A Freshman to Senior Timeline for High School Homeschoolers interested in College
by Barbara Benson
I realize that there are few of you homeschoolers that are currently teaching high school, but since it is very much on my mind these days with my youngest daughter, I thought I would share a brief timeline that I follow for those important steps in the high school years.
Freshman Year: Transcript
If you are a “portfolio” homeschooler ( not following a curriculum that will provide a transcript for you), you will need to begin to create a transcript along with a four year high school plan. Make sure that you research and understand your state’s high school graduation requirements. Also, if you think your child will likely go to one of your state schools, talk to an admissions officer about what they want to see detailed in a transcript. Some states may require that a homeschooled transcript be notarized. Finally, if your child is attending classes part time at a public school, it is your responsibility to make sure that you receive official transcript copies of the grades received by your child.
Sophomore Year: review and update Transcript, schedule PSAT
Be sure that your transcript is updated carefully each year and keep good records of your grade documentation. When my older daughter’s public school suddenly decided to terminate availability of part time classes to all homeschoolers, I was required to document all of my homeschooling coursework to the high school so that my course grades for her became their grades on her high school transcript when she attended full time in her junior year.
It is possible for sophomores to take the PSAT in October of their sophomore year, although it can also be taken in October of the Junior year. You will need to make arrangements with your child’s designated local public school to take the PSAT. There are some private schools that may also be willing to administer the PSAT to your child too. Your child will have an assigned testing number based on being a homeschooler in your state.
Junior Year: Take the PSAT, SAT and/or ACT; Research colleges; dual credit
Your child may be taking the PSAT in October and then receiving feedback from the test (it can take until January to get results) in order to better prepare for the SAT sometime in the Spring. Alternatively, you may want to take the ACT or take both tests. This is a matter of preference and what a particular college wants to see in test results. Our family only did the SAT. You will be registering at Collegeboard.com to take the SAT at a school near you. All of my children took the SAT at our local university. Make sure that you make time in your homeschooling several months before the test to do lots of practice. We used SAT prep books and Kahn Academy online for preparation. There is no penalty for taking the exam more than once and most people do since the highest scores are used by the college.
Junior year is when your student will start to consider various colleges. Research colleges carefully in the Fall and talk about potential interests your child has for a major. Make sure the college matches those interests. Most college visits occur in the Spring or early Fall of Senior year. Again, make sure your high school transcript is updated and that you know before a visit what the admissions department wants to see in the way of a homeschooling transcript. Along with college research, be sure and start to research relevant scholarships that may be available to your homeschooler through the college or privately. Other financial aid and grants for college will be available when you file the federal FAFSA form by March of your child’s senior year.
Junior year is also the time when your child can also start to take dual credit (both high school and college)classes at your local community college. Generally a community college will need either the test results from the PSAT or they will administer testing in English and Math to determine your child’s eligibility for dual credit classes. Again, you are responsible for getting official transcripts of any dual credit classes taken. I highly recommend dual credit since it allows your child to take a college level class at a rate that will be lower than a four year college. Be sure to check the transferability of these classes to your college of interest. Our community college has a transfer relationship or “Common Ground” of courses that apply readily to four year college credit. My youngest has already taken her college English Composition course this year as a Junior and will take a number of dual credit classes her senior year. If your public school allows it, some dual credit classes might also be taken at the public school. Finally, your child might have opportunities to take AP classes at the local school followed by the AP exam which also gives college credit based on the AP test score. Generally, I have found that dual credit courses are much easier to arrange for homeschoolers, although our family has done both dual credit and AP courses.
Senior Year: Scholarships, apply for admission, take AP exams, final SAT; File FAFSA
Everything starts to move swiftly in the Senior year. Scholarships can be applied for in the summer and early fall. A final SAT can be done in the early fall. Most colleges will want applications in October if your child is to be considered for scholarships. Otherwise, most schools may take admissions through April of Senior year. Have your transcript carefully updated with all grades from other schools attached to the transcript and also noted on your transcript. Take AP exams in the Spring if taking an AP class. Do final college interviews and keep up the good work in courses. You are almost at the finish line of successfully taking your child to the gates of their desired college! Be sure and file the FAFSA by the beginning of March for financial aid.
Senior year is a demanding time for both you and your child but the rewards of your efforts will be apparent in your good results.
Much success on the journey!