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 2e 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.  Plus my guide to 100 High School Electives, SAT's, and my step by step guide to the Common Application for homeschoolers.

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.  

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.

For more on this step, click below, for my chapter on "Getting Started" as a FREE download.

FREE download on college entrance requirements that will help with college admission.

2.  Do High School Electives

Did  you know that your teen's electives can be key to getting into college?  Colleges want to hear about their applicant's interests and special skills.  And often, your teen's activities can lead to those all important college recommendation letters.

3. 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 this is important:

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 chose to do it for English.  

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... 

4.  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.

5. Do the PSAT.

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.

6. Prep for - SAT or ACT

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.

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 here for BJ's Guide to the SAT which includes how we dealt with it and lots of resources for SAT prep.

BJ's Guide to the SAT 

7. 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. 

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 finally.....

8.  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. 

What helps you recharge?  And what would you add to this list?

I also offer free messaging through Facebook, if you like my page here - BJ's Homeschool Facebook.  

I helped my daughter get into each of the colleges that she applied to and my book tells you how to deal with college admissions.

  • what is needed for college admissions
  • homeschool transcripts
  • assigning high school credits
  • make your own homemade courses
  • scholarships
  • my Common Application guide
  • reference letters
  • course descriptions
  • lots more.
Send me a message with any questions about this article or other things related to high school and college.  I enjoy helping other families who come after me.  It is my joy.  No question is too simple to ask.

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 Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote a guide to college..   She offers free homeschool help through messages and here is more on that - BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

This post was shared on my favorite linkups here.

Copyright, 2014
Revised 2019 - 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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