Home School Parents: Start Early to Ensure Equal Footing in College Admissions Process

Home school provides students and their families opportunities for real world education they might not find in a traditional classroom. Your student may complete assignments from different corners of the world each week or a consistent location like your dining room table. Either way, they work hard and gain the knowledge they may or may not have received in a typical school environment.

However, when it comes to applying to college, you and your home school student may feel stumped on when and how to proceed.

1. Start Early & Be Aware Of Deadlines

One of the great things about homeschooling is that your student learns on a timeline that works for them. Some students need a little extra time. But a lot of home school students move through the curriculum faster than their traditional-school-attending peers. 

However, if your student wishes to stay on track with their peers, it’s important to stay aware of college application deadlines. Moreover, priority deadlines for scholarships are often much earlier than parents expect. 

At Bright Futures, we start working with student clients as early as 7th and 8th grade. Not to say you’re doomed if you’ve passed that timeframe, but know that it’s never too early.

The earlier students start exploring their future college and career paths, the sooner they can focus their curriculum towards those goals. If you and your student are ready to start exploring the process, then contact Bright Futures today!

2. Keep Records & Document As You Go

Consistent record keeping will make the college admissions process a lot easier on you, the parent. 

It’s best to document as you go. But at the very least, make sure you are updating course lists, resumes, and transcripts once a year. This can also help to ensure you and your student are staying on track to meet your ideal graduation date. 

Digging through files, binders, and boxes of old documents once college is around the corner will only leave you flustered and overwhelmed. Furthermore, your student will benefit from learning to document and analyze their next steps throughout high school and beyond. 

3. Use A Consistent Grading Scale

In most cases, home school parents get to choose their preferred grading scale. However, the most typical grading scale is as follows:

  • A = 90-100
  • B = 80-89
  • C = 70-79
  • D = 60-69
  • F = 59 and below

Giving your student honest grades will help them know where they stand against the competition in college admissions. Moreover, it’s important to be extremely consistent with your grading scale. While pivots and changes happen as we learn and grow, don’t be quick to change the grading scale too often. There are plenty of record keeping forms and templates online to keep this process simple.

Do your best to work within the original grading scale you chose at the beginning of their high school courses. If you realize another scale may work better, consider the impact of the change at some point. And if you decide to change it up once, make sure that it’s a one-time occurrence. Because too many changes will throw off your student’s GPA and may be a red flag to college admissions officers.

4. Research & Ask For Advice

Homeschooling proved to be the best decision for your student and family, and that is fantastic!

No two students are the same, so it’s perfectly normal that some do better at home than at traditional schools. Plus, there are books, forums, sports, and clubs to keep your student’s education and social life thriving. 

When it comes to applying to college, reach out to your network for support! That way, you can find out how other home school parents navigate their journey. It doesn’t mean you have to follow their plan, but it’s helpful information nonetheless. 

Moreover, find a college admissions consultant with experience working with home school students. At Bright Futures, we work with a wide range of students and their families to formulate the best plans for their circumstances. 

Whether you’re just starting to think about college or you’ve been through the trenches, Bright Futures can help you and your student submit an acceptance worthy application. Contact us today!

5. Prepare A Philosophy Of Education

Do yourself and your student a favor by creating a school profile. This will act as your “Philosophy of Education” to provide with your student’s college application. 

Include these 6 factors into your philosophy:


Give a brief synopsis of why your family chose to homeschool and how your student has taken advantage of their opportunities.


Summarize your approach to education. Is your curriculum centered around your student’s interests? Is it self-designed, student-led, or project-based? Do you strive for rigorous course loads? It’s important to remember there is no wrong answer, just be honest!


Did your homeschooler choose a particular path for themself for a specific reason? Do you prefer dual enrollment (DE) over advanced placement (AP)? 

Grading Scale

Explain how you and your student chose to put weight on their courses. Do you consider some courses as honors? How are credits assigned?

Educational Partners

Does your student attend courses outside the home? Have they been enrolled in online courses? Does your student have tutors and/or mentors? This is all very valuable information to college admissions officers. Make sure to include a brief description of each provider and a short bio of each tutor and mentor. 

Graduation Requirements

Here you’ll want to refer to your state’s home school graduation requirements. Additionally, mention any extra graduation requirements you and your student chose to include.

6. Have Your Student Take Notes From Verbal Presentations

The idea of college may seem intimidating to home school students. One of the most common issues home school students face is learning and taking notes during a class. Some college courses have 1,000 people in just one auditorium! This doesn’t always leave time for asking questions during class.

But you can help your student prepare by having them take notes from verbal presentations. This can include sermons at church or speaking engagements they attend with or without you. 

7. Hold Firm Deadlines

If you have not based your curriculum around firm deadlines, it’s time to help your student prepare. Timed tests and hard deadlines for assignments are great ways to practice time management in preparation for college. 

Of course, if your student has learning differences (LD) and will have accommodations in college, then work around their needs. 

8. Sign Your Student Up For 3rd-Party Assessments

Arrange for your student to take at least a few classes outside the home. These can include:

  • Dual enrollment 
  • Co-op
  • Private tutor
  • And more!

These opportunities will provide prospective colleges with objective, 3rd-party assessments of your student’s academic readiness.

9. Align Your Curriculum With Local Public High Schools

You chose to homeschool your student for your own reasons that work best for your family. However, it’s important that your student’s education remains competitive with their peers.

The best way to ensure your student does not fall behind is to keep your local public high school’s requirements in mind. You don’t have to follow exactly, but you want to make sure they are taking the right courses that colleges may require. Many high schools’ graduation requirements align with their state’s acceptance requirements.

Keeping up with other local requirements will help your student have a competitive edge in the college admissions process. 

10. Research Colleges’ Home School Friendliness 

As you prepare to send your student off to spread their wings, you can ensure they attend a college that fits their prior home school education. 

Before sending in applications, research the home school friendliness of the colleges your student is considering. Here is a list of home school friendly colleges sorted by state. Keep in mind that this may not be a complete list, but it is a good starting point. 

Preparation Is Key For Your Home School Student’s Bright Future

You and your student have been through a lot together throughout homeschooling. While it may have created friction at some point, your bond is tight, and your hopes for their future are bright. 

As you navigate the college application process, it’s important to keep your student’s strengths, interests, and goals at top of mind. Bright Futures is here to help your student understand and succeed in finding, applying, and getting accepted to a college that fits their needs. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation!


Note: This post was originally published on June 12, 2012 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.