PLANNING FOR COLLEGE
College planning really begins in the 9th grade. As noted in our High School section, parents of homeschoolers put on the 'hat' of guidance counselors too. It is helpful, as a guidance counselor, to begin looking ahead and planning a 4 year high school class schedule and extracurricular schedule that will lay the foundation for applying to college. We have provided a great deal of information to help you succeed.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Although it sounds overwhelming, you can do this. It is an amazing amount of work. However, the rewards are incredible. Homeschooled students have great advantages over their peers:
National Home Education Resource Institute (NHERI) has just released a new study Homeschooling Grows Up that indicates how successfully home school graduates are making their way in society. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has the highlights of that study on their website.
HELPING YOUR STUDENT LOOK AHEAD
To prepare the student for college, you might consider using the Alpha Omega College Planner curriculum. It is a CD-ROM one semester credit course (Switched on Schoolhouse elective) that would be helpful to students in their sophomore year or early in their junior year to begin thinking ahead and considering goals for college. Attending college fairs offered in your area and visiting campuses are great field trips for this course and would help your student narrow down their interests and what type of college might suit them.
Plan to attend the IFHS Map Your Future event in the fall. In addition to a number of break out sessions for teens and parents there are about 25-30 colleges participating to recruit homeschooled students. It is a great event to assist your teen in thinking ahead to their future beyond high school.
Timelines for planning for college are available in the books on the reading list below andseveral articles on visiting college campuses, questions to ask, etc. are also available at Making College Count.
You can preview colleges at the Campus Tours.com site.
There are many publications available which highlight key information about every college and university all over the country. Peterson’s 4 Year Colleges is one book, but Kaplan, Princeton Review, and other publishers yearly edit their listings about colleges and universities. These are available in your local library or bookstore and are helpful to make some initial comparisons between schools. They also list the websites of each college and university, which are very helpful in evaluating whether to visit the campus.
Later in the junior year and in the fall of the senior year, homeschooling students should be narrowing down to a few schools for a second visit. Avoid the general “Campus Visit Day” program for the second visit. Call the admissions office and set up a visit schedule just for you and your student, designed to answer key questions. Attending a class in their intended major, meeting one-on-one with admission staff, financial aid staff, and professors in the fields of your student’s interests should be a part of that schedule.
There is a Homeschool National Honor Society, Eta Sigma Alpha. IFHS wants to encourage Indiana Chapters to develop. Please see our National Honor Society page for details. If your student qualifies to be in NHS, it looks great on a transcript for college-bound students and can give meaningful leadership and service experiences to participants.
See the High School Planning page for Transcript information.
APPRENTICESHIPS & VOC ED
See the Apprenticeships & Voc Ed page of our website.
See the Military page for information about the options for homeschooled students.
SAVE ON COLLEGE BOOKS
Chegg gives discounted prices and saves students over $500 a year.
They have been voted as the number 1 textbook rental company in an About.com poll
They offer an extensive catalogue of etextbooks that can be viewed on any device
They have a following of over 5.5 million members and growing
READING LIST FOR COLLEGE PREP
Visit our bookstore for these titles and more in this category!
See the Dual Credit page for detailed information about what you can do with dual credits, and links to some specific programs.
See the Scholarships page for general tips on the topic, as well as links to specific awards to check out.
COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS
Colleges often look at homeschooling students’ SAT/ACT scores as the objective source of information about their likely potential to succeed in college. Usually homeschooling students receive most of their grades from their parents and the concern is that parents have difficulty grading objectively. Therefore, an emphasis needs to be put on test preparation, especially if a student has not taken timed tests.
Homeschooling students need to understand test taking strategies, and have familiarity with the types of questions that appear on these exams. Review materials are available in book, video, or CD-ROM formats. These are available at local bookstores or at your library. Insisting students take time to thoroughly prepare for this exam may help them get admitted to the school of their choice with an academic scholarship!
You can design an SAT/ACT prep course and give a semester credit for your homeschooling student. A course in etymology would be an excellent way to prepare for the vocabulary. Ideally, your homeschooling student should sit for both the SAT and ACT exams, as some students perform better on one than the other. Free test prep help links: http://www.number2.com/ and http://www.freesat1prep.com/freesat.htm.
There are also many companies that have courses available for purchase, including an online program called EPrep - the IFHS has a partnership with them to receive a portion of the purchase price every time a student signs up for a course through the IFHS. Check out our SAT/ACT EPrep Courses page for more details on the program and how it may fit for your student!
In the spring of 2005, the SAT started including a writing section, and the ACT began offering an optional writing section. You should check with colleges in which your student is interested to see if they require the writing section on the ACT.
You must sign up through the guidance department at a local public or private high school in your area by early September (preferably in the Spring before). The exam cost is about $10 and is held once a year in October. It is an excellent preparation for the SAT exam and very helpful for homeschooling students who are not used to taking timed tests and it is typically given to sophomores and juniors. To be considered in the National Merit Scholarship Competition, homeschooling students must take the PSAT during their junior year of high school. The Indiana homeschool code for the PSAT is 991599. If you are from another state and reading this click here for your state's code. Families report that working with the local private school to take the test has been easier and that the environment set up for the students to take the test is better (quiet classroom as opposed to gym or cafeteria). If you have that option in your community, try to schedule your student at the private school.
(Keep in mind that in the math section, they are testing Geometry and Algebra I and II. If you sophomore is taking the exam, they may be a year short of their peers in the math area, but it gives you time to identify weaknesses that you can be addressing prior to their Junior year.)
SAT and SAT II
Homeschooling students can sign up on-line at College Board to take an SAT which is offered several times a year at locations around the state. Students are encouraged to take the exam in their junior year and again in the fall of their senior year, as needed, to hopefully improve their score. When applying on line, students are asked for their school name. Homeschooled students should look for the code "970000 Schooled at Home."
Some elite colleges may require all applying students to take several SAT II exams. These are specific subject-based exams. Some colleges have required only homeschooling students to take SAT II exams in certain subjects to be considered for admission. This practice has diminished considerably since Congress has said they cannot discriminate against homeschooling students (or risk loosing all of their federal funding). HSLDA has actively addressed colleges with policies discriminating against homeschooling students.
PLAN is taken during the sophomore year as a "pre-ACT" test. Testing dates at local high schools will vary as schools have September through December to administer it.
The ACT Assessment® covers four skill areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The Math section covers up through Trigonometry and the Science section covers Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and the Earth/Space sciences. Many people believe it is a more accurate test of what you know, not how well you reason, which is something the SAT emphasizes. You can sign up for it on-line and it is offered at various locations several times a year. The ACT code for homeschooled students is 969-999.
Consider having your homeschooling student take one or more of the 32 CLEP tests to get college credit. College Board CLEPs are accepted at over 2,900 colleges, but each college determines which of the CLEP exams they will accept and what are passing scores at their institution. It is wise to take these exams soon after completing the coursework. Scores can be kept on file and sent later to their college if a student is uncertain where they will attend.
CLEP tests are fairly inexpensive ($65) when you consider the time and money saved in college tuition. You can look at the CLEP site to find a testing location in your area and outlines for each test, so that you know what will be covered. (Testing site usually charges about $15-20 to administer test.) You can borrow CLEP Official Study Guide from your local library, to help review. Many high school curriculum textbooks, if covered thoroughly, can prepare a student for these exams and/or check your local Half-Price Bookstore, E-Bay, or college for a used college text on the subject. Research Education Associates, has some very complete test prep books for CLEP exams, as do Petersons and Princeton Review. Passing scores on these tests validate a student is ready for college level work and should be listed on their transcript.
You can search the College Board site for your particular school and look for the "Just the Facts" section on the left side, click on the tests section and it lists score averages for SATs. ACTs, accepted scores for Advanced Placement (AP), and CLEP.
Research Education Associates has some very complete test prep books for CLEP exams.
Test Prep Review.Com has free practice tests for the SAT/ACT and many others including the GED.
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OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES
College Board has great resources for parents and students as well as profiles of each college. A good place to start is their homeschool page.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) A FAFSA form must be completed to receive financial aid at most colleges and universities as an enrolled student once you have graduated from high school. You may complete a paper form or submit the online version. Don’t confuse the link below with the FAFSA.com site, which is a service that offers to complete the FAFSA for you for a fee.
College Goal Sunday is a free event held every February at sites all around Indiana where you can get help with questions you may have about completing your student’s FAFSA form. Also, Learn More Indiana can help with FAFSA questions.
Indiana Dept. of Education clarifies homeschoolers’ right to financial aid - Indiana students who complete their secondary education in a home-based school have the same legal standing as students completing a secondary school education in any other school.
Indiana College Answer gives a great overview for college planning. It is an excellent source for the local guidance counselor –YOU. The site has broken down the college questions in these concise steps –preparing, selecting, applying, deciding, and financing. Be sure to examine all the resources available in the 'Counselors' section, not just the parent and students. There is a phenomenal amount of information available here to make your job easier. There is even a service to match your student's personal goals and interests with all accredited colleges and universities nationwide!
Learn More Indiana Resource Center (formerly ICPAC) is a free assistant in the guidance counselor role in Indiana for students and parent/teachers! Career exploration, specific grade level suggestions of how to be preparing to advance beyond high school, financial aid searches, and information on all Indiana colleges and universities.
National Home Education Network (NHEN) has a quick list of websites essential for the family/student preparing for college.
State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) provides the state of Indiana grant, scholarships, and work study programs.
Work Colleges Consortium might be a good option for your student to explore. These colleges have significantly reduced tuition or no tuition because students work off the debt at the school in community service or career training jobs.
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LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE DEPARTMENTS
You can check with your local high school guidance department for information about colleges, financial aid, and scholarships. Below are several high school guidance departments with excellent websites loaded with information:
Center Grove High School
US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Federal Student Aid, is a comprehensive website with suggestions for families with students of all ages.
If you have information you think should be considered for this site, email the Info@IndianaHomeSchooling.org