This time of year, high school seniors in public, private, and home schools are involved in the process of selecting and applying to colleges and universities. Students attending conventional schools have access in school guidance offices to college catalogs, financial aid information, books and materials, and the services of a school guidance counselor whose job is to provide assistance in navigating the college admissions process. Home schoolers too often are left to navigate this process alone, without the same resources available to their conventionally-schooled peers. 

As the home-school movement has “grown up,” many more students are home schooling all the way through high school. A handful of excellent books have been written about the college admissions process for home schoolers, and if you have the money to afford them, I highly recommend purchasing The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School, by David and Laurie Callihan, and the Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook, by Cafi Cohen. Each book addresses something that the other does not, and both books contain information uniquely designed for the special situation of home-schoolers’ college admissions – information that a school guidance counselor in a public or private school probably will not have. 

Thanks to the Internet, much of the content of a conventional school’s guidance office is available free online. This column will provide you with links to a “virtual guidance office” at your fingertips to assist home-schooled high school students in the college admissions process. 

The College Admissions Process

The college admissions process starts sooner and is more competiÿÿÿÿtive than it was when today’s parents were high school seniors. The following resources will walk you and your home-schooled student through the essential components of college preparation and college admissions in today’s society. 

Helping Gifted Children and Their Families Prepare for College: A Handbook Designed to Assist Economically Disadvantaged and First-Generation College Attendees (http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~nrcgt/nrcgt/m93201/wok93201.html). Despite the long, unwieldy and inaccurate title, this free document is a lot like having a high school guidance counselor in your back pocket! The monograph walks students and their families through the entire college admissions process, from their initial selection of colleges to financial aid planning, essay writing, college visits, and final choice of college to attend. This is the best and most comprehensive free, online book covering this topic that I have located. 

• HSLDA’s College Admissions & Financial Aid http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/C/College.asp. Home School Legal Defense Association has been very busy over the past few years surveying colleges regarding admissions policies for home schoolers and collecting and disseminating other useful information for home-schooled college applicants.