Homeschooling offers multiple benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to tailor your child’s education in a way that optimizes their personal learning style. I could write volumes extoling the virtues of homeschooling. But in the interest of full disclosure, and as a college prep counselor, I want to take the role of devil’s advocate. There are certain things, beyond all the benefits of homeschool, that I want you to consider. If you are fully informed, you can be fully prepared.
Test scores and GPA are crucial for admission into college. This is an especially important part of the admissions process for competitive athletes. Many elite athletes are homeschooled in order to allow the student flexibility in the face of a rigorous practice schedule. While athletes at this level have multiple advantages, it is imperative to fully prepare them so their GPA and test scores are strong. As a homeschooler, you are able to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing your student to be successful in both of these areas. On the other side of the coin, you might have a student with a high GPA and high test scores, but lacking in extra-curricular activities. This creates a one-dimensional student, and if admission becomes a jump ball between two academically strong candidates, admissions will look to a student’s extra-curricular activities; leadership experience; involvement in sports; academic honors; and community service. It is imperative that you, as a homeschool parent, help your student become a multi-dimensional candidate for admission consideration.
An additional benefit of homeschooling is the opportunity for your child to learn and work at their own pace. This is a proven way to enhance learning, however, it is also important that you regularly require that your child to work at a pace that you set. This becomes important when they start standardized testing, and as they continue their education in a traditional classroom environment.
Homeschoolers are independent learners. They are taught to manage their own time. This is a benefit that transcends into the college arena, as their time management and self-motivation skills are strong. Here comes the “however…” It is also paramount that they know how to work successfully in a group environment. We’ve all been in those group project situations where one or two students can’t seem to function efficiently when working with others.
In today’s college application world, huge emphasis is placed on community service hours. I want to challenge you to think outside the box on this one. So many kids will have various community service hours, so much so that they can all start to blend together. As a homeschool parent, you have the unique opportunity to help your student distinguish themselves. When I am counseling my students, I take the time to discover each student’s passion. Then we strategize ways to parlay that passion into an extraordinary community service project. This is so much better than just showing “hours” on an application. So use your extra time to talk to your student about serving in a way that stands out! The benefits of this go way beyond applying to college.
Finally, statistics show that 70% of students who get into their first choice school worked with a professional college consultant. At College Ready, we have helped homeschooled students from all over the country get into their dream schools. We guide your student academically; recommend the best test prep for your particular student; find your student’s passion and help them start their own community service project; and help students understand what real leadership is, and how to achieve it. During the application season, we have professional editors that review your student’s work before any applications are submitted; and finally, we help your family determine their expected family contribution and guide students toward schools that offer the most scholarships.
If I were to wrap this all up into a neat little bow, here are my recommendations to be sure that your homeschool student is well-rounded, and presents well, when applying for college:
• Discover your child’s passion early, and explore ways to parlay that passion into a community service project(s).
• Determine avenues you can pursue, that expose your child to leadership responsibilities. For instance: Scouting,
Lion’s Heart, National Charity League, etc.
• Encourage your child to play community or club sports.
• Maximize your teaching time, and use any extra time to start test prep early.
• Utilize a professional college consultant.
As the author of your child’s education, you are in a unique position to mold them into a well-rounded, successful college applicant. What an amazing opportunity and gift.