8 Tips for Getting Your High Schooler into College

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Are you considering the college option for your teen?  

There can be so many things to think about, it can be overwhelming....what to do re the SAT, ACT, PSAT, the personal college essay, admission requirements, Common Application, etc....!
Is it really possible to homeschool to college without freaking out?
Well, first, I have to admit, I did freak out....initially.  The thought of knocking on the college's door, as only one homeschool family, seemed so daunting!  But, once I got started,  it began to seem possible.  And, later, probable!  And now, a reality!

My teen, who was always homeschooled, recieved admission offers, with some scholarship help, from all of the colleges that she applied to, including a two tier university.  She is now a sophomore, studying honors global communications at a small public college, that she loves.

So today, I'd like to share with you, how I helped get her there....

To get started.... 

1.  Know your prospective college's admission requirements

We began  by researching our college admission requirements.  
With your college admissions requirements in hand, an overall course plan can be made. They became our spine for our high school planning.  

Once you know the requirements that are typical for your teen's college choices, you can then add in your electives.

2.  Do High School Electives

Did  you know that your teen's electives can be key to getting into college?

Colleges want to hear about their applicant's interests and special skills.  And often, your teen's activities can lead to those all important college recommendation letters.

Homeschooling allows us ample time for our teens to explore their interests and develop their talents.

And they give balance to your teen's study schedule....

....and going to the beach helped too!

3.  Balance out your Courses.  

It will be easier to fit everything in, if you try to balance out the courses.  

For us, we knew we needed to do Language Arts every year, and the rest of the subjects required from 2 to 4 years of study.  So we omitted Science when we did Foreign Language. That kind of thing really helped us.  

Of course, you want to know how many credits are required by your prospective colleges... 

4.  Know # of high school credits will be required by your colleges. 

This can vary from college to college.  It will be on the college's page on freshman admissions requirements.  Our prospective colleges asked for 24 credits.

4.  Add an additional credit, or 2, in a core course.

One thing our colleges liked was to see more credits in one of the required subject areas.  So if 2 credits were required for something, say science, you might think about at adding in an additional one, to make 3. 

I did this based on my teen's interests.  We chose to do it for english.  So we decided to do another credit for English, in speech.  

My daughter was doing speech and debate in one of her activities anyway.  So I made speech into a homemade course, and it gave her the additional credit under english.  See my post on Three Ways to High School Credit for more info on assigning credit and making homemade courses.

This shows your college that your student is motivated and responsible. Additional credits in the core subjects were never required, though, by any of our colleges, but they helped her get accepted.

5.  Do the PSAT.

Whether you choose the SAT or the ACT test, I recommend doing the PSAT, which is usually done in fall of 11th grade. That is when the Merit Scholarship testing is held.

 We did it in 10th grade for extra practice, as my daughter was not confident in test-taking, and it also gave us lots of information that helped her to study for the SAT.  The practice was so worth it for us.

In our state of Washington, the PSAT was given out at our local public school.  We contacted them early in September to make the arrangements. That was an important step.  Some families do that the spring before.  

The PSAT gives your child practice in taking a comprehensive test, which can really help with the actual college testing later.  This gave us helpful tips for what she needed to study, to prepare for later testing.

6. Prep for - SAT or ACT

You may have heard that some college are no long requiring formal testing.  But, alas, it is still a big deal at most colleges in the US.

It is helpful to schedule the SAT or ACT during the junior year of high school.  I recommend doing some test prep first, as it helped us a lot...and consider taking it more than once.  

But which test should we do?
Most colleges give you a choice. The ACT is more of an achievement test, than the SAT.  For some colleges, the ACT may work to verify your teen's homeschool courses. There should be information related to that on the college's website.  I have much more on that in my book, mentioned below.

The ACT includes all the basic subjects - English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. It also has a writing component.  

The SAT "is designed to assess your academic readiness for college" and focuses more reading, writing and math. and doesn't include science.

We did our testing in 11th grade.  My daughter took her test twice, which helped her to raise her scores.  Test prep can become a high school credit, in either English or Math.  One of our helpful SAT prep books was the book - Hack the SAT, along with others I will be blogging about soon.

7.  Get the College Application, & FASFA in.  
The Common Application, which is used by most colleges, comes out in the fall.  

Colleges tend to be first come, first serve, so try to get yours in early. Two of our colleges used their own application form, not the Common App.
 For scholarship consideration or financial aid,  the FASFA comes out in January. 

The FASFA is your application for financial aid, but it is also used for scholarship consideration by your colleges.  The colleges have "x" about of money, and they give it out first come, first serve as well. 

You don't need to wait until your taxes are done, to do the FASFA. You can estimate your taxes on the FASFA , and then confirm them later with your college, after your taxes are done.   That's what we did.

And finally.....

8.  Don't forget the Fun.....and PE!

This is not in the usual college planning lists, but it sure helped us! 

With deadlines to meet, and ACT test prep to do, in junior year, my teen was getting stressed out.  That's when I made sure to include PE in our courses each year. 

My daughter took dance classes, did a jogging program, and we made sure that something PE oriented happened every day. And not just for her, lol!  I worked in my walking program whenever I could. 

And I also found out that our prospective colleges allowed PE as a high school elective...That is something else that is helpful to check on, with your college choices, when you are planning.  It should be right on their website. 

PE can be a way to add in the....FUN!

What helps you recharge?  Getting out in nature helped us so much, and built us up, to deal with the next deadline, or new detail at hand.

Have you seen my book on college yet?

Kindle or paperback on Amazon.   

More high school posts are on Pinterest here: Homeschooling High School Pinterest Board

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

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Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool 2017 
All Rights Reserved

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.


  1. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Susan Evans, for stopping by and commenting! I hope that my experiences will help other families who are considering the college option. Nice to hear from you!

  2. Very helpful and practical tips - thank you Betsy!

  3. And tanks to you, Hodgepodgemom, for stopping by. I always like to link up to your Ultimate Pinterest Party on Fridays. Have a good week!


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