Applying for College As A Homeschooler

I just attended a workshop about applying to college as a homeschooler.  One of the main ideas in this session was that  many college admission officers are asking homeschooled applicants:  “What did you do with the freedom of homeschooling?”  In other words, being homeschooled in and of itself is not that interesting anymore in regards to the college application process!  What could your student’s homeschooling experience bring to the college of their choice?

So what can make the college application of a homeschooled student stand out?

interesting experiences – internships, volunteer hours, getting involved with a passion through a club or community situation, working with mentors. It doesn’t have to be an inch deep and a mile wide, but demonstrating some sort of enthusiasm over time is important!

socialization is STILL a consideration that many college admission officers look for. How well is your homeschooler “socialized”? Yes, this term may still make us bristle as homeschoolers, but again, this goes back to the importance of being involved and being able to show that on a college application.

letters of recommendation by adults who know the student well.  These are important for homeschoolers as it again demonstrates a wider connection to the community and usually to a demonstrated passion that the student can highlight in their application

-the elusive “fit” :  you can check http://www.unigo.com to look at the student life on any campus and see how your student’s profile compares to the students there. More than just a generic college application essay, admissioners officers want to know how your student fits into their university. So, with that idea, any essay question for the college should be geared towards how the student fits into that university’s environment and really highlight the student’s story.

interviews are very important for homeschooled applicants, and many universities do require this for homeschooled students

social media presence:  one thing that is new that may have changed from when YOU went to college is the student pursuing the university a bit by attending open houses or student tours, taking advantage of programs the university may hold for high school students, participating in polls or  yes, even following them on social media.  This demonstrates your student’s interest and yes, it can tip the scales in the admission process.

That’s what I learned recently; those of you who have had homeschoolers go on to college (not dual enrolled, but the traditional application process) – how was it for you?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

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Financial Aid For College: What You Need To Know

In many countries, going to university is free.  Not so in the United States, where there is a complex process of garnering money from different sources and essentially what is the “price” of college may not be the final price once the financial pieces are put together. There are also comparisons to be draw between the systems of community college (usually a two-year degree), a public university system (usually done by state, like Univerity of Georgia or University of New York with multiple colleges falling into this system) or private universities.  Sometimes a private school, which has large private endowments, can end up with a comparable cost to a public university.

The cost of attending college includes both direct and indirect costs.  Direct costs are paid directly to the institution and may include things like tuition, room and board (board is essentially the meal plan) (check with the college whether or not your freshman has to live on campus; some colleges require this).  Sounds confusing?  It is, but here are some tips to help de-mystify the process a bit!

This information is accurate as of July 2018, but always changing, so please do check your resources.  Here are a few points about financial aid:

  1.  You have to apply for it and it doesn’t cost anything to apply.  You must apply every year starting October 1 of your student’s senior year of high school.
  2. Financial aid can be based on skills, abilities, etc but doesn’t automatically happen – you have to apply!  The four types of financial aid are grants, scholarships, student loans, and work study.  Grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back, but student loans obviously do need to be paid back.  Work study is often based upon financial need and assigned by the university, but some colleges offer work study to all students independent of financial need.  It depends upon the college.
  3. The FEDERAL Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed October 1 of your student’s senior year in high school and you must apply every year afterward.   Some colleges may require an institutional application for financial aid and/or something called a CSS Profile (this is usually for private universities) as well. State financial aid may have a separate application and deadline, so don’t miss the deadline for the state!
  4. The FAFSA is based upon your untaxed income and does not include retirement savings.  It includes information for both biological parents and includes the “prior prior year” – the incoming freshman class of 2019 is using the 2017 tax data.
  5. Sources for financial aid could include not only the federal governement but state awards, college and university endowments, private courses, civic organizations and places of worship, and employer. Most scholarships come from the local community – employers of parents of the student, credit unions/banks that the family does business with, civic groups, organizations the family belongs to.  Most scholarships are applied to tuition, not room and board.  Homeschoolers need to search out  local scholarships because this is the sort of thing that is typically funneled to a school guidance counselor, and since homeschooling parents are acting as the guidance counselor, we need to be on the lookout!

One number that colleges and universities work with is the “Expected Family Contribution”.  This number is used for calculating need-based financial aid and is a calculated from a federal government formula. Everyone panicks when they see this number, because it generates and parent and student contribution which is always a high number that no one feels they can meet.  The financial aid awarded is supposed to equal the cost of attending the college -the expected family contribution.

The other number that is important to know is essentially the net price for each college or university. You can get this number at studentaid.gov by entering your student’s GPA/test scores/financial data, and it will help you figure out what you might be awarded.

Blessings,

Carrie