Recommendations are a very important part of the college application process. If you’re a homeschooled high school student, you have to do a little more planning to ensure you have the strongest possible letters of recommendation.
The first thing that you should know is that most colleges prefer to receive recommendations from teachers who have taught you academic subjects (English, math, social studies, science, foreign languages, etc.) and are not your parents.
Let’s take a look at what a few colleges have to say about recommendations for homeschooled students.
- Barnard wants two recommendations “from individuals who taught the student in a formal setting” and does “not accept parent letters of recommendation as the only recommendation.” Barnard emphasizes that they “must receive a letter assessing the student’s academic performance from a non-parent.” However, they do note that “if parents were the only individuals involved in teaching the student, then the student should obtain letters from employers (paid or volunteer work) or individuals with whom she may have been involved in volunteer activities.”
- MIT remarks that they “welcome a recommendation from a parent, but require at least three recommendations in total (usually a counselor and two teachers).”
- The University of Michigan points out that “parents of homeschooled applicants can serve as the teacher and school official who completes the required teacher recommendation and school report if they are not affiliated with a school district or formalized program of instruction.” However, they “encourage all homeschooled students who have interacted with an instructor outside of the family to use this individual to complete the teacher recommendation whenever possible.”
- Wheaton College states that they “prefer that someone other than your parent complete the academic recommendation (e.g. a tutor or a community college professor, etc.),” but notes that “if there is no other teacher we will accept the academic recommendation from your parent.”
#1 Have at least two teachers (who are not family members) who can write your homeschooled child a strong letter of recommendation. You might only need one of them, but I always like my students to have as many options as possible.
#2 You can write a letter of recommendation. It just shouldn’t be the only recommendation your child includes in her college application package.
WHERE DOES YOUR RECOMMENDATION BELONG?
If your child is using the Common Application, you might want to consider including your parental recommendation in the Home School Supervisors Report. (FYI: The Common Application got rid of its Home School Supplement and replaced it with this report.) On Page 2 of the School Report Section, you’ll see a gray box that tells you what kind of information to include in your Home School Supervisor Report.
You’re asked to identify the name of your homeschooler’s association (if you have one), “any information about the applicant’s home school experience and environment that you believe would be helpful to the reader (e.g., educational philosophy, motivation for homeschooling, instruction setting, etc.), your “grading scale or other methods of evaluation,” “any distance learning, traditional secondary school, or higher education coursework not included on the transcript,” and “standardized testing beyond what is collected in the Common Application.” Then, on Page 3, you’ll notice that you are asked to “provide comments that will help” college admissions officers “differentiate” your student “from others.” This is where you can include your recommendation.
Click here if you want to take a look at the PDF version of the Common Application’s School Report / Home School Supervisor Report. Scroll down to “Recommender/Counselor Information” to find the “Sample Offline School Report.” Keep in mind that the form included in the School Report is mainly designed for high school guidance counselors. You don’t want to be comparing your child to other children or other students.
CLICK HERE to access my free presentation on “How to Use Your Homeschool Experience to Your Advantage in the College Admissions and Scholarship Process.”
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