often come into college able to knock out several courses before they even begin.
Don’t fear “gaps.” All students come into college with gaps, it’s impossible to learn everything we are taught! Students can take courses at a community college if there’s something specific they have to have in order for admission. Once they’re in school, they are so well equipped to know how to learn that they’ll be perfectly capable of filling in any gaps. Check out this post for a few other thoughts on gaps.
Tips from Fun-Schooling Moms
Here are a few tips from Moms who have Fun-Schooled and then seen their kids go from homeschool to college-
- Jennifer- “Better to be over on transcript than have no idea what you’re doing!”
- Samantha- ” If one college is asking for you to jump through outrageous hoops because you’re home educated then try another. Some schools require FAFSA even if you don’t qualify for financial based aid in order to issue and awards and merit. Make sure any dual enrollment you do will actually transfer, not all do. Look out for free application days through common app or the schools.”
- Laura- “Start in 7th grade with your child investigating careers, what degrees are required for various degrees, do they need an AA/AS or a BA/BS, or will they need to go onto grad school, etc. Have them start with state schools and examine entrance requirements and degrees offered — if they are interested in social work but looking at a school that doesn’t offer that program, then they know to cross that off their list. Have them look at what courses are required in majors of interest — if Calculus 3 is going to be required and the student detests math, then there is a need to reevaluate plans or learn to enjoy math . Once the students have researched, work with them to set up their high school plans, coordinate courses the college requires for admission, state homeschool requirements, and any additional passions they wish to pursue. Explore dual enrollment options in your area – some states provide free or reduced rates for high school students taking dual enrollment at local community colleges. Explore study skills – while some kids intuitively know how to study, take notes, etc., others need step-by-step instructions in things like Cornell Notes and the SQ3R method for reading a text. The majority of post-secondary schools are only concerned with transcripts listing course titles and grades/GPA and test scores. Still, others, particularly private or smaller schools, might ask for course descriptions, lists of books read, etc., so it’s always a good idea throughout high school to have your student keep a running doc of books read. While some schools are test optional now for admission, some states or colleges still use test scores to qualify for merit money. I always recommend taking the SAT and ACT once and then re-taking the one they scored highest on. There are plenty of free or low-cost options to study for the SAT/ACT, so there is no need to pay hundreds of dollars for test prep classes. Using the Thinking Tree Journals is great prep because it helps the student take ownership of their learning and teaches them to read, watch, listen, explore, and then record their viewpoints. I will put a plug in for exploring Purdue Owl, how to cite appropriately in both MLA and APA papers, and the importance of using recognized sources – not just google searches and Wikipedia . Help your student learn to find resources for topics they don’t understand in their math or science, such as Quizlet, crash course videos, or other YouTube videos. If your student is not accustomed to using a TI83/84 calculator, then have them use YouTube videos to learn the basics. Make sure by the end of Junior year that your student knows the application dates, particularly at more selective colleges. Some colleges use application dates for things like housing priority, etc. If you have a student with a documented disability, you’ll want to apply for accommodations to the ACT and College Board (SAT) by the end of the 10th for testing in 11th. Your student should also reach out to potential college Accessibility Offices to determine documentation requirements to apply for college accommodations and to inquire about typical accommodations offered to students with disabilities similar to them. If your student has a disability, it is also wise to begin learning to use certain devices or resources such as Learning Ally and Bookshare, Livescribe pens, notability, screen reading software, speech-to-text, Grammarly, etc. In addition, it is a good idea for them to role-play requesting accommodations and how to approach professors once approved by the accessibility office if the student is not already accustomed to requesting accommodations and discussing their needs and how their disability impacts them.”
- Rosanna- “Just because a college says something on their website doesn’t mean it’s what they do AND sometimes they have things NOT on the website they want- we applied to one school that said we needed to submit a full list of all materials studied /books used, and test scores for Homeschooled students- our girl was accepted and although she opted to NOT go there this year, they never asked for any of that info. Also, private schools can also be as cost effective as public universities because they give tons of scholarships. Take advantage of school visit days if you are close, because they often give scholarships for that- my son had a $1000 knocked off his tuition for going to the full day event. Another $1000 for having a friend who was an alumni write a letter of recommendation. If your kids are ready, dual enrollment is a great way to cut cost- if they know what they want to do and where they are headed ask for a list of comparison classes needed to transfer- our school has partnerships with 20+ schools in our state my son was able to print a list from his desired school of what classes he needed to take at his school to start his transfer with the proper credits. I wish I would have pushed a little harder for at least 1 class per quarter for my older two- in dual enrollment- it is free in our county/state except for lab fees and books- my last one will be taking advantage of it next year. I would say 1/2 of the students at the CC my daughter is starting at for her AA-Transfer degree are in Running Start (Our dual enrollment). ALWAYS fill out the FASFA- even if you have money saved – as said above it is used for more than grants. If your child has a diagnosed specific learning disability, know that many schools require a diagnostic test done in the last 3-5 years to access services … You also want to empower your student to advocate and talk to the staff as much as you can- they are the student, they are owning their new life and unless they sign paperwork to include you, you can’t even see their financial information, talk to anyone about anything at the school, etc. “
- Elizabeth- “In my experience (have graduated 2 from homeschool) anything that was “missed” in homeschooling education can quickly be learned or they can take a class at community college to fill that gap…they will figure it out as long as they have a passion for learning and that is what funschooling does—it ignites their passion for learning and they have to take ownership of the learning”
- Tammy- “Call the schools and talk to them about what they require and concerns you have! They want to help. My dyslexic daughter wrote a beautiful essay as one of her entrance essays about living with dyslexia. I think, we as parents worry too much sometimes about our kids when they will be perfectly fine. I know I had a melt down a few months ago, and you guys were amazingly encouraging! Unschool on my fellows moms and dads! keep going!”
Find out what journals college-bound homeschoolers most love to use in this post–
More tips for college-bound homeschoolers
- Check out this recent conversation in our Facebook group about Fun-Schoolers going from homeschool to college for several real-life stories from Moms
- Fun-Schooling for High School Credit
- Selecting Journals and Assigning Credit for High Schoolers
About the Author- Amanda Osenga is a Fun-Schooling mom in Columbus Ohio. She is also the social media manager and Virtual Assistant for Thinking Tree. Her family combines Thinking Tree books with the Charlotte Mason method using books from Ambleside Online and Wildwood Curriculum. In her free time, Amanda is an avid reader and loves to be outdoors.