In evaluating traditional applications for admission, a student’s academic transcript anchors our review. High school transcripts provide valuable assessment tools including course titles, grade levels in which courses were taken, level of course rigor, and the earned grade. As to assessing rigor, terms such as college prep, accelerated, honors, Advanced Placement, College Level, and International Baccalaureate, are some common examples used to denote course content. Grading scales may also be included, particularly if final grades are weighted based on the rigor of the coursework attempted.
In evaluating homeschooled applicants, we expect to see similar points of reference with regard to their courses of study. Students who are part of an accredited homeschooled association, typically use the association’s transcript format to account for the majority of this information. Those who are not members of such associations are strongly encouraged to itemize each course taken to highlight these points. In addition to listing course title and grade received, providing additional details such as reading lists or texts used (particularly in STEM related courses) and the number of hours of applicable laboratory experiences, provides the Admission Committee with valuable information for use in assessing a student’s academic program.
Note: Parents typically complete the School Report and Counselor Recommendation Forms included in the Common Application. In the School Report itself, there is a section for the homeschool coordinator to supply additional details on the student’s schooling experience; many of the points referenced in regard to the transcript can be conveyed there.
Because homeschool programs vary widely and do not provide the Admission Committee an ability to assess students’ results in the context of fellow high school classmates, standardized test results provide the Admission Committee with a valuable, contextual, and predictive assessment tool to inform our decisions. While Boston College will be test optional for the 2020-2021 admission cycle, we encourage homeschooled students to submit any available testing results.
Testing options include, but are not be limited to the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, Advanced Placement (AP) exams, and predicted test scores for the International Baccalaureate (IB). Students who have taken college coursework during high school should provide these grades on official transcripts to demonstrate their academic success and preparedness.
Letters of recommendation provide us with objective, unbiased, and contextual feedback about a student’s academic and personal attributes. Given the nature of homeschooling, parents are often identified as the head of school, guidance counselor, teacher, coach, and more. While we expect that a student’s homeschool instructor (usually a parent) will submit an academic and evaluative recommendation, it is strongly recommended that third-party, non-familial sources of recommendation are also submitted. Those that can speak to an academic experience are particularly important. For example, many homeschoolers complete college level courses at a local post-secondary institution; a letter of recommendation from the college instructor would be a valuable third-party assessment tool.
In addition to external academic assessments, recommendations that speak to a student’s involvement in the community can also be helpful. Many homeschooled students participate in community activities, local organizations, regional athletic clubs, local religious programs and more. Recommendations from leaders of these programs can be helpful to the Admission Committee in assessing a student’s ability to make meaningful contributions to our campus community.
As a final piece to the process, admitted and enrolled students are required to submit a final official transcript that shows evidence of a student fulfilling the graduation requirements of their local school district. This requirement is also required of homeschooled students and may be fulfilled via one of the following options: