Homeschool to Ivy League

Hello CC friends! Does anyone have any experience or heard any anecdotes about homeschoolers getting accepted to any Ivy or Vandy, Rice, Duke, or Northwestern. Please share what you can even if it is “I know a guy who knows a guy who heard that xxxxx”. Thanks so much for your help. It is hard to get information about homeschoolers’ chances these days.


It happens. I know someone. Kid is stellar. Walks on water.


@neela1 Thanks for the quick response! What school did they get into and what was their SAT/ACT?

P. The kid is off the charts. Don’t know SAT/ACT. Not relevant. First semester he took graduate classes in Math.


I homeschool my kids. They are not getting into any of those places! :grin: Have you checked out the Well-Trained Mind forums? A lot of people there have very accomplished kids, or run in circles with other people who do. They might have some experience with homeschooled kids getting into the schools in your list.

ETA: my husband and I both went to MIT and our kids are both very smart, but not particularly driven. I think that to get into schools like the ones you mentioned you have to have a natural drive, especially if you are homeschooled. It’s not just about being smart and doing well on standardized tests, you have to show something extra. Maybe that is a passion for an extracurricular activity, or pursuing something academic beyond what is typically possible in high school, or working for a cause that you are serious about. I think it’s definitely possible to do that as a homeschooled kid, and in some cases it is even easier because you have more flexibility than kids in traditional school. I guess it is possible that just good test scores and good grades could get you in, but I think of the schools as requiring some thing a little bit beyond that.


My D17 was homeschooled all the way Pre-K to high school graduation. Graduated high school the month she turned 17. So she graduated from college just before she turned 21.

ACT 34 (all 36s except Math which is some sort of mental learning block for her) Same on the old SAT- 800 Reading 800 Writing 610(?) Math. She took both tests twice with very little preparation only practice tests at home and a math guide. The second time on each of them same perfect scores except same lower Math

Lots of AP Exams self-study mostly with mostly 4s and one 5. Many DE classes some interesting (e.g. Cultural Anthropology.) I think she started college with 54 credit hours or something. In the end she had two majors and two minors.

Competed every year in Science Fair 6-12 and won state for her division every year. Moved on to the International Fair one year, no prize. Also had national awards and recognitions in Latin, Greek, and History competitions including a very interesting History paper at the national level.

Accepted at Cornell- declined
Accepted at Vanderbilt with a Cornelius Vanderbilt merit scholarship for full tuition- declined
Accepted at UVA into a special Science Fellows Research group- declined.
Accepted at a bunch of other schools with various merit (Purdue, Indiana, Villanova etc.)
Rejected by Yale and Princeton.
In the end she chose a full-ride Foundation Fellowship (about 25 per year) to UGA instead. Some others who accepted that program in her group also turned down Vanderbilt, Stanford etc.

So what helped her chances as a homeschooled student?

  1. She had a clear identity; her science fair projects were related to her interests in anthropology and psychology and technology. It all flowed into a clear trajectory that was interesting, unusual, and timely. (She is now at a funded Master’s in the History and Philosophy of Science so she is doing that degree for free also.)
  2. She had national and international awards that involved long-term projects.
  3. She cultivated a relationship with one professor at the Community College who was her main recommender and crucial to her success.
  4. She did activities in the summers that fit her general academic trend with some interesting variation or challenge. (Science Research at a university 5 hours away, a camp on Sci-Fi creative writing, etc.)
  5. Critical- we lived in Wyoming at the time and for most of her schooling. That is an advantage you can’t control, and I wouldn’t want to imply that had she lived in NJ, she would have been as likely to win these things. On the other hand, she was not 1st gen, not urm, not an athlete or legacy or anything like that. She was also not a rancher or something exciting like that- the students we knew of who did get HYP were ranchers (seen as “authentic” Wyoming by the East Coast AOs or else went to boarding schools in the East anyway!)

I hope that helps.

Edit- I should note that living in rural Wyoming also meant driving 2.5 hours EACH WAY to take the SAT which meant staying in a motel before the test, and driving anywhere from 2.5 hours to 5 hours to in one case 8 hours to Denver (each way!) to take each AP exam. The community college was 40 miles away on 2 lane roads, etc. It really is far more difficult to do the things that are considered “average” in high SES suburbs when you are out there.


@neela1 Thanks for the extra information. SAT/ACT is highly relevant. It is important third party data from outside the family to support academic ability. Perhaps, you mistook my question to mean “will a 1580 or 1590” make them a sure thing. I am more concerned about whether a 1500 would knock them out of contention (760M 740R) with 4.0 all 5s on APs, numerous dual enrollment courses, and phenomenal, unique ECs with published research. Everyone seems to have 1530+ these days.

@sursumcorda Thank you for your lengthy and informative post! So many follow up questions. Feel free to DM your responses if your prefer. Your daughter sounds fantastic! Why did you only apply to Y, P, C from the Ivy. Why did you turn down the honor and $ at Vandy and the Ivy acceptance to Cornell ? And why did others in her UGA program turn down Stanford and other “highly prestigious” schools? Thank you!

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@MAmomto4 thanks for the info! I agree with all that you wrote. More concerned about whether a 1500 will knock them out of contention given the super high scores I see on CC and the new (much higher) middle 50 we see in this TO era. Thank you!

I think colleges are slowly de-emphasizing testing. It is certainly won’t be knocked out of contention. 1500 is a good score. I think the application will be looked at seriously. As you said, there needs to be other external validation. In the case of the other kid I mentioned, he went to a competitive, prestigious summer camp, and that was the external validation for him.


@neela1 Thank you! Yes, they have competitive summer programs as well as LORs from community college professors and several dual enrollment A grades for external validation plus national and international awards BUT that 1500 just seems so low compared to others posting stats. I suggested they take it one more time in October. If they are still in the running after the AOs evaluate the 1500 then I think they have a chance to be on par with many others in all the other application areas. Hopefully, the de-emphasis on testing you mention will help as I see 1500 is at the very bottom of the middle 50 at most of these schools now that only high test scores are being reported compared to 2019 when 1460 was the bottom of the middle 50. Thank you for your insight! Appreciate it!

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I don’t think that going test optional is a good idea for a homeschooler - the standardized tests provide some validation of the academic record. Of course, they do that for everyone, whether homeschooled or public or private schooled, but that is another debate. However, I don’t think that a 1500 looks bad at all - I do think that it should be submitted everywhere, I do think that it checks the high score validating homeschooler’s academic ability. I don’t think that it matters whether it’s a 1500 or a 1540. It checks the box. Submit it, and move on to the other elements of the application process.


@parentologist Thanks for your input. We agree with you completely that test optional was never an option although many “experts” suggested that we not submit it because it is at the 25th percentile for the schools mentioned above. Hoping that the AOs agree with you about 1540 vs 1500. I would like to think that one of the first application screens is “Can this student do the work?” In this case, I believe (hope) a 1500 (along with other data points like GPA and AP scores) answer the question “yes!”. If that is the case, then hopefully the AO will move on to other aspects of the application like how involved with this student be? What kind of a classmate, roommate, leader etc. Thank you for input. Appreciate you.

Try also writing the ACT once – no prep. Just walk in. Some kids do the ACT better than the SAT


I wouldn’t recommend taking the ACT without any prep. Their science section takes some getting used to and you don’t want to encounter it for the first time on an actual test.


If you tell kids they need to prep, they are often disinclined to take it :-).


Then I guess those kids might not be as dedicated to the end result as they say they are. This parent hopes their kid will be competitive for some of the most rigorous schools in the US. If their kid can’t be bothered to prep, then that doesn’t bode well for their performance/happiness at a super rigorous college.


A 1500 is not a deal breaker at that level, just like a 1600 or 36 is not a guaranteed acceptance.

The AP scores also help validate the gpa and that they are prepared for college level work.

They are also looking for people who will build community on campus. Homeschoolers tend to have experience with non traditional community based activities which can help them stand out from the more school based leadership roles.

Good luck!

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@Pathnottaken Thank you for your input! I appreciate it. Glad to hear that 1500 is not a deal breaker! We are hoping for exactly what you suggest in terms of differentiating the ECs. Thank you!

There are all types of kids. The parent has to decide whether they want to push the kid to prep or not depending on the personality of the kid. It’s not the end of the world either way.

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