While most students enter public and private high schools without any thought of the alternatives, a small, unique segment of the population experiences a nontraditional education. Whether it’s the parents’ choice or kids see it as the preferred option, there are plenty of benefits to being homeschooled. There’s no accurate way to generalize families who homeschool, and so coming up with a list of colleges and universities that are best for them is difficult. However, our research suggests that there is a group of qualities that, in some combination or another, can capture the values and interests of homeschooled students. These include being religious, moving through school at an accelerated pace, valuing programs that allow for a high degree of customization/personalization, and looking for unique programs that cater to significant talents and hobbies.
The 50 best, most affordable schools are listed below in order from most expensive to least expensive. Of course, you will still need to read through the descriptions and visit the websites to learn which school is the best for you.
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As one of the least expensive universities in the country, UW is a great choice for in-state and out-of-state students alike. It is also considered a “public Ivy,” making it a value that’s hard to beat. Students can participate in numerous unique programs, such as Interdisciplinary majors in Arctic Science, Climate Studies, Marine Biology, Paleobiology, and Values in Society. In addition, the prestigious Honors Program fosters experiential learning, foreign exchanges, and independent study for high-achieving and free-spirited learners. For homeschooled students to attend UW, they should submit as many standardized test scores as possible, including SAT’s or ACT’s, AP’s, and/or UW proficiency exams. Students should also create a transcript that details both curriculum and grades.
UNC Asheville might just hit the proverbial “sweet spot” for homeschooled students. It’s the only dedicated liberal arts college in the public North Carolina system, provides an intellectually stimulating learning environment, and (thanks to smaller student enrollment) offers beneficially small class sizes. Students are also encouraged to become “doers” rather than just thinkers, and so nearly every individual’s experience will include some combination of research, internships, international travel, and service learning. Homeschooled students who are used to learning outside the classroom will likely appreciate this perspective. The application process is exactly the same as for traditionally educated students, with the exception that they need to submit their registration with the NC Department of Non-Public Education.
USF sees homeschooled students as an integral part of its community, and admits that some of its best students have come from the home study environment. Students must supply a transcript and can use the university’s convenient transcript template to generate an acceptable document, as well as standardized test scores and potentially a portfolio. The university also looks at a variety of miscellaneous factors, such as curriculum strength and your personal statement. Homeschooled students may be attracted to the variety of interdisciplinary majors or the Honors College, which offers smaller classes and a more supportive residential life.
Another one of the “public Ivies” on this list, IU Bloomington has a long history of providing students with a high-quality education. IU is also known for providing a wealth of activities outside of the classroom as well, including an active Greek system, NCAA Division I athletic teams, and hundreds of student organizations. Homeschooled students who have developed a particular talent or interest in high school, such as sports or music, will fine plenty to occupy their time. Indiana encourages homeschooled students to apply and seeks to evaluate them along the same standards as applicants from public and private schools. In order to do so, the university requests as much information as possible, including a description of curriculum, transcripts or another assessment of performance, a list of courses completed, and standardized test scores.
Students who are interested in pursuing a career in science or technology, especially one that will require research, should take their time to research the Georgia Institute of Technology, or “Georgia Tech.” When it comes to academics, the university places a priority on hands-on, multidisciplinary, research-based learning that enables students to solve problems and make discoveries. Homeschoolers who had a similar experience during high school will feel right at home here. The university has a strong tradition of accepting homeschooled students and makes the process fairly simple: those who completed an accredited program at home don’t have to do anything different from traditional applicants, while those who completed less structured programs can choose to submit a variety of materials from a list of recommended supplements.
Brigham Young University’s main campus in Utah (there are others in Idaho and Hawaii) is the largest religious university in the United States. Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and offering highly affordable tuition, it is a popular choice for Mormon students, although some individuals outside the LDS church do attend as well. Homeschoolers and parents alike may be drawn to the emphasis on spiritual growth as well as the remarkably safe campus. BYU has the strictest Honor Code of any American university, as well as the lowest number of non-drinkers, most religious students, one of the safest campuses, and one of the most affordable college towns.
Students frequently choose to attend ASU for its great value, large financial aid awards, and high degree of job placement. The university is well aware of the added element that homeschoolers contribute to a diverse community and encourages them to apply. Such students simply need to meet the general requirements, show evidence of completing laboratory sciences, submit SAT/ACT scores, and have a parent complete the Affidavit of Completion of Secondary School Education. Homeschooled students who are ahead of the curve might consider applying to Barrett, the Honors College, or The Scholar Academies.
Students who are interested in attending a small suburban, Northern college might consider Bemidji State, which occupies a scene locale on the shores of Lake Bemidji. As one of the less selective schools on this list, homeschooled students will probably not have much difficulty meeting the admissions requirements, although you may be required to possess a passing GED score. Students who do not meet all the requirements are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Once accepted, you might choose to pursue a traditional major or join a cross-disciplinary Integrative Program. If your homeschool curriculum exceeds BSU’s requirements, you may be invited to join the Honors Program in order to continue your record of academic excellence.
Homeschooled students who wish to apply to the University of Georgia will be happy to hear that the institution has taken deliberate measures to make sure the admissions process is fair. Such students can submit a graded transcript if they have completed home study through a regional authority as well as a variety of standardized test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT II, AP/IB, etc.). Admitted students can join a number of undergraduate colleges, including unique options like the College of Environment and Design, the School of Ecology, and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. The “First Year Odyssey” seminars, which allow students to explore a number of academic topics in a small class environment, offer discussion on everything from Bollywood to the CIA to Sherlock Holmes.
Although there is certainly a large population of homeschooled students who desire a conservative, religious environment, and equal number may also desire a more liberal experience that supports informal and experiential learning. Evergreen State College doesn’t even have grades – students receive narrative evaluations from faculty, and students aren’t confined to preprogrammed majors. This type of atmosphere may be perfect for homeschooled students who experienced a similar situation in high school. Homeschooled students should submit whatever materials they have available to them, as well as a personal statement along with their application.
Many people consider UVA to be one of the best public schools in the country, and it has won top spots on multiple publications’ ranking systems. While UVA recognizes that homeschooled students form a unique component of the student body, it also admits that evaluating such applicants can be difficult. As such, the university recommends that homeschoolers submit a number of SAT Subject Tests, multiple recommendations from people other than parents, a portfolio of work, evidence of involvement in the local community, and grades from classes taken at the local community college. UVA also offers an exciting buffet of honors programs, including Echols Scholars, which essentially lets students take whatever classes interest them; Science Scholars, for students dedicated to science research; and Rodman Scholars, for engineering students.
SUNY is happy to entertain applications from homeschool students and attempts to streamline the process by requiring only a few additional materials: an individualized home instruction plan or a complete portfolio of work, and either a letter from the superintendent of the school district or a passing GED score. Admitted students can choose from 130 majors, including combined-degree and pre-professional programs, as well as an Individualized Major open to students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The school has received high rankings for its safe campus and visible police force, which can help offset parents’ concerns about the active Greek life and party scene.
Colorado State is a great choice for students who are thinking of pursuing research – it has the 2nd highest research expenditures in the country, out of public universities without medical schools. Major in unique areas like Animal Science, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, and Watershed Science, and explore co-curricular activities through honors societies, leadership and diversity programs, service learning, women’s programs, and ROTC. CSU values the unique perspective that homeschoolers provide and does not require them to complete additional testing. Instead, they need to provide a GPA (or a default one will be assigned to them), a personal statement, recommendations, and standardized test scores. They do not need to have a GED and can still be considered for AP credit and scholarships.
Purdue University has something for everyone – more than 200 undergraduate majors, 18 intercollegiate sports teams, more than 900 student organizations, a huge international student population, and the second largest enrollment of any university in Indiana. Homeschooled students may initially be in for a shock, but if they are excited about expanding their horizons and experiencing a typical collegiate experience, Purdue may be the way to go. Purdue has a great program for undecided students called “Exploratory Studies” that includes personality testing, opportunities to shadow professionals, and individualized academic advising and career planning.
You may already have read about the University of Maine’s main campus, which is located in Orono. The Farmington campus has just a fraction (about a fifth) of Orono’s student population, which makes it a better choice for students who are interested in a more personal atmosphere or are concerned about being overwhelmed on a large campus. Farmington welcomes homeschooled applicants and asks them only to submit GED scores in addition to standardized test scores and other typical aspects of the application. The university provides plenty of unique opportunities and majors for students whose interests might not be met within traditional constraints, such as an Outdoor Recreation Business Administration degree, an expansive Education program, and an Individualized Studies major.
The moderately sized Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is located just a short drive from Erie, Pennsylvania. It offers students a unique experience based in part on its Scottish roots, and students can participate in the Edinboro Highland Games and Scottish Festival, or even partake in the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship! Students will find it easy to transition to college life thanks to the First-Year Experience, which includes access to seminar courses, special advising, and a Common Hour that helps students acclimate to the classroom, campus resources, and the greater community.
The University of Arizona is one of the top colleges in the nation, and has been routinely recognized for its commitment to sustainability, academics, career services, and financial aid. Homeschooled applicants are evaluated based on their GED scores (if completed), ACT and SAT scores, and submitted portfolio and coursework. You’ll be happy to hear that these students are also eligible for merit-based financial aid. Arizona offers a whopping 20 undergraduate, graduate, and professional colleges that students can explore to find their passion, including “UA South,” which caters to the needs of those with diverse learning styles, and the prestigious Honors College.
If you are a homeschooled student applying to UC San Diego, you will be happy to know that the process is very straightforward: you need to show a high school diploma, GED, or Certificate of Proficiency, and you need to submit ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Test, and/or AP exam scores. Once you are officially accepted as a Triton, you are free to explore the campus’s wide variety of interdisciplinary programs and research opportunities. Homeschooled students in particular may enjoy the Freshmen Seminars, which are small, informal classes that let explore different ideas and get to know faculty members.
The University of Maryland provides something for everyone: great academics, membership in the Big 10 Athletic Conference, and a reputation for being diverse and inclusive. U of M’s admissions criteria are incredibly flexible and consider up to 26 different individual factors, such as extracurricular activities, special talents, leadership skills, community service involvement, written expression of ideas, academic aptitude, and other extenuating circumstances. Students in College Park love the variety of “Living and Learning” programs offered by the university, which help students seek out unique academic avenues to success. These include the Honors College, College Park Scholars, Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House, Language House, and Global Communities.
As the oldest and most comprehensive university in Florida, U of F is a great choice for in-state residents who want a traditional college experience. The school welcomes applicants from “nontraditional” environments and doesn’t require a high school transcript; SAT Subject Tests and potentially a GED score will do just as well. Many students are drawn to the university because of its Innovation Academy – one of the only programs of its type in the country. Creative and ambitious students attend classes during the spring and summer, and then use the fall term to study abroad, conduct research, participate in an internship, or pursue other off-campus adventures.
As one of the largest universities in the country, UT Austin is a great choice for students who are interested in expanding their horizons and becoming a part of a diverse social group. Homeschooled students may apply if they have a GED, and their applications will be considered even if they haven’t met all the high school course requirements. However, it will greatly benefit these students to submit SAT Subject Tests, dual credit coursework, and/or other items that demonstrate academic potential. Admitted students have the opportunity to explore plenty of activities beyond the classroom, including research, civic engagement, clinics and internships, and even “Intellectual Entrepreneurship,” a cross-disciplinary consortium that allows students to explore a variety of paths through school.
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities, which is located in Minneapolis, is one of the best public institutions in the country. Getting admitted to the university follows similar guidelines to other colleges – students should try to meet the subject requirements, take standardized tests, and achieve high grades. Homeschooled students who haven’t taken all the required classes will still be considered if they meet other requirements, and should ideally take the GED. Students who are used to having a lot of freedom and control over their curriculum should consider the Individually Designed Interdepartmental B.A., which allows them to pick their own theme and design coursework under the guidance of faculty.
UC Davis is a popular choice for students who want to enjoy warm weather, proximity to the ocean, and a laid back attitude in Northern California. The admissions process to UC Davis requires students to take certain types of classes, achieve a minimum GPA, and take standardized tests. Although academic rigor is important, UC Davis also professes to look “beyond the numbers” and attempt to understand more about each applicant. Students often choose the university for its commitment to sustainability, selective Honors Program, unique choice of majors, and exciting international programs.
The University of Vermont is one institution that should not be overlooked. Sometimes labeled a “public Ivy,” Vermont is the perfect locale for students who want to come home to nature. Students can enjoy Lake Champlain and the Adirondack and Green mountain ranges in what has been called America’s #1 College Town. Homeschooled students should do their best to indicate that they meet the university’s curriculum requirements, as well as demonstrate rigor and competitiveness in their academic program. The university has plenty of unique opportunities for students who don’t want to limit their education to their major. Students can undertake undergraduate research, join a learning co-op, participate in service-learning opportunities, and more.
The University of Michigan is without a doubt one of the best schools in the Midwest, and has landed on multiple rankings as a selective institution with an impressive record of achievement. Michigan welcomes homeschooled students and appreciates their unique backgrounds and ideas. As such, the school helps guide these students through the admissions process and focuses on their academic record, standardized test scores (AP’s as well as SAT’s and ACT’s), graded work in a variety of subjects, and life outside the classroom. Once on campus, homeschoolers frequently enjoy opportunities to study abroad, conduct research, join clubs, meet a diverse group of people, and choose from 250 different academic programs.
The University of Iowa makes applying fairly straightforward for homeschooled students: decisions are based on a calculated GPA, SAT and ACT scores, and the high school courses you have taken. Because the university accepts applications year-round, applying is even easier for students who have finished their studies at a time of year that doesn’t coincide with typical deadlines. Out of 200 majors, Iowa gives students plenty of time to explore their options. Individuals can choose an “open major” or design a program through Interdepartmental Studies. Aspiring engineers also have the option of becoming an undeclared engineering major in order to explore various avenues before making a commitment.
UMaine may seem like a typical large, public university, but there’s plenty that helps it stand out from the crowd. For example, it has an active non-party scene and despite significant interest in Greek life, most of it is centered more on community service than socializing. Campus also features 24-hour patrol by police, locked residence halls, and “walking companions” who will accompany you to your room at night. Homeschool students can contact an admissions director for information about applying, but generally should try to replicate a traditional application by submitting standardized test scores, recommendations, essay responses, and the Common Application.
Religious Baptist students should put Ouachita Baptist University near the top of their list of schools to explore; similar to other spiritual institutions, OBU provides a close-knit community of individuals who love both God and learning. It is also one of the few schools to receive a solid “A” in safety from College Prowler, scoring high for low levels of drinking, an overall safe campus, a great student health center, and low crime. The low student-to-faculty ratio and high percentage of students who live on campus further enhance the intimate atmosphere, which may ease homeschoolers transition to mainstream education.
Practically everyone has heard of Harvard – it is often considered one of the best – if not THE best – colleges in the world. Homeschooled students may not think they have a chance, as they will be up against some of the most competitive high-schoolers in the country. Just remember that Harvard doesn’t mandate a specific list of classes; rather, it encourages students to showcase a curriculum that is both broad and demanding. The university also takes into account each applicant’s unique circumstances and talents, so the best strategy is just to do the best with what your homeschooling allows. In terms of academics, Harvard offers plenty of opportunities for students to forge their own path, including interdisciplinary study, joint concentrations, and even completely customized degrees called “special concentrations.”
As one of the more recognized names in collegiate education, Yale has a long and proud history of educating students who are committed to academic excellence. The process for applying is similar for homeschool students as for those who have gone through traditional education; students must supply letters of recommendation (not from parents), complete an application, and provide evidence of the strength of their high school curriculum. Yale also recommends that homeschoolers take a variety of SAT Subject Tests, and will look especially for social maturity among this type of student. Those admitted to Yale, or “Yalies,” benefit from a remarkably broad curriculum that includes access to a wealth of museums, libraries, galleries, and research centers.
Amherst College is a highly selective school that has received high rankings and accolades from a variety of publications. Homeschooled students who wish to attend Amherst will find plenty of special instructions on the admissions website; they will need to submit the Common Application and Homeschool Supplement as well as a description of coursework, a summary of academic performance, writing samples, and letters of recommendation from both the homeschool teacher and other individuals. However, Amherst does NOT require students to have a high school diploma or GED to apply. Once admitted, students can choose from nearly 40 majors, all of which feature an open curriculum, opportunities for student-faculty collaboration on research, community-based learning, and special seminars.
As a large university of some 28,000 students, the University of Kansas, or “KU,” may be intimidating to those who haven’t experienced mainstream public education before. However, because of the school’s size it is able to provide opportunities like honors classes, individualized study, and other unique programs that may be attractive to students who are used to a lot of flexibility in their studies. The Honors Program in particular is the #2 ranked of its kind in the country and allows students plenty of increased flexibility. This includes the opportunity to study-abroad, do undergraduate research, and work off campus. Plus, Honors students receive individualized advising from some of the best staff at the university, and nearly 65% graduate without debt!
Founded in the late 1800s by the Free Methodist Church, Spring Arbor University has carried its spiritual principles into the 21st century, and still encourages students to live a holy life and develop a high degree of moral character. Spring Arbor is very encouraging of homeschool students and makes the admissions process fairly easy – you can create your own transcript and a parent can write a letter of recommendation. The university is a popular destination for such students because it offers the resources of a larger school while still maintaining a very personal, close-knit Christian community on campus.
Auburn University is a popular choice for students who want to pursue a degree on a large southern campus. As part of its admissions policy, Auburn makes clear that it expects no more and no less from homeschoolers than any other applicant group; the important thing is for students to have completed the required core courses, including science classes with a lab component. Homeschooled students who have forged ahead of the curve may want to investigate the Honors College, which provides a small college feel in the midst of a large university. In addition to a more challenging atmosphere, homeschooled students may also enjoy the chance to live in special residence halls and use a student center just for those in the Honors program.
Pomona College, inspired by the oldest universities in New England and yet set in a sunny desert landscape, is appealing to a diverse range of students. Pomona has no set requirement for high school classes but does look for a breadth of experience; homeschooled students are encouraged to submit a battery of SAT Subject Tests to demonstrate proficiency in science, math, English, history, and language, among other areas. The college offers a unique curriculum that attracts students who place a premium on critical and independent thinking. Students must take on intensive reading projects and be ready to engage in collaborative discussions with classmates in order to excel.
Students interested in a distinctive Christian community shouldn’t overlook John Brown University, a religious institution that provides both spiritual and professional foundations for future careers. The university caters to the needs of home-educated students and sympathizes with their lack of guidance from high school counselors. Admissions and financial aid advisors can walk you through the process as you learn about the widespread appeal of JBU. Homeschoolers are attracted to the dynamic chapel program, plethora of student-run ministries, mission trips, small class sizes, and work-study and internship opportunities. JBU was also rated a “Character-Building College” and offers a need-based scholarship specifically for homeschooled students.
Ohio University has a completely unique set of requirements for homeschooled students. In almost all cases students should possess a GED, but those who do not will need to submit a variety of additional materials, including a letter from the appropriate school district, a personal statement, standardized test scores, and a portfolio of completed work. Ohio University will also grant homeschooled students financial aid, but usually only if they have passed GED or Ability-to-Benefit test. Students who are concerned about making the transition to a traditional school environment should consider the University College, which supports academic success and co-curricular engagement through dedicated advising.
West Virginia Wesleyan College is a religious institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Parents and students alike will be happy about WVWC’s mission, which encourages not just intellectual development, but spiritual, ethical, and leadership growth as well. The school seeks creative and curious minds who can demonstrate responsibility and strong personal character, and so homeschooled students who have used their freedom to become leaders outside the “classroom” and contribute to service ventures may have a better chance of gaining admittance. Students who would like to carry the flexibility they enjoyed in high school into college can opt for an individualized major, which allows them to pull together 30-45 semester hours worth of classes that interest them and to complete an integrative senior project.
A school of choice for talented students, “UConn” is one of the top 20 public universities in the nation. The university welcomes homeschooled students whose high school curriculum is comparable to that of their local district; those who submit standardized test scores, a specific curriculum outline, and a syllabus or portfolio that demonstrate this will have the best chance of admission. UConn offers a myriad of special opportunities for ambitious and curious students. For example, programs like the First Year Programs and Learning Communities can help attendees to learn good study skills and interact with other new students. Others might enjoy the innovative Honors Program or the Academic Center for Exploratory Students, which helps those who are undecided to inquire about a variety of career choices.
Stanford, although not an Ivy League school, is inarguably one of the best universities in the nation, even being dubbed the “Harvard of the West.” Although it is difficult for anyone to gain acceptance to the school, Stanford has set forth a specific list of recommendations for homeschoolers, encouraging such students to pursue challenging study in many areas and to explain the benefits accrued from nontraditional education. Although homeschooled students can have their parents write a recommendation for them, Stanford warns that it is preferable to have an unbiased third party write at least one letter. First year students will find getting used to college life easier thanks to introductory seminars, which are small-group classes that foster intellectual exploration, free thinking, and personal growth.
One of the benefits of applying to “UMass” is that this large research institution doesn’t actually require a high school diploma to be accepted – a GED will work just as well. This may be particularly appealing to accelerated homeschool students who took the GED in order to attend college early. These students may be drawn to the Commonwealth Honors College, which allows hardworking young people to enjoy small class sizes, a rigorous curriculum, interdisciplinary seminars, and long-lasting ties with faculty members. The university also provides more than 70 campus-sponsored study abroad programs that whisk students away to every continent but Antarctica.
Washington and Lee, which also appears on our list of the Top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Best Return on Investment 2014, is a small, southern university that prides itself on taking a holistic rather than formulaic approach to admissions; the school looks not just for academic superstars, but genuinely interesting people. Homeschoolers can access plenty of information about how to maximize their chances of getting into the school, such as by taking a number of SAT Subject Tests and completing an interview with the admissions department. Once admitted, students will find a plethora of programs to meet their unique needs, such as the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, and Spring Term Immersion courses.
Asbury is a nondenominational, Christian liberal arts university with a Wesleyan-Holiness heritage. Homeschooled students who want to continue a pious, ethical education among likeminded individuals will likely find Asbury right up their alley. Parents and students alike will be relieved that the school receives an “A-” for safety, which includes low rates of underage drinking, visible campus police, and crimes extremely limited to just a few burglaries per year. The university has a rolling admissions process – welcome news to homeschooled students who finish their studies at a time that doesn’t sync with the traditional high school schedule.
Williams College has received attention from a number of sources that typically rank schools, and as a result has even been named the #1 liberal arts college in America. The small enrollment and classic liberal arts feel to campus may comfort homeschooled students who are not prepared for a larger university, although they will still enjoy the international exposure and research opportunities traditionally associated with a state school. In general, the college looks for creative thinkers with diverse perspectives, and welcomes students who demonstrate leadership, community service, and distinguished talents.
Haverford is a highly selective institution that has received praise from multiple publications and ranking systems. It labels itself a “one of a kind” college due to the high trust it places in students and willingness to let them shape their own academic path. The college has a comprehensive Honor Code that may be appealing to homeschooled students who are used to a relatively unstructured environment; at Haverford exams are un-proctored, dorms don’t have RAs, and everyone has 24-hour access to labs. Students also enjoy small class sizes and a close-knit community where 98% of attendees live on campus.
Agnes Scott, a small liberal arts college in the south, will be of particular interest to religious young women. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and encourages students to live honorably and work to meet the social challenges of their day. Although homeschooled students will feel sheltered among the mere 900 attending women, they can easily venture out to social functions with Emory, Georgia Tech, or the University of Georgia (all affiliated institutions) or to entertainment venues in downtown Atlanta. Agnes Scott looks most intensely at standardized test scores for homeschooled students, and although it recommends a specific high school program, will consider those without the suggested number of courses on a case-by-case basis.
Dartmouth College, the northernmost of all the Ivy League schools, offers a holistic education that attracts homeschool students from all over the country. While there is no separate application for such students, Dartmouth will allow standardized test scores to demonstrate academic proficiency, with parents or other supervisors submitting supplementary information regarding academic rigor. The college offers admitted undergraduate students a flexible plan organized around four 10-week quarters, which gives you more freedom to take classes, participate in internships, study abroad, and conduct research on your own terms. Students can also plan their own major by modifying an existing one with a special emphasis, or by designing a completely new one that spans multiple departments.
Although the University of Richmond is sometimes dwarfed by its larger urban neighbor, VCU, it nonetheless deserves – and has received – accolades for its selectivity, quality, and uniqueness. U of R goes out of its way to make the admissions process easy for home-schooled students, including the opportunity for such students to create their own transcript, submit an essay regarding their experience being homeschooled, and submit letters of recommendation from adults of their choice. Small class sizes, close interactions with faculty, and a “First Year Seminar,” which encourages students to explore a wide range of fields, make the transition to college life an easy one.
Cornell College is a small liberal arts college that, while officially affiliated with the United Methodist Church, molds its mission around values often shared by both theists and secular learners – such as intercultural literacy, reasoning, well-being, and ethical behavior. As far as admissions go, Cornell focuses on diversity, personal character, and extracurricular involvement as much as a rigorous high school transcript, so homeschoolers who have developed an active set of hobbies outside of their studies may have an advantage. Cornell has also pioneered the “One Course at a Time” curriculum, which allows students to move quickly through projects, learn by doing, and maintain a close schedule with classmates. This may be a more familiar setting for homeschool students who are used to flexible and self-paced study.
As an Ivy League university, “UPenn” has been rated by multiple publications as one of the most selective institutions in the country. It’s difficult for anyone to get into the university, and the school admits that it places a lot of emphasis on a student’s high school transcript and rigor of classes during the admissions process. As such, homeschoolers will need to achieve very high standardized test scores and pursue academic study and hobbies at home that satisfy UPenn’s desire for students with “intellectual curiosity” and an “interdisciplinary mindset.” Homeschoolers may be attracted to the school for its Benjamin Franklin Scholars Program, which allows students to take more challenging and unique courses, or the Joseph Wharton Scholars Program, which gives students an additional challenge within the framework of a business education.
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.
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