How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler.

How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler

How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler

This is college application season for many college-bound homeschool high schoolers. It can be a stressful time for these teens (and their parents), especially if this is the first child heading off to college. How can you be sure your homeschooler is completing the forms well. What is a homeschool parent’s role in the process.

7Sisters Vicki served the local homeschool community for almost two decades as college admissions advisor. In her work with homeschool high schoolers and trainings with college admissions officers, she picked up some tips that have been helpful to her five homeschool graduates and hundreds of other local teens. In honor of college application season, Vicki is sharing some basics of the process to get you started.

Ten tips on how to apply to college as a homeschooler

Tip #1: Write your application essay early

Trust Vicki on this. If your homeschool high schooler writes his/her essay early. We would tell our local advisees to write their essay during the summer, that would give them time to have parents or teachers look it over and give advice…AND do multiple rewrites. Even if the topic changes at application time, details can easily be tweaked once the guts of an essay is created. Remember multiple rewrites take a good essay to a great essay (use grammar checkers like Grammarly to help.)

Also, if you have a college that allows your teen to skip the essay, don’t skip! That essay might give your homeschooler an edge if there is a lot of competition for entrance.

If your homeschool high schooler will be using the Common Application or other applications that publish essay prompts early or have standard prompts, it is much easier to start that essay. Even if an essay prompt is not available for their preferred college, have your teen choose an exciting or inspiring story from their life and write an essay to be tweaked later.

For help: Here’s a freebie post and a downloadable college admissions essay writing guide from your 7Sisters.

When they apply, teens are letting colleges know who they are. So they need to put their best foot forward.

Tip #2: Ask for recommendation letters letter early

PLEASE, take us seriously on this. Recommenders need a little time to write an excellent recommendation. Give them time.

Also, if your recommender will be writing a paper recommendation, give them self-addressed, stamped envelope to the college. If your recommender will be writing a digital recommendation, let them know where the link will be coming from. (And also approximately when it will come, so they can check the spam file if it seems late.)

ALSO, please train your teen to ask the recommender politely. In fact, use the word, “Please.” This is a skill that will help them the rest of their lives. AND when they are done with the recommendation, be sure to have your teen thank them.

Your teen can (and in many cases) should give the recommender a fact sheet about themselves and/or a resume to help them fill out the recommendation with good details.

Tip #3: Find out what the colleges are looking for

Make sure this is shown clearly on your homeschool high schooler’s transcript. Check the college website for “requirements for incoming freshmen” or “requirements for application”. Sometimes, you and your teen will best find this information on a college tour or online workshop with admissions officers. Check out this interview with Dr. Renae Duncan, Associate Provost of Murray State University (ret.).

Tip #4: Make sure your teen’s transcript is complete with grades through the point they apply

Colleges often want to know that teens are not goofing off their senior year, so they will ask for first quarter grades (and often, first semester updates). This means that moms need to have the transcript up to date! Here’s a post on how to do this.

For tips on how to create transcripts and what to include, along with an editable transcript template, check 7Sisters.

Tips #5: PDF your homeschooler’s transcript for online applications

Sometimes an un-pdf version transcript gets scrozzled.

NOTE: If you are sending in a paper application, you might have to have the transcript sealed and/or stamped. Check with admissions officers at the college for this information.

Tip #6: Have your homeschooler take his/her time in completing the application

College applications take a long time to complete. If your teen puts off the application process until the last moment, they will not be able to put their best foot forward.

Keep in mind, when your teen is filling out their application, they are talking to a real person. Have them write in complete sentences where applicable using a professional version of their own voice. (Do not fill out applications for your teen.)

Tip #7: Have your teen think about which schools to apply to ahead of time

For many teens three to five colleges is a good number. (If they are applying to twenty schools, they have not done their research. This will waste their time.)

  • Choose one college as a reach college but might be too expensive or competitive. (This would be an act of God if they get in.)
  • Aim for a college that your teen would truly like to attend and are a solid fit. NOTE: If you can find a college’s average SAT or ACT scores of admitted students. Aim for colleges where your teen’s scores are similar.
  • Aim for an easy, guaranteed acceptance college. This school would be fine but not a dream college, per se.
  • Aim for a financially-reasonable college. College debt is such a problem. (And why many homeschooler are doing their first two years at community college these days.)
  • For more tips check this post and another Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

Tip #8: Decide when to apply

Some colleges give dorm preference, better financial aid opportunities and/or other benefits to students who apply early.

If your teen is applying to a reach school, regular admissions might be better, since it is easier to get bumped to a waitlist with early applications. (Of course, each college handles this differently.)

Some teens need extra time deciding. So give them space to pray and research. They may need to skip early admissions.

Tip #9: Teens need to remember they are selling themselves with their essays and applications. This is not bragging!

Many homeschoolers are concerned that they will be prideful if they tell their outstanding points and stories. Just have them remember it is God who makes them successful, so writing about it is not bragging!

Tip #10: Pray

Teens can have a lovely growth process through their college application process if they know that as they roll their works on the Lord, he will direct their path.

Also, check out this useful Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode for first generation college students.

Hey, join our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group so you can ask college application and other homeschool questions to all your 7th Sisters!


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How to Apply to College as a Homeschooler


What Colleges Like to See from Homeschoolers

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: What Colleges Like to See from Homeschoolers.

What Colleges Like to See from Homeschoolers. Homeschool high schoolers who are aiming for college get helpful tips from academic advisors Marilyn and Barb.

What Colleges Like to See from Homeschoolers

What are colleges looking for from homeschoolers? What are the latest tips for successful college applications? Vicki is joined today by 7Sister Marilyn and our good friend, Dr. Barbara Varnell. Both ladies serve as high school advisors for the local homeschool community and have helped hundreds of teens get into college. They are going to share their latest tips!

Things are always changing in the college application process. This are always changing in what makes homeschoolers college attractive. So, let’s jump in with some updates from Barb and Marilyn:

Colleges like to see the Common Application (or their own application)

You have heard of Common Application (we simply call it “Common App”). But just in case you have not heard of it, Common App is an application that a number of colleges accept. High school seniors complete one application that is then sent to several colleges of their choice. Common App makes life much simpler since teens only need to fill out on application instead of an application for each college.

Tip from Marilyn and Barb:

Sometimes it works works better for homeschool high schoolers who do lots of interesting and unique activities to choose the individual colleges’ applications. These college applications often allow teens to highlight their unique offerings better than the Common App. Barb tells the story of her daughter’s application to Pennsylvania State University. Penn State’s application was so much better at allowing her to show off her creative high school extracurriculars. SO, take a look at each college’s application and compare it to the Common App.

Some colleges like to see SRAR

SRAR (Self Reporting Academic Record) is a list of your homeschool high schooler’s courses and the grades for those courses. It is separate from the Common Application and also from the transcript. Not all colleges require the SRAR so check colleges of interest to see their requirements.

In most cases, transcripts will also be required at some point in the admissions process.

Tips from Marilyn and Barb:

  1. Do not wait until senior year to compile a transcript. Start early. Start in 9th grade and add to it yearly. You will be glad you did! (It will save many hours and tears while trying to regather and reconstruct all the records of those busy high school years.)
  2. When you send in the actual transcript, make sure that it accurately lines up with everything on the SRAR. If not, it is possible the acceptance offer a student receives might be rescinded.

Start early! Do not wait until senior year to compile a homeschool transcript.

Some colleges like to see SATs and ACTs

In some parts of the country, the use of SAT and ACT exam scores has changed. For many years, colleges in the north and east often required the SATs, while southern colleges preferred the ACTs. Recently many of our eastern colleges have switched to asking for ACTs instead of SATs. Many colleges are not requiring these entrance exam scores at all (they are not requiring SATs or ACTs).

Tips from Marilyn and Barb:

  1. When your homeschool high schooler takes an SAT or ACT exam, tell them not to choose a college to receive those scores. Wait and see how the scores turn out. There may be times when a teen will be better off not reporting their scores to a college at all.
    1. Vicki remembers a year when score reporting first became optional at a local college. Unfortunately some of the local homeschool community’s brightest and most active teens had SAT scores that were fine (and would have earned them scholarships in other years). In this particular year, their SAT-score competition was fierce and these students lost out in the scholarships. If they had applied without the scores, they might have been eligible for other kinds of scholarships.
    2. Barb tells about a local homeschooler who did not have great ACT scores but was a leader with the local students. This student applied to one college that required the scores and one that did not. The college that required ACT scores gave such small scholarships (based on ACT score) that she could not afford to attend that college. The college that did not require ACTs looked at her transcript and saw her academic and leadership performance and gave her a full-ride scholarship.
  2. If your homeschool high schooler is not a great standardized test taker, make sure you bulk up the transcript with:
    1. High level courses
    2. Extracurriculars (that the student is involved in for two or more years)
    3. Leadership opportunities
    4. Take quirky (unusual) courses
    5. Competitions and awards
    6. Service and community work (this is a great thing to emphasize in the college admissions essay)
    7. For more ideas about a great transcript check
  3. Colleges look for these things because they are looking for the kind of student that will make their college work well (and look good)

Colleges like to see Letters of Recommendation

Marilyn and Barb have found that some colleges and military academies ask for letters of recommendation from teachers who have taught the student specific courses (and within the last two years). If your teen is looking at one of these colleges or military academies, make sure your student takes those subjects in their junior and senior years from someone else:

  • Co-ops
  • Umbrella schools
  • Community college/dual enrollment

Tips from Marilyn and Barb:

  1. College application is a game. You have to play the game. Play the game.
    1. If you do not like a specific college’s game, choose a different college.
  2. Reference letters from academic advisors and teachers make a difference .
  3. Teens need to ask nicely when they ask for a recommendation letter.
  4. Teens should have behaved well in their course, shown integrity and put forth good effort so the teacher has something to write about.
  5. Teens should give a recommendation-letter writer plenty of time (think at least two weeks).
  6. Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode on how to ask for a recommendation letter.

Some colleges like to see a College Application Essay

Start early. Have your teen hammer something out during the summer after junior year based on last year’s Common Application essay questions. Many years there are several new questions to choose from, but they are similar enough year to year that once a basic essay is written, it can be tweaked to match the new year’s questions. (The Common App has recently been keeping the questions the same from one year to the next.)

Tips from Marilyn and Barb:

  1. Start early. Revise often.
  2. For help writing that important essay, download’s guide to writing the college admissions essay.

For more on what colleges are looking for, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with Associate Provost of Murray State University, Dr. Renae Duncan. Dr. Duncan also joins us for a discussion on how to choose college degrees.

Join Vicki, Marilyn and Barb for solid tips on what colleges like to see from homeschoolers.


  1. Follow this link to our iTunes page.
  2. IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on View in iTunes
  3. This will take you to iTunes and our own podcast page.
  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
  5. Click RATINGS AND REVIEW. (Please take a minute and do this. It helps others find us. Thanks!)
  6. Thanks!


  1. Tap the purple Podcast icon on your phone
  2. Tap the search icon on the bottom-right of your screen
  3. In the search bar type: Homeschool Highschool Podcast
  4. Tap the Homeschool Highschool Podcast icon
  5. Tap *Subscribe*
  6. Please tap *Ratings and Review*

HSHSP Ep 83: Homeschooled and Headed for College

This week on HSHSP Ep 83: Homeschooled and Headed for College.

HSHSP Ep 83: Homeschooled and Headed for College

HSHSP Ep 83: Homeschooled and Headed for College

Many homeschool highschoolers are planning to attend college. How about yours? We know there’s not one right way to homeschool highschool AND there’s not one right way to do life after highschool. Some teens are call right into the workforce, military or missions. Others must go through college.

For teens who are homeschooled and planning for college, we’ve got some helpful information to think about. As experienced homeschool moms and community leaders, we’ve learned some insider tips. What experience do we have?

  • We’ve graduated all of our homeschool highschoolers and all the college-interested teens attended a college of their choice.
  • Vicki has served as academic advisor for local homeschool upperclassmen, helping hundreds graduate and gain acceptance at a college of their choice.
  • Sabrina and Kym have, for decades, taught homeschool co-op and group classes and mentored college-bound students (including writing many, many college reference letters).
  • However, we can’t say that Quella the seeing eye puppy has helped many teens get into college yet. Maybe someday…

From our feet-on-the-ground experience, we’ve got helpful information for you regarding the questions we often receive:

  • How can you and your teens manage the stress of the college hunt, preparation and application process?
  • Why is junior year important for college-bound students’ transcripts?
  • How many colleges should homeschool highschoolers apply to?
  • Why fill out FAFSA?
  • What is FAFSA anyway?
  • What is the importance of college visits?
  • What are some secrets of scholarships?
  • What do you need to know about the application process?
  • Why are application essay important?
  • How to politely ask for reference letters?

Join Sabrina, Vicki, Kym and Quella the seeing eye puppy for a lively and helpful discussion about college preparation and application!

Also, check out these resources:

Mindfulness Activity: Progressive Relaxation

Click here to download freebie how-to.

How to Request a College Recommendation Letter


Homeschool Highschool Podcast Episode 53: Starting the College Search


Need some support and guidance on how-to write an eye-catching college application essay? has what you need.

HSHSP Ep 83: Homeschooled and Headed for College

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The College Application Dance – MBFLP 182

The process of applying for college can be stressful for homeschoolers. It’s hard enough being both Mom and Teacher – now she has to play Guidance Counselor too! Can your son prove he’s ready for college? How can you showcase your daughter’s real gifts? Will admissions offices believe it when Mom gives the grades? Hal and Melanie have successfully launched four children from homeschooling to the college classroom – this episode, they share some important principles for building an awesome – and truthful! – college application.

Download our FREE

College Decision Resource Package!

CLICK HERE to get yours now!


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