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What's different about applying to college as a homeschooler?


If you’re a homeschooled student, you might be wondering if college applications work differently for you. Fortunately, college admissions is handled very similarly for homeschoolers as it is for traditionally schooled students. In fact, many admissions offices actively seek out homeschoolers. Admissions officers evaluate each student within the context of his/her own background and the opportunities they've had. There are, however, a few differences regarding how homeschoolers submit certain application materials. This article will walk you through how to think about each major component of your application if you're a homeschooled student.


As a homeschooled student, your parent or primary teacher is responsible for creating your high school transcript and for sending it to your colleges. Parents have a few different options for going about this:
  • Working under an umbrella school that produces official transcripts and diplomas
  • Creating their own transcript and diploma
  • Enlisting a service that specializes in transcript and diploma creation
  • Joining a homeschool group that produces professional transcripts and diplomas
Because the day-to-day of homeschooling often looks quite different from a traditional setting, trying to turn a student’s academic experiences into courses and credits may seem like a daunting task. However, parents can rest assured knowing there is no such thing as a “correct” or “standard” transcript, even among school districts.
Your transcript should include all of the following information:
  • Your name, the name of your homeschool (if applicable), address, and phone number
  • Your high school course list ordered by year (grades 9-12)
  • The institution where each class was taken (i.e. homeschool, online institution, community college)
  • The grade scale being used in your homeschool
  • Your overall GPA
  • Credits given per course (listed per semester and per year)
  • Expected graduation date
  • Parent signature with a date
If you’ve taken classes online or outside of your homeschooling, contact each institution to make sure they also send schools an official copy of your transcript. The transcript your parent creates should be cumulative and include both your homeschooled classes and any classes you’ve taken at an outside institution.

GED and diploma

Homeschoolers do not need a GED or a diploma to apply to college or qualify for financial aid; you just have to declare that your homeschool education meets state law requirements. Most homeschooled students choose not to take the GED if they have valid transcripts, as colleges will place the most emphasis on your transcript and standardized test scores. If you’re homeschooled through an online academy, virtual school, or organized homeschool program then they will award your diploma according to their own standards. If you’re homeschooled independently by your parents, then your parents have the option of issuing you a diploma if your transcripts indicate you’ve met the basic state requirements for graduation. When filling out the FAFSA, be sure to check “homeschooled” when it asks for your high school completion status. Even if your homeschool is administered through an umbrella organization, you should still check “homeschooled” instead of “high school diploma” to avoid any delays in the processing of your application.

Letters of recommendation

Colleges typically prefer recommendations from external teachers as opposed to recommendations from a parent so if you’ve taken a class at a local community college or online, consider asking that teacher to write a recommendation on your behalf. Additional letters of recommendation can also come from a coach, mentor, clergy member, or volunteer coordinator who can share insights into how you might contribute to the academic, social, and cultural aspects of a college campus. Policies on recommendation letters are different for different schools so it's best you contact colleges directly and ask what they would like to see as far as who writes your letters and whether or not they’ll accept a letter from a parent.

The school report

In a traditional setting, the school report is typically completed by the guidance counselor but as a homeschooler, it should be completed by your parent or the administrator of your homeschooling program. This is the place to report facts about your school like what GPA scale is used and how many honors or AP courses are offered. Parents should note that when filling out the school report, a number of spaces will be marked N/A because they depend on comparing students to others within the same school.
Here’s how your parent can access this profile online. If you log on to the Common Application, find the "Education" section and click on “Find School.” A window will pop up that lists all the schools in your area. Scroll down to the very bottom of that window and select “I was/am homeschooled.” The site will then prompt you to enter your counselor’s contact information. You’ll want to enter your parent's contact information in here instead. Your parent will then receive an email to set up a counselor account (a My Recommender Account), which is where the school profile and counselor recommendation are filled out. This is where your parent can provide some additional context about your homeschooling and how it was structured. Your parent should upload the items listed below with your school profile:
  • Your cumulative transcript (including homeschool classes and classes taken outside of the home)
  • A document with course descriptions of your homeschooled classes (what materials were used, reading lists, major assignments and/or scientific experiments conducted)
  • Grading methodology for each homeschooled subject Rationale for how grades and credits were awarded
  • Your homeschooling philosophy
  • Sample academic papers or descriptions of science projects with teacher’s comments (optional)
  • Free-time reading list (optional)
Common App Tip: The Counselor Recommendation form only becomes accessible to counselors after the School Report has been submitted. Once submitted, the Counselor Recommendation, like all other submitted forms, becomes available for colleges to download if the student has submitted his/her Common Application to that institution.
The school report window on the Common Application site


Colleges want to see you have at least a few activities that demonstrate your long-term commitment and unique interests. Participating in extracurriculars also shows you’re involved with your community and that you’ve had enriching experiences outside of the classroom. Colleges want to envision how you might contribute to their community so it’s helpful for them to see you create or get involved with a community of your own.

Standardized testing

Colleges will typically place more weight on your SAT/ACT scores if you are homeschooled. Many colleges recommend that you take one or two SAT II tests although it’s not required by all schools. Check with each school to see what their testing requirements are.
Final note: It’s important to remember that colleges appreciate the unique nature of your homeschooling education and evaluate all their applicants holistically. Today, more and more homeschooled students are attending colleges and are just as successful as their traditionally schooled peers. If you’d like additional guidance throughout your application process, feel free to explore the rest of our resource where you’ll find advice on topics like applying for financial aid, getting recommendation letters, and writing your college essays.

Want to join the conversation?

  • piceratops tree style avatar for user CC
    Hi. I am a homeschooler and I have a question regarding colleges and scholarships.

    There are certain colleges that give out "full ride scholarships", which are scholarships that pay not only for your tuition in full,but other expenses,as well - such as room and board, books and supplies,etc.

    The qualifications for most of these scholarships is merit-based - e.g.,I would have to be nominated by my high school and/or be in the top 1-2% of my senior class.

    Considering that I am homeschooled, how would this apply/translate to me? Does my lack of these qualifications automatically disqualify me?
    (28 votes)
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  • boggle purple style avatar for user Movoek
    Hello, I was commenting here for any help at all. My mom pulled me out of school when I was 11, and I have been "homeschooled" ever since. My mom did not actually care for my education, and she never reported to my school district that I was in fact being homeschooled. I am teaching myself currently and I am aiming for my GED, but I am freaking out, because I want to go college. But I have no transcripts or any curriculum and those are needed for college, I don't know what to do. I really want to make something of myself but I am just so lost. I am 16 years old, and I was wondering if I turn 18 and become a legal adult and have my GED if I will be able to get into a university somehow with no transcripts or even proof that I was schooled. I'm so scared that I will be nothing in this world. Could I get into a community college and transfer to a better university or am I doomed to be a burger flipper, be seen as unintelligent forever?
    (7 votes)
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    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      For most purposes, a GED stands in for a high school diploma. Most colleges will accept them. Trade school is also an option. Community colleges should be especially accepting of students with different educational backgrounds, but they shouldn’t be your only option. You should probably ask some colleges (especially any you want to attend) what they want to see in your application. Just think: by trying to earn your GED, you’re already showing them you value education and are willing to work hard.

      Does that help at all? Also, if you can get to a public library, they might be able to connect you with resources for your pre- and post- GED education.

      Also, you are worth so much, no matter what you end up doing with your life! Don’t let anyone put you down, especially for things you couldn’t control.
      (15 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Dovid Shaw
    What would a homeschool transcript look like and what would it include?
    (9 votes)
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  • leaf grey style avatar for user ryan carr
    im in 9th grade but am trying to go ahead and get a idea of where i want to go to college.
    currently i am looking to go to university of south Carolina as a baseball player.
    i was wondering what do i need to have to be accepted there.

    currently i am doing school on monarch.aop.com
    my subjects are:
    and geography.

    i dont know if that is the right amount to get into USC.

    i have heard that when your going to college as a sports player that you dont have to take as much classes and that they give you not as hard of a time, is that true?

    also i dont know if monarch.aop.com provides the right amount of info for me to get into USC.

    Please help!
    (6 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Kyra eisley
    i am homeschooled and i want to go to a good college if i want to do this do i have to get a high school diploma and take the GPA or SAT test? to be able to get into most good colleges? for example U of A
    (5 votes)
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    • duskpin seed style avatar for user Leigh Sayre
      Most colleges for freshman look for a highschool transcript and SAT/ACT with Writing scores. Those are what you should focus on. An alterative is a state community school, who blanket accepts everyone. For me I didn't even have to provide a highschool diploma or transcript. For community colleges as long as you don't need financial aid, and you shouldn't cause its easy to work your way through community school, you can get your degree transcript free. Then transfer to the school you want. At that point, as a homeschooler it won't matter what your high school transcript is like, because they'll only see the associate degree.
      (12 votes)
  • leaf orange style avatar for user jesse.jamey0417
    My daughter is in ninth grade and really enjoys Khan Academy as her main source of homeschool. She has had a hard time learning with some other methods so I am happy we found this. However, I do want to make sure that we are able to write a proper high school transcript, and would like some insight on using Khan Academy to do so, or if it possible.
    (7 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user lisabees
      You can put your daughter's Khan classes on the transcript - just be sure to list them in your course descriptions with your methods of evaluation. And, remember, one high school credit is at least 120 hours. If you use that as your guide, mention that in your school profile. It's beneficial to back homeschool grades up with testing, so maybe that will be a good option for her. The Fearless Homeschoolers site can be helpful for homeschoolers going through college admissions. www.fearlesshomeschoolers.com Good luck!
      (5 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Artemis
    What do I do if my homeschool program doesn't give grades?? I just learn, do the work, and then correct it. I don't have any tests except a math exam at the end of each math text book I complete and essays I write about subjects and even those don't get graded. They're simply marked as passed or failed. How am I supposed to apply to a good college when I can't even enter in my info without giving a GPA score?
    (6 votes)
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user AIR
    I understand that Khan Academy cannot offer diplomas, but could Khan Academy offer a certificate of completion?
    (5 votes)
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  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user planetarypolecat
    Hi, I was never properly schooled thanks to various factors surrounding my homeschooling. I've educated myself well enough to get my GED, but I don't have a record for a curriculum, GPA, course credits, I didn't even technically graduate. Is going to college without completely redoing high school for years possible for me?
    (3 votes)
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    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      Congratulations on the GED! At least according to the GED’s website, about 98% of colleges will accept students who have GEDs. You can ask the admissions office at any schools you like what they’d want to see from you. You could want to take the ACT or SAT if it turns out one could help your application, for instance. Community colleges are less picky about their applicants (and they can get you on your way to a cheaper college degree), but they are probably not your only choice.

      Good luck!
      (4 votes)
  • leafers tree style avatar for user Adoreigh
    Hi! I live in a state where homeschooling law requires only 1000 logged hours of school. No standardized tests or grades are required. I've been homeschooled this way since 3rd grade, and I'm now a sophomore looking into colleges. I have no GPA or 'transcripts'.
    I complete my school hours. I volunteer regularly. I am studying and planning to take the HiSET, SAT, and ACT exams next year, and I am confident in my test-taking abilities.
    Will I still be able to get into college without a GPA? All the applications I've looked at (especially for scholarships) require a GPA. If anyone can help, I would greatly appreciate it.
    (2 votes)
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    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      I think you could ask the admissions counselor at any colleges you’re interested in. An email or phone call would probably work well, or an in-person visit if you’re very close to the college. You should be able to find this contact information on the college’s website.

      Do you have grades for your high school classes? If so, there are GPA calculators and transcript templates online.
      (3 votes)