From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


5/3/2012 9:46:08 AM
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer -- HSLDA
Homeschooling High School--Impressing College Admission Officers

Homeschooling Thru High School
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May 3, 2012


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Impressing Admissions Officers

Dear Friends,

Are you taking time to smell the May flowers? We hope so! With the end of the school year fast approaching, we pray that you are taking time to breathe :), to marvel in the Lord's creation, and to enjoy the teens in your home who may be itching for their summer break.

Wrapping up one school year usually entails looking ahead to the next one. Some of you may be starting to think about the college application process. What makes a strong college candidate? What types of students are colleges looking for?

First Things First

Homeschool parents who are responsible for their teens' education often feel the necessity of "getting things right" by not messing up their teens' attainment of future goals, especially admission to their colleges of choice. Do you struggle with these thoughts? If so, remember that although teaching high school at home is a task to take seriously, your ultimate confidence needs to rest in the Lord and His good plans for your teen. The Lord knows the beginning from the end, and He delights in giving you strength, wisdom, and peace in the midst of the job He calls you to do.

Becky Cooke

Diane Kummer
Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Learn more >>

Although you will do your best to plan a solid high school program, involve your teens in several extracurricular activities, help them through the college application process, and then await news from college admission officials, remember that the Lord has gone ahead of you to prepare the way. He is sovereign over all--even decisions made by college admission officials!

With that said--and hopefully ringing in your ears and heart--you will be encouraged to know that most college admission officials view homeschoolers positively. In light of this, let's look at ways you can help your teen reinforce such positive impressions.

Talk It Up

First, use a college search engine to narrow down your list of possible schools and then get a general feel for these colleges by visiting their websites and taking a virtual tour. You and your teen can discover what opportunities the schools provide. For instance, if your teen is interested in studying abroad, do the schools have well-developed overseas programs? Is your teen planning to major in an area which requires research experience and do the schools provide it? Does the school want diversity in its student body? Homeschoolers provide that!

You can also find information on the sites about minimum high school requirements, deadlines for admission, available financial aid and much more. In addition, encourage your teen to check out the colleges' policies on AP versus community college courses, transfer of credit, CLEP credit, average SAT/ACT scores and GPAs of admitted students. Many websites also include an admissions page with their homeschool policies. With all of this information in hand, you and your teen can then make a list of relevant questions to ask the school's admissions official. Encourage her not to be shy about calling the admissions office, but do choose times when they are not too busy such as after the application deadline rush or in the summer.

Don't be surprised if you find individual colleges place different emphases on a variety of factors. In our newsletter archives, we have a three-part newsletter on college admissions, which may be helpful to you.

Show Them What You've Got

To be a strong college applicant, your teen will need to find ways to distinguish himself from the crowd of other applicants. At the least, your teen needs to meet the minimum course credit requirements that the college demands in every subject area. Then in an area of interest for your student, seek to go above and beyond those requirements. For example, if a college requires three high school math courses for admission and your teen loves math, include in your high school program higher level math courses beyond the ones required to show his willingness to do more than what is expected.

Those teens who are ready to successfully tackle college-level work through a community college or by taking Advanced Placement courses will be considered a good prospective student by colleges. Admission officers like to see that a student had the initiative to take the most advanced courses that he or she was capable of taking. If your teens are unable to take such challenging courses, please do not fret about this. It does not mean they will not be admitted to college. Rather, they will simply prove their abilities differently.

Homeschooling a college-bound student requires planning. On average a student will earn 6 to 7 credits each year of high school. If your teen desires to take more courses, encourage her to earn these credits in courses with advanced levels of difficulty. A word of caution--be careful not to "stack the deck" with an inordinate number of electives on the high school transcript which dilutes the impact of core academic courses. Remember, your goal is to ensure that core academic courses stand out to an admissions officer.

Each year of high school should list a full slate of courses, including the 12th grade, even if your teen only lacks a couple of credits to graduate. The completed courses and final grades from the 9th-11th-grade years will be considered when making admission decisions. But, be sure your teen realizes that college admissions officers will also look at the senior year courses that are in progress. It's important to demonstrate your student is continuing to work up to her potential.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Academics are important, yes! But colleges desire students who have a life outside of the "school" room. They want their student bodies to be composed of students who are focused in developing an interest or talent whether it's in athletics, music, debate, community service, and everything in between. Your teens will capture the notice of an admissions officer if they make an effort to be involved wholeheartedly in a few (few is the key) activities. Your teen will have more time to possibly attain leadership positions, acquire and hone skills, gain valuable experience, and most importantly, shine!

Is It Really Optional?

In some cases, colleges indicate that letters of recommendation and a personal interview are optional items for those seeking admission. Motivated students who want to increase their probability of receiving an acceptance letter should use these optional items to their advantage. A student who appears marginal on paper may "wow" the admissions officer in a personal interview where he can show enthusiasm about the school and the strengths he would bring to it. A letter of recommendation from someone who knows your teen's academic and leadership abilities well might sway an admission decision in the right direction. In other words, use every arrow in your quiver to get an admissions officer to recognize your teen's potential.

Test Scores to Write Home About

SAT or ACT test scores are viewed as objective evaluations of homeschoolers' academic abilities. Encourage your teen to prep by working practice problems and learning test-taking strategies. Consider having him take these tests more than once to increase his scores. If your teen excels in a particular subject, taking the SAT subject test may have a positive impact on an admission decision.

Wooing the School of Your Dreams

Though it's important to learn as much as you can about the school--especially what it values--and to put your teen's best foot forward, the most helpful advice we offer is to pray and trust the Lord for the direction your teen should take. Enjoy the college admissions process in the confidence that the Lord is directing this next season of your teen's life. Rest in the promise--"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Join us next month as we look back and reminisce on our homeschool journey!

Taking time to enjoy spring,

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants

"Homeschooling Thru Highschool" is a newsletter of the Home School Legal Defense Association. All rights reserved. For more information on Homeschooling Thru Highschool or the Home School Legal Defense Association please contact us at:

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