As a homeschool student, it can be challenging to navigate the start of your college search, scholarship hunt, and application process. We’re robbed of the luxury of the automatic peer and teacher connections that come with public education. But don’t lose hope; opportunities to build the support network that you need are always out there as long as you know where to look and are open to new experiences! Here are a few places to start.
1. Familial connections
What could be easier than asking advice from the people you already live with? Not much! If you’re fortunate enough to have a parental figure (or even an older sibling) with firsthand experience of all things college, don’t hesitate to take full advantage of it. These are the people who’ve watched you grow up, so they probably have a good idea of the perfect way to nudge you along in your journey. And, of course, there’s the added homeschool advantage of one of those people being your teacher—practically an expert of your education.
2. Online elective classes
For high school students being homeschooled, online elective classes are pretty much a necessary staple. But I’m not talking about just any elective class; it has to be a class on a subject you’re passionate about, and there has to be other students who you’re able to interact with. A couple years ago, I took a writing class from a website called Brave Writer and, believe it or not, the connections I formed in that class are still with me today. In the first few weeks after the class came to an end, we joined a small group chat with about four students and only talked about writing. Now we’ve all connected individually, and I consider them my go-to friends when I need help with a pros/cons list for a college I’m researching or just want someone to vent to. Taking a similar class can be a great way for you to stack up some peer relationships just like this.
3. Community college classes
If you’re ready for a bit more than an online elective class, dual enrolling in a community college class could be just what you need. For many people, including myself, it’s the perfect way to meet other students in a similar in-between situation as you’ll find yourself in during the start of your college exploration process. You can experiment with different classes to get a feel for what you might want to major in later on as well as have the opportunity to observe your classmates’ plans on transferring to or attending a four-year college. This can give you some ideas for universities you may be interested in too. Plus, you’ll be getting double the credits for being enrolled in both high school and community college at the same time!
4. Scholarship and college search websites
Scholarship finders and college search tools—which can usually be found on the same website—are essential for any student, but especially for homeschooled ones. Sign up for as many of these as possible! They’re free resources that will email you regularly with lists of tailored scholarships based on the information you use to sign up. In some cases, like CollegeXpress, they also have the built-in ability to match you to certain colleges and universities. From there, you can let the schools know you’re interested directly from the website and get in contact with them.
Related: Picking a College as a Homeschooler
With these four simple tips, creating your own support network as a homeschool student will seem lot less daunting. Just because you’re homeschooled doesn’t mean there aren’t any resources out there available to you! Above all, remember to make connections wherever you can, whether it's with a senior you meet at work or a friend of your grandfather who was a recruiter for Harvard back in the day. Opportunities present themselves everywhere, so keep your eyes open and your business cards ready (just kidding—no cards necessary).
Looking for more articles and advice for homeschooled students? Check out our “homeschooling” tag.