Selective College Admissions/Acceptance

<p>My son has been home schooled through out high school and will be
applying early decision later this year to a very selective University.
My question is that he has never taken any courses at a University or
Community College (example, dual enrollment). Would this be an issue?
Have there been any parents whose kids have been accepted at selective
colleges without any type of "traditional grades/transcripts"
information? Please help!</p>

<p>I don't know from personal experience of any. I read about a homeschooled girl who was totally unschooled who got into Princeton a year or two back. She had monster SAT scores and was a very accomplished ballerina, though, so I'm not sure that her story reveals much.</p>

<p>I would be interested to hear about other stories.</p>

<p>Would it be possible for your son to pick up a few classes this spring or summer quarter somewhere before the early apps are due? He could keep them going in the fall and throughout his senior year too, as they do ask about his senior year schedule in those applications. </p>

<p>I think college admissions officers, especially at elite colleges are willing to look at all transcripts with an open mind, so with your son's transcript, his test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and (if the college offers them) an on-campus interview, they will have means to evaluate his application. It is, though, really competitive so anything that adds to the mix is definitely a plus.</p>

<p>I do think applying somewhere ED is a good idea if the financial aspect is clear enough for you, because it does seem to increase the odds of getting accepted. Most importantly, it's a time when admissions officers just have more time to spend looking over an individual application. They can digest it better, and consider it more thoughtfully, I think.</p>

<p>Good luck to your son!</p>

<p>My ds is a finalist for a full ride scholarship at one of the top 20 LACs - so I assume he got in :-). </p>

<p>He has never done any dual enrollment mainly because the scheduling didn't fit into our lifestyle of frequently traveling on business. He has done a few online APs and more AP classes at home, so that gave him some outside validation, though he has an entirely homeschool transcript. He also has really good SAT scores and some pretty interesting hobbies that may have helped.</p>

<p>Hope that helps--
Huguenot Mom</p>

<p>rentof2, huguenot, thanks so much for your input. As a result of all of the information I've received from various groups & the Admissions Office of the University we are looking at, I am enrolling my son in summer/fall courses at a traditional community college/university. This will help boost his application credentials.</p>

<p>While it may not be necessary, I think doing some outside classes can resolve any doubts admissions people may have (based on very old, silly stereotypes!) about homeschoolers' abilities to perform well in traditional classroom enviroments and their ability to adapt to the expectations of teachers/professors, etc.</p>

<p>Okay, I'm the parent of the ballet girl with "monster" SAT scores. She is a first year at Princeton. She had no "outside" courses or actually any courses at all, and took no AP courses or tests. She took advantage of what her time allowed her, which included working in the mammal department of our natural history museum 15-20 hours a week, and to dance ballet 6 days a week. She attended the School of American Ballet in NYC one summer before knee issues arose. In addition to her pursuits, she was able to devote time by not having a "school" schedule to extensive reading, particularly in literature and history. She is planning on being a history major, and her grades the first term were very good. She never wrote as a home schooler, but her reading prepared her to ramp that up quickly in a formal school setting. In my opinion, just as if you read a lot you can spell, you can also write.
Her brother also took no "outside" or courses at home, either. He didn't have an area where he excelled in such a demonstrable way as his sister did in ballet. He is a Dartmouth '06. He was admitted to comparable schools, such as Amherst, Williams and Johns Hopkins. He is also extremely well-read, beyond what could happen typically if one had to keep a school schedule.
If there is a "formula" that worked for them in college admissions, I would say it was the freedom to follow interests in a deep way, and having a finite number of actual tests in which to demonstrate competence. The SAT subject tests in particular are cheap, short, and easy to ace if you love the subject and have the time to pursue it.
As a practical matter, I think it is much easier to be interesting to admissions people as a home schooler than as one of many at an upscale public or private school where you'd better rack up a high number of AP courses, or better not have an off month because your beloved aunt died. Talk about being a mouse in one of those running contraptions.
Of course, the major benefit to me is to have a healthy and free childhood and youth, with worries kept to a minimum. I don't think my kids have woken up in the morning worried about anything.
At the same time, there are many, many ways, home schooler or not, to excel and be happy.</p>

<p>Congratulations to both your kids, danas! I agree that being a homeschooler, while maybe a little bit of a wild card, is a net plus to a strong applicant. I don't have much to base that on, but it just seems like it automatically can set an application apart from the mountain of more traditional students.</p>

<p>In fact, the more I read on CC, the more it starts to seem like there's a de facto national curriculum -- all the same AP classes geared to the same tests, the same progression of math classes, science classes, and so forth.</p>

<p>Homeschoolers, whether they unschool or piece their education together with outside classes where they have greater options, either way it gives an applicant a very unique educational background.</p>

<p>I have thought how weird it would be to be a professor in a classroom full of college freshman from all over the country with almost identical educations (to the point of all having used one of the few approved AP textbooks for each class, etc.) and how arid that would seem. How much more interesting to have people with different exposures, different paths to different ends. That would be a much more fertile and interesting room to be teaching in.</p>

<p>My kids have each done two classes (one per semester) their senior year at the "real" 4-year college down the street from us. This had a couple of advantages --</p>

<p>1) College admissions folks saw an 'A' from a "real" college and knew that my kid could function in a real classroom environment.</p>

<p>2) My kids had experience dealing with professors, office hours, questions, review sessions, etc. before they actually went to college. They felt much more comfortable going off to college having taken a real class in a real classroom.</p>

<p>(Since we have homeschooled all the way, my kids have literally never been in a classroom until their senior year. They have done numerous online classes, AP and otherwise, but being in a classroom in very different from doing a class online.)</p>

<p>I will also say that the college classes (and AP) were nice for dd. She is a freshman at huguenot's "top 20" LAC, and she entered with 21 credits, which will allow her to both double major AND take some additional classes that her desired grad program requires AND graduate in four years!</p>

<p>BTW, ds was accepted at U Chicago EA, so he was accepted without any grades other than from his online classes. He was able to list his classes at the 4-year college, though.</p>

<p>One caveat -- fairly elite schools often do not take any credits from community colleges, and they are fussy about which credits they will take even from accredited four-year colleges. Have your child take a college class to enhance his education -- don't do it purely for the credits, or you may be disappointed.</p>

<p>Another possiblity is to take online classes through Harvard Extension; They have some excellent classes, including in-depth classes if your child is interest in particular area. My son found the classes to be better taught, more in-depth, and they expected more from him. They are not for the unprepared or unmotivated student. </p>

<p>Welcome</a> to the Harvard Extension School</p>

<p>My two homeschooled children followed much the same path as Cockatiel mentioned for their "senior" year. It would be hard to say if this helped to secure their acceptance into elite LAC, but I think that it somewhat eased the pressure cooker that I experienced documenting a homeschool career for a transcript (especially if you have younger children you are still homeschooling). Personally, I found the application process very time and energy consumming (having to do it 2 years in a row) and appreciated some of the burden of proof off my shoulders.</p>

<p>Also, having homeschooled for 12 years, my children felt that the freedom to become an avid reader was a HUGE plus, as Danas mentioned. The kids only took one try on the SAT's and they believe that their vast reading exposure made it possible for them to ace the the SAT. Their ability to devour books has also been a BIG asset in college, given the vast amount of reading they are assigned.</p>

<p>Both kids did have quite a few credits when they began freshman year. We thought these might be "spare change", but aside from satisfying distribution requirements, they don't really change their options over the course of their 4 years. The course requirements towards a major need to be taken at the university or through an accepted exchange program. Also, scholarship requirements necessitate a full course load each semester. We haven't identified how the entering credits really did much but validate the ability to do college work.</p>

<p>The one thing I have learned with homeschooling is . . . there isn't a formula!</p>

<p>For my dd, entering with a lot of credits (21) made a GREAT deal of difference. Dd is planning on double-majoring, and the graduate program she is interested in (a specific program in art conservation) has many many course requirements from a wide variety of majors. </p>

<p>Without all of the credits she entered with, she would not be able to double-major AND still graduate with all of the requirements for the desired grad program.</p>

<p>Something to think about -</p>

<p>If a student is seriously considering a particular college, it is important to closely read what transfer credits can be applied towards a major. While my children's transfer credits were accepted, most could not be applied towards a major at their school</p>

<p>Hi danas,</p>

<p>How were the books your kids read in HS chosen? Did you make up a list or did they choose? I am in the process of planning the curriculum for my DS who will be starting HS next year. I would like to sketch out a reading list for the next 4 years.</p>

<p>Any advice is very much appreciated.</p>

<p>Hi dearone...I sent you a PM.</p>

<p>Hi danas (and others with advice!),
I'm the mother of a rising senior who plans on applying to selective LACs...Would you mind sharing how many SAT IIs your children took and in which subjects? Do you think AP tests can substitute for SAT II tests? </p>

<p>My daughter took one AP exam in soph year (bio), will take three or four (psychology, world history, English lit, maybe French language) more this year. I'm trying to figure out how many SAT IIs she should take on top of that. She's taken two already and done well (biology and French). She'll be doing literature as well. I'm hoping she doesn't need to take more than three, while dh feels it's important for her to do four or five, at least. That seems like a lot of testing and preparation for testing, especially as preparation for the APs isn't, in many subjects (eg, world history) good preparation for the comparable SAT II.

<p>Mw, it varies by school. Make sure to check the websites of the schools your D is most interested in. Some want more tests from homeschoolers, other schools have the same requirement re: SAT tests for all students regardless of whether they're homeschooled or traditionally schooled. We were also looking at selective LACs. My recollection is that Williams and Amherst, for example, required 2 SAT Subject Tests - in subjects of the student's choosing. Pomona wanted 4, if I recall, for homeschoolers --this is more than they require of traditionally schooled students-- but would accept a combination of SAT Subject Test scores and AP scores. The public univ. here, as another example albeit not a selective LAC, wants 2 SAT Subject Tests from homeschoolers (they don't require them at all of traditionally schooled students) and one of them must be Math1 or Math2.</p>

<p>So it varies, but most schools have on their websites what they require, and if it's different for homeschoolers that information is normally also available there.</p>

<p>Is it better to have even more than they require? I think that would depend on what other "objective" assessments there is in the student's academic transcript... but that is just my hunch. If the student has taken NO outside classes, for example, maybe having an extra test score or two would be prudent. It sounds as though your daughter will have plenty though.</p>

<p>My son was accepted to Amherst with just two subject test scores, but he had lots of outside classes too.</p>

<p>Oh... it's great to have all those APs, but in terms of meeting admissions requirements, SAT subject tests are more standard. Some schools pay little attention to AP scores, and in fact most don't even require the score reports be sent in with the application.</p>

<p>My son applied at the time of the 2 part SAT, when LACs in the Northeast wanted 3 SAT IIs. He submitted 4.
My daughter took 3 Subject Tests, which is what the school she set her sights on, Princeton, requires of all applicants.
In both cases this proved sufficient. Neither had taken any outside classes or AP tests.
There are three reasons I can think of to prefer Subject Tests over APs. The first is that they are calibrated more finely than a 5 number scale. The second is that schools are used to comparing required Subject Test scores, while some (including Dartmouth) have said they don't consider APs on the grounds that not everyone has the opportunity to take AP courses. The Ivies have long used an academic index to grade applicants that explicitly plugs in Subject Test scores. The third reason to prefer the Subject Tests over AP Tests is just that the APs are long and expensive.
Of course people could find value in following AP course materials and any good testing is a positive.
The key to me is to just take or submit tests upon which you will perform excellently.</p>

<p>Thank you so much, rentof2 and danas, for your answers! Lots to think about...</p>

<p>About APs versus SAT IIs, I do know that some selective colleges actually count how many AP plus Honors classes are taken in each year (see The Gatekeepers), and use this as a measure of how rigorous the program of study is. I'm sure that homeschoolers' apps are treated differently; my DD has taken these courses because she has learned, and is learning, a great deal from them. Hopefully, the good grades in the classes in addition to good AP scores will help her in the admissions process. </p>

<p>So, by mid-May she'll have 3 SAT IIs (bio, French, literature). She will then have to decide whether to take the math SAT II, as Bowdoin requires it of homeschoolers (but of no one else--in fact, regular applicants to Bowdoing aren't required to take any SAT IIs)... She wants to apply to Bowdoin, but doesn't want to take the math SAT II, as she's unlikely to receive the kind of really stellar score she's gotten on the others. Through very hard work, she has gotten a pretty good SAT I math score, and (again, through very hard work) does well in her Johns Hopkins CT math class, but she doesn't score particularly well on standardized math achievement tests. And she's concerned that a relatively poor score on the SAT II math could hurt her chances of getting in elsewhere--especially as she will be writing on her essays about her love of science and plans for a career in biology/environmental science. Tough decision for her.</p>

<p>One option, if she is a junior this year, is to send her scores next fall to all her schools except Bowdoin, then to take the Math SAT II (say in December) and have the score sent just to them.</p>

<p>Yes, that's good advice, huguenot. I know many kids who worked things that way this year.</p>

<p>Ms, you are right about colleges appreciating AP classes on the transcripts. I read and hear them saying this all the time. It's, like you said, to determine if the students were following a rigorous course of study. As long as your daughter is learning from them and enjoying them, then that's a good enough reason right there.</p>

<p>I believe homeschooled transcripts are looked at a little differently, as many homeschoolers don't have the usual AP options available to them. My son actually had only taken one AP class at the time he applied to Amherst, but he had taken a good number of classes at the local univ. through a program that lets junior and senior high schoolers (including homeschoolers) take classes there with certain approvals. So I suppose the college classes demonstrate the same thing, sort of, as AP classes in that it is a challenging program of study.</p>

<p>So there are lots of ways to get the job done. It sounds like your daughter is doing great.</p>

<p>One thing I regretted -- a little, it wasn't really a big deal -- was that when my son took the AP US History test as a sophomore (this was the one AP class he took prior to applying to college) I didn't suggest he take the SAT Subject Test in US history at that time. I heard that a number of kids in his class were doing that; taking the AP test and just a week later turning around and taking the SAT subject test. I thought, well, the AP test is actually the harder test so what's the point of taking the SAT US history test? It seemed duplicative, and if his goal at the time was to get some standardized assessments for his transcript, then surely the AP test did that as well, and better even, than the SAT subject test.</p>

<p>I didn't understand at that time that the SAT subj. test is actually more useful in college admissions, ironically. So as he was fully prepared at that point to do a great job on the SAT US history test, as it turned out we missed an opportunity. He did take the world history test and math2 (and ultimately the literature test, too), so he had enough... but knowing what I know now, I would have had him take the SAT subj. test at the point he was so well studied and prepared for the APUSH test. Kind of killing two birds with one stone.</p>