I'm aware of MIT's homeschool policy, so no need to post that.
Over my HS years I've spent a good chunck of time on other projects and ECs that I think will show MIT some of my unique passions.
I do, however, wish that I looked into/knew sooner that I could self-study and take AP tests as a homeschooler. I'm a junior now and it's obviously too late for APs.
I know about the rigours of MIT, and while it's obviously one of the most difficult college experiences, I think I could handle it. (I've studied Calc, Sciences, etc. that are recommended and do very well, so don't think I'm not prepared)
Any advice on recovering how my academics look "on paper"? Are strong SAT 2 scores in math and science enough? Should I take some community college classes in the fall?
For other readers, here's the relevant text from the MIT website:
"The vast majority of our admitted homeschool students have taken advantage of advanced classes outside the homeschool setting, such as through a local college or an online school such as EPGY. Transcripts of these courses, in addition to evaluation of the homeschooling portfolio, are very helpful. Some students will also take advantage of MIT's OpenCourseWare."
Given this language, I think it would be helpful to take a college-level mathematics class, preferably over the summer if you're planning to apply Early Action. The simplest way to do this is through EPGY, though it's pricey. You could look for a cc course in a science during the fall.
The phrase "The vast majority of our admitted homeschool students" makes me think that you have less to worry about if you have participated in well-known mathematics competitions, science olympiads, ISEF, or similar competitions and done well. If you are homeschooled as a prodigy and the parent teaching you is a well-known mathematician (it happens), then you may also not have much to worry about. But unless you have these achievements/qualities, you should take steps to demonstrate to MIT -- and frankly, all the other top schools to which you will apply -- that your education has been really rigorous.
Some community college courses might be helpful. We like to see some validation of your scholastic skillz (with a z!) outside your own homeschooled program as well. The SATs will help, but so will the APs and CC classes (if you can't take APs).
One thing, MITChris: if you have the ability to update the "tips for home-schoolers page", I would suggest adding something about AP tests, probably to the same bullet point discussed above. I personally have no excuse for not looking into self-study options, and although many students are already aware of these options, I think explaining the concept would be helpful for any future home-schooled applicants.
Aside from that, I think the tips are very relevant for all home-schooled students and their philosophies, regardless of future plans/schools. Thanks very much for including the page on your admissions website.
Honestly, I think AP tests are overrated. You can learn a lot more by self-studying seriously college level textbooks instead of following the AP curriculum
However, some of those books might be a little bit expensive, so I would advise you to buy books online reused, or to borrow them from a local library. You'll realize that homeschooling will leave you a lot more liberty to explore and learn above and beyond what is usually offered in HS.
I agree with you completely, faraday, and I have gone further than APs in several subjects. The problem I encounter is showing colleges my readiness in the classroom environment and at a rigorous level.
Also, with regards to the books issue: there are a lot of great textbooks, but the Internet is becoming a much more in depth and accurate (and free, in many cases!) resource. It's amazing, really.