Frequently Asked Questions
Do you receive many applications from students who have been schooled at home?
Every year, and in increasing numbers, we receive very strong applications from students who have been homeschooled for a significant period of time, if not all their lives. This past year, 34 of our applicants were homeschoolers. As one might expect, each of these student's applications looked different, making it fruitless to set specific, rigid standards for these students in the admissions process.
What sort of information do you need from these students?
Swarthmore is looking for the same information about a homeschooled candidate as it requires from a student with traditional secondary schooling, beginning with the equivalent of ninth grade. Homeschooled students should make every effort to complete the application, though it may also need to be adapted to the specific experiences of the homeschooler.
Must I take standardized tests?
Standardized testing is a requirement for all of our applicants. This includes submitting scores from either the SAT I or ACT. Please read our Standardized Testing Policy for more details.
Do I write the same essays as other students?
Essay requirements are the same for all our applicants, as described in the application instructions, but we strongly urge the inclusion of an additional short essay describing the reasons for homeschooling and the benefits (and/or disadvantages) to the applicant.
How should I tell you about my unusual curriculum?
If formal classes have been taken in a community college, arts center, summer program, etc. transcripts or course evaluations should be provided. Courses taken online or through correspondence programs should be similarly documented. Courses set up through homeschool associations usually have printed syllabi, which should be submitted. Curricula borrowed from other school districts, or what are called "model institutions," should be included. Individualized classes must have a descriptive listing by the applicant or supervisor. Examples of research projects, papers, etc. are very useful. Internships, extensive travel experience, and special programs should be well documented and described. Awards and distinctions require accurate dates and sources (e.g. Rotary International, All-State Chorus, etc.).
Whom should I ask to write recommendations for me?
Three recommendations are a minimum requirement, and the appropriate application forms should be used whenever possible. The College is particularly interested in receiving these forms from adults who have had direct academic or intellectual contact with the homeschooler. We understand that a family member may serve as the primary "counselor" or supervisor and should then complete the Secondary School Report recommendation form. The two remaining teacher recommendations are often completed by an involved professor, tutor, etc. Recommendations from coaches, members of the clergy, instrumental or vocal music instructors, etc. are appreciated and can enhance the student's profile, but they are considered to be supplementary unless the applicant has no academic contact with any adult outside the home. Peer evaluations are not necessary but are treated as supplementary material, if received.
Are you interested in my non-academic activities?
We are very interested in what all our applicants do outside of the classroom, wherever the classroom may be. Extracurricular activities should be listed whether they are an individual endeavor or whether they are a part of a school, or a community group. Any special recognition or honors in these activities often indicate special talents that we would like to know about. Instructions for sending supplementary material, such as tapes or slides, are included with the application instructions.
Is there anything else Swarthmore would find useful?
Although not required, a personal interview is highly recommended for all applicants, and particularly for homeschoolers. Campus interviews are readily available for those who live within driving distance. If you live farther away than a half-day drive from Swarthmore, the Admissions Office can arrange an off-campus interview with an alumnus/a of the College. The interview is an additional opportunity for homeschoolers to present their unique educational experience from a personal point of view.
If you should have any additional or more specific questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the admissions office at 610-328-8300.