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2 Homeschool College Application Questions

UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
edited September 2013 in Home Schooling and College
Hello everyone,

I am a homeschool student entering 12th grade. I will be applying to colleges this fall and have a few unrelated questions:

1) Firstly, who should I put as my guidance-councilor on the common app? I will be applying to some very prestigious colleges, what do they prefer? I am considering naming my mother as my guidance-councilor, however I am not sure if this is wise. Do top schools care?

2) My second question is completely unrelated to my first. Do UC schools like homeschoolers? I am thinking of apply to a few but heard somewhere that apply to UC schools as a homeschooler was particularly difficult. Is this right?

I know both questions are unrelated, but I did not want to make 2 different threads. ;) If you know the answer to either question or have any tips, please let me know! :)
Post edited by UserAccount on

Replies to: 2 Homeschool College Application Questions

  • TiberiusShiftTiberiusShift Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    I checked with admissions at the school before putting my mom down as guidance counselor, so ask them what they want.

    I also had outside teachers for other recommendations, so they could get a complete view.
  • UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    Alright, thanks a lot TiberiusShift! I will check with the schools I am applying to. I also have recommendations from my tutors/teachers that should be a help.

    Does anyone else have any experience with this?
  • mountedantmanmountedantman Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    UC's are not known to like non-standard education very much. But they do recognize courses from local community colleges if you have experience with the,, which would be a plus. Stanford, on the other hand, accepts a parent as recommendation enough in place of all three that are required for "normal" students.

    I hope that helped. But what is your situation? May I ask? (SAT, AP, EC)
  • UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    mountedantman, thanks for the reply! :)

    That was very helpful. Here is my current situation:

    I have taken the SAT twice. Here is my superscore: CR-640, M-720, W-670. I will be taking the SAT again for the last time in October and I am hoping to get my CR and W scores both very near 700.

    I do not take AP courses. However, I have taken 2 semesters of Computer Science classes (the major I am interested in) at Bard College (a reputable liberal arts college in upstate New York) and I will be taking more classes this semester. Some of the classes I took were actually 200+ level courses (2nd year college). I have maintained A- or above for all of my classes at Bard.

    My ECs include: tutoring low-income individuals in Web Design and Development, solo programming/launching/marketing a start-up internet-based business, competitive soccer, advanced cello playing, and a plethora of other hobbies and activities.

    I am applying to Stanford and some Ivy Leagues. However I am unsure about whether to apply to any UCs. What do you think? You said that UCs don't like "non-standard education," I believe I fall very much into this category. Do I have a chance at UCs? Is it worth it?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    You should review Stanford's Common Data Set and admitted freshman profile for the entering class. Only 4% of the applicants with SAT subscores in the 600-699 range were admitted.
  • UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    Hello siliconvalleymom. What exactly are you trying to say?

    For applicants with SAT subscores in the 700-799 range the acceptance rate is between 7-9% (depending on subject). This is only slightly higher. I am taking the SAT again in October and—as I said above—am hoping to get 700-ish on the other two subjects (I already have a 720 in MATH).

    Don't get me wrong, Stanford is ultra competitive. However I don't understand the purpose of your comment. Could you elaborate?
  • chestertonchesterton Registered User Posts: 398 Member
    Why wouldn't you just continue on at Bard College, since you already have a record there, and a good one? You could finish your undergraduate work and then try to get into grad school at Stanford. Keep building your internet start-up and that, combined with an excellent record at Bard, could get you admission. Who knows.

    As far as UCs and homeschooling, yes, even with California's open-minded policies towards homeschooling, typically the only way to demonstrate you have met minimum admission requirements (your coursework) is by your SAT and ACT test scores, or if you have taken all of those classes at a community college. In your post, you mentioned some coursework taken at Bard, but what did you do for all of your academic core classes? If you didn't take those classes at a college or some third-party program, then your test scores are going to be very key to your chances. If you are coming from out of state, though, why would you be willing to pay the UCs an exorbitant amount in extra tuition? They will love you for it, but it is just so much more expensive. I am a California native, as are my kids, but now that we live out of state, there is no way my kids will be heading to a UC - I cannot stomach the tuition rates.

    When it comes to presenting your homeschool record to any college, you want to speak the admission officer's language. Use a software program to create a professional transcript. Google websites that discuss ways to present a homeschool transcript and/or portfolio. Many colleges want a list of every textbook you used - give them that plus include a list of every fiction and non-fiction book you read during your four years. Create a school profile for your homeschool that describes your homeschool education methods and describes the requirements for graduating from your homeschool program (and match that to your state's requirements, if you can.) And excel on those tests - take them all - the SAT, the ACT, and even some subject tests. My kids will all take the Math 2, Chemistry, and Physics SAT Subject tests, too. Have you taken an annual national standardized test each year just as a way to provide a gauge for your progress and to compare your progress to students across the country? At this point, it may not make sense since you are taking the SAT, but it is something to consider. You could have someone administer the Iowa Test of Educational Development or the Stanford Achievement and then provide you a professional evaluation of your test scores just to give you some third-party input. I am sure you could get some great suggestions from local homeschool support groups in your area.

    Best wishes. Homeschoolers have to do some extra work to present their stories, but it can be done, and there are plenty of universities out there who would be very interested in you :)
  • UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    chesterton, thanks a lot for your reply!

    I am currently not enrolled at Bard as an undergraduate. Instead, I am taking classes at Bard through a program they offer that enables high school students to take 100 and 200 level courses.

    Thanks for the insight about UCs. I did not realize their extremely high-cost for non-California residents. Since finance is an issue for me, I will probably not be able to apply to any UCs.

    Thanks a lot for the information about the transcript. Creating a transcript for homeschooling can be really tough. You mentioned citing actual books I used; do you think it is best to go into great detail on the transcript about each subject? (Where I took the subject, tutors I might have used, etc.) Also, I heard somewhere that giving the classes on the transcript highly-sophisticated—apt—names can be beneficial. Have you heard this?

    Thanks again for your help! :)
  • slushyslushy Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    Greetings fellow homeschooler!
    (1) Guidance Counselor Letter - yes, your mom can write it. It should be a well-thought out essay to describe you, your background, your aspirations, your educational background, and some anecdotes; (2) Transcript - there's lots of examples on the internet; (3) School Profile & Course Descriptions - You mom will need to describe your school profile if you're an independent homeschooler with no charter school or other umbrella organization. A good resource is: The College Board - The Well-Trained Mind Community.
    Regarding the UCs, if you're coming from out-of-state, think twice about applying as an out-of-state residence since the tuition is high and keeps on increasing. Students usually graduate in 5.5 years since it's hard to get all the classes you want when you need them. Homeschoolers can qualify for UC via a scoring system (SAT I & SAT II scores). Check out the UC website for their formula to see if you qualify. The UC application website is ONLY open during the month of November. You do not need to submit any teachers' recommendations or transcripts. Everything is self-reporting and you only need to submit your transcript after you get accepted. No need to send a School Profile or Course Description, although there is a section where you detail the courses you took. For both the UC and Common App online applications, I think there's homeschool supplement to complete.

    Good luck!
  • chestertonchesterton Registered User Posts: 398 Member
    That is great that Bard College offers that option to high school students. I just wondered if it might be to your financial advantage to ultimately enroll there to complete your degree once you finish high school.

    As far as transcripts, here is what I have learned having now gone through this whole process for my oldest son and will follow the same process for my other kids in a couple of years when they start to apply.

    First, let me recommend the homeschool software I used. I don't work for this company, I don't get paid by this company. I discovered them via a google search late one night as I was getting all of this application stuff together for my son. The company is My Homeschool Transcripts and you can even try out the program for free on their website - it does not come with all the features of the paid program but you can create a free transcript to see what it looks like. Website is My Homeschool Transcripts? | Generate official transcripts for your homeschool The owner is very responsive to support questions and feature requests. I have no doubt that the transcript I created using this software helped my son get the admission offers he has received so far. Anyway, check that out. There are other programs out there, but I can recommend that one based on my experience.

    What I would do is use a program like that or create a transcript in Word or Excel (there are free templates out there) that organizes your homeschool education by year, that includes your grades, and includes your calculated GPA (and go ahead and classify your classes as regular, honors, AP/BardCollege/College Level classes and calculate a weighted gpa.) Your transcript would be just one page with that information organized. Include your name, address, and the name of your homeschool administrator (in my case, I, the mom, am the homeschool administrator) and have a place for your administrator to sign. I added a watermark on each page (I was able to save my created transcript as a PDF in Adobe and then added a watermark that way.) Don't know if the watermark meant anything to the schools, but it sure adds an appearance of authority.

    Then, I would include, on separate pages: (1) a list of your standardized test scores (those taken, and those scheduled); (2) a School Profile page where you describe that your home education program follows the particular state statute in your state and how your program fulfills that statute, and then describe your program (philosophy, methods, curriculum, dual enrollment at Bard College, etc); (3) a High School Graduation Requirements page that details what classes and credits earned are necessary for someone to graduate from your home education program - a simple table showing Academic Courses and Units Required (and which matches your state's requirements for completing a high school program), (4) a Description of Courses set of pages where you list each course title, include a description of the course, and include what materials were used, and, yes, if you had tutors, list them, or if you used any online classes, describe those, and, then just as an extra, (5) a List of Books Read, both fiction and non-fiction, and notate which year read.

    For my son's Description of Courses section, I utilized the Florida Department of Education website that describes state standards for various courses, and I copy and pasted those, and, as much as possible, I titled our courses to match the Florida course directory. For example, here in Florida, Freshman English is called English 1, and, if honors, English 1 Honors. Sophomore is English 2. My son took AP English Lit for his junior, but if he had not, he would have taken English 3 Honors, etc. He did take quite a few academic courses through Florida Virtual School, but we had plenty of academic courses that he took using independent curriculum. I still called the courses a recognizable Florida course title, and then included the name of the text books and materials used. I will give you the link to the Florida Department of Ed Course Directory website just so you can see, but I am sure your state has a similar website.

    In Florida, a student has three options to complete a high school program. I chose the 24-credit option, and then because the Florida universities require 2 sequential years of Foreign Language, I chose to establish a 26-credit high school graduation program. All of my kids will have to have completed those 26 credits in order to officially graduate from our home education program. I can match those 26 credits to the one-page transcript (it includes a calculation of credits earned and credits in progress.) Turns out that this 26-credit plan meets or exceeds most university requirements.

    As far as naming your courses, my inclination is to keep the names simple and match them to your state's standard names. Now, my son is taking a class using independent curriculum this fall called Christian Apologetics. That course, obviously, is not included in Florida's course directory. So, I googled courses with similar names, and found a course description from a college website that almost nearly matches the design and goals of the curriculum I am using for this class (I had to customize a bit), but it worked, and I included the name of the textbook, the other resources being used, and the assessment method (discussion-based assessments, unit quizzes, semester finals.) You just have to put all of this stuff into education-speak :)

    You don't want to oversell your courses, I don't think, by giving them fancy names. Just use time-tested course titles and bureaucrat-written course descriptions, and while that may be a little annoying, since the whole purpose of homeschooling is not to have to look at the world via a bureaucrat's eyes, don't let it discourage you. Just know you are giving the admissions officers the best chance of understanding what you have accomplished. All this paperwork and detail stuff will feel a bit tedious, but using a tool like that transcript software will definitely make things easier. And once you get everything organized and listed, you will feel a real sense of accomplishment when you see all you have done printed out in black and white (oh, and go to the photocopy shop and copy onto heavier weight paper, or buy some and print at home.)

    MyHomeschool Transcripts website
    My Homeschool Transcripts? | Generate official transcripts for your homeschool

    Here is the link to the Florida Course Directory Course Search page just to give you an idea of what to look for in your state:

    iCPALMS - Course Directory - Course Search
  • speedm5speedm5 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    I would encourage you to apply to UC's of your choice as some of them are great schools. Tuition is high for OOS students but still not much more than many private schools. IS or OOS, more homeschoolers should apply to UC's, especially California homeschoolers. It costs a bit to apply but wouldn't hurt. I know they accept a few homeschoolers. As a tax payer, CA homeschoolers should start demanding UC's (and CSU's) to be more open!
  • PentaprismPentaprism Registered User Posts: 391 Member
    I am considering naming my mother as my guidance-councilor, however I am not sure if this is wise. Do top schools care?

    I don't know if this is wise. My D put my wife's name (her mom) as the guidance counselor. That is the truth. My wife is really my D's guidance counselor with all meaning of the term. I don't think top schools, or any school, care.
    Do UC schools like homeschoolers?

    I can't tell you if they like homeschoolers. I can tell you this much: my D, a homeschooler, is now a junior at UCB School of Engineering. Her record is stellar, however: 2350 SAT; 5 SAT subjects all above 780; 9 AP tests, all 5.
    Regarding the UCs, .... Students usually graduate in 5.5 years since it's hard to get all the classes you want when you need them.

    This is not what I know. At UCB, more than 60% of students graduate within 4 years. Some even in 3 or 3.5. About 90% of the students graduate within 6 years.
  • 88momof588momof5 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    so helpful, thanks chesterton!
  • UserAccountUserAccount Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    Thanks a lot chesterton! I really appreciate the detail of your response.

    Also thanks Pentaprism! Seeing as your homeschool daughter got into UCB and named her mother as the guidance counselor, I assume top schools don't have any issue with naming parents as guidance counselors. Thanks again! :)

    Also, I know this is a rather subjective question and depends vastly on things such as ECs, but, as a homeschooler, what kind of SAT score range do you think you need to have a reasonable chance of getting into science programs at top schools? (like Ivy League level or equivalent)
  • chestertonchesterton Registered User Posts: 398 Member
    My first inclination is that a homeschooler's SAT/ACT scores may play a more important role than for other students - not sure to what degree, but given that many homeschoolers are providing an unconventional application, these standardized tests may play a greater role in confirming, in the admission officer's eyes, whether the homeschooler is on the same academic level. But that is just an unsubstantiated hunch.

    When I look at webpages that discuss SAT and ACT scores of enrolled students at the Ivy Leagues, it is clear that these test scores do play a very important role for all students, even if there are some students who may get offers but have lower test scores. One chart shows that of the enrolled students at Harvard, 25% of enrolled students had SAT scores (Math/Reading) of 1410 and lower, 50% had SAT M/R scores between 1410 and 1590, and 25% had SAT M/R scores above 1590. At Harvard, 25% of enrolled students earned perfect 800s on their Reading SAT and 790-800 on the Math.

    I have no idea how low of a score Harvard will accept in light of unique stories, unusual talents, star factors. But what is clear is that the higher the SAT score, the better - for all students, whether homeschooled or not.

    The acceptance is rate is so low - out of 30K+ applications, only 2K are offered admission- that I am sure a lot of 4.0+ and perfect scoring SAT applicants with tons of ECs don't even get offers.

    So I guess the goal would be to get the best SAT score you can get - aim to get above 700 in both Reading and Math. Try to eke out another 50 points, for at least a 1450, because even if you don't get into the Ivy League, you would open up a lot of scholarship opportunities at other universities.
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