Applying to College and How to Look Good on College Applications

Summary:  Tips for getting into college.  Many of these tips can be useful for publc schooled teens, in addition to homeschoolers.  How to help your teen look good on their college applications.  Part getting into to college is learning how to share your teen's strengths with college admissions.  What are the colleges looking for?  How do you share your teen's high school electives on the college application?  Showcase your student to college admissions.

Are you concerned about your homeschooled teen getting into college, with the disruption of so many things due to covid19?  Or are you a public school parent who is wondering how to deal with all the changes in your teen's high school education right now?

First, let's talk about seniors who are affected by the loss of either their public school high school courses or homeschooled seniors who no longer have their co-op courses going right now?

What Seniors Need to Know 

The colleges are now just looking for information on what your high school senior's last quarter of high school looked like.  

Homeschoolers - For homeschooled teens, your spring quarter classes can just be adjusted as far as content of their studies, to deal with the lack of high school activities or co-op.  

Instead of co-op science courses, for example, they could just be done at home.  And any of these changes could just be noted in your report to their intended college, when you inform them of their last quarter or semester.  

Because all that is left to do is to report their last quarter' s learning to the college that they have picked.

Public School Families - Public school seniors would of course need to check with their districts for acceptable high school courses to finish out their last year.  

If they ask you to find your own, there are many online courses available of course, including these frugal online courses for middle and high schoolers.  

But if your district is asking you to find accredited online courses, you might want to consider programs like the Connections Academy.  Or something similar.  Prep Scholar offers a list of 100 + free online public schools. 

Of course I can't speak for your district, so checking with them is important.  But I am sure that you know that.

Your senior's college choice will want you to report their last semester's or quarter's credits and grades. 

Or are you a family with younger high schoolers who are college bound? 

Whether they are public schooled teens or homeschooled high schoolers, there are some easy tips that can really help them get into college.  

Now let's turn to tips for getting into college for younger high schoolers.

High School Elective and Activities 

Electives and high school activites can be a real help in getting into college.

Of course high school activities are not going on in many states right now.  But there are some that can be done online and the active ones will be starting up after covid19 winds down.

My daughter, who graduated from our homeschool, got into an honors college leadership program largely because of her high school activities. 

We were so glad that she got into this program on her college campus.

Here is a list of 100 High School Activities and Electives for you and your teen to browse, if you like.

Whatever your child is interested in, high school electives and activities can be an important part to them getting into college.  But how do you show them to the colleges in the best way?

Our teens want to explore the world around them, follow their interests, and delve into new subjects. There's nothing better than watching your teen delve into a subject of interest, seeing that wonderful spark as it is ignited....  

Colleges want to hear about their applicant's interests and special skills.  

College Tip #1 - Where to Share Electives

Sharing electives helps the college admissions dept. get to know your student and her accomplishments.  This can happen right on the application, through the homeschool transcript, or as part of the college essay. 

On the Application -  There is a section for listing activities, volunteering, etc, right on the common application.  It is easy to do, just filling in the blank...

On the Homeschool Transcript - Special interests can be made into electives courses, and listed on your teen's transcript.

In the College Essay -  There are essay questions to answer here, for sure, but the colleges also want to hear about your teen's unique interests and skills, as well.  Depending on the essay question that your student chooses, the college essay can be a place to share special interests as well.

Today I'd like to share what we did for  high school activities and electives, and how that helped my teen get into college.  As I share, I will point out more college tips for you, too.

It is not hard to showcase your student's high school electives and activities, the ones they are interested in, to the colleges.  

I encouraged my daughter to explore her interests and to try out different activities that she might be interested in.  Isn't that what homeschooling is about anyway?  

College Tip #2 - Show Leadership in Some Way

Leadership skills is something that many colleges look for, as well as your teen's interests and electives.

There are so many places to learn leadership skills in our communities.  Parks Departments have youth teen boards, and counselor-in-training programs.  

Then there is the YMCA, YWCA, Scouts, church and co-op activities, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Awana, and homeschool speech programs.  And working in the church nursery, etc.  Leadership skills are something that many colleges look for special interests as well.  

Assisting in a Science Class

In middle school my daughter was particularly interested in science, so when an opportunity to assist in a science class came up, we went for it!  

My daughter developed her confidence through this experience.  The  teacher helped her to assist with the science labs, and to lead one class by herself each semester.  She liked doing this, but decided that she didn't want to become a teacher after all!  She wanted to explore being a leader in another way..., and maybe not in science...

I could share this elective on the college application, to show leadership!  There are so many ways to show leadership, such as volunteering at church, at a day camp, co-leading a co-op class for preschoolers.  You name it!

This Teacher's Assistance experience that my daughter did also resulted in a  college recommendation letter from that teacher.  (More of that below.)

College Tip #3 - Show Perseverance in Some Way

Growing a special interest through hobbies or being in a sport, a dance class like ballet, jazz, or cheer, or any high school activity for more than a few years are easy ways to show perseverance.  The colleges want to see that quality in their prospective students in some way.

Taking Irish Dance Classes

My teen started irish dance in 3rd grade and continued with it through high school.  This was an interest of hers, and her friend was in the class.  She took irish stepdancing until 17, then took a modern dance class.  

We included the irish dance activity in the college application, as she had done this for over nine years. And she showed a progressively developed skill.  

Early activities are not usually shared on the application, but it is continued through high school, then it is a help to share it.

This showed perseverance and a skill in an area of interest that was developed, which is one of the things that colleges are looking for. 
Modern dance was also a help in our homeschool, as it was a great way to get in PE.  These activities can be counted for PE credit.

Irish also helped in another way...One of our prospective colleges asked for an essay on multicultural issues.  This is not usual, just for this one U.  

My teen decided to share her experiences in irish dance, and how she had learned about the irish culture, and developed an appreciation for cultural differences.

College Tip #4 - College References

College applications usually require a letter from a teacher and the school counselor.  That is not hard to do if you are a public high school student.

That is what they look for from public school students.

For homeschoolers, we can often use letters that come other sources, such as coaches, co-op teachers, or other leaders in our student's activities.  These can really help your teen get into college. 

For public school teens, extra reference letters are usually not asked for, but having high school activities/electives are still important and can be shared with the colleges as described above.

One of my teen's favorite electives was in video making.

Video Production Homemade Course

My teen wanted to learn how to make her own videos, so we just made our own homemade course for that.  It was easy. We just kept track of the hours that she spent researching and making videos. 

Videomaking was the most fun activity that we did together, during her senior year.  It developed her skills in photography and video making, added to her college application, and  helped her to develop organizational skills as well. 

Video Making gave my daughter a source for a college reference letter, as she had an adult mentor help her.  He wrote her a college reference letter.  

It is advisable to get multiple college reference letters for your homeschooled teen, beyond the recommendation letter that the Common Application requires.  

As homeschoolers, we also need to complete the Counselor Recommendation Letter for the Common Application, as the homeschool parent.  All of that information, as to how to deal with the Common Application as a homeschooler, is included in a chapter in my book and ebook, below. 

What are your teens interested in?  

What are their favorite high school electives?  Link up and share your story!  And I love hearing from you, too, so feel free to leave a comment or even two. 

Do you have more questions on showing your teen's accomplishments to the colleges?  Feel free to share with me in an IM.

Lots more tips for getting into college are in my book - called Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd edition.  Many of the tips relate to public school high schoolers as well.  

Do you want a step by step guide to high school and college, plus my exclusive guide to the Common Application for homeschoolers? 

I have gathered together my best tips for high school and college and put it into my new book, Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition

It can help you to plan your high school homeschool for your college bound teen.  Plus I show how to help any high school student get into the college of their choice.  I am not a certified college counselor and I share from my own experience as a mom of a college grad and from my own research.

Amazon for only $11.99
Paperback is on Amazon for only $11.99.

Amazon Kindle is on SALE for only $3.99 all week!

This book is an easy-to-read guide to college for homeschoolers, recently updated with 7 NEW chapters, including:

- My own homeschoolers guide to the Common Application
- How to write the Counselor Recommendation Letter
- Where to find college scholarships
- SAT/ACT Prep
- How to make your own homemade courses
 Included are also 12 homeschool high school planning printables to make your record-keeping easier.

10 easy to do steps to homeschool high school with college in mind. And it really is NOT that hard!!  

This book does not tell you how to homeschool high school.  Instead it gives you guidance for doing it your way!  

Keep your nurturing homeschool style and showcase their accomplishments to the colleges!

Recommended by: 
Lessa Scherrer, Certified College Counselor
                               from College Inside Track

"Betsy has a wealth of understanding and knowledge to share with the parents of college bound homeschoolers.  She provides support, encouragement and step-by-step advice on all aspects of the homeschool high school and college application process. This book is a must-read for parents considering homeschooling high school and for parents in the thick of the application process."

And help for record keeping!  With my exclusive high school and college planning printables.

The high school and college planning forms include:

College Entrance Requirements Form
Overall High School Plan
Curriculum Planning Sheet
High School Credit Record Form
Transcript Form
Activities and Awards Form
Homemade Course Form
Writing the College Essay Form
Course Descriptions Record Keeping Form
Reference Letter Request Form
PE Record Form

For more information, click here - Frugal College Prep for Homeschoolers or to buy it here - my book on Amazon for only $11.99.  

Amazon Kindle is on SALE for only $3.99 all week!

And don't worry about forgetting things!

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschool
collegegifted/2e and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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