Homeschoolers need to look carefully at the admissions requirements of colleges they wish to apply to. This is a process that students can start early in high school long before they’ve developed their final college list. This article provides a look at the minimum expectations for private research universities. While requirements for homeschoolers vary from one institution to another, reviewing policies will help your homeschooler plan for high school. It is important to review these policies with the understanding that the minimum expectations for admissions are often less than what typical successful applicants provide.
As we discussed in part one of our look at private research universities, they are a “hot” category in admissions right now. Many students are drawn to the size and offerings of these institutions which can make admissions competitive. While these institutions have all accepted homeschool applicants, homeschoolers applying to these universities are being compared to students from some of the best public and private high schools in the country. Private research universities want to admit students who have done well in challenging courses and have strong ACT or SAT test scores, extracurricular achievements, great essays, and strong letters of recommendation. Homeschoolers are expected to provide evidence of academic acheivement and explain how homeschooling high school has allowed them to develop their talents.
Homeschool Admissions Policies
Duke encourages homeschoolers to apply. Their website notes that in recent years homeschoolers have been accepted at about the same rate as other applicants. Homeschoolers are expected to meet the same general requirements as far as testing and courses completed. Duke requires homeschool transcripts to list the courses the student has studied for the four years of high school. Interestingly, Duke’s homeschool admissions policy acknowledges the diversity of homeschool approaches. “Homeschooled students admitted to Duke have followed varied curricula: some follow packaged curricula with outside evaluators, some enroll exclusively in local college classes, some teach themselves independently, some rely on their parents’ instruction—but most have pursued a combination of different approaches. We understand that the choice of curriculum is best decided by each individual family.”
Rice’s Homeschool Admissions policy is not very detailed. Homeschoolers are expected components of a college application including homeschool transcript, test scores, supplemental essay, and letters of recommendation. Rice doesn’t provide a lot of detail about what they expect to see from homeschoolers but instead provides a very general expectation that “each must provide clear, detailed documentation of his or her curriculum of study, assessment tools and learning experiences.” In other words, Rice homeschool applicants should be prepared to present their homeschooling experience in a form that admissions can understand and appreciate.
Northwestern is one of the many private research universities that becomes more competitive for admissions each year. Applicants should do well in a rigorous high school curriculum. The expectation is for three years of lab science preferably including both chemistry and physics. In addition to the SAT or ACT with writing Northwestern homeschool applicants are expected to submit three SAT subject tests including math 1 or math 2 (STEM students should submit math 2 if possible).
Vanderbilt asks homeschool applicants to address the “curricular, social, or philosophical circumstances concerning their academic preparedness.” Vanderbilt’s Homeschool Admissions policy suggests that homeschoolers address the reasons for choosing homeschooling. The website also provides a PDF that homeschoolers can use to list homeschool courses and materials. Use of this template is not mandatory. As is the case with other private research universities with selective admissions, while SAT subject tests or APs are not specifically required homeschoolers should be aware most competitive candidates will be providing carefully thought out of validation of their homeschool courses. Vanderbilt’s admissions have become increasingly competitive. In 2004, Vanderbilt accepted more than 55% of students and currently is down below 15%. Average scores have also risen dramatically.
Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve in Cleveland expects homeschool applicants to provide the standard transcript, test scores, application, and letters of recommendation. They note that homeschoolers are eligible for merit scholarships. Case Western’s homeschool policy offers a good example of the difference between “required” and “recommend.” Case doesn’t require an on campus interview or SAT subject tests but both are recommended.
Johns Hopkins University
Admissions at JHU are very competitive. Johns Hopkins homeschool admissions policy notes that homeschoolers should submit detailed transcripts including bibliography, course descriptions, method of evaluation, and grades. Homeschoolers should expect to submit a recommendation from an “academic professional” familiar with the applicant. Johns Hopkins admissions suggests homeschool applicants err on the side of providing “more rather than less.”
Public and private research universities are a great option for many homeschoolers to consider. A strong high school education and good test scores are the basic foundation for success in college admissions. Homeschoolers are encouraged to enjoy the freedom and flexibility they have to develop their talents and to also think about keeping options open through documentation.