Unless you are enrolled in a state-registered public or private high school, you should apply to U.S. colleges as a home educated student.
Unless you are enrolled in a state-registered public or private high school, then you are “home educated” according to U.S. state laws. Even if you are a homeschooler taking most of your classes from a particular school (like TPS), under state laws (and federal rules) you are “home educated.” Home educated students applying to U.S. colleges should apply as homeschoolers, not as students of a particular school. This is true even if you have an accredited transcript — or even a diploma — from a particular school (e.g, an online school). Unless you are enrolled in a state-registered public or private high school, you should apply to U.S. colleges as a home educated student. This is actually an advantage, not a disadvantage, where you have an opportunity to strengthen your application while avoiding some excess administration. The college application process as a homeschooler is firmly established in the U.S. for colleges, universities, and academies of every size and level. The Common Application and Coalition Application processes are also designed to support home educated students.
(Universities and colleges outside the U.S. also accept U.S. home educated students, but the process for application varies and you should interact directly with each school to meet their requirements. Usually this will require a minimum of an accredited U.S. transcript for all your high school courses, plus test scores, recommendations, interviews and other items specified by the college.)
When applying to a U.S. college as a home educated student, it is beneficial to provide evaluation records from recognized external sources. Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT) are usually required by the college. Though an external transcript is usually not required, there is benefit to having transcripts (or even a full diploma) from larger more competitive sources (like TPS), as competitive external transcripts are regarded more highly in the application review process than grade reports generated internally at home. TPS provides a range of transcript (and diploma) options to support the college application process. (However, you should not list any of your course providers — local or online — as your school of record. List your course providers, like TPS, on your transcript, not your application.)
If you plan to submit a self-made homeschool transcript for one or more courses, you should also be prepared to support each self-transcripted course with an “academic portfolio” (the academic portfolio provides background for the content, level, rigor and evaluation standards of a particular course, with performance results for a specific student). TPS provides self-print records for you to assemble an academic portfolio for each course completed in TPS (this is not necessary if you get a transcript from TPS).
A scale for grades and credits should be included with any submitted transcript. Colleges don’t regard one grading or credit scale more highly than another (so there is no advantage to a scale that assigns more credits or higher GPA’s to honors or AP courses), but colleges do need to see a scale for how your transcript assigns credits and calculates GPA so the college can “normalize” your transcript relative to other transcripts.
Well-chosen and documented extra-curricular activities are essential to a strong college application. Please consider these well-researched and validated recommendations regarding how colleges consider and weight extracurricular activities in the college application.
Please see our Transcripts and Diplomas page for more information about TPS grade reports, transcripts and diplomas.
This article about applying to college as a homeschooler provides up-to-date well-researched practical considerations and guidance on the overall process.