Counselor Letter for Homeschooled Applicants?

shep753

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Long-time lurker and first-time poster. Be gentle :) We homeschool our children (though coordinate their education is probably a better term, with a local consortium, high-quality online classes and dual enrollment for the final two years of HS being our path thus far) and DS is highly interested in USNA. We've just graduated our oldest, so I'm pretty familiar with the hurdles and unique parts of the homeschool applicant for competitive U.S. and international universities. Obviously USNA is different and my son and I have done a ton of research. We're a little stuck on one thing. For the typical domestic college application, one of the homeschool parents completes the Common App 'School Report' and 'Counselor Letter'. I see from the USNA's website that a similar thing happens in the application process, but I cannot find anything about who completes that for a homeschooled student. Any insights on this question from anyone on the forum? Or is this something my son should ask Admissions about?

No huge rush to know, since he only just completed his 10th grade year. Many thanks in advance. This forum has been an absolute gold mine of information. Sincere and heartfelt thanks for all the stalwart posters for their time, kindness, and assistance. And thanks also to the Mids and recent grads who take time to post about their experiences!
 

shep753

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Thanks MidCakePa. Definitely aware about son running point, hence why I phrased it that way in my post.

He’ll definitely have to own the application process. I’m just trying to get a handle on what my responsibilities are in the process. Which, at least for civilian schools, are significant. There are a lot of steps for the parent of a homeschooler to do since there is no school official.
 

MittenMan

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Our DS was homeschooled (now an Ensign - Class of 2020) and in his original application which would have been 2014/2015 time frame DW wrote the letters. At that time, our DS came through high school same as yours though DW was always the primary teacher so she wote whatever was needed. I aIways thought that was a little strange, a parent writing the letters..... (he was a class of 1!!! so #1!!!)....sorry couldn't resist.
DS should contact Admisssions as as MidCakePA and others will suggest as no doubt things change year to year.
 

Blessed1

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The applicant submits an email address for math and English teacher to complete the form. USNA sends the email to instructor. DD was taking English at a co-op and that instructor completed. I completed the math. It is a very simple form that ask you specific questions.

USNA required our homeschool student to submit a document with course summary and textbooks used for each course with the transcript in order for transcript to be complete.
 

HawkeyeMom

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My child applied for USAFA, so my experience will be generic. Keep up to date on writing course descriptions; I didn't and had to do them ALL in a short period of time. Not pleasant.

My daughter also dual enrolled. She had her college professors do the academic evaluations. USAFA preferred external evaluations. For example, she had taken up through pre-calc at home and was enrolled in Calc 1 at our local university, but hadn't completed the class. Her USAFA counselor told her to use her Chem 1 professor for the math evaluation and not me. That was our experience for USAFA, but of course, USNA may have their own preferences.
 

shep753

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Thanks for the responses everyone! It sounds like having my son ask Admissions is the way to go. As others pointed out, primary source is safest. I just figured it might be a known thing like it is for the civilian world. :)

To clarify... the specific question I have is about the role of the counselor. Our son will have letters from his Math and English professors from this coming year. And the USNA site has clear details about submitting further documentation (course descriptions, etc..) from homeschoolers. My question is about whether or not I have a role as the 'counselor' in doing anything like the school report and counselor letter from the Common App. The USNA site has instructions for the counselors on how to submit this information: https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/HS-Transcript-Instructions.php. Part of this is data about the school, and part is about the student. As part of the submission, the counselor is asked the following: (From the USNA site)
"Remarks: Please provide the following information:
(1) Additional information which may be significant in considering candidate concerning achievements or unique circumstances.
(2) Has the candidate ever been subjected to discipline (probation, suspension, or expulsion) at your school? If so, please explain.
(3) Has the candidate required any special accommodations, or been assigned an Individual Education Plan for assistance with an Academic Skills Disorder, ADHD, or dyslexia?


In addition, please feel free to elaborate on the candidate's performance in your school or in non-academic pursuits. This field is limited to 3,000 characters."
 

Old Navy BGO

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Our son will have letters from his Math and English professors from this coming year.
Just to be clear ... you don't have to ask Math and English teachers to write "letters." Once the Candidate is an Official Candidate, they will have the chance to identify the name, email address of their Math and English teacher, and USNA will contact them directly with the form for an "Evaluation." USNA doesn't want the typical "Little Timmy is such a great kid...." letter. I've never seen the actual form, but understand that it asks for specific evaluation and comments regarding academic aptitude, classroom leadership, etc.
 

Capt MJ

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Here’s some general info on the teacher evaluation form, not the form itself, but enough hints on format and content:

 

shep753

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Just to be clear ... you don't have to ask Math and English teachers to write "letters." Once the Candidate is an Official Candidate, they will have the chance to identify the name, email address of their Math and English teacher, and USNA will contact them directly with the form for an "Evaluation." USNA doesn't want the typical "Little Timmy is such a great kid...." letter. I've never seen the actual form, but understand that it asks for specific evaluation and comments regarding academic aptitude, classroom leadership, etc.
Thanks for the clarification! I shouldn’t have shorthanded it that way. Just meant to clarify he will have instructors who can directly evaluate him in those subject areas and therefore need no input from my wife or from me.
 

shep753

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Here’s some general info on the teacher evaluation form, not the form itself, but enough hints on format and content:

Thanks CaptMJ. I had come across this but was uncertain if this was for the counselor or teacher. I had assumed counselor. Probably safer to have my son connect with Admissions directly. I suppose I was wondering if other homeschool families had decent direct experience.
 

Devil Doc

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Since you asked us to be gentle...

The counselor input is valuable due to their access to the kid’s complete record which subject teachers do not.

As @Old Navy BGO stated, the applicant will identify teachers and counselors by name and email and that person will get a link to the form. I’ve been sent an academy recommendation form (see below***) a few times and it is similar to the Common Application form that I get several times a year for non-academy applicants.

The form asks: how long have you known applicant, what are the first words you think of when you think of Jim, and a couple other questions and there’s a place to upload a letter.

*** The few times I was listed as a reference for an academy applicant I told the student to change the name of the recommender to the correct teacher. I am an electives teacher and have a niche in writing recommendations for kids such as minorities, ESOL, SPED, and those who live in poverty.
 

usna1985

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While not directly in response to your question, be sure to look for opportunities for your DS to be involved in group activities -- especially with kids who are not homeschooled. This includes sports teams, sports camps, other types of camps, Scouting, Boys State, JROTC, working at a job, etc. USNA wants to see that a homeschooled kid can "work and play well with others," including people who are very different from them -- because this is necessary at a SA (more than it may be at certain civilian colleges and universities).

Also make sure he is active in sports generally. Avoid having what can be perceived as a "loner" sport, such as martial arts, golf, fencing, etc. be his ONLY sport.

I realize the above is an extra challenge in the time of COVID, but make the extra effort (and don't allow COVID to become an excuse).

Best of luck.
 

Wagmore

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Does your state mandate any kind of homeschool evaluation? In our case, our evaluator acted as the school counselor. Or do you have access to diploma programs in your state? They could also, potentially, fill the school counselor role.
 

shep753

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Does your state mandate any kind of homeschool evaluation? In our case, our evaluator acted as the school counselor. Or do you have access to diploma programs in your state? They could also, potentially, fill the school counselor role.
No for both.
 

mld99

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It sounds like we homeschool in a similar way, with most high school courses taken from outside sources, while I oversee our choices and teach math myself. There is an umbrella organization that we fall under for our state. That organization verifies courses, collects grades, produces transcripts, and things like that. The administrator truthfully doesn't know my son almost at all, but she served as our "counselor". I wrote the math eval as he had no other math teacher. I would certainly have your child ask admissions if there is a best person to serve as counselor if you don't have anyone like that (maybe the director of your co-op?), but the answer may be that you serve as the couselor. To overcome the fact that I was writing one of my son's evals, we had additional non-math/english evals written by others. One was his chemistry teacher and one was his coach.

I also used very specific, verifiable data in my math eval. Not just "he's really good in math" but AP test scores, the fact that he tutors math, etc. Then I used specific stories to convey character traits, rather than general statements. I'd be glad to share my stuff with you if you want to PM me.
 
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