It’s a big step in your life; in fact, it’s a giant leap if you’ve never been away from home for a long period of time. But going to college is a momentous experience, one that will remain in your mind throughout your life. It’s not something that you can decide on the spur of the moment; rather, it is a decision that has to be thought about a few years before it’s time for you to actually choose a major. And when you’ve been homeschooled all your life, your preparations are going to be a little different.
No matter what people tell you, homeschoolers are accepted into good colleges and are able to cope just as well as, if not better, than other students who have taken the traditional schooling route. All you need to do is be prepared:
- Ensure that your homeschool transcripts are accurate, organized and up to date.
- Prepare to take the GED exams and the SAT or the ACT. While most colleges require homeschooled students to take the GED, you must prepare and sit for the SAT or ACT as well. If your scores are low, take the test again so that you have a decent chance of getting into the college of your choice.
- Take great care in preparing your portfolio which should include copies of your high school grades, academic certificates, and any other achievements and awards that you think is relevant to the college admission process. Include your GED, SAT/ACT score sheets in this file as well. Make several copies of this dossier, one for each college you hope to apply to.
- Start researching colleges early enough, preferably when you’re in your first year of high school. Check if they offer the programs and subjects that you wish to study and do some homework on the application process. Also find out the average GPA and test scores of people who are generally accepted into their programs so you can prepare accordingly. Some colleges require you to take SAT II papers, so check out the requirements well in advance.
- If you want to qualify for federal assistance, fill out the FAFSA form at the earliest so that your chances of securing a loan are high. FAFSA filings are usually done between January and March every year.
- Besides this, you need to check out other scholarships and grants that are available for college students and apply to those that you qualify for. Begin this search process as early as possible so that you don’t miss out on any opportunity. College is expensive, so the more free money you get, the less you have to depend on a loan.
- If you need a loan for your tuition fees, ask around and apply for one that has a decent interest rate, one that you could preferably lock in to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.
- Besides this administrative and academic preparation, you need to prepare yourself mentally for going away from home to a place where you hardly know anyone. It is going to be hard at first, but if you are prepared and focused on your education, if you are willing to open up to the possibility of making friends and a new life for yourself, you should be able to manage.
- If accommodation is not available on campus, find a good place to stay before term starts.
- Don’t pack all your belongings when going to college; create a checklist of what you may need by talking to other students in your locality and take only the absolute essentials. If you need anything else, you could take them back when you come home to visit.
College is a wonderful experience, so make sure you are prepared to face it head on.