The Homeschooled Student’s Guide to Life at WOU

If you’re a homeschooled student, let’s face it. Figuring out college isn’t always a simple process. If you’re anything like I was back when I was first applying to school, you’re struggling to figure out all kinds of things that don’t always come naturally to the homeschooled set.

But if you’re applying to WOU, it’s surprisingly simple to get your ducks in a row. Here’s how you can get ready for WOU without losing your head.

What You’ll Need

WOU Admissions, thankfully, makes the requirements for homeschooled students pretty clear. So what do you need?

If you’re an incoming freshman, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken the ACT and SAT. For the ACT, you have to receive a minimum of 23 on the writing portion or “combined score of 1060 on the Critical Reading and Mathematics sections of the old SAT, or a combined score of 1130 on the Evidence-Based Reading/Writing and Mathematics sections of the new SAT.”(insert link later)

You’ll also want to make sure that you receive a combined minimum score of 470 on two SAT subject tests.

And then, of course, there’s a second-language requirement that all WOU students, even the public school set, need to have.

The (Not So) Dreaded SAT/ACT

Of course, the bigger question is actually taking the SAT/ACT. Unlike public schoolers, the SAT and ACT aren’t always on your radar.

But that, of course, doesn’t mean that they’re hard to take. You have an advantage that most other high schooled students don’t have- you can register for the test online. No, really. Just check out the CollegeBoard’s own website. 

You even have the option of looking into fee waivers if money’s an issue. Even though you don’t attend a public high school, you should be able to visit a counselor at your nearest public school to both take the test (you’ll have to set up an appointment) and arrange for a fee waiver if necessary.

Now taking the test itself might be a little anxiety-inducing, especially if you’ve never taken a standardized test before. But the ACT and SAT follow a pretty simple format.

The ACT consists of five sections and one of them, the writing portion, is now optional. You’ll be tested on reading (where you’ll have to answer 40 questions in 35 minutes), English (75 questions in 45 minutes), math (60 questions in 60 minutes), and science (40 questions in 35 minutes). And if you’d like to complete the writing portion, you’ll be writing an essay in 40 minutes.

The SAT, on the other hand, also has an optional essay section. It has three portions all together: a combined reading and writing section (96 questions in 100 minutes), a two-section math portion (80 minutes total), and the optional essay, which takes about 50 minutes.

You don’t have to take both tests. But you’ll either need a composite score of 23 on the ACT or a combined score of 1130 on the SAT. You can certainly take both if you want to, especially if you’re trying to apply for scholarships that require ACT/SAT scores. But if you’d prefer to pick and choose, do the test you feel most comfortable taking.

The Second Language Requirement

You might have heard about WOU’s second language requirement.

If you haven’t taken a second language, take a deep breath. Often, the second language requirement is waived for home-schooled students, according to the WOU Admissions department. But taking a second language can be helpful, especially since many degrees will require one.

Community colleges, such as Chemeketa, can be a great place to take a language course, whether it be Spanish or American Sign Language. You’ll be able to earn college credit too, which can help cut the amount of time it’ll take you to finish your degree.

What if a Homeschooled Student Doesn’t Meet the Requirements?

Don’t lose hope! You can always write a personal letter. The WOU Admissions page goes into a little more detail about what should go in the letter:

To be considered by the committee, you must…submit a personal letter addressing the following:

  • Why are you not meeting the requirements?
  • What career or academic goals do you have?
  • Why do you wish to attend WOU?
  • What resources will you use at WOU to help you succeed? (Here you might talk about things like our tutoring centers or the library).

Your friends, family, and community members (like your chaplain or rabbi) can also write their own letters of recommendation to show why you would be an amazing student at Western.

If you would like to you can also put together a portfolio of past work. You won’t necessarily need to show the Admissions board everything you did from third grade and back but sometimes if you can show that you’re a dedicated student who knows how to write an essay, do research, and communicate well, then you’ll set yourself apart as a strong candidate.

Applying as a Transfer Student

A homeschooled student who doesn’t want to take the SAT or ACT can also think about attending community college for a couple years and applying to Western Oregon University as a transfer student. It’s what yours truly ended up doing. Building up enough credits to qualify (you’ll need over 30) might take a year or two but community college can be a great opportunity to get comfortable with the college life. Plus, you can even consider dual-enrolling while you’re still working through your high school curriculum, allowing you to knock out college credits long before you graduate from homeschool.

Getting Ready to Apply

Beyond the above, homeschooled students apply just the same as any other student. Applying to college is an exciting time in any student’s life and though you aren’t in public school, it’s no different for the homeschooled set. Set aside a day to carefully read through WOU’s student application and never be afraid to ask for help if needed.

With all that in mind, you’ll be all set to go. Welcome to WOU and the college life!

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