This is a new series on applying to college by reborn.pure. Keep up with her and her unschooling adventures here.
If you’re considering college for the next step of your unschooling life, welcome aboard! Just as college is not necessary for living a fulfilling life, traditional high school isn’t required for that coveted college acceptance letter. Although your education is radically different from the majority of applicants, I have good news for you: unschooling will not disadvantage you in your college search.
Your status as a minority may, in fact, work in your favor: several admissions officers admit that they review homeschooler’s applications more thoroughly and holistically than those of traditional students. In another post we’ll see how to organize your portfolio into a succinct and impressive transcript, but for now, hammer this one thought into your head: As long as you’ve cultivated your curiosity and intellect, your education just as valid as anyone else’s.
Luckily for us, the American higher education system more welcoming of homeschoolers than ever before. Still, expect to jump through extra hoops. Because we lack “impartial supervision”, most colleges request that homeschoolers provide them with extra materials. The University of Chicago, for instance, suggests homeschooled students submit SAT Subject tests, AP scores, reading lists, and special recommendation letters. Many colleges require that homeschoolers interview with admissions personnel or an alumnus. Submitting special supplements isn’t unusual, but being asked to take the GED or provide a “real” transcript are. If a college isn’t willing to work with you, politely tell the admissions office their school isn’t worth their time.
During the admissions process your best weapon is presenting yourself as a whole person. Sit down with a parent or other trusted adult and decide on your strengths. What will your application emphasize? Your backpacking trip to Malaysia? Your SAT/ACT scores? Your dance awards and volunteer experience? Instead of worrying about the ghost of your Freshman year GPA, focus instead on interview skills, well-crafted essays, and stellar recommendations. Although it grates against many unschoolers, good SAT/ACT scores will display your education in solid, shiny numbers, giving your application extra punch. Whatever you decide to emphasize, make sure you put your best foot forward on every application.
In the next installation of college for self-taught teens, we’ll be taking a closer look at the college application process. Stay tuned!