Harvard does accept home school applicants. The pool of home school applicants is in the hundreds each year, which makes it a great way to stand out in the crowd. Home school applicants can turn what some see as a negative into a positive. Studies shows that home schooled children do as well as non-home schooled students at Harvard, according to admission data. What seems to be a challenge for home school students is not having the benefits of having a nice, neat high school package to send to Harvard admissions officers.
It takes careful planning and a lot of organization to leverage your home school experience into a powerful branding component. Below are some steps to follow that should make the application process easier.
- Understand Harvard’s Policy on Home School Applicants – Make sure you contact an admissions officer at Harvard to discuss if there are any special forms or requirements home school students have to complete.
- Watch Deadlines – Unlike public and private high schools, you and your child do not have the benefit of counselors and teachers keeping you informed on deadlines. Make sure you are aware of the deadlines yourself by keeping a calendar.
- Keep Organized and Detailed Record of Coursework – Harvard highly values academically rigorous courses in high school. Be prepared to show your child’s home school transcript, tests, paperwork, syllabi and course descriptions that will show a track record of taking difficult courses.
- Take AP Exams – If your home schooled student does well on AP exams it will show the admissions committee that he or she is prepared for the academic difficulty at Harvard.
- Get Solid Recommendations – You will likely need to get recommendations from people other than your parent, even though they were your primary teacher. Make sure you cultivate relationships with people outside of your family that know you well enough and can provide a sound recommendation.
- Extracurricular Activities – The knock on home schooled kids is that they may have not been around their peers enough. You need to show a track record of being highly involved in your community whether it sports, the arts, church, or some activity that shows your child to be passionate about something and well adjusted socially.
- Consider a Summer Program – Many colleges, including Harvard, offer summer programs for high school students. This will show that you can work as part of a group in an academic setting. Teachers of these programs may also come in handy as recommenders.
Schedule an Interview – Again, one negative aspect for home schooled students is that they may not be prepared for the social and teamwork aspect of a Harvard education. Although the interview is not required for admissions to Harvard, you can take advantage of it by showing you are a dynamic, interesting, and passionate learner who will be able to adjust fine once accepted.