A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

From Homeschool to College in 8 Easy Steps

on November 4, 2014

This is a bittersweet year for me. This is my daughter Meaghan’s last year in homeschool. We are both happy and sad. I will miss her next year, but I also can’t wait to see her on her own. This means that we are having the busiest year ever. I never thought I would be here. I always figured she would want to go back to public school at some point. But we have both endured and persevered. It has made me think back to all those other moms out there who have wondered what they are going to do once their homeschooled student reaches the college age. In fact, I know several who have put their children back into public high school because they didn’t know how to get their child ready for college.

I have a confession to make. I am a research junkie. I love to look up information and learn from it – much to my children’s dismay. I also love sharing the tidbits I have learned. So, without further ado, here is my guide to getting ready for college (from a homeschool mom’s perspective).

1. Skills and Career Assessments

The first thing I had my daughter do this year was to take a skills assessment. The best one I have found is at MyNextMove.org. This site asks “What do you want to do for a living?” It then gives you all the tools needed to figure that out. After much research and assessment-taking, my daughter has figured out that she wants to be a voice-over actress. Once you figure out what you want to do for a living, the site tells you what type of education and what skills you will need for that job. It also has links to specific job details such as average salary and who is hiring.

2. College Research

Now that you know what you want to do for a living, you need to find out how to get the education and skills you need for that career. So, it is now on to college research. Meaghan went to Big Future at Collegeboard.org. This site helps you find a college, pay for college, and make a college plan. Once you have a couple of colleges in mind, it walks you through everything you need to do to make it there. Meaghan found out that our local community college has acting classes. So, she decided to take her core (and acting) classes there. She is currently working on her college plan, with Big Future’s help. There is a great article entitled “College Admissions for Homeschoolers” that has more great information about what colleges look for in a homeschooled student.

3. Portfolio

One of the best things you can do for your homeschooled student, is to create a portfolio. The structure of your portfolio will differ, depending upon your state’s requirements. My daughter has Written Output Disorder and ADHD. So, we do many things hands-on or on a huge whiteboard. This becomes a major drawback when we work on her portfolio. To make up for this lack, she completes projects. Whenever she participates in a community event, builds a robot, writes a short story, completes a reading log, I put the evidence in her portfolio. Our state does not require records, so we use pictures and logs to record her progress. It is what works for us. Donna Young has some great portfolio creation ideas. I use many of her templates. Meaghan’s portfolio is separated into four sections: Projects, Writing, Courses/Testing, and Community Service.

4. Community Involvement

Community service is a great way to flesh out your portfolio and help your neighbor’s at the same time. Many colleges place more emphasis on a homeschooler’s community involvement and SATs than a transcript. We have all helped out with the local Trinity Trash Bash and several clean-ups. Not sure where to start? No problem. Check out Lesli Amos’ article entitled “50 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers” over at Teen Life.

5. Dual Enrollment

Another way to buff up your portfolio is by participating in dual enrollment at a local college. This process will vary by college, but it is offered by most community colleges. Some colleges call it early enrollment or dual credit. This is a great way to ease into college. The student can take just one or two courses and add them to his/her portfolio. The college will then be more likely to accept the homeschool student as a full time college student. It also gives the student the confidence that he/she can and will make it at college.

6. Testing

The last thing you should include in your portfolio are your test scores. Most colleges will accept the SAT. For more information on SAT testing, check out CollegeBoard’s SAT site. It has lists of testing centers, dates, registration information, and sample practice tests. Our community college also requires the COMPASS. If your chosen college also requires the COMPASS, you can find test prep info at the COMPASS website.

7. College Essays

Now that you have your portfolio sufficiently filled out, you have taken all your tests, and you have helped everyone you can think of, you can turn to that dreaded college essay. The application process varies by college. This process can also be very different for a homeschooled student. You should check out the process required by your college/university of choice. My daughter hates essays. To help her out with this skill, we turned to the CollegeBoard again. I just love them. They seem to have everything. This site even has essay tips such as “What do colleges look for in an application essay?”

8. Aid

Now that you are completely ready for college, how are you going to pay for it? Good news, there is financial aid for homeschooled students. Homeschooled students are no longer required to have a GED in order to receive financial aid. So, all you have to do is fill out the FAFSA and you are done. The Department of Education has a great site that will help your student prepare for college. It has information about all the types of aid out there and how to apply for it. Once you have figured out what kind of aid you need, go to the FAFSA site and fill out the Free Application For Student Aid.

I hope this information will help as you and your teen prepare for college. Even with all these resources, it can still be a long stressful road. But don’t let it get to you. When all else fails, take your teen to the college of his/her choice. Have her/him sit down with an adviser. They are there for you. They are more than happy to answer any and all questions. Take a tour of the campus. We are blessed that my husband currently attends the college my daughter has chosen.  So, she has been there on a weekly basis. She is already familiar with the campus and many of my husband’s college friends. This will make her transition to college much easier.

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