Going from Homeschool to College - This is our story - Updated

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As many of you know, we are a homeschooling family.  We began that early on, during preschool, and it worked so well for our daughter that we continued on for many years.  Then we hit middle school.

When she was a 7th grader, we began to think A LOT about her future and the college options for her.  Our gifted, 2e daughter was thriving in our homeschool.  She was exploring her interests in marine biology and also trying out her skills in teaching, as a volunteer TA. We loved that we could choose our own curriculum and adapt it as need be.  Homeschooling was working well, and we saw our daughter continuing in it through high school. 

But there in lies the rub.  What about college?  What about applying with a homeschool transcript?  Would our daughter have the same chances of getting into the college that she wanted, as a homeschooler?

As a homeschooling family, we had already heard of college experiences from our homeschooling friends.  The talk in our group was that it would be hard to get into the tier two U in our town, and probably still difficult for the other colleges in our state.  Many of our friends went the community college route, and later applied to the 4 year college as a transfer students.  They told us that was the easier route, and that was a possibility for our daughter, too.

But we didn't want our daughter to be limited to that.  We wanted her to have the option of going to a 4 year college from the start. So she and I got busy studying the college entrance requirements for her top choice U, and some other contenders, too.

It was easy to find this information, just by checking the college websites.  Our top choice U required specific validation for the homeschool transcript.  This involved extra testing, SAT subject tests, AP courses, or doing some nationally accredited courses for some subjects.  They did not require these things for their ps applicants.  

We checked out a few more colleges and found that each college was a little different, as far as their entrance requirements and any extra hoops to jump through, ie, validation.  

For her top choice U, science, math and foreign language needed to be "validated", through either:

- taking courses from an accredited program, or
- doing SAT subject tests, AP courses, or 
- by doing additional testing at the college.  

Since my daughter wanted to continue learning at home, we decided to deal with these requirements and made sure they got done.  And it worked out well for us.  It changed our homeschool somewhat, sure, but we still found time for teen-led learning.

For core studies, we used a lot of Oak Meadow curricula which was more creative and project-learning based, and my daughter really loved it.  Oak Meadow also have a distance learning school, which we did not do as it was quite rigid in it's requirements.  

Instead we used their curricula independently, which gave us the freedom that we wanted.  That way we could make our own homemade courses and design her learning based on her college entrance requirements, not OM's.  Here is something on Oak Meadow's English courses.  They helped my daughter develop her critical thinking, while preparing her for college writing at the same time.

Meanwhile, I contacted a number of admissions departments, and did research on  course descriptions, college reference letters, assigning high school credit, transcripts, scholarships etc, in an effort to best present my daughter to the colleges.  

We were concerned about the college reference letters, as they asked for one from a teacher and one from a school counselor.  But we were able to find a way that worked for us.  The Common Application is explained here.  More on references in my book mentioned below.

And, in the spring of my daughter's senior year, we got good news. My teen was accepted by her top college choice U and the other colleges that she applied to as well, with scholarship offers.  

And here's a second piece of good news.  Her top choice college now has all but dropped their extra requirements for homeschoolers, the year after she was accepted.  And that seems to be the trend, in our state of WA, and around the U.S. as well.  

I am so glad that we stayed with the homeschooling option, as it allowed our daughter time to explore her interests and be much more interest-led that she would have been in a public school. Even though she was busy with her core studies, she also had time for irish stepdancing, some science camps, mock trial, and a leadership program, called Youth and Government.   And the last two groups helped her to discover what she might want to do as a career.  

Are you familiar with these two programs?  Mock Trial was offered at a local high school, where teens enacted real court cases, under the supervision of volunteer lawyers.  Youth and Government is a leadership program that focuses on state government and politics. The teens write their own mock bills, debate and discuss them, then compete regionally.  Finally, they gather once a year, in their state capital for the Mock Youth Legislature.  There, they take on the rolls of legislators, senators, and elect a governor, while voting on the mock bills that are presented there.  These activities later helped my daughter to decide on her college major of Communications, with global leadership and political science. 

Here's 100 more ideas for high school activities and electives.

 If your teen wants to go directly into a 4 year college from homeschool, you may like my book called Homeschooling High School with College in Mind

Get my best tips on college from a homeschool perspective, including 3 ways to assign high school credit, tips for your homeschool transcripts, how to's for course descriptions if your college requires them, how to deal with college reference letters as homeschoolers, and much more.

On Amazon 

Now on Educents as a PDF!

It includes 13 downloadable planning printables, a homeschool transcript form to fill in, plus lots of information on our favorite homeschool curricula for high school.

Subscribers will get the first chapter free! 

Click here to get yours!

I am delighted to be a part of the Gifted Homeschooler's Network blog hop Academic and Career Planning Beyond K - 12.

Homeschooling high school yielded us so many gifts, for my daughter, for our family, and for her high school education.

Thanks for stopping by,


Betsy is mom to her 20 year old daughter 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

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  1. I enjoyed reading and learning from this post. Thank you for sharing. I like what you say here especially: "I am so glad that we stayed with the homeschooling option, as it allowed our daughter time to explore her interests and be much more interest-led that she would have been in a public school. Even though she was busy with her core studies, she also had time for irish stepdancing, some science camps, mock trial, and a leadership program, called Youth and Government. And the last two groups helped her to discover what she might want to do as a career."

    1. Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool and our monthly blog hop from GHF, The Cardinal House! It is fun to connect with other families here. Have a great week with yours.

  2. You do such a great job of sharing the benefit of your experience. I always enjoy reading about your path. The options here in the UK are slightly different, but just like in the US there are many and varied paths. Just as well we are a creative bunch!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and I loved getting your comment, Lucinda Leo! I am interested to learn more about homeschooling in the UK, and now it is similar to the US and how it is different. Nice to chat with you across the pond!

  3. Though my kiddo has a ways to go before high school, I save all of your posts as I look towards the future! You must be so proud.

    1. That is so nice to hear, from you at https://atlaseducational.wordpress.com/. I haven't seen your site yet, and will have to plan to stop by! Yes, I am proud of my daughter, and it has been and still it a wondrous journey, watching her grow and learn and now take on college. So glad that we homeschooled all the way. Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool.

  4. This is an inspiring story - thank you for sharing. Seeing this radically different approach to study actually work out is spirit-stirring, hopefully by sharing this story you are encouraging more people to consider homeschooling!

    1. Thank you, academic.tips for your kind comments! It is so fun to watch my homeschool grad take on college, and see how her teen activities during homeschooling helped to shape her choice of majors. My "kiddo" is studying politics and leadership, and has an interest now in a political career, or something in nonprofits. Thanks for stopping by!


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