Fall 2020/ Dr. George Gately Jr.

In this article, I have given three recommendations to help your homeschool student gain admission to a college-of-choice. First, let me tell you how my interest developed and was strengthened.

One recent May, I was privileged to be given a tour of the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The beauty of its setting, in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, was indescribable. My tour guide was a just-graduated 2nd Lieutenant who was a homeschool scholar. That forever resolved my doubts about the quality of homeschool education.

In the years since, I have proudly watched two of my grandchildren excel in education as homeschool students. I confess I was nervous and doubtful when their mom, my daughter, first announced the decision to homeschool. In this instance, being proven wrong is my great pleasure.

The anecdote above, along with my confession of doubts about homeschooling is relevant because you may find people just like me in a college’s admissions office (where I formally was) reviewing your student’s application. Here is a startling, perhaps alarming fact: admissions counselors at colleges across America have mere minutes to consider each application—literally, just a few minutes per application. The first run-through is to eliminate as many as possible. That means an application with omissions, or portraying circumstances that require extra time to understand may be among the first placed in the deny stack.

Here’s an example: In the most recent reporting year, the USAF Academy (mentioned above) received 10,354 applications, sent out 1,139 letters of acceptance, and of those, matriculated slightly more than 1,100 first-year cadets. This means that admissions counselors had to review more than 9,200 applications whose senders received letters of denial.

Another example: The University of Maryland (College Park) received 33,012 applications. In order to fill their first-year class of 4,200, the admissions office had to identify more than 14,500 qualified applicants to receive a letter of acceptance. That left more than 18,400 in the deny stack. Going through this high number of applications is a lot of work! The first irregularity in an application is all that is needed to get it put aside. Here are my recommendations that may help your student’s application escape the deny stack.

Recommendation one: The application must be flawless. My students begin working on their college applications in the first week of August. They submit them in mid-September. During those five or six weeks, we begin, revise, edit, and add, and subtract elements. We work on revising what will go on the applications every week. We double-check everything. We get it right on the finalized application because, very likely, there is only one chance for it to land in the accept stack.

Recommendation two: Emphasis on your strengths is important. Your strengths include your individual characteristics and qualities. They include your qualifications (SAT or ACT test scores are helpful, even though some colleges are going test-optional). Most important, highlight the strengths of a homeschool education. Answer the unasked questions about science and math, about preparation for research and problem-solving. Mention the many ways in which homeschoolers are well-rounded.

Recommendation three: In-person campus visits will serve you well. In my book, College is a Consumer Purchase, I describe a threevisit regimen. The bottom line is, you want to be more than data on a computer screen. When the admissions counselor pulls up your application and your face comes to mind, that bright smile, the warm conversation, may tip the scale in your favor. Of course, it’s possible that you may not be the fit the counselor is seeking, but if it’s close and between you and someone the counselor has not met, you are more likely to get the nod.

*NCHE would like to point out that many colleges have suspended or are considering suspending required admissions tests at this time. Furthermore, community colleges, smaller colleges, and online universities may not face the same volume of applicants or as high of a rejection rate as larger or more competitive schools.

Dr. George Gately is an author, speaker and college-planning counselor. He helps families with high school students find “the right college at the right price, to graduate on time with the right degree.” Since 2010, he has devoted himself to helping families find great fitting colleges for their children without sacrificing their retirement plans.

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