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College Application Overview for Homeschoolers: The School Profile

In the first part of College Application Overview for Homeschoolers, I summarized the five elements of the college application and detailed the homeschooler’s official transcript: what it is and how it matches up with a traditional applicant’s transcript. Before addressing the school profile, those five elements are:

  1. Official Transcript
  2. School Profile
  3. Recommendations
  4. Application with essays/resume
  5. Standardized Test Scores

School Profile. When a traditional public school student submits an application, it’s usually accompanied by a school profile created by or filled out by the student’s guidance counselor. The purpose of the profile is to give an admissions committee information about the school from which the applicant is coming – this helps the committee place a student’s performance in the context of school-wide achievement from the prior academic year and/or the current graduating class.

The data usually includes:

  • the number of students in the graduating class;
  • percentage of students who continued [or plan to continue] to 2-year and/or 4-year degree programs;
  • percentage of students entering the workforce;
  • percentage of students entering military service;
  • description of academic options such as a listing of Advanced Placement [AP] or International Baccalaureate [IB] offerings.

Some schools provide additional information about available extra-curricular opportunities, information about the school district or results of state exams [i.e., percentage of a New York school's students who graduate with 'advanced designation' Regents diplomas].

Admissions committees depend on this context to determine the degree to which a student has challenged himself. Has he excelled in a ‘school-level’ curriculum but failed to challenge himself with available Advanced Placement courses? Is a student’s lackluster GPA a result of taking the most difficult curriculum available? Is his 4.0 GPA truly impressive or does his school suffer from grade inflation? The school profile works in conjunction with the transcript to answer these questions.

Homeschoolers, by definition, don’t have a school profile or school-wide data to reference. They’ve got to make their own to provide the detailed context that admissions committees need to evaluate an applicant properly. It’s not as overwhelming as it seems and it’s an opportunity to stand out from the applicant pool.

You can and should:

  • Obtain your local school district’s School Profile as early as possible in your child’s academic career; you can, should and likely already compare the district’s curriculum to your own. Highlight differences between the two, especially areas in which your home curriculum is stronger or gaps in the school’s curricula that yours has filled. This information will be useful when you…
  • Create a document outlining your homeschool experience. Keep in mind that an admissions committee reviews thousands of applications; the document should be clean, efficient and easily understood. Make it a snapshot.
  • Find ways to describe your student’s relevant experiences outside of the classroom. Has he attended summer enrichment programs? Has he furthered courses of study by engaging in the community? Though these will be detailed on the student’s resume, the school profile is about context. The committee can better understand a student’s curricula if his school profile relates his achievement to what’s around him. The transcript paints the portrait; the school profile fills in the background.
  • Relate to curriculum of siblings or others. If your student isn’t the first in the family to be homeschooled, you may be able to use a sibling’s achievements through the same [or similar] curriculum as evidence of your homeschooling rigor. If you homeschooled Billy’s sister and she now has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, she’s evidence that your homeschooling curriculum is adequate. And do you team-teach with any others in the community? Be creative.

An applicant’s achievements – like GPA – are often relative to many factors; the school profile eliminates some mystery. A homeschooler’s burden of proof to provide context for his education is necessarily higher than for traditional applicants.

But that doesn’t have to be a liability. Creating a substitute for the school profile allows for personalization that most traditional applicants only wish they had. Take advantage of the opportunity.

The next piece in this series will address the homeschooler’s teacher recommendations.

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One Response to “College Application Overview for Homeschoolers: The School Profile”

  1. AmyL says:

    Oh, that was very helpful and I learned a lot! How would I go about getting my local district profile? Is that something that is published in the annual report? I have to confess I’ve largely ignored the schools. I have my kids at home because I want to, and what the public schools are doing has largely not impacted my life or my teaching. Perhaps that is a bad thing….

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  1. Great College Advice » Blog Archive » Carnival of Homeschooling–Soccer Edition - [...] post by Matthew K. Tabor, who offers tips on how homeschoolers can prepare for college applications. [...]

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