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Is an Ivy League School Right for Your Homeschooler?

A slip of the finger and the email goes to the wrong person. It's mortifying...I always hope it won't be hurtful to anyone, though. One day, I was on the receiving end. Someone wrote to a friend about me and sent it to me instead! Not hurtful at all, but still...I think it's an opportunity for me to explain something:

"While she touts that her boys got into their "first choice schools"...they are small, private Christian colleges. Not Stanford..."

Executive Summary for Busy Parents:

  • Homeschoolers CAN and DO get admission into Ivy schools
  • Homeschoolers are NOT guaranteed admission
  • Ivy league schools are NOT perfect
  • Do your research early
  • Have a contingency plan in case of rejection

Find the RIGHT School 

When my boys were applying to college, we had certain requirements. I wanted a Christian college that could minimize negative socialization. I also wanted a school within an hour drive of a family member, in case of roommate disasters. For my youngest son, it had to be a college within driving distance from home, so that he could live at home until he was 18. For my older son, we needed an engineering college, and he didn't want to leave Washington State. These requirements significantly narrowed down our options.
I once heard a father boldly proclaim, "If your child can go to an Ivy League school, they SHOULD go to an Ivy League school." I disagree strongly. Only the parents will know where a child SHOULD go to college. While it's nice to have some general ideas and apply to a variety of schools, there is simply not one right answer for brilliant kids or any kids, for that matter.
When my children were applying to college, I had a very small college fund. I recognized that they would be well qualified for a small, private Christian college and would likely receive financial aid. At the same time, I knew that even though they were smart, most of the applicants to Harvard and Yale would be just as smart - or smarter. The chances of financial aid would be slim, and we needed big scholarships.
When children are smart (or even VERY smart), it's tempting to look at an Ivy League school. Instead, I encourage people to look at the RIGHT school. For some kids and for some families, that means avoiding some well-ranked schools with great reputations. My children had near-perfect SAT scores, but we didn't even apply to Stanford, Harvard, or Yale; they weren't a fit for my family.
Parents know best. Know your child and trust yourself. Even if someone else thinks they know what is best for your child, that doesn't make it true; only the parents have ALL the details.

Is Ivy Best for You? 

That said, if an Ivy League school is the right fit for your family, this information may help you!

The "true" Ivy League schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. Be sure to do your research early in high school to find out exactly what each college wants in their applicants and do your best to give it to them. Some colleges are very picky on the number and kind of credits your student has, while others are pickier about the way the homeschool records are presented to them. If your child has their heart set on a particular Ivy school, freshman year is NOT too early to begin your research! Here are examples of just a few Ivy League homeschool admission policies.

Brown University - FAQ for Homeschoolers

Is the admission process different for homeschooled applicants?

  • Our evaluation process is the same for all first-year applicants, but home-schooled applicants may present some of the required documents in a different format than what would be provided by traditional schools.

Who should complete my Secondary School Report and Teacher Evaluation Forms?

  • The Secondary School Report form should be completed by the person most responsible for guiding your overall learning. In addition, we would be interested to know why you and your family opted to pursue home-schooling rather than a more traditional public or private school education. We would also be curious about the resources used to craft your home-schooling curriculum and the degree of liberty you have had in guiding your own education.

    We would prefer to see letters of recommendation from instructors who have taught you in a traditional classroom setting and who can speak to your abilities and potential in an objective way. For these reasons we would prefer not to receive letters of recommendation from your parents, immediate relatives or from academic tutors in the paid employ of your family. If all of your instructors fall into one of these three groups, then we will accept letters of recommendation from any of them.

What should I submit if I do not have a traditional high school transcript?

  • In lieu of a traditional high school transcript, we ask that you provide a detailed account of the entire curriculum you have undertaken during the last four years. Please list all subjects covered, as well as the books and/or other learning resources you used. If you have taken courses at a local college, high school or through a distance education program, you should submit official transcripts from those sources to supplement your self-designed transcript.

What other information should I provide?

  • In addition to the requirements common to all applicants, you may submit the results of supplementary standardized tests such as AP or IB scores. We will also accept an additional letter of recommendation beyond those required from your counselor (or another school official) and two teachers, but we ask that supplementary recommendations be from someone other than your parents, your immediate relatives or a tutor in the paid employ of your family. Please also include a detailed syllabus describing your program of study. 

Columbia University - Admission for Homeschoolers

As a homeschooled student, your application will undergo the same process as every other applicant — including the same careful attention from several members of our professional admissions staff. Decisions are made only after review by a committee of these officers. In each case, admissions officers are weighing many components of your background: academic achievement and rigor, intellectual curiosity, extracurricular distinction, special talents and abilities and many others.

As part of your application, homeschooled students must send a copy of their curriculum for the past four years. If you have been following an accredited homeschool program, you must provide us with that program's published curriculum. If you have been taking courses at a local college or other educational institution, have the official transcript from that experience submitted to Columbia. Please provide as much detail about your curriculum's content as possible.

If you have taken classes at a local college or university or had an instructor or tutor brought in to teach one or more particular subjects, that instructor should write the recommendation letter. Otherwise, your homeschooling instructor may write it, even if they are your parent.

Homeschooled students should follow our Testing Policy. Advanced Placement (AP), SAT Subject Test and other optional subject-proficiency exams are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them. While you will not be at a disadvantage in our admissions process should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the results, your scores can assist the Committee on Admissions in evaluating content knowledge and mastery in individual disciplines.

Princeton University - Admission Tips for Homeschooled Students

Princeton welcomes applications from home-schooled students. Although they still make up a very small portion of the applicant pool, applications from home-schooled students have been increasing.

We recognize that your experience as a home-schooled student will be somewhat different from students in traditional schools. We'll look at your academic record and nonacademic interests and commitments within the context of your particular home-school curriculum and experience.

We understand that for many home-schooled students there is not as clear a distinction between academic and nonacademic activities as there might be for students in a traditional high school. The more you can document for us and describe what you have done during your high school years, academically and otherwise, the better. Feel free to go beyond the questions on our application forms if they don't cover everything you think is important for us to know. There may also be questions that simply don't apply in the case of a home-schooled student (for instance, our question about class rank on the School Report). You and others completing forms on your behalf may leave those questions blank.

Below are some tips addressing aspects of the application process that may be somewhat different for home-schooled students. More tips and information on their website

Dartmouth - Answering Homeschooling Questions

What materials do I submit if I am home schooled?

  • As with all other applicants to Dartmouth, home schooled students should apply using the Common App. Standardized test scores can help to demonstrate academic preparation. We ask your home school supervisor to submit additional information on curriculum, grading scale, and evaluation. Dartmouth receives many applications from home school students, and our holistic review process means we consider each applicant within the context of their educational environment, community, and opportunities.

As a home school student, whom should I ask to write my recommendations?

  • We encourage you to request teacher recommendations from instructors, tutors, or academic mentors who are not family members. If you have not worked directly with individuals outside your home, a brief statement from your home school supervisor will be accepted.

How can a home school student demonstrate language proficiency?

  • You can demonstrate language proficiency by submitting your score from either an SAT Subject Test or an AP exam. 

Have a Backup Plan!

Rejection can happen. There are many thousands of highly qualified students who are rejected each year - from public, private, and homeschools! So be prepared with a backup plan! At this level, when all candidates are extremely qualified, it often seems like it was a flip-of-the-coin admission decision, with no rhyme or reason. Do your best to show off your unique homeschool with homeschool records, but don't take it personally if your student doesn't make it in.

These colleges value homeschool education, yet there are no guarantees for anyone, regardless of the type of quality of their education. Read their admission policy carefully and weigh your options with your eyes wide open. Show off your unique homeschool and your even more unique child with homeschool records.

Homeschool Success at Ivy Leagues

Now for some less gloomy news. Homeschoolers can have GREAT success with Ivy admission. Here are two stories of exceptional homeschoolers from a few years ago accepted into multiple Ivy League schools!

A Real Homeschooled Hero: Evanston Teen Accepted by 7 of the Nation's Top Universities.
"In what has been called the most competitive year ever for college admissions, Chelsea Link defied the odds to get accepted into Yale. Then Harvard. Then came the fat envelopes from Princeton, Columbia, University of Chicago, Stanford and Northwestern University. Making that feat still more extraordinary, Link has been home-schooled since age 5."

Homeschool to Harvard by Wayne Allyn Root
" While other kids spent their school days being indoctrinated to believe competition and winning are unimportant, Dakota was learning the value of work ethic, discipline, sacrifice and personal responsibility. While other kids were becoming experts at partying, Dakota and her dad debated current events at the dinner table. While other kids shopped and gossiped, Dakota was devouring books on science, math, history, literature, politics and business." Read the original article here.

As you do your research, remember that Ivy League schools may be prestigious, but they are certainly NOT perfect. I stumbled upon a recent article in Rolling Stone that confirms that for at least one student. Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses. Be warned, the article is pretty graphic.

Are Ivy league schools worse than other schools? Don't bet on it! Are they better than other schools? Does it matter? It's more important to consider the FIT of the college, and only your family can determine the right fit for your student and your family. 

Suggested Reading: 

Upper Echelon Education: How Homeschoolers Can Gain Admission to Elite Universities

Here's help to get homeschoolers into college - even Ivy League schools!

Your student may begin by wondering, can I get into college? Next they might think, "how do I get into college?" Finally, they may even dare to research "how to get into an ivy league school?" You, as the parent, may wonder if they have what it takes for Ivy League admission?

Here's what's required for elite schools (e.g., Harvard College admission):

  • a gifted student with a strong work ethic,
  • a lot of parental effort (especially with record-keeping),
  • rigorous academics and extremely high test scores,
  • proven leadership skills and activities that are measurable,
  • a passion in something outside academics,
  • a fabulous admission essay,
  • great letters of recommendation,
  • wonderful interview skills,
  • volunteer work,
  • and more!

And even when you have all those things, you also need a little luck, because college statistics say that most other applicants have those things too! Don't despair, though! Every journey begins with a single step and this book will get you started! Get your copy of Upper Echelon Education here!

Suggested Resource: 

College Launch Solution

Hired college coaches can cost thousands of dollars! When I was homeschooling I certainly didn't have that kind of budget. That's where the College Launch Solution comes in. Learn how to be your child's college coach for a fraction of the price. With 6 complete education modules you can learn how to find a college that fits your family, how to pay for college, how to apply for college, and more! 

No need to hire a professional college advisor - The College Launch Solution will teach you how to be the counselor.

No scouring the internet for information - The College Launch Solution collects it all in one convenient place.

No re-investing in admission counseling for every child - You will have lifetime access to up-to-date admissions training.

Take a deeper look at the College Launch Solution here! 

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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

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