Homeschool to Ivy League

@MMRose @neela1 I hear you both and we actually thought about having them do exactly that. Take the ACT without studying content as science is their strength while reading comp seems to be a bear for them at times. But they were completely test fatigued so we checked the 1500 SAT box and moved on. However, even though they were not going to study content other than the extra geometry if they tried the ACT they were definitely going to take practice tests to get the timing of the faster ACT down. In any event, we went with the 1500 SAT and that is where we stand (says while biting nails). Thanks for y’alls comments!

True. But I still think that a kid who needs to be pushed to study for a test that they hope will make them competitive for a particular school might not thrive at that school if/when they arrive, unless they have a large leap in maturity by the time college begins.

The science section is all data interpretation. No science knowledge is required.


And actually the science content isn’t really about science. It’s much more data analysis, with science as the content. You can do well on it without being strong in science as long as you know how to read charts and graphs. But it can be quite tricky and practice can be very helpful.


@MMRose I agree with you if a kid is getting 1390 and doesn’t care to improve. Totally. They might struggle academically at the schools I mention above due to lack of motivation. However, a kid saying “I am going to roll with my 1500 that I spent all summer studying for and spend the rest of my time on my essays and ECs to try to stand out in those areas” and hope that the 1500 passes the threshold is a bit different. I could have “forced” them to do the October SAT but I chose to back off since they had already taken a mixture of a ton of AP and Dual enrollment courses in Junior year. If it is a blood bath on Ivy Day, I will probably regret not pushing them for a third shot at the SAT or stab at a first ACT for a longggggg time.

I agree with you!! It was more that I don’t think a kid should take the ACT without prep. Which is different than staying with a good SAT score. :blush:


So here are the definitive numbers for you for Princeton:

At a student body population of about 1350 per year, there are less than 13 home schooled kids at Princeton for the year 2022. It may not be the case that their acceptance rate is low; It may just be the case that very few of them apply.


A higher percent of HomeSchooled students may have been accepted and went elsewhere as well.

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True. But the overall yield is in the low 70s. So the numbers are not likely to be a whole lot more – maybe 20 kids a year accepted.


This might not be as helpful but I was homeschooled in middle school and though I returned to public schooling for high school, I stayed in touch with a lot of my homeschooled friends/“classmates” from when I took online classes (TPS). While there’s probably a bunch of selection bias simply because TPS is a Christian-centered group (most people went to religious schools/missions), there was a GT and a Cornell.

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I know homeschoolers accepted at stanford, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown (loves homeschoolers), Cornell, carnegie melon, MIT, Vandy, Rice, tons of Berkeley, UCLA.


I can answer your questions here, OP.

D17 had two somewhat specific majors. All the “more prestigious” colleges would have them but not all other colleges, so she narrowed her list using that but still applied to 18.

Cornell had great programs in both majors; it was declined because they looked at her biological father’s income (who lived across the country on the east coast) and as a result they wanted full pay, which was not a possibility.

Vanderbilt was decided by child to be too loud and too competitive. D17 was not and is not a competitive or driven person. Also has some neurological differences that make noisy a problem.

Applied to Princeton because it had good programs in fields but most importantly only looks at custodial parent and spouse for financial aid. As an Ivy, it was most likely to actually be affordable.

Only applied to Yale to please biological father. Didn’t really care about it.

D17 chose based on a combination of fit and merit. That is why most of the people she knows who chose UGA over other “higher prestige” colleges chose. (Reminds me that she turned down Michigan Honors Program also- too big.)

She didn’t visit any places until she was in with merit (that is too expensive) so some of the colleges were turned down after a visit that showed it was too big/loud (e.g. Vanderbilt.)

She didn’t just apply to all the other Ivies because only Princeton and Cornell were actually good fits in terms of program, campus location, size etc. They aren’t all the same.

PS- A 1500 is fine. S23 had a 35 ACT in first and only sitting with almost no prep (1.5 practice tests and read an essay on the science), but his ECs, Covid-related disruptions, personality, mean that he has been a less competitive student that D17 for admissions. Above a certain score, the SAT/ACT test is not a deciding factor in my opinion.


Out of curiosity, why Ivy? There are a lot of really good schools out there (and yes, you have some others on your list), but why, specifically those?

My homeschooled son had very high scores, but opted not to apply to Ivy mainly because he thought it had an image of “Prestige Hunting” and that didn’t appeal to him. He ended up getting a very good offer from a private major research university and loved his time there (research was super important to him). There were others at this U who had turned down Ivy acceptances because they felt the research they were interested in and their preferred student vibe (fit) was better at his school.

There can, of course, be good reasons to go to any college. I’m curious what the draw is. With some of the Ivies, I know it’s financial - some offer really good need-based aid. If that’s your case, definitely apply. It’s worth trying.

Princeton back in my homeschooling days was notoriously not all that interested in homeschoolers. Some others were far more welcoming, but my anecdotal data for that ended back in 2012 when my last homeschooler graduated from high school.

With top schools of any sort, be sure the desire to go there is student driven, not parent driven. This is not advice just for homeschoolers. When students want to be there all tends to go well. When the student is there to please the parents it’s a lot of stress and can end very badly.

In our ps we have students in our top classes who opt out of college every year. They’re quite academically intelligent, but want a different path. It’s ok - just as it’s ok for those who are driven to pursue a top college.

The Well Trained Mind at least used to be a great resource. I was a regular there back in my day. Seeing it being recommended here brought back quite a few memories! I hope it’s continued on helping homeschoolers reach their goal of being well-educated. Public school isn’t the right path for all students.


I was going to say some of what Creekland wrote so I won’t repeat it. I am assuming your kid is a junior. I personally think it is healthy that you backed off on the retesting and that your son was able to say no, that he has other priorities.

I homeschooled each of my three at different times and one never finished high school (performer). Two went to Ivies, and we chose those schools mostly for financial reasons (my spouse had had a stroke).

I would suggest looking at the little Ivies (google the list) like Amherst, Williams, Tufts, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Wesleyan, Bates, Colby, Hamilton and others. Some of those also have excellent financial aid. (Don’t know if that is relevant for you.) Also Macalaster, Oberlin, Pomona, Grinnell, Davidson, others…

I like some schools on the Colleges that Change Lives website Colleges That Change Lives – Changing Lives. One Student At A Time. (

Of course schools like Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Hampshire welcome homeschoolers with open arms. Maybe consider Brown as well.

What about schools like Harvard and Yale appeal to your kid? Harvard has some large classes and of course grad student teaching fellows (known as TA’s elsewhere). Do you think your kid might like an undergrad-focused school with professors doing all the teaching? Small or large? Size? Location? Vibe?

It takes a lot of pressure off when you broaden the list.


Yes to the original question. Homeschooled because kid spent three years at a professional ballet company; parents didn’t feel like the ballet school could meet the kid’s academic needs (it was more geared towards “Get a GED”). Applied to HYP (plus several other fine institutions) and was accepted to all three.

Every single “highly rejective” college is a %^&*shoot these days, so make it easy on your kid and encourage a broad list of colleges which will meet his academic needs. And they are out there. It’s easy to look at Yale’s resources and think “Oh yeah, this will work”; it takes a little more effort to suss out Brandeis or Holy Cross or Haverford and realize “Oh yeah, this will work”.

Good luck with the search!


I would respectfully disagree with this - you can’t really know how a given kid will respond to the ACT until you try, and there’s nothing to lose if you already have a solid SAT in the bag. After scoring a good-but-not-extraordinary 1450 on the SAT with modest prep, D22 rolled into the ACT completely blind. I encouraged her to at least review the study guide and get familiar with the format, but no - not enough bandwidth to focus on it, I was told, so just going in blind. Scored 33 M/36/36/36, with only one item missed on the three non-math sections combined. She said the ACT just made sense to her in a way that the SAT really didn’t. But even if it hadn’t, she could’ve ignored the result and applied with the SAT (or TO), so it made sense to try. I think this especially applies for a homeschooler - there tend to be fewer opportunities for external validation in that situation.


@neela1 thank you for taking the time to share this data!

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@sursumcorda thank you for another detailed and helpful response!

A 1500 isn’t going to eliminate your child from contention and a higher SAT/ACT wouldn’t necessarily improve their chances so don’t waste time regretting that you didn’t push your kid into spending more time prepping and retaking the SAT (or trying out the ACT). From your description your child sounds like an interesting and very strong candidate, but it is fiercely competitive out there and acceptances are very hard to come by. I hope that you have some good safeties/likelies in your pocket already so that regardless of what happens on Ivy Day your child will be headed off somewhere they can be happy.

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@Thorsmom66 thank you for reassurance about the 1500!

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