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Student Story: Applying as a homeschooler

Hear how a homeschooled student approached the various parts of his college application (i.e. extracurriculars, getting letters of recommendation, and choosing a topic for his college essay).

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Video transcript

- So I was homeschooled almost all of my education into before college, but like a lot of homeschoolers, I took a lot of classes at a local high school. I took classes at a local college. This was mainly in the high school years. Before high school, I was mostly taught almost everything by my parents, but in high school, you know, there are some classes that my parents aren't expert at, as great as they are at many things, so I took, for instance, like a local high school had a great Latin teacher, and I had been taught Latin by my mom, but she's not a Latin expert, so I had a great time. I started loving Latin when I took Latin at this local high school, and local college, local university. I did some other online courses, some of them sort of aimed at homeschoolers. And one summer I went to UCLA 'cause I was really into filmmaking, and I took a filmmaking course there, and one of the added benefits that, in retrospect, I think was really important is that I got to know a UCLA professor, and he ended up actually writing one of my recommendation letters for college. And the other recommendation letter was from my English teacher. I think she was my senior, no, must have been junior year English teacher at the local high school, who I loved, and she liked me a lot. So that was a great choice, 'cause it's always best to have someone maybe less biased than your parents who are writing your recommendation letters. I think probably the biggest piece of advice I'd give to a homeschooler working on their college application is that you need to think about, in your application, what things can you demonstrate that you've learned. So for instance, for me, I took a bunch of classes at, you know, a college, or a high school, and so I had, you know, a transcript, and I had grades, sort of to prove that I had learned those things. But there are a lot of things that my parents really taught me on their own and had sort of figured out on their own, and so they didn't really give me a test and I couldn't really verify in some way that'd really make sense to a college admissions person. So for those things, those areas, I was thinking about how can I demonstrate. And one way was that I had built this cool science project, so I took photos of it, and I made sort of a report about that, and I actually included that in my college application. And that was a way to show that, you know, I had learned some science, not just that my parents said I had learned some science. And the other way was with my essays. So one of the things that I had learned a lot from my parents, particularly in my homeschool life, curriculum, was that I learned a lot about history and literature, and I had read a lot of books, and I loved reading. And you know, I listed all the books that I had read, but I also wanted to demonstrate that I had a breadth of knowledge about the literature of the world and you know, historical works. And so my essay incorporated a lot of them, and I talked about how much I loved reading these books, and that was a way, and hopefully to show to an admissions person, that I had really learned something, because I didn't really have any other concrete way to demonstrate that. So as a homeschool student, I wasn't really involved in a lot of the traditional extracurricular activities that will often be arranged as part of a high school. I did go part-time to a high school, so I had some opportunities to get involved with those things, but some of them were only for full-time high school students. So you do have to seek them out sometimes, and sometimes there are homeschool groups. It really depends on the area. Sometimes there are even homeschool sports teams. In my case, there wasn't a homeschool sports team, but one of the things that I did is just I was really into making movies. I loved filmmaking, and I liked video stuff, and I just, so. So with my friends I would get together and I'd make movies. And they would be really silly and cheesy and fun, but that was a thing where I was bringing a lot of people together, so I was sort of building community and I was working with people and having a lot of fun, but also making something that was cool, and I could sort of demonstrate, and I actually, on some of my applications, I believe not all of them accepted that, but I submitted a DVD of movies that I had made for some applications, some secondary things allowed to submit in an artistic supplement. So I showed those movies, but I also talked about them and talked about working with a team and being the director, and sometimes letting someone else be a director and working with them, and that whole process. And I think that was an important piece in my application because as a homeschooler, there weren't as many of the sort of group activity extracurriculars as maybe your average high school student would have.