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How do homeschooled students attend Ivy leagues?

Behnam91Behnam91 106 replies63 threads Junior Member
That's basically it...how is it possible for a student with no report card to even stand a chance at acceptance to Harvard, or even a school like UCLA, though not as prestigious as Harvard? Any tips on what to do and what to be careful of?
edited May 2010
45 replies
Post edited by Behnam91 on
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Replies to: How do homeschooled students attend Ivy leagues?

  • 'rentof2'rentof2 4274 replies53 threads Senior Member
    UCLA would be tough because the UC system isn't very homeschooler friendly. I think there are some threads here that discuss that if you want to search them out.

    Ivy League schools, they're open to homeschoolers. Your chances of getting in, like for any other applicant, depends on how attractive you are to them. That can be based on course work and test scores and extra-curriculars and the usual things, or it can be based on the inventive and unique way you're lived and learned up this point... or a combination of the two.

    I'm not sure there are any tips, except to represent yourself and what you've done and how you've done it in a confident and honest and enthusiastic way... and then see if they bite. ;)
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  • anotherparentanotherparent 1255 replies20 threads Senior Member
    My son got into UCLA, Berkeley and UCSD. He got turned down by UCSC, which is one of the least selective UCs.

    To get consideration at a UC, you have to fulfil the A-G requirements. This is pretty tricky, and basically impossible for HSers. There is another, rarely used approach - Admission by Exam. Here they look at your SAT scores (including 2 SAT IIs).

    I think it is easier for HSers to get into the more selective schools, because they actually look at your application, instead of just applying formulas.

    My son has a very impressive academic record - he has high SAT scores, 7 AP scores of 5 (plus was planning to take for more his senior year, but did not because the school he ended up at does not give credit). He also does extremely well in math competitions. By any one's standards he is a top student.

    The UC experience was interesting. By the time we got results, he had been accepted EA to his two top choices - Caltech and MIT. UCLA did the best job - they sent him a letter saying he was in the top 1% of the applicant pool and asked him to apply for a regents scholarship. He didn't apply, but they accepted him with honors (whatever that means). UCSD has something they do for their top applicants, and my son was not included, but after he was accepted he got a letter from the math department saying he was one of their top applicants and they hoped he would accept. Berkeley accepted him without anything extra. UCSC was the oddest - like UCLA, he received the Top 1% letter, but then turned him down.

    My son was also going to apply to Stanford, Princeton, U of Chicago, Harvey Mudd and WashU. When he got his EA decision, he dropped these plans. I have no reason to think he would not have been taken seriously.

    To get into a top school, you need to be top student. Even kids who are going to top prep schools need a lot more than just a good report card. The same is true of HSers. I think HSers need better standardized test scores, but everyone needs other interests and areas of expertise. I think many HSers find this last part easier than school kids.
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  • Behnam91Behnam91 106 replies63 threads Junior Member
    So, let's see if I have this planned right.... I took the SAT, will retake it, and also take two subject tests, along with the ACT, all before the beginning of december. I have ec's, am very good at writing (helps with my college essay), but haven't taken any AP's. I am attending school senior year (this year) and will be able to tell colleges my curriculum, and hope they approve of it. Is there anything else I should do? I really want to get the most for my money, so attending a school which fits my exact needs is my top priority. I used UCLA as an example. I'd never fly to cali to attend a pub school when I'm in NY and can find far better schools for what I want, at the same price. anotherparent, you mentioned something very encouraging, and now that I think about it, it might just seem that I have a decent chance at a great college because I'm homeschooled. I can show them more than what an avg high school student can show them, so it's good to know that this is the case. Since I'm shooting for premed, I won't apply to an Ivy, unless my next SAT/ACT scores are in the top 5% of the US. (Who knows?) I should probably look for and apply to some scholarships other than those offered by a college. How much do you think winning a scholarship, for however many dollars, would help? Thanks for your responses!
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  • huguenothuguenot 492 replies22 threads Member
    Behnam91--

    I really think being a homeschooler helps in college admissions - typically hsers have a more interesting educational background and in explaining your homeschooling, you have a greater opportunity to let them get to know you. Many homeschoolers on CC have gotten into the very top schools and many have gotten great scholarships to terrific schools.

    I would put together a transcript of your high school homeschool courses; a resume of your extracurriculars, work and volunteer experience; and a curriculum list and reading list in case you are asked for those (some schools do). It's kind of a shame you are going to an institutional school this year, as we received a lot of help from the admissions counselors that worked specifically with homeschoolers - maybe they would still work with you?
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  • Behnam91Behnam91 106 replies63 threads Junior Member
    huguenot, I don't fully understand the last sentence in your response. I really think it might be better to attend public HS this year, because I can gain more info from guidance counselors and can do things like join clubs, take AP courses, and just be around alot of kids who I like. Being homeschooled (in my case) is a little boring because no kids near my age live within a half mile of my home, so I think I'd enjoy attending HS and really feeling some sort of competition. But please expand on your last sentence, I didn't understand what you meant. Thanks!
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  • huguenothuguenot 492 replies22 threads Member
    Hi Behnam!

    Well, my ds that just graduated did all those things while homeschooling. He took AP classes (some we did at home, others he took from Pahomeschoolers), was a member of a bunch of clubs and activities both within our homeschool group (history club, 4-H club, etc) and in the community (a political party, a thinktank in our capital). I don't know where you live, but is there a homeschool support group in your area?? We only have one other homeschool family within a half mile of our house, either, but there are 700 in our county.

    I just think at some of the top schools, that had a homeschool specialist admissions officer, were more patient with us and gave us more personal attention than I think we'd have gotten as a traditionally schooling family.

    Of course, your mileage may vary. I have no idea where you live and what resources are available to you, nor where you want to apply. Public school may be a very good choice for you this year - that's between you and your parents.

    We are glad we stuck it out at home, though. And my son had a great admissions experience with his homemade transcript and resume. He was offered major scholarships at 8 of the 11 schools he applied to and was accepted to 2 top 15 schools.
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  • huguenothuguenot 492 replies22 threads Member
    Oh,meant to say, too: College Confidential is the best guidance counselor you'll ever have! I am in close contact with the guidance counselors at our county high schools as a leader in our homeschool group. I've learned lots more from CC than from them - although great folks, they are just spread too thin.
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  • Behnam91Behnam91 106 replies63 threads Junior Member
    Well I asked my mom about the homeschooled clubs, and she said that back when I was in third grade (which is when I began homeschooling), they looked for clubs of the sort for my little bro and me to join, but they were all Christian-oriented. I'm Muslim, so it's not really useful to me to join a Christian club.

    I will not attend a public school in New York because none of them offer what I want. Attending public school out-of-state isn't too great for me unless I can get enough scholarships to bring the price down to 8K/year (I'd have to do the same with private universities). So there's the situation. Sometimes I wish that I had a little gadget which could rewind time, so that I'd be able to know in eighth grade what I know now.

    Anyway, thanks for your help huguenot (is a huguenot a French Calvinist? I used to know back when I took World History). I admire your concentration on your children's college plans. I hope those lucky ducklings understand how helpful a parent really is.
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  • huguenothuguenot 492 replies22 threads Member
    Hi Behnam--

    Things have changed a lot in the homeschool community since you were in 3rd grade! We're in a rural area in a rural state, but we have Muslims in our local group (though we're predominantly Christian) and there are several secular and inclusive groups within a 45 minute drive. I'd call your state organization LEAH, Inc. and ask them if there is a group in your area that would welcome you (or your younger siblings if you are heading to an institutional school).

    A Huguenot is indeed a French Calvinist - you have a very good memory! And thank you for your encouragement!
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  • Behnam91Behnam91 106 replies63 threads Junior Member
    You know, I try to convince myself that things are totally different here, but I must be honest: they're not. ;) It's NY. The only thing that changes around here is the price of gas (I got gas for $4.03 today!!!). Anyway, I've set my sights on school this year and have left the homeschooling life behind. I think that the transition will show colleges how, as a former homescholled student, I have set my standards (taking very tough courses). I enjoy the competition, and will definitely emphasize that on my college essay. I can't stand seeing other students get scores better than mine, so I think that JHU isn't THAT far from what I'm capable of doing. My ec's are pitiful though (hospital volunteer, orchid club member (I'm not queer, tyvm), play the guitar, college courses, will be applying for scholarships from sources other than colleges, and I send occasional essays to Writer's Digest for their monthly prompt contests). If my next SAT score turn out above 1350, I will aply to JHU. If not, oh well....

    So, one last thing and you're free to ignore this thread :D. Do you know of any good sources for scholarships? I want to apply to dozens before senior year starts, but have yet to find any. The community college I took courses at offers about ten for part-time students, but they're all ridiculous. None have anything to do with academic ability. They're for specific things like students with disabilities, students who have a parent who's a firefighter, things of that sort. Any advice?
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  • huguenothuguenot 492 replies22 threads Member
    We found that FastWeb did a great job of sending us appropriate scholarship opportunities, but the best scholarships ds was offered came from the schools.

    I don't think those are bad ECs at all. My ds found that his more diverse ECs (different from his major interest) were what everyone wanted to talk about - it made him different from the crowd. I think the orchid club is really cool - especially if you grow orchids. Have you thought of entering into any of the flower shows? I think colleges want to see kids who are not so career driven that they aren't well-rounded. Just be yourself.

    I hope you have a fantastic year this year -- Show them what former homeschoolers can do!
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  • filmalifefilmalife 54 replies20 threads Junior Member
    The Home School Legal Defense organization is a very good organization for home schoolers. On the website, a parent and/or student can access many pages on how to keep a standardized transcript, what qualifications a student may need for tier 1, 2, 3,4 colleges and an email opportunity with parents who have home schooled and had their children accepted into Ivy league schools and other types of schools. It is a very helpful organization.
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  • 'rentof2'rentof2 4274 replies53 threads Senior Member
    HSLDA is an organization with a certain perspective, and is probably best suited to people that share it. All the information there is widely available elsewhere.
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  • filmalifefilmalife 54 replies20 threads Junior Member
    HSLD does have lots and lots of solid information for homeschoolers. and lots and lots of legal information that is valuable and up to date for anyone in any state homeschooling.

    It is an organized site and open to all.
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  • susgeeksusgeek 1559 replies44 threads Senior Member
    I home educated my eldest, who is now 23, through the 9th grade.

    For her sophomore and junior year she attended public school half time, and as a senior full time. So her high school transcript reflected both home education and public education equally.

    On her Colgate admissions letter, the officer had wrote in the margin that they were impressed with how well she moved from home education to public education through high school.

    She was on the Deans list for most of her semesters at Colgate, so we must have done something right :)
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  • fauvefauve 3500 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Did she apply to an Ivies?
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  • danasdanas 1770 replies11 threads Senior Member
    The OP is long gone from this thread. I hope things worked out well re: college admissions, and I'm guessing they worked out fine.
    I'm posting in response to the original topic. My first two homeschoolers (1) attended and graduated from Dartmouth, and (2) currently attends Princeton, respectively.
    For them the "formula" was simple. Knock standardized tests out of the ballpark, and do interesting things made possible because you don't have to go to school. That is it.
    In my kids case, they didn't take any courses at home, online or a physical schools, or have any grades, but this is not necessary. It may help not to do such things, in that doing such stuff makes you look like everybody else. But I can't say that doing the conventional is a deal breaker, either. I just will not risk it with my third kid.
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  • theriddlestheriddles 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Danas... in the case of your two children, what was the "something special" that they were able to do because they were homeschooled that you feel helped them get into top schools
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  • danasdanas 1770 replies11 threads Senior Member
    They both are extremely well read. This could not have happened given a typical school schedule. On the one hand, a school English class will assign the 4th or 5th best work of an acclaimed author simply because it is less than 400 pages long. At home, you roll out of bed, get a glass of orange juice, and go back to bed with a good read. I doubt that more than a dozen or two American teenagers have read John Dos Passos "USA Trilogy" or James T. Farrell's "Studs Lonigan Trilogy", among the best American fiction of the 20th Century. And "Studs Lonigan" is set within a mile or two from where we happen to live- and never assigned by local schools. My daughter read all of Dickens as page turners, which of course they were written to be. If none of these books were pleasurable, they would not have been read. If admissions officers questioned their reading lists, they had 800 SAT Reading scores and 800 and 790 Literature scores to back it up.
    My son did a lot of writing, some fast, some slow. I think this would have been confined to summers if he had a school schedule. Provided school hadn't poisoned the idea of reading and writing for pleasure. My daughter worked 3 days a week in the Mammal Department of the local natural history museum for a year and a half. The first day she took apart a Siberian Tiger, to be followed by bats, wombats, bobcats, a giraffe and many, many others. The rest of the time she spent going through the collections re-tagging specimens according to a new scientific classification system. She also devoted 6 days a week to dancing ballet, and attended the School of American Ballet in New York, sharing the same dorm building at Lincoln Center with Julliard students. The selection process for SAB is about as rigorous as Julliard. There is physical ability here that has nothing to do with home schooling. But either her dancing or education, or both, would have suffered if she attempted a standard school schedule at the same time.
    Another home schooler from my neighborhood is starting Princeton this fall. In this case, she is a recruited fencer. Again, I'm sure physical ability played a role. But I know she traveled around the country for tournaments, and again I'm guessing her academics and/or her training would have suffered were her family not home schoolers.
    Most colleges are not elite, and for these, the primary question for admissions people is whether the student can do the work or not. Online AP courses and tests and community college courses fill the bill magnificently.
    Now picture Suzy Homeschooler with three very nice AP test results. I'm picturing an elite college admissions officer thinking "hmmm....many of our applicants have 6 or 7 APs". I just think there is a danger in placing yourself in competition with the herd in the attempting to establish your school bona fides. And losing in the meanwhile. To me, stepping back from the AP arms race is one of the attractions of home schooling- along with avoiding getting up early, 30 pound backpacks and homework.
    Of course there are many ways of living a happy home school life and doing fine in college admissions. These are just my opinions.
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  • bookreaderbookreader 1968 replies53 threads Senior Member
    I enjoyed reading your answer Danas. And l loved "stepping back from the AP arms race..."
    I did something similar with my kids in high school (I've graduated 2, have one in hs and one who will soon be in hs). I did not want their high school experience to be full of standardized testing. That would take the joy out of anyone! And I focused on letting them persue their passions - something that would be very hard to do while attending a traditional school. As a result, they loved being homeschooled.
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