The college application process may seem daunting, especially if you are homeschooled and don’t have a school counselor on hand to answer all your questions. As a homeschool student (or the parent of one), here are a few tips to help you overcome the challenges of applying to college.
1. Don’t be overwhelmed. Yes, the college application process is daunting, and as a homeschooler, you’ll need to do some extra work to stay on top of the application process. First, you’ll need to narrow down your college choices. Ask yourself some important questions to find the college that best fits you. Here are a few to get you started:
– How near or far away from home do you want your college to be?
– What is your prospective major and how important is it that your college specialize in this field or major?
– Do you want to attend a private or public institution?
– How will your education be financed?
– Do you want to attend a large or a small institution?
– Do you plan to attend a junior college first (a big money saver) and then transfer to a four year university or enroll directly in a university?
After answering these questions, look for universities that match your criteria. Do some online searching, look in the college handbook section at your local library, and study the latest US News and World Report edition that ranks colleges (find this online or at your local library). Then make a list of your top five college choices.
Now that you have your top five options in front of you, research each option carefully and look at the application requirements for each university. Make a list of what tests you’ll need to take, the application deadlines, and which scholarships you are eligible to apply for along with appropriate deadlines. This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you focus on one university a week, your research will be completed in just over a month.
2. Don’t neglect proper testing. University application requirements differ, but most likely, you’ll need to take the SAT test and a high school diploma equivalency test (like the GED). Get a computer software program to help you prepare for these tests and spend an hour each weekday at least a year or two in advance to prepare. Schedule your tests well before your application deadlines to give you plenty of time to fill out the university applications.
3. Don’t forget extra curricular activities. As a homeschooled student, it is easy to focus on the academic side of education and neglect the life enhancing activities that universities want in their students. Get involved in your community, do a local service project at a homeless shelter, volunteer at a hospital, pursue an interest in sports or horseback riding. Become a well-rounded thinking individual.
4. Don’t procrastinate! Without school counselors and teachers breathing down your back to prepare for college entrance, it’s easy to think that you have all the time in the world. You don’t; so start early! Begin SAT preparations as a freshman in high school and start researching colleges your sophomore year. Take the SAT test your junior year and you’ll be ready to apply to colleges your senior year.
With these helpful hints, you will be well on your way to overcoming the challenges that face a homeschooler applying to college. Enjoy the process and join the many other homeschoolers who have successfully made their way through the college application process.