8 Tips for Getting into College for Homeschoolers

Are you considering the college option for your teen?

There can be so many things to think about, it can be overwhelming, with such details as:

personal college essay 
admission requirements, 
Common Application

Well, first, I have to admit, I did get nervous....initially.  But once I got started, it became more than possible.  It became probable!  And now, a reality.

My teen who was always homeschooled, received admission offers,with scholarship help, from each of the colleges that she applied to.  Including a tier one U.

So today, I'd like to share with you how I helped get her there....

Below are 8 tips for going from homeschool to college based on our experiences and my research on the topic.  

To get started....let's start with the college's websites.

1.  Know your prospective college's admission requirements

We began by researching our college admission requirements.
Once you know the requirements that are typical for your teen's college choices, you can then add in your electives.  

So our first step was to research the college websites.  We needed to find out what our daughter's college entrance requirements would be, at her most likely college choices.

This information was easy for us to find, just by looking at college websites, and clicking on the freshman admission requirements. 

We found these requirements to be similar from college to college, with some variance.  

For example, some asked for specific courses for social studies, and others gave us a wide range of choices.

How did we find this information?  We just clicked around until we found a heading like this:

College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR)

I looked up the most likely colleges that my daughter might attend. The requirements were similar, but not consistent from college to college.  

And some colleges had extra requirements for their homeschooling applicants, and some didn't. 

Starting this research early is a help, but it is still possible to do this any time in high school, by just recalling info from their previous studies, and going from there.  

And you can always add in an extra quarter or two, to make up for any requirements that you might have missed.

Be sure to search for "homeschool requirements" on the college websites, as sometimes they are not easily found.  These are extra hoops to jump through for homeschoolers.  

But the good news is that many colleges are now dropping these extra hoops.  But not all of them.

Search for "Homeschool admission requirements" for each college website you look at. 

For more on college entrance requirements, click below, for my chapter on "Getting Started with College" as a FREE download.

2.  Choosing Your Homeschool High School Curriculum

It is not hard to find our curriculum as the available homeschool high school curriculum has expanded so much over the last few years.

There are video based courses, dual credit courses, and we found that many of our favorite curricula from middle school worked just as well for high school.

My daughter interests in high school focused on film making, and political science. We made sure to center her electives around those interests.  

At the same time, she needed to complete her college entrance requirements in the basic subjects (LA, social studies, math, foreign language and science), for either path.

It is important to know the specifics that your colleges are requiring while searching for your core curriculum.
For example, does your college ask for labs to be done with each science course?  Do they require two science courses, or three?  What do they ask for in math?  

Once we had our curriculum selected, we just needed to keep track of what we had done, and assign high school credit to her work. 

Having these records made it much easier when it came time to make our teen's homeschool transcript. 

3.  Making Your Teen's Transcript

Knowing what the college’s want to see on your teen’s homeschool transcripts is key to getting into college. 

I recommend that your transcript to be just one page. 

The homeschool transcript should include all the courses taken, at home, and any outside courses, too.  

That way, your homeschool transcript serves as the clearinghouse for all of your teen's high school coursework.  

Be sure to include your grading scale and your student's GPA on your transcript.  

If you have any special courses, such as AP or courses from a community college, just note them with an *, and mention that at the bottom of your transcript.  

It is also helpful to put your teen's best scores on their SAT or ACT somewhere on your transcript. 

Here is my Transcripts FREEBIE for you:

4.  Do High School Electives 

Did  you know that your teen's electives can be key to getting into college?  They want to hear about your teen's special interests and skills.

Colleges want to see what activities and electives your student has completed.  

Whether it is in music, art, drama, web design, medieval history or Latin, colleges want kids who show initiative and perseverance.  

And activities are a great way to show that your student is able to work well with others.

Having the time to delve deeply into my teen’s interests is one of the reasons that we homeschooled all the way.  

One of the things that colleges like to see is leadership skills.  I have a number of links to leadership activities for homeschooled teens in my book, below.

Taking each of these steps, one at a time, let us keep our own homeschooling style through high school. And we still had time for the fun, and lots of time to explore my teen's developing special interests.  

5.  Add an additional credit or 2 in a core course.  

There are many ways to show rigor to the colleges.  

It can be done by doing an AP course, adding in SAT subject tests, or doing a course at community college.   

But we did not do any of these things and my teen got into each college on her list.  Some colleges do ask for these things though, but ours did not.

We found an easier way to show the colleges rigor, ie, that my teen would do well there.  

--Adding in an extra core course or two can show rigor.--

One thing our colleges liked was to see was more credits in one of the required subject areas. 

So if 2 credits were required for something, say science, you might think about at adding in an additional one, to make 3. 

I did this based on my teen's interests.  

We added in Speech and Debate.  My daughter was doing speech and debate in one of her activities anyway.  So I made speech into a homemade course, and it gave her the additional credit under English.

This shows your college that your student is motivated and responsible. 

These additional credits in the core subjects were never required, though, but they helped her get accepted.  But it really does depend on the colleges, as some look for AP's, etc.  

Next, you will want to know how many credits are required by your prospective colleges... 

6.  Know # of high school credits will be required by your colleges. 

This can vary from college to college.  It will be on the college's page on freshman admissions requirements.  Our prospective colleges asked for 24 credits.

The hardest part for us was dealing with college testing.  Let's talk about that next.

7. Do the PSAT and Prep for SAT or ACT

Whether you choose the SAT or the ACT test, I recommend doing the PSAT, which is usually done in fall of 11th grade.  

But with my daughter not a comfortable test taking, we actually did the PSAT in 10th grade, then repeated it in 11th. 

In our state of Washington, it was given out at our local public school.  

We contacted them early in September to make the arrangements. That was an important step.  Some families do that the spring before.  
The PSAT gives your child practice in taking a comprehensive test, which can really help with the actual college testing later.  This gave us helpful tips for what she needed to study, to prepare for later testing.

You may have heard that some college are no long requiring formal testing.  

But, alas, it is still a big deal at most colleges in the US.  And scholarships and merit aid usually ask for testing scores from their homeschool applicants.

It can be helpful to schedule the SAT or ACT during the junior year of high school.  I recommend doing some test prep first, as it helped us a lot...and consider taking it more than once.  

But which test should we do?

Most colleges give you a choice. The ACT is more of an achievement test, than the SAT.  For some colleges, the ACT may work to verify your teen's homeschool courses. There should be information related to that on the college's website.  

The ACT includes all the basic subjects - English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. It also has a writing component.  

The SAT "is designed to assess your academic readiness for college" and focuses more reading, writing and math. and doesn't include science.

Some colleges are offering a few other options for testing.  Check with your likely colleges on that.

We did our testing in 11th grade.  My daughter took her test twice, which helped her to raise her scores to better reflect her abilities.

Test prep can become a high school credit, in either English or Math.  One of our helpful SAT prep books was the book - Hack the SAT, along with others I wrote about below.

Click below for lots of FRUGAL resources for test prep.

BJ's Guide to the SAT/ACT /CLT 

8. Get the College Application, & FASFA in.  

The Common Application, which is used by most colleges, comes out in the fall.  But some colleges prefer their own application and they will let you know that.

There have been many changes to the Common Application for homeschoolers, so I wrote up a guide for you on that.  It is complicated but with my guide it is not hard to do.

College admission tend to be on a first come, first serve basis, so try to get your teen's college application in early. 


For scholarship consideration or financial aid,  the FAFSA comes out in October, or this year in January.  

The FASFA is your application for financial aid, but it is also used for scholarship consideration by your colleges.  The colleges have "x" about of money, and they give it out first come, first serve as well. 

I encourage you to get your FAFSA done early.  It comes out on the fall now.  It is not necessary to have your taxes all done to do this form.  

My teen received merit aid from her college choice which was a big help for us.  If we had not filled out the FAFSA, she would not have been eligible for it.

SO the time it takes to do the FAFSA was so worth it for us.

And - Don't forget the Fun.....and PE!

This last one is not in the usual college planning lists, but it sure helped us to de-stress. 

With deadlines to meet and SAT test prep to do in junior year, my teen was getting stressed out.  So was I.  That's when I made sure to include PE  each year. 

My daughter took dance classes, did a jogging program, and we made sure that something PE oriented happened every day. 

And not just for her, lol!  I worked in my walking program daily.

I also found out that our prospective colleges allowed PE as a high school elective...That is something else that is helpful to check on, with your college choices, when you are planning.  It should be right on their website. 

PE can be a way to add in the....FUN!   

Getting out in nature helped us so much and built us up, to deal with the next deadline, or new detail at hand.  And to build those memories.

Not all colleges will require all 8 steps.  It really depends on the college. Easy to get into colleges will often only require #1. of this list.  

Harder state colleges or some private colleges will likely want to see higher test scores, may want AP's, SAT subject tests, volunteer work hours, and more rigor.  And ivy's - well, they will want the exceptional student.  And that is another post, lol. 

FREE to Read on Prime

It includes more details and resources on:
  • homeschool transcripts
  • assigning high school credits
  • homemade courses
  • getting scholarships 
  • course descriptions
  • the FUN of electives
  • lots more.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her college grad whom she homeschooled from the early years.  She blogs at BJ's HomeschoolShe offers homeschool help through messages and here is more on that - BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool
Revised 2024 - All Rights Reserved


  1. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Susan Evans, for stopping by and commenting! I hope that my experiences will help other families who are considering the college option. Nice to hear from you!

  2. Very helpful and practical tips - thank you Betsy!

  3. And tanks to you, Hodgepodgemom, for stopping by. I always like to link up to your Ultimate Pinterest Party on Fridays. Have a good week!


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