SAT Homeschool Code: 970000
ACT Homeschool Code: 969-999
As their numbers continue to surge, homeschool students are catching the eyes of college admissions advisors and recruiters, who are viewing today’s college-bound homeschoolers with growing attention and newfound respect.
Bright homeschoolers are in demand on campuses across the nation where colleges and universities have finally realized that these well-mannered high achievers are a boon to academics and student life.
“Those who prepare thoroughly can be admitted with full scholarships at those selective colleges that some parents daydream about their children attending,” said homeschool dad and educational consultant Karl M. Bunday, who compiled an online list of over 1,000 colleges that have admitted homeschoolers.
“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Susan Berry, who researches and writes about educational topics like the fast growing rate of homeschooling. “Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers.”
Educational consultant and former homeschool mom Dori Staehle recruited both homeschool and public school students in her job as a college admissions counselor. Staehle said that schools have caught on to the fact that homeschoolers represent a desirable pool of talent, often possessing impressive reading lists, letters of recommendation, AP credits, and experience in volunteering and the arts.
“Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics,” said Staehle in an article titled “Casting a Wider Net.” “Homeschoolers not only enhance classroom discussions, they tend to get involved in campus life and student leadership, and they hold their own academically as well.”
The trend of recruiting homeschoolers has spread from Ivy League schools to Christian, public, and private colleges that want their own campuses to reflect that well-rounded quality. According to Bunday, every year homeschoolers are admitted to hundreds of colleges in at least five countries.
In his article on the rise of homeschooled college applicants, author Bruce Hammond advises homeschool parents and college-bound homeschoolers to be prepared for wide variation in how their credentials are reviewed. Hammond also offered six ways in which these students can increase their chances of getting into the schools of their choice:
1. Strive for a balanced curriculum. Colleges will probe for areas of weakness, especially in math and foreign language. Many colleges have graduation requirements in one or both of these areas.
2. Create a portfolio. Students should assemble examples of their best work across the widest possible range of subjects. A portfolio allows admissions officers to see the quality of the applicant's work rather than grades or course descriptions.
3. Attend a residential summer program at a college. Such programs provide a nice introduction to college life and proof that a homeschooled student can function well in a conventional classroom. As an alternative, students might consider enrolling in classes at a local college during the academic year.
4. Prepare diligently for standardized tests. In the absence of a conventional academic record, SAT scores become more significant. Consider taking the SAT II Subject Tests and the ACT for additional opportunities to score high.
5. Schedule a campus interview. Not all colleges routinely offer campus interviews, but I recommend that homeschooled applicants make every effort to get one. If the secretary who answers the phone does not seem receptive, ask to speak to an admissions counselor. If you call far enough in advance, most colleges will accommodate.
6. Let the student take center stage. After playing the role of parent and teacher for so many years, some homeschooling parents have a difficult time letting go. A relationship that seems overly dependent will set off alarm bells in the admissions office. Each applicant must step forward and make the case for him or herself.
“Success in college admissions comes to those who keep an open mind and explore a variety of options,” Hammond said.
Posted : February 3, 2009
Last Updated : 01/2022
Standardized college admissions tests have been around since the early 1900s. In recent years, there has been much research and discussion over the use of standardized testing in college admissions. Because of new information this research has introduced, some schools no longer require students to submit SAT and ACT scores but instead offer a test-optional policy. The debate about standardized testing in college admissions is still ongoing, but here are some arguments for and against these tests.
Arguments For Standardized Testing
Advocates of standardized testing in college admissions say that the SAT and ACT serve as national, standardized scales to determine how prepared students are for college. The following are just a few arguments in favor of standardized testing.
Standardized testing is practical. The tests have explicit directions and are easy to administer. They are also time efficient and easy to grade.
Standardized testing prepares the student for college. When students prepare for and take the SAT or ACT, they learn test-taking skills that will help them in college.
Standardized testing offsets grade inflation. With grade inflation on the rise in many school systems, standardized tests offer a way to consistently compare student knowledge and aptitude.
Standardized testing is objective. Compared to more involved assessments, standardized tests are unbiased. For the most part, standardized tests are graded by machines so grader moods and biases will not affect test scores.
Arguments Against Standardized Testing
Critics of standardized testing in college admissions say that standardized tests are no longer as good of an indicator of college success as once thought. The following are just a few arguments against standardized testing.
Standardized testing is biased against certain groups. Standardized testing shows bias towards women and groups of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. In regards to an income bias, wealthy
students become more prepared for standardized tests through better life experiences, such as top-quality schools and test prep tutors.
Standardized testing adds too much stress to student lives. Students spend a lot of time stressing over the SAT/ACT when they could be focusing their energy on more important academic and social activities that could benefit them in the future.
Standardized testing impedes the assessment of a very important skill. For the most part, standardized tests hinder any sort of creative or out-of-the-box thinking, which is a skill needed in college and in the workforce.
Only time will tell what the future holds for standardized testing in college admissions. For now, most schools continue to require and rely on SAT/ACT scores (as well as other factors) to make admissions decisions.
ONE YEAR AFTER HAMPSHIRE'S DECISION TO STOP ACCEPTING SAT/ACT SCORES IN ADMISSIONS, WE ARE SEEING REMARKABLE RESULTS.
Monday, September 21, 2015
By Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College
You won’t find our college in the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings released this month. Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT test scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us.
Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash
We completely dropped standardized tests from our application as part of our new mission-driven admissions strategy, distinct from the “test-optional” policy that hundreds of colleges now follow. If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores. Teaching to a test becomes stifling for teachers and students, far from the inspiring, adaptive education which most benefits students. Our greatly accelerating world needs graduates who are trained to address tough situations with innovation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and a capacity for mobilizing collaboration and cooperation. We weighed other factors in our decision:
Standardized test scores do not predict a student’s success at our college
SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission
We surveyed our students and learned not one of them had considered rankings when choosing to apply to colleges; instead they most cared about a college’s mission
Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry; Multiple-choice tests don't reveal much about a student
We’ve developed much better, fairer ways to assess students who will thrive at our college.
In our admissions, we review an applicant’s whole academic and lived experience. We consider an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, review their recommendations from mentors, and assess factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism. And yes, we look closely at high school academic records, though in an unconventional manner. We look for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection. We look at grade point average (GPA) as a measure of performance over a range of courses and time, distinct from a one-test-on-one-day SAT/ACT score. A student’s consistent "A" grades may be coupled with evidence of curiosity and learning across disciplines, as well as leadership in civic or social causes. Another student may have overcome obstacles through determination, demonstrating promise of success in a demanding program. Strong high school graduates demonstrate purpose, a passion for authenticity, and commitment to positive change.
We’re seeing remarkable admissions results since disregarding standardized test scores:
Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround
The quantity of applications went down but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays; Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants
Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago
The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 12% to 18% in this year’s class.
Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and "wish we had a test score." Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.
This move away from test scores and disqualification from the U.S. News rankings has allowed us to innovate in ways we could not before. In other words, we are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria:
We no longer chase volumes of applications to superficially inflate our "selectivity" and game the U.S. News rankings. We no longer have to worry that any applicant will "lower our average SAT/ACT
scores" and thus lower our U.S. News ranking. Instead we choose quality over quantity and focus attention and resources on each applicant and their full portfolio.
At college fairs and information sessions, we don’t spend time answering high school families’ questions about our ranking and test score "cut-offs." Instead we have conversations about the things that matter: What does our unique academic program look like and what qualities does a student need to be successful at it?
An unexpected benefit: this shift has saved us significant time and operational expense. Having a smaller but more targeted, engaged, passionate, and robust applicant pool, we are able to streamline our resources.
How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data-points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results, except perhaps in the college’s aptitude for marketing and recruiting. Tests and rankings incentivize schools to conform to test performance and rankings criteria, at the expense of mission and innovation.
Our shift to a mission-driven approach to admissions is right for Hampshire College and the right thing to do. We fail students if we reduce them to a standardized test number tied more to their financial status than achievement. We fail students by perpetuating the myth that high standardized test scores signal "better" students. We are in the top one percent of colleges nationwide in the percentage of our undergraduate alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees—this on the strength of an education where we assess their capabilities narratively, and where we never, not once, subject them to a numerical or letter grade on a test or course.
At Hampshire College, we face the same financial challenges as many colleges. But these challenges provide an opportunity to think about who we are and what matters to us. We can not lose sight of our mission while seeking revenues or chasing rankings. We are committed to remaining disqualified from the U.S. News rankings. We’re done with standardized testing, the SAT, and ACT.
Colleges want high school applicants to present themselves in the most genuine, real and authentic way they can. They thrill at students who “dare to be themselves.”
What Does It Mean to Dare to Be Yourself?
Simply said, you need to know who you are as a student and person and consciously choose what you love to do (or at least enjoy) with some or much of your free time.
Choosing Courses That Interest You
It’s pretty easy to figure out who you are as a student. What courses have you taken in high school over the years and which ones have you liked and not liked? What kind of grades have you received in those courses? Are you an A, B or C student? Are your grades a reflection of what you can really do? If not, why? Do you have any learning disabilities? Are you a math/science person or a history/English buff? If neither of those groupings fits, what kinds of courses or topics turn you on, if any?
One way of daring to be yourself is to follow your interests when you select courses at school. Sure, most high schools don’t give you much wiggle room to take a lot of classes you want, but almost every year there should be room for at least one course that pleases you. College admissions people love when you go out of your way to learn about things that interest you. The actual content is not important; it can be anything from astrophysics to cars to rap music. Some students follow their interests by taking online courses or classes at local junior colleges. Others look up stuff on the Internet or read. That shows curiosity, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn, all qualities admissions people want in their new students.
Choosing Activities That You Love (Or At Least Enjoy)
It is never too late or too early to start paying attention to who you are as a person. How do you figure that out? The famous psychologist Carl Jung once said, “You are what you do...” — so one clue is to simply take note of how you spend your time. Everyone has the same amount of time each day: 24 hours. A bunch of your time is spent in school and studying; another block is spent sleeping. Then there’s the time you spend eating, working out and/or in sports, texting and talking on your cell phone. What else do you do after school, on the weekends, on school breaks and during summers? College admissions people want to know.
Another way of daring to be yourself is to choose activities that you love or at least enjoy. What you do is not as important as how much you like doing it. Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about “flow” experiences, when you do something with a sense of effortless action, time passes by without realizing it, you use your natural skills and get totally taken up with the activity. Athletics, music, acting, knitting, surfing, taking on animal rights causes, volunteering, you-name-it are all worthy activities through which you might experience “flow.” They work for college admissions people if you do them in a way that demonstrates qualities such as competence, high energy, leadership, persistence, character, creativity or responsibility. And while we’re on the subject, there is even an organization you can join that supports students who do what they love to get “naturally high,” instead of turning to drugs and alcohol: Natural High. How about that!
Begin paying attention to what you like, what pleases you, what makes you feel good and seems meaningful. This is not being selfish; it is quite the opposite. Happy, contributing, successful people are not motivated by their own egos, but by doing something meaningful in their lives.
Dare to be yourself; it just might help you get into a college you love and that will love you back.
“What does compulsory education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.” -Henry David Thoreau
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