This is part four of the Homeschool to College series.
It’s been such a joy to write this series, because as I write, my daughter’s college plans are coming together. All of her hard work and preparation is coming to fruition.
And yes - for me as her mom I feel an intense amount of relief and vindication.
We DID IT! We homeschooled well and we are nearly to the finish line.
It has been an emotional and joy filled experience schooling our daughter this far. Visiting colleges and completing the applications are some of your final steps of homeschooling. Enjoy them.
And, a word to this wise: STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.
Stay out of Facebook groups for parents of seniors. Be careful how much you share and how much you solicit from other parents. Comparison IS the thief of joy. Your child is unique and their college decision will be unique.
This post focuses on the college visits and applications - just a few tips I have - I have another child to go and can’t stress how much each child is different. Do what you feel is best and use my suggestions as a guide.
A word of advice: if you begin to talk to parents in your area you will quickly find out what colleges and universities are homeschool friendly.
We didn’t have any interest in pursuing schools that weren’t accommodating to homeschoolers.
We didn’t play the silly resume building game in high school, so why would we want to put on a dog and pony show for colleges now?
Additionally, in Georgia (as I suspect is the case in many other states) there are significant financial opportunities available at state colleges and universities. It made sense for us to seriously consider a few of our state institutions.
Start broad and narrow down.
When my daughter was a sophomore we started talking about college. We talked about whether she wanted to stay close to home or go far away. What size school interested her? Did she want a a school with a lot of school spirit and athletics, or did that not matter to her?
As we traveled, we would drive through college campuses - nothing formal - just looking at campuses.
It is amazing how much those initial conversations helped us all.
My husband and I had to do some of the initial poking and prodding about college, and suggested a few schools that might interest Anna. This is a foreign world to many of our children. Tread lightly because this is a HUGE change for our children.
There really is a school for everyone, and there are so many smaller schools out there that welcome homeschoolers and have abundant funds to offer them!
Make Visits in the Junior Year
We made official visits to three schools in Anna’s junior year.
Most schools have junior days specially designed for your child. You will find out SO MUCH during these visits.
You can also schedule a visit by simply checking the college website. These schools are HAPPY to have you visit. We even found a few schools that would REIMBURSE travel expenses for your visit!
We knew a student at one of the schools, so we also made a personal visit with her. Having a current student take your child around is extremely helpful!
(One of the schools we visited, Charleston Southern University, was just beautiful!)
During College Visits
Parents - let your child do the talking. As much as you want to insert yourself in this process - DON’T.
Keep a notebook with a section for each college. Also, keep a file folder for each school. You will receive A LOT of information
Take time to drive around the area where the school is - is it possible to spend a weekend in the area to see what life will be like if your child attends that school?
If possible, leave siblings at home and spend this time with your college bound student. You won’t regret it.
After College Visits
Be sure your child has a professional email address - all of the admissions offices suggested a Gmail address somehow using part or all of the child’s name.
Your child should set up a voice mailbox on their phone - with a professional greeting.
Get in the habit of checking email regularly (we also get our child’s email delivered to our inbox so we can keep tabs on things).
Write thank you notes to any particular people at the school who were helpful to you.
As your child’s homeschooling parent/guidance counselor, make sure you follow up with your admissions officer and ask about any special homeschool requirements. I found that all schools were HAPPY to answer any questions I had and welcomed homeschool students.
Try as hard as possible not to share your preferences with your child. Let them form their opinions and make their own decisions. This will be four years of THEIR life, not yours!
Encourage your child to make a pro/con sheet after each visit - keep it in that notebook I talked about earlier.
(Anna even drove us to a college visit - on the interstate - in the rain. Great experience!)
My daughter applied as an UNACCREDITED homeschooler. We had no issues with this. In fact, I think it worked to our advantage because it made my daughter stand out from the crowd.As long as you have the test scores, letters of recommendation, and a solid high school course of study, all will be well.
Each school will want something different from you as a homeschooler, so be sure to investigate that thoroughly. Again, it wasn’t hard!
As for the actual applications process…
The advice I am going to give you is dramatically different than I had intended. It turns out, however, that God worked it all out for the best in our family. Stick with me as I tell you our story.
I had every intention of staying on top of my daughter to immediately begin applying to five schools when applications opened (many of them opened in October). As it turns out, in September my father was moving into Assisted Living and I needed to play a pivotal role in his move. I was back and forth to Florida several times during what should have been the time I was dedicating to helping Anna with her applications.
We explained to Anna that we were there if she ran into any problems, but that she would be on her own to fill out college applications. Because many of her peers were also applying to college, there was a lot of talk about applications. Anna worked on her applications diligently and met the early application deadline for three schools. My schedule forced me to step back, which was a GOOD thing - something I needed to do.
I did proofread her essays and her dad went over the applications before she clicked the “submit” button - but other than that it was all her. This was a BEAUTIFUL THING. I truly believe she owned the process. Had I poked and prodded about applying to more schools, or getting it done more quickly, I think we would have encountered resistance (you know what I mean, right?).
I’m happy to report this is the face of a girl who was accepted to the three schools she applied to.
The days those acceptances came were glorious. I won’t lie - it felt like I had gotten accepted into college, too. As a homeschooling mom I felt validated and affirmed. It was like getting a stamp of approval on our homeschool journey. Maybe that sounds silly, but I’m being honest.
Mostly, however, I’m just so excited and thrilled for my sweet girl. She wants to study Special Education in college and work in some capacity with special needs adults. I know God is going to use her spirit and gifts to His glory - that has been our goal all along.
(She is still officially making her decision about where she wants to go - I’ll save that for another post!)
I’d love to know if you have any questions or comments. Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments below!
Annie & Everything - a fabulous blog about homeschooling high school!
Follow @Lisa Davis on Medium for College articles — I have read many of her articles and they offer sound advice.