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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Homeschooled applicants by Matt McGann '00

Some advice for our homeschooled applicants.

I’ve been promising an entry specifically for homeschooled applicants and other interested parties for a long time now; this is an early version of something that will eventually be posted as official content on the MIT Admissions homepage. That page will launch soon, and I’d recommend bookmarking that page, and not this entry. But this should get the ball rolling a bit, I hope.

MIT has a long history of admitting homeschooled students, and these students are successful and vibrant members of our community.

Over the past 5-10 years, we have seen a surge in homeschooled applicants. Homeschooled applicants still make up less than 1% of our applicant pool, and homeschooled students corresponding still make up less than 1% of our student body, but these numbers are growing. These students come from urban, rural, and suburban neighborhoods; they have been schooled in the home and under the umbrella of larger communities; some have been granted a formal high school diploma, while others were not. Please note that we do not require a high school diploma or GED from our applicants.

At MIT, we do not have separate requirements for homeschooled applicants. Homeschooled applicants, like all of our applicants, are considered within their context, which includes schooling choice, family situation, geographic, location, resources, opportunities, and challenges. However, we do have some tips for homeschooled students, based on successful applicants we have admitted in the past.

  • One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, taking full advantage of opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants have really shined in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themseleves and others, and more.
  • The vast majority of our admitted homeschool students have taken advantage of advanced classes outside the homeschool setting, such as through a local college or an online school such as EPGY. Transcripts of these courses, in addition to evaluation of the homeschooling portfolio, are very helpful. Some students will also take advantage of MIT’s OpenCourseWare.
  • Most of our homeschooled students have taken advantage of extracurricular activities and community groups, such as community orchestras and theater, athletics groups, scouting, religious groups, volunteer work, work for pay, etc. Our homeschooled applicants, like all of our students, are active in their communities.
  • Many (but certainly not all) of our homeschooled students have been active in summer programs. For some students, summer programs (see some recommended examples in this entry; some programs I have frequently seen in homeschooled applicants include CTY, TIP, PROMYS, MathCamp, RSI, Tanglewood, and Interlochen, among many others) are a great opportunity to work with other students from diverse backgrounds in a colloborative manner. Summer program mentors and job supervisors can also be great choices to write college recommendations.
  • Extra recommendations can be especially helpful for many homeschooled applicants. We welcome a recommendation from a parent, but require at least three recommendations in total (usually a counselor and two teachers). We encourage you to submit additional recommendations (but don’t submit more than 5 total recommendations) from those who know you well, such as coaches, mentors, job supervisors, clergy, etc.
  • MIT has alumni volunteers called Educational Counselors throughout the world who conduct interviews on behalf of MIT Admissions. We strongly encourage all of our applicants to take advantage of the interview, if available.

I hope this is somewhat helpful to those of you in the homeschool community. I’m happy to take questions on this topic as well.

21 responses to “Homeschooled applicants”

  1. AnotherMom says:


    Great blog entry. I hope homeschooled applicants pay heed to this. It’s a great blueprint. I sent some thoughts via email.

  2. tokenadult says:

    Thanks. Interesting reading.

  3. travelnhsr says:


    Thanks for your insight, I homeschool a student who is very interested in MIT. I will pass this link along.

    The Traveln Homeschooler

  4. Benjamin says:

    Cool, thanks a lot. This is helpful.

    Could you also give more specific recommendations on how to fill out certain parts of the application? For example, should I have a parent fill out the secondary school report, or should I have the school district’s home school coordinator do that?

    Also, for home schooled students the line is sometimes blurred between extracurricular activities and coursework. For example, I practice Judo primarily for my own enjoyment, but it’s also counted as PE on my transcript. Should I list it as an extracurricular and mention that it’s also on my transcript as a class?

    Thanks again.

  5. Blake Boles says:

    Great, specific advice. I’m glad to hear that homeschoolers are a growing part of the MIT community.

  6. Samra says:


    Very interesting! Can you comment on what MIT likes to see or *not* see, as far as how many AP courses, community college courses, etc. a student has under his belt already. I understand that with some universities, you cannot be accepted as an undergraduate if you’ve taken “too many” cc classes. Also, some universities transfer cc credits, others count the classes but don’t give the credit, still others make you retake everything. Can you fill me in on some of the specifics of MIT?


  7. Anonymous says:

    any specific thoughts for international homeschoolers?

  8. Linna Duan says:

    Hi! Thanks for coming to Hartford; I learned a lot about MIT through the session! Here’s the link to CTY Distance Education, a new alternative to EPGY,

  9. sandy says:

    My question is whether AP classes are recognized and how many are considered minimum.

    My son takes electives at the public school and does other subjects at home – is there an advantage as he is partially schooled?

    Does MIT recognize courses taken by homeschoolers in other universities/community colleges.

    Do you recommend opencourseware over CTY or EPGY?


  10. tokenadult says:

    See MIT admission officer Ben Jones’s blog for a statement about how many APs are enough.

    P.S. The answer is, as many (or as few) as are the next logical step for you as you pursue your personal learning plan.

  11. Catherine says:

    I’ve also wondered about the AP classes. If a homeschool student takes classes at the university, e.g., all their calculus, diff qe, linear algebra, number theory, that sort of thing, and calculus-based physics, is there any point in that student also taking the equivalent AP classes? Would the college classes serve the same purpose?

    Thanks for any response. grin

  12. AnotherMom says:


    Keep in mind that the AP exams for mathematics only go as high as Calculus BC. So I would think to demonstrate knowledge of linear algebra, diff eq, etc you would have to either take the course at the community college or local university or take advanced standing examinations. See for infomration on Advanced Standing Examinations. If you take the courses at a college make certain that you keep a copy of the syllabus.

  13. MITmom says:

    Our local homeschoolo community has sent two recent students to MIT. One did a boatload of community college courses, so had a bunch of grades. Another did no CC classes and just had a couple of distance learning grades. He audited several courses at the local 4-year university whichy were beyond what would have been available at the CC. But the 4 year university woulod not allow himj to officially enroll in the courses he wanted. He got a couple of the profs whose courses he audited to write letters stating what his grade would have been if he had been enrolled. He also did a boatload of AP exams to document material he covered on his own. I think the key is to provide some sort of objective evidence of what the student has done, but there is no specific form that has to take.

  14. gary says:

    Matt: Thank you for your views. So that the readers might evaluate your qualifications to comment on these issues, would you please share with us a brief resume. Please include your religious upbringing. As you may have noticed, one of the common denominaors of religious extremism around the world (all flavors) is educational isolation of the young for greater mind control. You might also throw in a few comments as to the success of these student at MIT and in their choicen careers as well as the socialization of homeschoolers which may not be relevant at MIT, but might be important in the real world. Further, would you say your comments represent the official MIT thinking at the present time or your own personal agenda. Thanking you.

  15. John says:

    Matt, I just wanted to say thanks. I thought since I did a charter school I might be restricted from getting into MIT. The reason I did charter school was because the local highschool wasn’t challenging enough and I felt I was teaching myself anyway. Also charter school allowed me to do community college and graduate early. Doing so allowed me to be a sophmore in college this year and graduate a year early. So I found it advantageous, other than the fact that it might restrict me from MIT but now you’ve shown me I made a wise decision. Thanks a lot for the encouragement for not just me, but all homeschool/charters school students!

  16. MITmom says:

    “one of the common denominaors of religious extremism around the world (all flavors) is educational isolation of the young for greater mind control….”

    Gary, this is tongue in cheek, right?? Someone who had been “educationally isolated for mind control” would be unlikely to get into MIT, whether they were homeschooled, religiously schooled, or brought up in some weird cult. Go back and read Matt’s original blog! MIT is looking for students who have been active in their communities and taken advantage of opportunities. The vast majority of “homeschoolers” who are successful in applying to places like MIT are using their flexability to take college courses and pour themselves into extracurricular activities. They are not “schooled at home”, much less brain washed or isolated.

  17. I am a homeschooler/public schooler. I homeschooled my freshman and sophomore years. I am currently in a public school for my junior and senior years. How would this help if any with my application? Also, how would I put this on my application?

    Hopefully to be enrolled in your exquisite college,


  18. Livloveslife says:

    I am a homeschooler thinking about MIT and this will help me understand MIT. I hope I will get in and meet you.

  19. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the response on the AP exam, Another Mom. I’m asking for my daughter, who is homeschooled. She is what they call a Young Scholar at a local university, that is a student in high school or middle school who takes classes at the university (as a part time student). When she graduates, she will have calculus, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, several problem solving seminars, some number theory, and possibly real and/or complex analysis, depending on her schedule.

    That’s why I’m wondering if she needs to take the AP or other exams to demonstrate her advanced standing. Wouldn’t the university transcript demonstrate that as well?

    To prepare for the AP exams on top of everything else is a substantial amount of time, and it seems as if it is repeating what she has already done, if the idea of the AP exam is to demonstrate she can do the classes at a university level. On the other hand, I don’t want to hurt her chances of acceptance at a school like MIT. I just don’t know what it is the best way to go.

    Thank you for any response.



    Abd, Karl, hello. grin

  20. Catherine says:

    I should clarify; in that last, I meant when she graduates from high school. She’s not a college student, just taking classes at the university to satisfy her high school requirements.



  21. GG says:

    Thanks for the information. It’s reassuring to know that alternative high school education is recogized as a valued option for learning and that homeschoolers receive equal consideration for college acceptance at MIT.