Are You Setting Sail Without a Compass?

sunset_sailing_sailboat_photographyMy oldest son, Sam, is finishing what would be his 8th grade year right now, so lately we’ve been deep in discussions about what our version of high school will look like. Although we don’t know for sure whether Sam will want to go to college, given his interests and general career goals, it’s pretty likely that he will. Which is why I began wondering last year about what he might need to do so he’ll be ready to apply to college in a few years. He won’t have standard transcripts and a GPA, nor will he have easily-requested letters of recommendations from high school teachers and counselors who have known him for years. What’s a homeschooling parent to do?

I’m realizing that homeschooling our teenagers without a plan is like setting out to sea in a sailboat without a compass — we can’t help them get to where they’re going without a map and at least a general idea of the destination. This is true regardless of whether or not they plan to pursue a college degree; and, if they do, it’s even more critical that we find the information we’ll need to help them as early as possible. So, I set out to find out…

If you’ve been following the Teach Your Own blog, you’ve probably seen several posts about our “From Home Education to Higher Education” research we’re conducting in partnership with the Oregon Home Education Network.  After asking homeschooling families across the country what they wanted to know about college admissions for home schooled students (and hearing back from parents in every region of the country!), we’ve begun presenting these questions to college admissions officers and counselors. We’re receiving wonderful, compelling insights every day from admissions professionals through our online survey, and have already begun interviewing some of these experts to get their deeper thoughts and recommendations about what we need to be doing right now to help our kids be competitive for admissions and scholarships.

I’ll be sharing more on all of this soon, but I’m so excited about the first interview with Mark Corkery, Head College Counselor at College Advance, I couldn’t wait to make this available and decided to give you a sneak peek.

“Things have been shifting in college admissions that are very positive for home schooled students.”

— Mark Corkery, College Advance

First, a quick introduction!  Mark Corkery has been working in higher education and college admissions for decades. He was one of the first college counselors in Southern California and has worked with thousands of students, including both traditional and home schooled students, in gaining admissions to their colleges of choice. In our recent interview we discussed:

  • How the priorities of college admissions officers are changing (and how this impacts homeschoolers),
  • What types of information need to be included on our homeschool transcripts,
  • How colleges view and compare the AP test, the SAT, an SAT Subject Test, or a college-level course, and
  • What students can do to maximize the impact of their college essay and really stand out.

In addition to the helpful information shared during our discussion, Mark also suggested several links and resources that might be of interest to homeschooling families. In short, this interview is a great place to find your compass and start your planning!

One more quick note before you check out the interview:  The first few recorded interviews will be available to anyone who clicks on the link below, but eventually they will only be accessible to our Teach Your Own subscribers. So, if you haven’t already signed up and you want to make sure you don’t miss out, make sure to sign up for our newsletter at the top of this page. Enjoy the interview!

 How to Stand Out, with Mark Corkery


About Lori Dunlap

Lori Dunlap worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and then at a large research university as a program director and adjunct faculty member. In addition to homeschooling her two sons, she writes regularly about education and parenting issues. You can read her blog at, or connect with her on Facebook:

Posted on May 5, 2015, in College Admissions Research, Higher Education. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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