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My son, a rising senior, has not been a full-time student at a traditional bricks-and-mortar school since third grade. However, I'm not sure whether he would be considered "home schooled" for the Common Application.
He is enrolled in a umbrella school as required by our state. This school has a CEEB code and would be considered a private school under state law. The umbrella school will issue his transcript and has an official who will sign paperwork as the school's "guidance counselor." He will receive a state-recognized diploma from this school. However, he has never attended any actual classes at this school (there aren't any), and the "guidance counselor" doesn't know him at all. The school assigns a class rank based on a combination of parent-assigned grades, ACT scores and class load, but it does not provide a school profile and would be only minimally involved in helping with any college applications. Essentially it is a recordkeeping service for home schoolers.
He is also enrolled in American School, a distance learning program, so that if any of his future pursuits require a fully accredited high school diploma, he will have one. American School has a separate CEEB code and will also issue a transcript, but it will include only the courses taken toward its diploma, which make up only a small slice of his full high school program. It does not rank; its employees do not know him personally; it is hundreds of miles from our home, in a different state; he has never set foot in the place; and truly I would not expect this school to be involved at all with his college apps, other than by issuing a transcript.
Now we are not sure what to pick when faced with the choice between "home school" and "independent" on the Common App. It appears that this choice will affect the rest of the online application -- i.e., if we choose "home school," it will ask for the home school supplement.
Both choices seem disingenuous. He isn't "really" a homeschooler - he will have a fully accredited high school diploma, plus a separate state-recognized diploma, and is legally considered to be enrolled in a private school. About 90% of his high school course work will have been taken outside the home or under the supervision of outside instructors.
On the other hand, he isn't "really" a private school student - he has not attended a traditional high school except for an occasional class, and his educational path has been directed by his family, not by an institution.
Does it make sense to choose "home school" and then use the name and CEEB code of the umbrella school, which is technically a private school? If we're using the name and CEEB code of the umbrella school, do we need to list its employee as "guidance counselor," or should I list myself?
On the other hand, if we choose "independent," will it look odd to upload the school profile (written by me) that describes his home-directed education, and a statement "in lieu of narrative comments by a guidance counselor"?
I apologize for this long and rambling post, but I hope some of you have been through this experience before and can offer suggestions. When my daughter finished high school several years ago, all of her prospective colleges offered their own application forms, on paper, giving us more flexibility to convey what she had done. Since then, most of the schools have switched to the Common App exclusively. I haven't dealt with the Common App before, but my initial impression is that it feels more rigid, and I'm not sure of the best way to explain my son's situation.