Impressing Admissions Officers
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.
|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
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
Join us next month as we look back and reminisce on our homeschool
Taking time to enjoy spring,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants