Category Archives: College Admissions Research

Our 2015 research project focusing on admissions officers’ perceptions of homeschooled students. Conducted in partnership with the Oregon Home Education Network.

Education Revolution Podcast PhotoIf you’re like me, the turmoil this week resulting from the recent presidential election has been a little more than distracting. It’s taken me a couple of days, but I’m ready get back to work trying to make a difference for future generations.

So, the timing of the launch of the new Education Revolution Podcast is perfect, and I’m honored to have been one of the first to be interviewed by Jerry Mintz, Executive Director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization.

This first episode includes some insights provided by the Dean of Admissions at Marlboro College, an inside peak at a democratic school from its new principal, and me sharing my top three recommendations for homeschoolers and other non-traditional students who are applying to college.

Here’s the introduction and links to the podcast. Let me know what you think!

Welcome to the first episode of the education revolution podcast. In this episode, Jerry interviews three experts on college admissions about the admission process for alternative students and talks with them about how those students do in college.

You can listen to the podcast here, or subscribe on soundcloud here.

The Podcast can also be found on iTunes, and since most podcast apps pull from the iTunes database most of the popular podcast apps on Android and ios such as Podcast Addict (Android), Pocket Casts (both), and Overcast (ios) will have it. Just search “Education Revolution” and it should pop up. This will allow you to download and take episodes with you wherever you go.

College Admissions for Homeschoolers: Three More Inevitable Questions

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360/CC BY 2.0

“Being homeschooled isn’t enough to make you interesting anymore.”

This is what one college admissions officer shared with me during a recent phone interview, an interview I’d requested as part of my research for my first book about college admissions for homeschoolers. It certainly wasn’t a perspective I had expected to hear, but as a homeschooling mom of two boys (one of whom will likely be applying to college in a couple of years), it’s an insight into the college admissions process that I’m happy to know about…  Read More

(From my recent article published by The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum)

Coming Out of Hibernation

fall-kidsFall is in the air here in Oregon, reminding me that it’s time to come back online and resume a more normal schedule. School buses are once again motoring around the neighborhoods, the first leaves are starting to fall, and the night air is crisp and filled with the smell of wood smoke. It’s been a busy, interesting, unusual summer, one that I’m sad to see end in spite of my excitement about what the next few months hold. I’ve had a kind of hibernation period for the past few months, allowing me time to withdraw from the world temporarily and work on a new and somewhat scary project… my first book!

For those who have followed me for a while, you already know that over the past couple of years one of my main focuses has been researching and writing about college admissions for homeschoolers. As a former university program director and admissions committee member, and now a homeschooling mom of two boys, this focus is a natural marriage of my two great passions: kids and education. After writing a series of articles on this topic last year, a publisher approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing a book about college admissions for homeschoolers, and there was no way I could say no! So, with a November deadline for submitting my first draft, I’ve spent much of the summer in front of my computer in a continuous cycle of researching, writing, and editing.

The good news is, I’m almost done! The even-better news is, I’ve had a fabulous time and have learned so much that I just can’t wait to share with you. So, I’m going to begin sharing bits and pieces of advice, insights, and just generally cool information over the next few weeks — stay tuned! The first article I’ll be sharing is about the top questions admissions officers ask themselves when reviewing a homeschooler’s application, and I think you might be surprised about at least one or two of them.

But first, a question…

As part of my book research, I’ve been asking college admissions officers about their schools’ policies and procedures for homeschooled applicants. At the end of the interviews, I ask, “What would YOU like to know about? What would help you do your job better/more easily?” Again and again admissions officers are asking:

“Where can I find more homeschoolers? How can I connect with them?”

So, I thought I’d send this question out to you home educators, college counselors, and admissions officers alike:

What is the best way for colleges who are very interested in homeschooled students to connect with us? Some online location? A homeschooling conference? Other?

Please share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, insights — anything that can help us strengthen this bridge between our students and the colleges and universities who welcome them.  This will likely be the topic for a future article, so anything you share will help benefit others!

Happy Fall!!

It’s Here! The September Newsletter


Fall is here! Which means many high school students are beginning to think about college. So, this September edition of the Teach Your Own newsletter is dedicated to providing specific information for homeschooling families whose students are preparing to apply to college in the coming weeks. In this issue you’ll find:

  1. Three great colleges for homeschoolers,
  2. Two hot tips on college admissions, and
  3. Our top college links for September!

As always, thanks for subscribing! And remember, if you like this issue, the best compliment you can give us is to share it with your friends!

Check it out here:

September Newsletter


Want to be a Reedie?

Reed“It’s hard, but in the end it’s so worthwhile.”

Our college admissions interview series continues this week! I recently had a chance to speak with Falone Serna, Director of Admissions at Reed College in my home town, Portland, Oregon.  We talked all about the Reed campus and community, the college’s competitive admissions process and, most importantly, what types of students are best equipped to become a “Reedie”.  Tune into the interview to learn:

  • What advantages homeschooled applicants have over traditionally-educated students,
  • The one core skill and two required classes you’ll need to be considered for admission to Reed, and
  • Why Reed graduates have one of the lowest levels of student debt.

Interview Link:

A Collaborative Learning Community


The August Newsletter is Out!

a u g u s t-1The August Newsletter is Out!

We’ve launched our new monthly newsletter and are so excited to see what you think! If you’re a subscriber, you should have received an email from us already and, if not, you can link to the newsletter here.  To make sure you don’t miss future issues, you can register on the top right corner of this page.

In celebration of our launch, we’re giving away a free copy of Grace Llewellyn’s book “Guerrilla Learning“. The winner this month is:  “enkvargas”. Congratulations!

In the newsletter you’ll find:

  1. Insights:  The top five questions homeschoolers submitted to us about college admissions through our survey of homeschoolers. Is yours on the list?
  2. Advice: How did admissions officers around the country complete this sentence?  “When applying to college homeschoolers need to ___________.”
  3. Links: Find out what our top picks for this month are. There’s something for everyone, from curriculum, to college application support, to interesting interviews.

Enjoy! And remember, if you like what we’ve shared, the best compliment you can give us is to share it with others. Thanks for your support!






Newsletter Launch and August Giveaway

Guerrilla LearningThese are exciting times around here! I’m happy to announce that we’ll be launching the “Teach Your Own” newsletter next month, and the inaugural edition will be in your mailboxes on Monday, August 3rd. Keep an eye out for it!

In celebration of the launch, we’ll be giving away a free copy of Grace Llewellyn’s “Guerrilla Learning” to a lucky newsletter subscriber. If you’re already signed up, great! If not, make sure to do so by July 31st to make sure you’re entered in the drawing.

What else can you expect in this first newsletter? Some great information, including:

1. Interesting Insights. What are the biggest questions and concerns homeschoolers have regarding college admissions? We’ve been asking for the past few months, and we’ve heard from families all over the country with thoughtful, interesting responses and we’ll share them with you.

2. Valuable Advice. Admissions officers and counselors from around the country recently shared the best advice they have for homeschoolers applying to college. Can you guess what their top tip was?

3. Helpful Links: Great resources you’ll want to check out if you’re homeschooling a teenager (or will be in the future!)

We look forward to sharing all of this (and more!) with you. Make sure you’re signed up (in the upper right-hand corner of this page), and then let us know what you think!


Big City, Small School

ShimerIf you had to describe a college that would be the perfect fit for most homeschooled students, what criteria would you include? For me, I’d say that a smaller school with access to lots of educational options would be a good option for my two boys. A place where they’ll have lots of opportunities to engage with other students, to know their professors, and to think deeply about the issues and ideas that interest them; a place where they won’t be lost in the crowd, that would welcome them and make them feel at home and, while I’m at it, offer scholarships just for homeschoolers.

I’m dreaming, right? Actually, no….

I recently spoke with Adrian Nelson, Assistant Director of Admissions at Shimer College, and this is exactly how she described her school.  Shimer is unique among colleges, even among smaller liberal arts colleges, in that most of their classes are small (no more than 12 students), discussion-based (no lectures), and incorporate only original sources (no textbooks). Their students are highly self-directed and have plenty of options to explore what interests them because of Shimer’s curriculum, and also because of their partnership (and shared campus) with the Illinois Institute of Technology.

So this school must be hard to get into, right?

Well, they’re certainly selective, but they love students from non-traditional backgrounds who have done interesting things and challenged themselves along the way, which pretty much describes most homeschoolers. The admissions process is a holistic application process, which means SATs are optional — they look at recommendations, transcripts, and essays to determine if applicants would be a good fit. As Adrian points out, because Shimer’s program is so small, every student has an impact on the student body, so “fit” is very important.

And I wasn’t lying about the scholarship part — they actually offer a scholarship for homeschoolers, and offer other healthy scholarship opportunities as well. Listen in to find out more about all of this, plus:

  • The two biggest mistakes homeschooled applicants make,
  • What the holistic application process entails, and
  • How your student can stand out.

If you’d like to learn more about Shimer, check out the links below. Enjoy the show!


Small School, Big City


For application information:

For scholarship information:



Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Laugh

Make God Laugh If planning were an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist. Seriously, I can whip up a plan for just about anything and present it in any form you like — list, spreadsheet, presentation, graphic, flow chart, emoticons — complete with tasks, subtasks, sub-subtasks…. Well, you get the idea. I’m a planner. I was just born that way.

In spite of my many years of planning experience, however, it surprises me that I can still be surprised when things don’t go according to the plan. You’d think I’d have learned by now — even the best plans rarely cooperate with my deadlines. Never have, never will. So, I guess I’m also an optimist, always thinking “maybe this time“….

Except, not this time. The universe decided to show me, yet again, that I’m not in charge. These past six weeks have been a mix of the unexpected, things I should have expected (but didn’t), and the normal, lightly bumpy evolution of things. It’s mostly all good (in the end, anyway), but the result is that I’m having to revisit my project plan for the “From Home Education to Higher Education” research and adjust some things. It’s all still happening, just a few weeks later than I’d hoped. So, here’s an update on what you can expect to see very soon:

  • Two recorded interviews with college admissions officers (check out our first two here).
  • An updated summary on what we’re hearing from homeschoolers all across the country in our online survey “From Home Education to Higher Education: What Do YOU Want to Know?” (There’s still time to participate if you haven’t already!)
  • The launch of our new quarterly newsletter (about which I’m particularly excited!)

Yes, I know I’m tempting fate again with my continued planning (is that laughing I hear?), but I know it will all happen when it needs to — there’s just too much support and positive energy to think otherwise. Thanks so much for rolling along with me!

An Artisan Education

An Artisan Education I’ve been practically bouncing in my seat the past few days while preparing this next interview in our series of interviews with college admissions officers. This one is with Micah Canal, Dean of Admissions at Antioch College — if you have a “quirky and capable” home schooled student who is thinking about going to college, you’ll definitely want to listen in on this conversation.

“Antioch students graduate with the ability to apply what they’ve been learning in the classroom to the real world of work.”

In case you’re not familiar with Antioch College, it’s a small, academically rigorous liberal arts school in Ohio. They have a faculty to student ratio of 1:7, and incorporate four quarters of work experience into their undergraduate program.  As you’ll hear in the interview, Antioch is a small school with big ideas, where students are encouraged to be both “thinkers” and “doers” — a great fit for many home schoolers!  In this interview we discuss:

  • The application process at Antioch, and how it’s designed to empower students and families,
  • Why “grit” is an important consideration in their admissions process,
  • How Antioch supports its students in becoming stronger “thinkers” and “doers”, and
  • What goes into creating an “artisan education” (exactly what many home schoolers are seeking!)

If you checked out the first interview with Mark Corkery of College Advance, you’ll hear some similar themes in this interview, including:

  • The need for clean, concise documentation of our students’ high school learning and activities, and
  • The importance of outside evaluations of our students’ abilities.

Enjoy the interview!

An Artisan Education, with Micah Canal