Wondering about the college admissions process? Or maybe you’re asking, “How do I best prepare my teen for the rigors of college academics?”

We can help! Here’s a quick overview showing you the big picture. And to get more details, simply click on the links in each section.

The High School Plan

Did you know that your teen’s academic preparation for college actually begins in their freshman year of high school? That’s right—it sure does!

So, ideally, you’ll want to start thinking about this while your teen is in 7th or 8th grade and then create a course plan that aligns with your teen’s academic skills and future goals, taking into account the selectivity of the colleges your student may be applying to in a few years.

(Wow! Yep, that’s a lot to think about, but it’s actually, like any other big project, just a series of smaller steps. And we’re here to help you walk through the process, step by step, with confidence! Oh, and if you’re just arriving here with a student already in 11th or 12th grade, don’t worry, just jump in where you are and plan from here. If you’re an HSLDA member, you can reach out to our Educational Consultants for personalized advice.)

To get an idea of what a four-year high school plan might look like for your student, you can check out our sample average, strong, and rigorous college prep plans. Notice that they vary in academic intensity—depending on your teen’s destination college.

Here are a couple of “next steps” to get you started on your planning journey along with lots of tips for getting your student engaged in the process:

College Entrance Tests

Yes, it’s true—most colleges require applicants to submit college entrance test (SAT, ACT, or CLT) scores. Sometimes scholarship committees also request these scores.

Before taking a college entrance test, some high schoolers take the PSAT/NMSQT (or other preliminary test) in 10th and 11th grade as a way to familiarize themselves with the testing environment. (These early tests are also often tied to some key scholarships, so it’s worth your while to check them out.)

So then, students usually begin taking actual college entrance tests during their junior year. The latest time your student could take a test and submit the scores by application deadlines is generally in the fall of their senior year. (But the tests are offered numerous times per year, and your teen can retake the test to improve their score.)

You’ll be glad to know that we have all the college entrance testing details for homeschool moms and dads right here:

Choosing a College

Choosing a college is a big job, but we’ve created this easy to follow, step-by-step guide to help you keep the process organized and manageable.

Thank goodness you can do tons of initial research online by visiting college websites or using a college search engine like the one at collegeboard.org.

You may be thinking, “How will we afford college for my student?” We hear you—college costs are substantial. But there are so many ways to bring college into a more affordable zone.

If you want to maximize affordability, you can take advantage of the most and best options by beginning early in your teen’s high school years to investigate various sources of funding, including scholarships, loans, and work/study programs.

Many parents also encourage their teens to save a portion of their earnings and monetary gifts toward these college expenses. This can help kids engage even more in their college journey and can add a deep sense of significance, responsibility, and pride to know they are paying for part of their college education. (Not to mention, saving up for specific goals is a great habit for your teen to get into early in life!)

Here’s more helpful information about choosing a college (and paying for it!):

The Application Process

Once your student has their top college picks lined up, let the application process begin! This is usually during the senior year of high school. For the most part, homeschoolers follow the same application process as any other student, but with you, the parent (rather than a school), furnishing the transcript and other relevant records.

Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to be prepared for and to walk through your teen’s college application process with them:


So, are you feeling full of vim and vigor and can’t wait to get started now that you have all these tools? Or maybe you’re feeling a bit (or a lot!) overwhelmed? Either way, why not start with just the basics today? You could just print out a couple sample high school plans forms to look over for ideas and then maybe start an initial conversation with your teen, asking what kind of jobs or careers or activities they think they’d like to do in the future. And there you are—you’ve already started preparing your teen for college!

We want you to know you’re not alone. We’re here to help every step of your homeschool journey.

And if you’re an HSLDA member, you can reach out to our Educational Consultants for personalized homeschool advice! We’d love to help you.