The college admissions process is a stressful one but the good news for homeschooling students (and their parents) is that the procedure has recently become easier and simpler.      

Historically, homeschoolers have struggled in the battle to get an equal footing in the admissions process. Changes to the Higher Education Act in 1998 made it easier for homeschoolers to enter college, yet the guidelines issued by the federal government made it unclear to universities how their eligibility to receive federal funds would be affected by admitting homeschoolers. Few colleges updated their admissions policies because of the ambiguity.

In November of 2003, the U.S. Department of Education sent an official letter to all universities, which stated that the admission of homeschooled students to college would not jeopardize federal assistance. The letter also clarified the position on compulsory age and self-certification of completion of secondary education.

In the two years since, higher education institutions have updated their admissions policies and made them much more inviting for homeschoolers. Today, a majority of colleges in America evaluate homeschooled applicants using the same requirements as those for traditionally schooled students.

A sampling of three major universities across North America shows a consistent welcome environment for homeschooling students. Harvard University, Purdue University, and the University of Texas are all homeschooler friendly and impart some good advice for anyone interested in attending their school.

Marlyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Admissions for Harvard College says "We receive a good number of candidates every year with all or part of their education from a homeschool background. Homeschooling is broader than some people realize. We are looking for the strongest candidates in the world and we find some of those among homeschoolers."

Harvard University uses the same requirements for homeschoolers and traditional students. Harvard requires applicants to submit the results of either the SAT I or ACT standardized test and the results of three SAT II Subject Tests, which applicants may take in different subjects to demonstrate a mixture of academic interests.

"There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow," according to their Web site, "but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English, with extensive practice in writing; four years of math; four years of science: biology, chemistry, physics, and an advanced course in one of these subjects; three years of history, including American and European history; and four years of one foreign language."

Traditional applicants can supply a letter from a teacher who knows them well and who has taught him or her in academic subjects (preferably in the final two years of secondary school.) However, McGrath Lewis says, "While we can make careful evaluations with required recommendations, we are happy to read helpful letters from people directly familiar with applicants' lives outside the classroom. Such letters are not necessary, however, and it is generally advisable to submit no more than two or three."

In addition to academic standing, Harvard is looking for well-rounded individuals who have participated in personal development outside the institution.

McGrath Lewis offers this advice: "Follow the passions you have and develop them. We are looking for non-academic criteria – maturity, social facility, and non-academic talents, which is the same range as for traditional students."

"It is not harder or easier for homeschoolers to get in. It is difficult for anyone to get in."

Mitch Warren, Senior Associate at the Director Office of Admissions at Purdue University confers that his school is also welcoming to homeschoolers.