Before you can determine if homeschooling will prepare your child for college, you must first assess if your child aspires to go to college. Any parent must examine this as their child enters high school, regardless of whether they are attending public or private school or homeschooling. The child’s future educational goals provide a direction for their high school courses: if they plan on going to college, a trade school , or simply graduating and moving into the workforce will determine the kinds of classes and other activities they should pursue in high school. If your child does want to pursue a college degree and is willing to put effort into it, homeschooling can provide at least as thorough a preparation for higher education as traditional schooling.
Academically speaking, a homeschool education can certainly prepare your child for college. Certain methods of homeschooling can have an advantage in this area, especially as regards the ease with which your child’s transcript can be recognized by prospective colleges. If you use an accredited homeschool program or charter school, your child will be held accountable to certain standards of education in your area. These programs follow state-wide standards and are officially recognized by the educational system, making applying to college a smooth process. Using an unaccredited curriculum or unschooling can provide a challenge when it comes time to apply for college, as there will be no official record or outside verification of your child having met certain educational standards. Your child’s SAT or ACT scores will then be the only reliable benchmark of your child’s academic progress by which college admissions departments can judge them.
One concern that may arise with homeschooling is the lack of Advanced Placement (AP) classes available for homeschoolers. However, homeschoolers can earn college credit for certain subjects by taking (CLEP-College Level Examination Program) exams. The end result of both AP courses in traditional schools and testing out with CLEP tests is the same; a good score in either shows mastery of the subject matter and results in college credits earned. In addition, most community colleges or junior colleges allow high school students to take classes, often at no cost. These classes can often earn both high school and college credit.
College admissions departments can tell you their prerequisites for admission, so you can then determine the best way to ensure that your child fulfills all those requirements. If your child is already interested in a particular school, you can contact them directly to inquire about prerequisites. You can also contact any school in the state system to find out what the state-wide general requirements for college admission are. Doing this at the beginning of high school can help direct your child’s educational path and ensure that they meet the academic requirements for their desired schools.
Many college admissions departments also consider a student’s extracurricular activities during the acceptance process. “Well-rounded” students often have an advantage in getting into competitive schools. For this reason, it is very important for homeschooled students to be involved in other activities, to supplement their academic courses. There are many opportunities for homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities: 4H, Junior Toastmasters, club and other organized sports leagues, church youth groups, youth theater, and plenty of opportunities for volunteer work are open to homeschooled youth.
Preparing for college is not all about academics or entrance requirements, however, A young person must also be ready for a more independent lifestyle, especially if they will be attending college away from home. The concern most people hold about home schooling is that of socialization: does homeschooling put a young person at a disadvantage in social situations? Occasionally some methods of homeschooling may intensify an introverted child’s tendency to shy away from social scenes that some see as integral to a young person’s life. However, homeschooling can actually help children to interact with others in a manner that is not learned in traditional schooling. In normal schools, children spend most of their time with the other children in their own grade, providing plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with people at their own developmental level. Homeschooled children, however, interact much more regularly with people of varied ages, abilities, and stations in life. This gives homeschoolers a flexibility in social situations that many young people lack.
Given a commitment to researching and meeting educational and extracurricular requirements, the homeschooled student is not at a disadvantage in preparing for college. There are ample opportunities for homeschoolers to succeed academically and socially. With their parents’ support and guidance, homeschool students can prepare for college just as well as their traditionally schooled peers.