The College Application Dance
Posted by Hal in College, Homeschooling Boys

We’ve homeschooled forever and ever, and since we’ve got four adult sons, we’ve talked with quite a few college administrators. One of the interesting questions we’ve discussed is, “Do you see any problems with incoming homeschoolers?”

Surprisingly, we have never heard complaints about “socialization.” Instead, college officials have told us that homeschooled kids seem to find their place on campus very quickly. They don’t seem unusually awkward or shy – in fact, the opposite seems to be true. And professors tend to like them because they tend to be curious and unafraid to ask questions in class.

What problems do they have?

We read somewhere that homeschoolers forget to put their names on the top of their papers. When do they ever do that at home? More importantly, they’re not the best for observing deadlines or realizing class rules aren’t always negotiable. Ouch.

One place we parents may have trouble, though, is giving our kids enough credit. We’re so concerned about grade inflation in our homeschools, we tend to grade more harshly than classroom teachers. And that can hurt our students when it’s time to fill out their college applications and high school transcripts.

How can you help your student create a really good application package, without being arrogant or untruthful? (click on the graphic to listen to the podcast!)


Remember as Christians, we are always meant to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and we are warned that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). But,

If your student honestly has gifts, talents, achievements, or honors, it’s right to acknowledge them as God’s blessings — without becoming arrogant or prideful! The apostle Paul often reminded his readers that he had studied under the top Biblical scholars, been a leader in the Jewish community, and was appointed by Jesus Himself as an apostle – not because he wanted to boast (remember he said he counted his proudest achievements as “rubbish” compared to knowing Christ, Philippians 3:8) but because he needed to establish credibility or authority to speak in certain situations.

It’s okay to claim any qualification you’re entitled to.  When Paul dealt with government officials, he claimed his rights as Roman citizen (look at Acts 16, Acts 21-22, and Acts 25). If your student qualifies for state scholarships, special needs programs, or need-based financial aid, for example, don’t be shy about applying for them.

Start early! Colleges may send out acceptance notices for the fall semester as late as April 1, but financial aid deadlines are often months earlier – at some schools, as soon as early October! And latecomers may find their favorite schools have already accepted all the students they had room for. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it can take to fill out the paperwork, either.

Keep notes as you go. There’s a lot of duplication on admission forms from one college to the next. You can even re-use essays if the prompts are similar! Keep a document listing all your student’s contact information, extracurricular activities, and answers to questions and essays – it will save lots of time.

Figure on applying at several schools. There is a growing pool of students applying for college, and there’s no guarantee your student will get in at any given college. It’s okay to dream, just be sure you have more than one option running.

Consider a full range of colleges. Look at any of the websites that rate colleges and list their average test scores and cost of attendance for incoming freshmen. Pick several that are a close match to your student’s interests and abilities. Go ahead and apply for one or two dream schools – you may be pleasantly surprised at the results! But also pick a couple that are “safety” choices, schools where your student almost certainly would be accepted, and the price is affordable in case financial aid doesn’t cover it.

Keep in mind that colleges change over time. Your alma mater today is probably different than you remember it – larger, smaller, a different culture. Your own point of view has changed, too, and what attracted you as an undergraduate may look different through the eyes of a parent. Try to stay objective when you visit!

Finally, remember You can always say “No,” but you can’t invite yourself. You don’t have to attend every college that accepts you, but you have to apply to get accepted … so put those applications in and give yourself some options.

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