Homeschooling with College in Mind
For many families who are homeschooling their kids through high school, the decision to pursue this path was made with a fair amount of hand wringing. Most of us spent a significant amount of time researching information online, talking to other parents, and generally imagining every potential problem and worst-case scenario before deciding to take the leap (or not). “How can I make sure my son will learn everything he needs to?” “Will my daughter miss out on typical ‘rights of passage’ like prom?” And most of all, “What if she wants to go to college?”
For those of us who do decide to take the leap, we find out pretty quickly that there really isn’t much to fear – there are so many educational resources and social opportunities available, the real problem we face is the feeling of being overwhelmed as we go through the selection process. And the same holds true for college admissions for homeschoolers – not much to fear there, either. Success stories abound as parents of homeschooled kids who are already in college share their strategies and recommendations with those of us who aren’t quite there yet.
In all honesty, though, I’m still worried…
The responsibility of guiding my sons through childhood and into their first years of young adulthood weighs heavily on me. Both of my boys are already planning to go to college, and I don’t want them to just attend whichever “homeschool friendly” college will accept them. That feels too limiting. Instead, I want them to start with their goals, to consider all the possibilities, to choose a college based on the combination of factors makes a school the “best fit” for them academically, socially, and geographically. As homeschoolers, this means that if some of the colleges they target are not considered “homeschool friendly”, they will likely have to work harder than traditional students to prove to admissions officers that they’re academically prepared and capable.
So, what can I do to help them? And what can I do to help other homeschoolers, too?
These are the questions that propelled me to conduct a national research project, “From Home Education to Higher Education”, that I wrote about in more detail here. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that this research lead to a couple of articles here and here, and ultimately to a book, which will be published and available this summer. (Yes, I’m smiling ear-to-ear as I write this – I’m so excited!) What’s more, the interviews I conducted with admissions officers as I was researching my book lead to another idea and project: The Uncommon Applicant.
It all started quite unexpectedly. I was focused on interviewing college admissions officers with the goal of uncovering insights and recommendations I could share with people in my book, but I really ended up discovering so much more. Specifically, toward the end of many of the interviews, I kept hearing some version of the question, “Where can I find more homeschoolers?” Finally, a light bulb went on for me: not only are homeschoolers looking for more information about schools they are interested in, but admissions officers are also looking for more ways to connect with us, too! So, this is great news, but it also presents another issue:
As homeschoolers, how can we find out about schools that may be a perfect fit for our child’s educational and professional interests and goals, that are very interested in recruiting homeschoolers, that we may not be aware of?
As homeschooling parents, many of us are already really busy. With so many colleges and universities offering so many different types of programs, and with constantly-changing and sometimes hard-to-find admissions criteria, how can we cast a wide net and be sure we’re helping our students find the schools that may be the best fit for them? I realized that admissions officers and homeschooling families need a dedicated place to meet, to get to know each other, and to share questions and answers. So, I decided to create one.
The Uncommon Applicant will be a virtual college fair for non-traditional students like homeschoolers. It will be a place where colleges and universities who are interested in our students can set up virtual career booths, describing their programs, admissions criteria, and financial aid information that are of interest to non-traditional students like ours. Membership will be free to students and parents, who will be able to research and contact schools any time they want.
While this sounded like a great idea to me as I help prepare my boys for life after high school, I wanted to make sure that other homeschoolers were interested, too. It turns out, they are! Within just a few days of posting some basic information, we have over 100 homeschoolers who have already signed up for their free membership – and our web site isn’t even live yet.
So, for the next couple of months I’ll be hard at work getting everything set up so we can officially launch this summer. In the meantime, if you or someone you know has started their college planning and could benefit from a virtual career fair, you can learn more through the link below. As an added bonus, I created “5 College Application Tips for Homeschoolers” that all new members get for free.
Stay tuned for more information on our growing community, as well as the official launch of my new book!