Colleges Are Recruiting Homeschoolers: Myth or Fact?

College campusThe idea that elite colleges are recruiting homeschoolers gets a lot of buzz . You may have read the claim that it is easier for homeschoolers to get into top colleges. The assertion is that Ivy League and other highly ranked colleges see homeschool applicants scoring higher on tests and being more creative. This article looks at the evidence for the idea that top colleges are seeking homeschoolers.

I heard about a homeschooler who got into Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Caltech, Barnard…
While it is absolutely true that homeschoolers have been accepted into the most competitive colleges in the country, it is important not to draw sweeping conclusions. Every applicant is a unique individual. The fact that a college has accepted a homeschool applicant before tells you that they don’t have their doors closed to homeschoolers, but it doesn’t tell you much about your child’s odds of admissions.

Colleges send materials to homeschoolers
Any parent who has been through the college admissions process in the last few years can confirm that marketing is alive and well in college admissions offices. This marketing includes emails, glossy brochures, and phone calls. Many parents report that the steady stream begins after the student takes the PSAT. This observation makes sense because the College Board sells student contact information directly to college marketing offices. While it is true that homeschoolers get mail through this marketing, public and private school students do as well. All applicants should understand what college mail means and what it doesn’t. Receiving an invitation to apply to the University of Chicago doesn’t mean their admissions office has any real information about you or that you have any chance of being admitted.

Colleges have admissions officers dedicated to homeschooling applicants
College admissions offices vary in how they read applications from homeschoolers. The most common arrangement is that all applications from public, private, and homeschooled students are divided by geographic region and read first by an admissions officer familiar with schools in that area.

Other colleges have all of their homeschool applications read by a single admissions officer. Homeschool applications can be trickier for admissions to evaluate because homeschoolers often lack standardized GPAs. Unlike private and public school students, homeschoolers also can’t be easily placed into context based on the general reputation of their high school or a comparison to other students at their high school. It may be easier for an admissions officer who has read more homeschool applications to be able to compare applications.

Colleges have websites webpages for homeschoolers
Again, this is true. Many colleges have specific admissions policies for homeschoolers and often include information about these policies on their websites. This reflects a growing awareness that homeschooling is common and colleges will receive applications from homeschoolers. Instead of these policies being a sign that homeschoolers have better than average odds of admissions, they are a sign that homeschoolers need to plan and do their research because each college has its own unique set of standards and expectations for homeschool applicants. Some expect homeschoolers to take more or different tests or to submit detailed course descriptions or additional recommendations

Why colleges engage in marketing
All colleges actively recruit public, private, and homeschooled students. Marketing to students has become a big part of the college admissions game. Colleges want applications from as many qualified applicants as possible. This gives admissions the greatest opportunity to build a strong and diverse class of students representing a wide variety of talent in fields including arts, sciences, humanities, and technology.

Marketing seeks to drive up the number of applications. Colleges with a lower acceptance rate rank better in the USNews rankings. More applications mean more rejections, making a college more selective and highly ranked. Colleges aren’t just targeting homeschoolers; they are targeting any student who will apply.

It is still a mixed bag for homeschoolers. We’ve made incredible progress in being accepted as applicants at competitive colleges.  However, homeschoolers need to know that homeschooling is not enough to gain admissions. Homeschoolers have more freedom to develop interesting extracurricular experiences. Still, they also come up against the expectation that their test scores will be weighted more heavily than they are for other candidates. Homeschoolers are not immune from the general trend of increasing difficulty in gaining admission to the most highly selective schools.

While homeschooling has become more popular, and research repeatedly demonstrates that homeschooled children tend to be well-socialized, some stereotypes still persist. Homeschool applicants are well advised to assume they need to try a little harder to demonstrate in their college applications that they’ve been active in their communities and are comfortable with diverse perspectives.

It is absolutely possible for homeschoolers to be competitive candidates for Ivy League and other highly selective colleges. Homeschoolers should know that colleges expect to see students who have taken advantage of the opportunities available to them to develop a competitive academic profile, including classwork and testing, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Continue Reading

Academic Benefits of Homeschooling High School
Family Benefits of Homeschooling High School
Highly Selective College Admissions for Homeschoolers

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