Ivy League Homeschool Admissions

Ivy League College Admissions

Can homeschoolers get into Ivy League colleges?

Yes, but as for all students, it is very competitive. Therefore, students who want to succeed in highly selective admissions should start early and carefully build their academic profile during high school. In this article, you will find information about the homeschool admissions requirements for every Ivy League college.

What is the Ivy League?

Many people are surprised to learn that the Ivy League is an athletic conference. It includes eight private colleges in the Northeast of the United States. The colleges that make up the Ivy League are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Are Ivy League colleges the “best” colleges?

While the Ivy League carries prestige in the eyes of many, these are far from the only high-quality or well-resourced colleges in the United States. There is no reason to think just because a college is in the Ivy League athletic conference that, it will be a good fit for your student or that if one Ivy League college is a good match, others will be as well. Students should consider their unique abilities, preferences, interests, and career goals when making college decisions. In college, one size does not fit all.

Some critics argue Ivy League colleges are overrated and students are better served by developing their talents at less elite institutions. Author Malcolm Gladwell suggests students are better served by being at the top of their academic class and choosing institutions such as state flagships.

Homeschool Ivy League
Harvard University

Is it difficult to get into an Ivy League college?

Yes. Admissions rates at highly selective colleges are very low for the high school graduating class of 2023 (college class of 2027). For example, Harvard admitted about 3.4% of applicants, Columbia 3.9%, and Yale 4.3%. Brown admitted just five of every hundred applicants. Among the applicants who were not admitted were many who were valedictorians and other high-achieving students. Any senior considering highly selective colleges must be realistic about the admissions odds, but it is not a random lottery. Students with a solid high school record, including rigorous coursework, high test scores, and amazing extracurricular activities, have the best admissions odds.

Homeschool Admissions Policies
Colleges change their admissions policies and priorities from year to year. The pandemic led many colleges to adopt test-optional policies. It is anticipated that some colleges may be changing their style of essays in response to the availability of Ai. Families must check each college’s website for the most up-to-date information.

Brown University
Brown’s Open Curriculum offers students many educational choices and encourages them to delve deeply into their interests while pursuing broad-based knowledge. So, Brown looks for applicants who have demonstrated they are prepared for this environment by taking rigorous courses and developing their talents across academic subjects.

Brown wants homeschool counselors to explain their motivations for homeschooling rather than traditional public or private school education. Admissions would also like to understand how the student was homeschooled. This information should be presented in homeschool documents, including a transcript and detailed descriptions of courses. Students who have taken college classes should submit official transcripts as part of the admissions process.

Brown admissions values recommendations from outside of the family. “We would prefer to see letters of recommendation from instructors who have taught you in a traditional classroom setting and who can speak to your abilities and potential in an objective way.” Therefore, two to three outside recommendations are allowed, along with the parent-counselor letter.

Columbia University
Columbia gives homeschool applicants the same evaluation as they give other students. “In each case, admissions officers are weighing many components of your background: academic achievement and rigor, intellectual curiosity, extracurricular distinction, special talents and abilities, and many others.” In addition, Columbia’s homeschool admissions policy asks students to submit a detailed document explaining their curriculum for the last four years. Applicants should also provide letters of recommendation from outside teachers, such as college instructors.

Cornell University
Cornell admissions are highly selective, with Cornell admitting about 7% of applicants. Cornell makes it clear there is not a single formula to be admitted. Instead, Cornell looks for intellectual potential, character, involvement, and fit with Cornell’s offerings. Their admissions site asks students to consider, “Have you challenged yourself with the highest-level courses? How have you demonstrated your passion for learning?” “What special talents or interests have you developed?” “Do your application essays, and recommendations reflect your strongest personal attributes?”

Dartmouth College
Dartmouth recognizes every applicant is unique. “Every student we admit brings something unique to the community: a combination of qualities, experiences, and point-of-view that isn’t duplicated by any other student. Our holistic selection process is grounded in the concept that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts.”

Dartmouth receives many applications from homeschoolers.
In addition to the typical requirements for all applicants, Dartmouth asks homeschool supervisors to provide detailed information on the curriculum, grading scale, and evaluation. Applicants should give outside letters of recommendation, such as letters from college instructors. Homeschoolers are reminded that “standardized test scores can help demonstrate academic preparation.”  Dartmouth homeschool admissions policy notes students can demonstrate foreign language proficiency with the AP test.

Harvard University
Harvard admissions advise that “each applicant to Harvard College is considered with great care and homeschooled applicants are treated the same as all other applicants. ”   Harvard welcomes homeschoolers to submit all relevant information about their educational and personal background. In addition, applicants should submit a transcript and recommendations.

Homeschoolers interested in applying to Harvard may wish to read this Harvard Gazette article with profiles of homeschoolers who have been successful.

Princeton University
Princeton’s homeschool admissions policy provides helpful guidelines to prospective applicants. They want applicants who have distinguished themselves through taking rigorous academics. Princeton understands homeschool applicants can be different than traditionally schooled applicants and may have less distinction between academic and extracurricular parts of the application.

Princeton admissions encourages homeschoolers to submit detailed information explaining their approach to homeschooling. “The more you can document for us and describe what you have done during your high school years, academically and otherwise, the better. Feel free to go beyond the questions on our application forms if they don’t cover everything you think is important for us to know. ”

As is typical for selective colleges, Princeton admissions would like homeschoolers to submit recommendations from outside providers such as high school teachers or college instructors. Princeton also asks applicants for a graded paper with written comments.

Ivy League Admissions HomeschoolersUniversity of Pennsylvania
Penn admissions welcomes applications from homeschoolers and other students who have pursued less conventional paths to education.

Penn wants homeschoolers to submit a consolidated transcript that pulls together all of the student’s academic work. Homeschool documents should also explain the motivations for homeschooling and the plan for homeschooling. Their admissions guidelines also mention “objective” evidence” and “objective evaluations” through providing test scores and letters of recommendation from outside providers.

Penn asks homeschoolers to make sure their documents and application answer the following questions.

“What inspired you or your family to seek home schooling as an option for your education?  Describe your curriculum in detail and tell us how you, your family, or oversight group has organized your pursuit of knowledge across core academic disciplines including humanities, math, social and natural sciences, and foreign languages.  How has being home schooled helped you grow intellectually and personally or enhanced your opportunities for learning?”

Yale University
Yale Homeschool Admissions expectations include

  • Recommendations- Two. “The Committee requests objective evaluations from educators who have interacted with you – perhaps a teacher from a course you took at a local college, someone who has mentored you in a tutorial, the local librarian with whom you’ve discussed books over the years, someone in whose lab you have done the research, etc. “Yale makes it clear they do not want applicants only to submit letters written by parents.
  • Strength of curriculum – No set number for each subject, but “strength expected in all major disciplines strength in all major disciplines across the high school curriculum.” They note that grades from high school or local college courses can be a strong addition.
  • Personal qualities – Look for evidence of “social maturity” from all applicants, especially homeschoolers. They want to see the ability to “integrate well” and “communicate well” with others.

Consultations Available
Success in selective college admissions is aided by careful planning and attention to developing the student’s profile. Support from early in high school can help improve outcomes. Please check our Homeschool Success Services page for more information about how an individual consultation may help simplify the college admissions process for your homeschooler.


  • HI,
    I was considering dropping out of school and homeschooling. I can i still go to an ivy? I’m a very smart kid but sometimes don’t have the work ethics.

    • Hi Harris,
      No matter where you go to school it will require work and effort to get into a highly selective college and even with hard work there are no guarantees. Whatever you decide about schooling, I hope you can discover enjoyment with learning. Best wishes!

    • Hello,
      Colleges don’t have a specific requirement that homeschoolers take a particular number of APs. There is though the expectation that homeschoolers will provide some form of external evidence or validation of their learning and high school transcript. This can come in many forms and APs are just one of them. So, every homeschooler interested in Ivies or other highly selective colleges needs to look at their strengths and interests and be prepared to present a clear and compelling case for admissions.
      Best wishes,

  • Hello , im switching out of regular school for online schooling. Will I be able to get into an ivy league school if I work hard and take ap courses?

    • Hello,
      There are absolutely homeschooled and virtual schooled students who are able to get into Ivy League and other highly selective colleges. All students who want to be admitted to a top college should plan their high school years thoughtfully. Colleges want to see students who have taken challenging courses and done well, score high on tests, and have well developed extracurricular activities.

  • Hi, I’m beginning homeschooling as a sophomore and I’ve been searching up online programs. I was wondering what are the top online class programs that are recognized and get students into top colleges (ivy leagues). I recognize that I should take the most rigorous classes; however, most online classes don’t seem to offer honor classes and many ap classes. There are a couple that I know of, but their tuition is incredibly high. Currently, I’m looking into Brigham Young University which the tuition is around $1700 for 6 classes, but I do not know if Brigham Young University Online High school is a rigorous, valuable program that could place me into top colleges. Please let me know if you know of any information to my questions. Thank you.

    • Hello,
      Yes, it is the case that some of the most challenging and highest quality online high school options (such as Stanford Online High School) are very expensive. Some of the less expensive programs such as BYU are not as rigorous and may not provide as strong a foundation. It is important to understand though that many homeschoolers opt to homeschool independent of these programs and still put together a very challenging and effective high school education. It is an option to use free and low cost options such as – Coursera, state provided virtual schools, state dual enrollment or PSEO programs, and self study. AP and SAT subject scores provide a helpful form of validation for homeschool studies. There are homeschoolers who homeschool high school on a tight budget and still get into a top college.
      Best of luck!

  • Hi, I’m in 8th grade and homeschooling as of this year. In China. I know I could get recommendation letters from international school teachers. I’ve been to two Model United Nations Conferences these last two years. I was wondering what other courses or credits I might need and how to get them. Online school would be an option, but as of now the only subjects I use textbooks in are math and science. I’d especially like to get into any Ivy League school. I have some legacy at Yale. Could I get some explanations on requirements? (mandatory credits, AP courses to consider, helpful extracurricular activities, etc.) Thank you!

    • Hi Esther,
      Thanks for your question. It sounds like you are doing a great job about thinking about your options for high school. There are many paths that can take students to selective admissions. The key is to build a strong record in every area including academic, testing, and extracurricular activities. It is also great you are nurturing relationships with outside teachers. You may find the four year plan under the “free” tab at the page to be a good starting place.

  • Hi, I’m a 12th grade international homeschooled student seeking to apply to Ivy League universities. Do we need a high school transcript to apply?

    • Dear Kamili,
      Yes, you will need a high school transcript as well other homeschool documents and test scores. Every school has different requirements so you’ll need to check their websites carefully.

  • Hello! I really hope to get into an ivy league school one day. My biggest concern is that my home school doesn’t offer AP classes. Just general and a-g courses. I’m in all a-g classes, except for math. I know that an a-g course is some sort of california approved college prep course. But im not sure how that translates to out of state or ivy league colleges? I am willing to put in the work but im just confused and worried as to how the whole thing works.

  • Hello, I am a part-time homeschooler (sort of, not really?). Meaning that I take some classes through virtual school and some at a private school, but they are all accredited courses, and issue traditional grades. Do you suggest applying to Ivy Leagues as a homeschool student or a regular student? I am not going to receive a high school diploma from either institution and because I am part-time cannot have things like class ranking or honor roll.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Isabella,
      Most students in your situation would apply to college as a homeschooler. During the admissions process you will information about your outside courses that you take through the virtual school and private school. This is not an uncommon situation as many homeschoolers outsource some, or all, of their high school courses.
      Best wishes,

  • What if you where in a school , but decided to be homeschooled your finale year ? When filling out an Ivy League aplication , do you have to give a transcript for the time you where in school ? Or do you not .I have taken my SAT’s and will have plenty of reccomandations from tutors , coaches and mentors on scientific projects I took on .

    • Dear Molly,
      You will need to provide transcripts for all of the high schools you’ve attended – public, private, and homeschool. It is important to explain to admissions the reason for your change in school environment too.

  • Hi!

    I am currently in grade 9 (14 years old) and I am very good with math. I have started taking AP calculus in my school and my goal is to study mathematics in one of the top universities in US. what should I do if I want to apply and get admission by the age of 15/16. Is it enough if I do AP in Math and science only or should I also study and take exam in languages also?

    Thanks for your advice.
    Best wishes,

    • Dear Sara,
      Most competitive applicants for top schools will have strong documentation for their achievements and typically that includes testing.
      Best of luck to you!

  • Hi!
    I am a homeschooled junior interested in applying to Ivy League schools next year. Due to financial instability through my high school years, the amount of official AP-accredited classes and other regular online classes that I have been able to take in grades 9-11 has been limited. Both my sophomore and junior years I have taken one official AP class. In 10th grade, I self-studied 2 other AP courses (received 5s on both on the AP test), and this year I am self-studying 5 AP exams. Will the fact that I have only taken 2 AP-accredited courses by my junior year hurt my standing in the eyes of Ivy League schools? If it helps, by this summer, I will have taken 8 AP tests, but only 2 AP classes.


    • Dear Ellen,
      There are many “right” ways to homeschool and many homeschoolers opt not to take AP courses or AP tests and still do well in admissions. With homeschooling every family is unique and no two homeschool applications will look exactly the same. You can still be competitive for highly selective schools without a lot of formal AP classes. There are other ways to build your record including self-studying for tests, dual enrollment courses, summer programs, extracurriculars, and so on. Good luck to you!

  • Hi, I am currently in 8th grade and homeschooling but I really aiming for getting an admission in Yale University as i want to become a Politician. Do you think its possible?


    • Dear Scarlett,
      It is fantastic that you have set high goals for yourself and you are dreaming big. I encourage you to develop your academic and extracurricular profile during high school. There are many ways to explore an interest in politics – political science classes, debate, model UN, volunteering with a political campaign, etc. Given the competitive admissions climate all students are well advised to have a balanced college list including schools with a range of admissions odds. Wishing you the best in high school!

  • Hello, I am a Korean student. I want to go to ivy but my alternative Christian international school is not a regular school, so I cannot apply to schools with GPA. Is there any way to go to ivy with only test scores such as SAT, AP, TOEFL, and other papers? Also, can GPA be replaced to GED test score? I really don’t see a way to go to a good university with my status right now. Thank you for reading.

    • There are many good colleges and universities in the United States – hundreds, not just Ivy League colleges. Many colleges accept most students who apply. I suggest checking out the admissions section of college websites and contacting them about your credentials and what they require.

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