College Application Tips for Homeschoolers – Dr. Bernstein

College Application Tips for Homeschoolers Hey there. It’s Dr. Bernstein, the president
and founder of Get Yourself Into College, and in today’s video, I want to provide
you with some really important tips about how to take advantage of the competitive edge
that homeschooling can give you in the college admissions process, so stay tuned. These tips
are valuable for 9th-12th graders. . .not just those of you who are starting to put
together your application packages. If you’re applying to college using the
Common Application, you have to complete the Homeschool Supervisor Report, which requires
sharing any information about your “homeschool experience and environment that you believe
would be helpful to the reader” and by that they mean details about your “educational
philosophy,” your “motivation for homeschooling,” the “instructional setting,” and other
such things. Now clearly this is part of the application
that a parent or other homeschool supervisor should fill out. However, it’s really important for you—the
student—to be able to describe your own educational philosophy, your own motivation
for homeschooling, and how you’ve optimized your learning experiences and your own growth
through this form of education. . .which really does set you apart from many other applicants. As the admissions team at MIT point out that
their “admitted homeschooled applicants have really shined” when it comes to taking
the initiative and taking advantage “of their less constrained educational environment
to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities
for themselves and others, and more.” These are some very compelling reasons why colleges—not
just MIT—but colleges in general are intrigued by homeschooled students. But as I pointed out a moment ago, you have
to be able to provide admissions officers with insight into your learning process, into
your character, into your experiences, into your perspectives. You can’t—and shouldn’t—just
rely on your transcript and the Homeschool Supervisor Report to do these things. It won’t
work. Colleges are admitting you—not your parents, not your Homeschool Supervisor. So
they want to know about these things from YOU. So I want to give you some tips to help you
get started. I always think it’s most important to start with yourself and not with the application.
You want your entire application package to emerge out yourself rather than trying to
make yourself conform to it. Okay. . . My first recommendation is to set aside some
time to write about the educational philosphy informing your homeschooling experience. Don’t
get overwhelmed by the phrase “educational philosophy.” Just think about the way you
have approached learning throughout high school. You might be in Stanford University’s Online
High School or participating in Oak Meadow’s innovative homeschool program. Or you might
be using a curriculum like the Charlotte Mason method or Classical Conversations. You might
even be unschooling or creating an eclectic blend of educational methods. How do you approach learning in your homeschool
environment? I want you to describe to someone who isn’t familiar with this approach.
For instance, if you use the Charlotte Mason method, describe that method in your own words.
Are you mainly studying textbooks, writing a few papers, and then taking tests? Or are
you taking a more eclectic approach to learning? Just describe it as fully and vividly as you
can. You might want to just observe yourself over the next week or so as you’re studying
and working on projects and think about how you’re approaching your learning. My second recommendation is to write about
why you wanted to homeschool. See if you can shed light on how homeschooling
was a good fit for your learning style—your learning preferences. For instance, one of
my homeschooled students is a very creative person who is also academically gifted. She
really likes being able to delve deeply into whatever she studies and is always itching
to take innovative approaches to her projects, and in her school district this just wasn’t
something that could be accommodated, so she decided to pursue homeschooling. Don’t just “tell” the facts. I want
you to start showing—illuminating your experiences, perspectives, and motivations for homeschooling
by sharing anecdotes. So the student I was just telling you about. . .started her process
by creating a really detailed, vivid anecdote about a time—during her last year in public
school—when she had a a really interesting idea for a project but wasn’t allowed to
pursue it in her paper. She wrote it in a way that enabled readers to “see” her—and
feel like they were in her mind. Now clearly you do not want to be bashing traditional
schools. The focus should mainly be on you. So that example was her “before.” Her
“after” story was about a specific project she worked while homeschooling. If she used
this in her application package, she might get rid of the “before” story in her admissions
essay, but this approach really helped her get clear about her motivations for homeschooling
and got her creative juices pumping. My third recommendation is connected with
the second one. I want you to describe how your homeschooling experience has helped you
pursue your interests in exciting ways. So you might want to describe one or a few special
projects that you’ve worked on and how these projects have allowed you to delve deeply
into topics that excite you. Again, description is essential. You want to share external and
internal details. My fourth recommendation is to describe your
actual learning environment. I mean the physical environment in which you learn. There is a
Common App essay topic that allows you to write about a place or environment where you
feel perfectly content. You might be able to come up with an amazing essay about your
intellectual environment. So let’s say that you’re originally from
San Francisco, but you’ve been living in Bali with your parents who run a yoga retreat
center there and you’ve been pursuing your high school education through homeschooling.
You might want to describe your learning spaces. Where do you read and study? Most kids in
traditional schools, wake up in the morning, have breakfast, and go to a building—a school—to
learn. But maybe you wake up in the morning, have some breakfast, and go to a yurt to read.
Maybe you spend an hour each day learning traditional Balinese dance. Then, later on
you go back to your room, where you get on the computer to engage in online discussions
with other students in your literature class. So let yourself describe your learning spaces
as vividly as you can and balance the external details with the internal ones. Why is this
kind of environment conducive to your learning process? How did you create this environment?
This could be really interesting. And you can definitely just zoom in one particular
aspect of the environment. You don’t have to describe everything. So those are my four tips to get you started
writing about your homeschool experience in ways that will ultimately help you provide
admissions officers with meaningful, interesting insight into your special form of education. If you want to learn more about making the
most of your homeschooling experience in your college application package, head over to
my site and click on the “HOMESCHOOL TAB” on the menu bar…that’s
where you can get free access to a special presentation that I’ve created especially
for homeschooled students. So that’s it for now. Take care. Bye!

1 thought on “College Application Tips for Homeschoolers – Dr. Bernstein

  1. Being home schooled for the whole 12 years, and wanting to go to school from the age of 15 but not being allowed to by my parents. I tend to have a negative view on homeschooling for the later part of school, so how do I bring out the best view on something that I feel is/was a negative influence on myself due to the level of home schooling not being near that level of actual schools?

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