I am the child not the parent - but it is still extremely relevant to my parents. My parents want to really think through what's the best option for my future. Me and my parents are considering home-school as an option and I think this decision is very dependant on the circumstances. The key reason for me taking home-school classes would be that I can't find any other options that allow the pace or level of learning that I'm at. I'm a senior and have a very low GPA (although I consistently get 4s on end of year tests) because I've tended to slack off at high-school since it felt so menial so I think that home-school could be advantageous because my GPA would not carry over.

I'm currently working my way through The Handbook of Mathematical Logic by John Barwise, a textbook in abstract algebra and category theory, and a graduate level textbook in theoretical physics. However my school is starting soon and I feel that in my case school is actually a massive detriment to my learning because it takes time away that I would be spending learning at a much more advanced level. I've also presented at one academic conference so far but I think without public school in the way it would give me time to do more.

In my case what are my chances of getting into college with a home-school degree, and in what ways can I improve my chances? How will it increase chances if I get high ACT or SAT scores and how will it increase my chances if I use the extra time to submit a few papers at academic conferences?

  • "in my case school is actually a massive detriment to my learning because it takes time away that I would be spending learning at a much more advanced level" I'd like to comment on this to give you a viewpoint you possibly have not considered: Right now you're at an advanced level in one topic because you're focusing on it in your own time. You are probably however not at an advanced level in all topics covered by traditional schooling. So deciding to homeschool could give you advantages in math, but could leave you lacking in knowledge on english, anatomy, physics, etc. It's a trade-off.
    – Mithaldu
    Nov 2, 2013 at 16:13
  • To paraphrase; you've outlined a problem with following other's syllabus and learn more at your own pace. In what way do you believe studying undergraduate degree at the college's pace will differ from your present experience (even at a good school?) Nov 2, 2013 at 20:31

4 Answers 4


I think that home-school could be advantageous because my GPA would not carry over.

I hate to break it to you, but colleges will almost certainly want to consider your entire high school GPA, and request a transcript from both your parents and the school you previously attended. Homeschooling for one semester doesn't "erase" the rest of your academic career. The advantages in the article you listed all come from being homeschooled for several years.

It's also usually recommended to take your SAT and ACT toward the end of your Junior year, and often colleges have already made admissions decisions before the end of your Senior year, which means they didn't have your grades from your last semester yet. You should have already started the process of applying by now.

Also, colleges don't just look at GPA to assess your "work ethic," they share the same ideas of what constitutes a "good student" as high schools do, and in their mind a GPA is a good proxy measure of that. They are looking to see how well you will fit in with an academic environment. Colleges aren't the bastions of self-directed and self-paced academic freedom you seem to think they are. You get some of that freedom in graduate and post-graduate work if you earn it by slogging through your prescribed undergrad work at pretty much the same pace as everyone else and getting good grades. Especially the first two years, most of your classes are not in your favorite subjects.

You might be able to get into college by homeschooling now, if you have the king of all admissions essays. At this point, if college is really what you want, I would drop your self-studies and put all your energy into bringing your grades up. That way when you apply to colleges after graduation, you can show you have what it takes to fit into that kind of academic environment.

  • Hey thank you for your advice. The warning about colleges considering my entire high-school career was helpful, due to research I have found some colleges that do not look at transcripts of students if they have home-school degrees during admissions, so I'm not sure they'd know how much time I spent in homeschooling, but you're right that it would be a strong limit on options. Oct 4, 2013 at 4:46
  • I understand they don't just look at GPAs as a measure work ethic but I do think if there was a large enough disjoint between test scores for and GPA they would probably look at it as a lack of work not knowledge. Don't worry I'm not under any delusion about colleges are bastions of self-directed, I'm just wondering how prior self-directed learning influences college admissions, not what the environment within the college is like. Do you think taking a prior community college class has a substantial effect on how home-schoolers are viewed or not? Thanks again Oct 4, 2013 at 4:46
  • 4
    That's just it. They care about work as much as, if not more than, knowledge. People without a good GPA must prove they've worked significantly in other areas. I'm a very self-directed learner, which is why I mostly hated college, but I still got good grades because I worked hard. Convince them you can get good grades even when you aren't intrinsically motivated by the subject and the classroom format. There are other ways, but the easiest way is to get good grades in high school or community college. High SAT scores will only offset perhaps one GPA point. Oct 4, 2013 at 13:18

Unfortunately college admission is a very confusing and opaque process which is quite different for any individual college so this is almost impossible to answer in general (assuming you are talking about college in the US).

I would recommend creating a list of colleges that you are interested, go there, view the campus, and talk directly to an admissions councilor. I'd do that as soon as possible: most students start the process in the summer break before the senior year. Admission deadlines for most private colleges are the end of the year.

In general high test score and low GPA can be a problem for many colleges since they sometimes interpret it as lots of talent without discipline or work ethic. Getting your GPA up is certainly useful. Conference papers could definitely be a positive differentiator but that depends on what the college is looking for what "caliber" the conference is.

Many private colleges look for a specific type of student. MIT for example is looking specifically for "do-ers" and "risk takers". People that are not only academically good but like to try stuff, fall on their face, pick themselves up, learn from it, and try it again. They have less interest in "book-worms". Other colleges have similar types of "profile". The more you understand the profile, the better you can find out where a potential match could be.

There is also the money part: Many US colleges are frightfully expensive.

  • Thank you very much for your reply ! Just to clarify given that I have a low GPA which may be interpreted as low work ethic do you think it would be an advantage to go the home-school route and focus ACT/SAT scores since my GPA would not carry over, or do you think it's still better to go through public schools? Oct 3, 2013 at 20:53
  • 1
    I think that depends on the college. You should try to get answers from admissions councilors
    – Hilmar
    Oct 3, 2013 at 21:06

I am writing this assuming you are in the US. I have no idea what educational entrance requirements exist for homeschooled students elsewhere in the world. As a public and private high school teacher, it is my understanding that even homeschool parents must submit a "transcript" of sorts to colleges their children are applying to. A quick search online yields several tools for homeschool parents to use in creating these for their children, and, from what I understand, these transcripts must include not only their child's grades but also the curricula or textbooks the student used in their studies. This way, colleges and universities know that Sally's science curriculum wasn't entirely comprised of science fiction novels and re-runs of Star Trek the Next Generation. What this means for you is that if you are ONLY homeschooled for your senior year, you will probably still be required to submit a transcript for the previous 3 years of high school as your homeschool transcript would be incomplete. So colleges are going to see your GPA one way or another.

The advice you've been given to speak with individual admission counselors is absolutely the best so far. Every school is different and attempting to apply a definite statement to your situation is impractical. I would assume that, at this point, you know where you are most interested in attending college and it would behoove you to schedule some on-campus visits to speak directly with their admissions counselors. This way, you can address your specific concerns and get honest answers from them. You should also consider that colleges have minimum GPA requirements for their in-coming freshmen. If your GPA isn't high enough, they may not even look at your application. Truthfully, as Karl Bielefeldt pointed out, the high school students I have taught who have gone on to college have begun the process at the end of their junior years. If you've been attending public schools, I'm a little shocked you didn't know this all ready as this puts you significantly behind the eight-ball. Many colleges have their in-coming freshmen all ready locked in by mid-winter. I know I received my college acceptance letters all before Christmas of my senior year.

Typically, students who are highly intelligent but have low grades are classified as "underachieving" students. This could throw up a HUGE red flag for admissions counselors. College drop-out rates are pretty high right now. According to a Harvard study released in 2011, almost half of all American college students drop out before actually receiving an undergraduate degree. Schools might not be willing to gamble on a student they fear will only drop out or flunk out because he/she is unwilling to do the work. It makes their bottom line look bad, and, despite the fact that this is academia we're talking about, colleges and universities are all politics and business.

At this point, your best option for colleges may be to attend a community college for a couple of years just to get your GPA up. From my experiences, it seems that four-year colleges and universities are more willing to work with students who have accepted that maybe they didn't make the best decisions in high school and who have put in the effort and time needed to correct those decisions.

Having said that, I know that there were a few kids I went to undergrad with who were homeschooled in high school, and I believe at least a couple of them got in based on portfolios they had created of their work as well as ACT/SAT scores. If you've been trying to present at academic conferences, you might be able to include that work into a portfolio you create of your senior year.

At this point, I don't know that it necessarily matters which way you choose to go. Any damage your low GPA is going to do is all ready done and you probably won't be able to hide it. If you choose to go back into public school, you really need to spend the year focusing on getting better grades. If you choose to homeschool, there's nothing wrong with continuing your studies the way you see fit as long as you ensure that you complete all academic requirements necessary to receive a high school diploma from your state.

Your best bet is to take this messy GPA thing and really be able to discuss with admissions counselors what you've learned from the experience and how you've changed your behavior to reflect that. This might be as simple as taking some classes on time management and study skills.

  • 2
    +1 for the community college recommendation. It will take you a little longer to get admitted to a university if you have to take a year to do community college, but you will no longer be competing against freshmen for university admission - you will be competing against sophomores with (hopefully) a year's worth of good community college grades.
    – MJ6
    Oct 26, 2013 at 15:38
  • Great thoughts Meg! Especially about using Com Colleges to get the GPA up and then transferring. You are right about the transcripts and that it all still averages together too! Just thought I'd confirm that. Additionally, some states require work samples and other paperwork just to get the credit applied toward "officially graduating." Nov 2, 2013 at 1:45
  • Yes, homeshoolers do have to provide a transcript
    – L.B.
    Aug 11, 2016 at 12:06

As a proponent of Home-education and a former classroom educator and advisor, I'll chime in on advising that switching now is probably not the time (sorry).

Instead, I would focus on getting your GPA up and figuring out how to explain the earlier low GPA in an "exceptions" essay. Even if you started homeschooling now and got a 4.0 (With clear proof a 4.0 was appropriate), it would simply be averaged with earlier work anyway. You need four years worth of work in your transcript - even if part of it is homeschooling work, you still need the work.

As already pointed out, it really depends on the specific college and as I understand it, College admissions offices are overcoming former prejudices against home-schooled kids and even seeking them out in some cases. However, at this late point in the game, leaving the school setting you are in and have been in for 11 years, looks more like escapism than an improvement in your situation on paper.

Focus on over-coming the challenges you have faced in the past so that you can speak about how you over-came them and are a better student now in interviews and in a short-essay response to, "Is there anything else we should know about you when considering your application." Umm and get those applications started!!

Consider these alternative "compromises" with your current school:

Go meet with your school district's guidance counselor/counselors. Get the info you need for your goals and location regarding the admissions process as well as brainstorm ways to meet your needs within your district or school's systems.

  • Will your school work with you to grant an "independent study" so you can work your way through The Handbook of Mathematical Logic under the supervision of a cool teacher there at the school. Then you can skip out on Trig or beginning Calc (typical Senior year fodder for the college-bound) and not waste your time with it. You may be able to find a teacher who is willing to exchange being your mentor for a little help grading changing bulletin boards, making copies or other work around her/his classroom?
  • If you are in Washington State look into the Running Start Program - which allows highschool juniors and seniors to take college level courses (at community colleges) on the state's dime and get both high-school and college credit at the same time (GPA applies last I knew). Even once you are in college there will be gen-ed requirements you may consider to be a waste of your time. This helps get some of that out of the way too. I'm sure at least SOME other states must have similar programs.
  • Get in touch with AEGUS (you'll have to join) and see if they have any further ideas for you and if they have representatives that can help to advocate for you to get a superior education right where you already are.

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