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Entering our homeschoolers into the public school system at any point can be stressful. But if you add in the stress of a college application to the situation it can make the stress seem like too much. There’s a lot that goes into college acceptance. Even going through public high school, a child preparing for university can get stressed with taking the correct classes, getting good grades, and doing extra work outside of school to improve your chances at scholarships, grants, etc.
On top of this difficulty it can become even harder for homeschoolers because often the universities aren’t sure exactly how to deal with homeschoolers applying to the school. Then as homeschoolers the laws and guidelines on administering transcripts, diplomas, and more can be very much of a gray area.
Although this can be a confusing situation, there is a remedy and there is no reason why you should approach college for your child with any worries. We’re going to go over putting together a transcript, compiling a portfolio, and guiding your child through the college application process.
There is no reason for transcripts to be difficult. In fact, you can purchase the “Homeschool Kit” in my shop and it includes a template for putting together a subject-based high school transcript. But there are things to know beyond simply putting one together physically.
First you should take into consideration which high school courses will be necessary for your child to study. Generally this consists of 4 English courses, 3 mathematics courses, 3 science, 3 history, 2 foreign language courses (in one language), 1.5 in P.E. or health, some type of arts course, and a collection of electives totaling approximately 22 course credits.
Now that is all just fine and dandy, but what is a good reflection of completing a course? There are a few ways that you can measure this including: time spent, mastery of class curriculum, or receiving a passing score on a CLEP or AP test.
So how much time is a credit worth? Generally full credits are 120-180 hours and half credits are 75-90 hours. If you would rather grade based on curriculum then it is important that you write up a Course Description (which you can also receive a template of when you purchase the “Homeschool Kit”.) It is important to include on your description page: an explanation of the content they will learn, a list of curriculum resources you will use, as well as supplementary material. You should also include a list of reports, essays, projects, or presentations that will be a good reflection of your child’s work ethic, understanding of the material, and ability to organize and research information.
On this course description sheet you should include your grading parameters and your child’s grade based on their reading assignments, small assignments, and large projects. It is OKAY for your child to have a 4.0 GPA. Often homeschooling parents are afraid to give out decent grades because they are worried that colleges will see it as an easy grading policy; however, universities know that homeschooler’s grades are hard-earned and generally there is a expectation that your child should master the content of the courses.
Lastly, you may just have your child study for and take the AP and CLEP tests as a mark of completion of the course. This can be marked on your transcript by a star (*) and a note at the bottom that it marks completion of a related AP course.
On your child’s transcript you can also include sections regarding their standardized tests, CLEP and AP tests, as well as activities, awards, and volunteer work. Make sure that the “principal,” who is generally mom or dad, signs the transcript with a blue pen to make it look even more authentic.
Not everyone is legally required to keep track of their child’s schoolwork in the form of a portfolio; however it is a great idea to do so regardless. This way, if a university requests an example of your child’s work you have many of your child’s documents at your disposal.
The first thing you should do is decide how you want to organize your child’s 4 years of high school work. You could buy a large binder, a filing box, or find another creative way to organize the information. Then the best thing to do is to break the work up by year or subject.
For example: you would create a section for your child’s freshman year (or 9th grade) and include the course descriptions for each class your child completed relevant to that grade. Behind each Course Description page you should include copies of each project, research paper, or presentation that is mentioned on the course description page. You can also include a reading log if applicable.
You will repeat this process through your child’s senior year. Make sure that there is always an updated copy of your child’s transcript in the front of their portfolio. Also, don’t forget to keep your kids’ classwork looking professional. I would also encourage you to keep paperwork, awards, and certifications on hand from extracurriculars and other “outside-of-school” activities.
“Graduating” one of your children from homeschooling is a weird process. Learning in your home becomes second nature, and often our children are pushing their education even farther before the age they’re expected to. Because there is such a strict time requirement in public schools, they don’t really reflect the flexibility of finishing your school expectations early.
A lot of parents feel that their child must get their GED to “prove” they’ve graduated. This is NOT necessary. It is also generally not encouraged because there is such a negative stereotype surrounding those who drop out of high school and get their GED. You need to know that you, as a homeschooling parent, are 100% qualified to graduate your child from high school and issue them a diploma. Some awesome homeschool diploma options can be found here . Just be clear that your homeschooling practices follow state law requirements for graduation.
There are a few things you should have on hand when walking your child through the application process including: student transcript, diploma, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activity information, and standardized test scores (for example: the SAT and ACT.)
University applications are generally pretty straightforward and will be different for each school. For the most part, homeschool applicants and welcomed into universities and valued for their work ethic. This should not be a worry for you, but just in case, make sure you have your child’s portfolio on hand throughout the process, and if you’re given any trouble make sure you are an HSLDA member so that you can receive legal help if the situation arises.
For your child, going to college will be a whole new world. It is new for anyone who enters, but the rigid structure will definitely be a culture shock for your kid. This does not mean that they will struggle. In fact, according to research, homeschooled children tend to outperform their peers in not just university life, but beyond. (Even socialization!)
Once your child is accepted into a school, most of the stress is over for you! Congratulations! So now what? Well the first thing you want to consider with your child is what degree path they will take. The college will have offices at your disposal to help with organizing your child’s class schedule for the next 3-5 years, but there is no reason you can’t do most of this work on your own.
You will want to get your hands on the course catalog for your child’s entrance year and find a list of required classes, or program requirements, for their degree path. You’ll have to find which courses are offered in which semester, and line up prerequisites so you don’t find yourself with a lineup of classes at the end of your 4 years that will extend you another few semesters.
Your child will need to sign up for their classes and decide how much of a work load they are ready to take on. I was prepared to take on 18-24 credits a semester and graduated in 3 years; however, depending on you school, you may be required to take less, or the courses may be more difficult and require more study time.
You will want to spend some time on campus and, before the first day of school, make sure your child has found each and every one of their classrooms so that they know where that need to be.
Past this point, your child is pretty much on their own. Alone? No. But they do need to be independent and make their own decisions. Of course it is always great for them to know they can come back to their parents for advice, but you, as a parent, aren’t legally allowed to make any decisions for them in college. Under very rare circumstances you may be able to sign them up for classes if they sign away the right to you, but in general the college will not even acknowledge you or allow you to be privy to any of your child’s information.
This is okay. Your child is an adult, and they’re growing up and becoming 100% responsible for their decisions. Will they have to learn some things the hard way? Yes. Will they really be able to learn through experience? Yes. And we need to allow our children this great opportunity to grow.
In the end, as long as you are prepared and you have an idea of what to expect from this process, it should be a pretty fluid transition for you and your child. There is no need to stress!
What resources have helped you prepare your child for college?
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