How to Build a College Portfolio for Your Homeschooled Highschooler

Building a College Portfolio for Your Homeschooled High School Student

While some states require the preparation of a yearly educational portfolio for their homeschooling residents, the college portfolio is a bit different.  The college portfolio, along with the official high school transcript, shows potential colleges about the rigorous and unique high school experience of your child.

Getting into the college of your choice requires more than solid GPA and SAT test scores.  College admissions officers are also looking for extra curricular activities like service and leadership as well a lengthy and relevant reading list.  Beginning early to compile  and record of these experiences will avoid the last minute scrambling to remember and document your child’s relevant high school experience.

Whether the college your child applies to requires a portfolio or not, having one serves many purposes:

  • helps your students to keep track of how close they are to their goals
  • encourages them to achieve more as they see the entries in their portfolios building up year after year
  • keeps information needed for scholarship applications organized and handy

What to Put in Your Portfolio

Reading Lists

The purpose of the reading list is to show that your student is well-read.  Your list should include substantial works of non-fiction, fiction with literary merit, and a minimal amount of popular fiction.  Keep the focus of your reading list on quality over quantity.  If you are unsure of which books meet the criteria for a college entry list, see the following resources:

  • Invitation to the Classics  by Os Guinness and Louise Cowan
  • The Well-Educated Mind – Susan Wise Bauer
  • Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Barbara Hampton
  • Who Should We Then Read? by Jan Bloom

If your student struggles with reading many classic books are available on mp3 for free.  There are many sources for reasonably priced audio books available on line.

Student Writing

Include in this section of your portfolio a mix of creative and analytical works.

  • research papers with insightful thesis statements and substantial bibliographies
  • creative works – you may want to include only an excerpt of this
  • papers that reflect your uniqueness and the area of study you want to pursue

Awards & Achievements

This section can include honors awarded in any field, AP or Honors classes and college courses taken during the high school years.

This area of your portfolio can be enhanced by planning ahead and looking on line for contests to enter.  Types of contests include those in the areas of:

  • art
  • photography & video
  • essay writing on all subjects
  • science

Extra-Curricular Activities

The general idea is to show your diverse involvement and interests out side of the classroom.  Areas of involvement can include:

  • club membership and or leadership
  • student government
  • participation in special interests like athletics, band, etc.
  • educational travel

Service Hours/Job History/Community Service

  • resume of relevant work experience
  • relevant skills learned
  • community or school-sponsored service projects
  • missions work

Summer Programs Attended

  • academic camps
  • camps specializing in the arts
  • college courses taken during high school years

How to Format the Portfolio

  • Keep the portfolio simple – it is not an example of your scrap booking skills!
  • Be concise and clear.  Use photos where appropriate.
  • Remember that the entire document will get maybe 5-minutes in front of the admissions officer.
  • Organize in reverse chronological order with most recent content first.
  • Have more than one person go over your portfolio for grammar, punctuation or other mistakes.

Paying for and getting in to good colleges today is more competitive than ever.  By knowing what colleges are looking for ahead of time and purposing to meet these requirements while documenting them all along the way, you will not only be prepared for the admissions process but the scholarship process as well!



Please join me in linking up with 21 other Homeschool bloggers from the iHomeschool Network for our 5-day Hopscotch.  Other topics include:

Five MORE Days of Learning with BOB Books | Ami at Walking by the Way
Homeschooling With Poster Board | Amy at Milk and Cookies
Copywork | Amy at Living and Learning at Home
Winter Sensory Play | Angela at Teaching Mama
Unleashing the Writer in Your Child  |  Becky at This Reading Mama
Speaking LIFE Into Your Homeschool  |  Carlie at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?
Homeschooling Highshool the Charlotte Mason Way | Dollie at Teachers of Good Things
Winter Crafts | Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler
Project Catapult {and Trebuchets too}! | Heather at Blog She Wrote
Adding Some Flash to Flashcard Review | Jamie at Unlikely Homeschool
Food Reformation | Jasmine at Ponder the Path
Ins and Outs of Adoption | Jennifer at Forever, For Always, No Matter What
Multisensory Homeschooling for Children with Special Needs | Jennifer at Jennifer A. Janes
Video Game Learning | Joan at Our School at Home
Teaching Character Through Stories | LaToya at Christian Momma
Homeschooling High School | Marianne at Abundant Life
Getting Fit and Healthy | Mary at The Encouraging Home
Becoming an Intentional Homeschoolin’ Mama | Meg at Homeschoolin’ Mama
Five Days of {Just Having} Fun with Your Kids | Stacie at Motherhood on a Dime
Cooking from Scratch with Homemade Mixes | Tabitha at Meet Penny
How To Fit In All The Extras | Tricia at Hodge Podge

Marianne Sunderland

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  1. Excellent advice on building a portfolio. Also remember to try to “specialize” a portfolio to your child’s interests. For example, if your child is a writer and wants to a be a journalist, perhaps focus the portfolio to include writing, essays, published pieces, and any community involvement or service that can be tied into writing. This all goes hand and hand with matching your child up with the right college as well!

  2. Great advice! But.. SAT scores are probably one of the most important things next to the reading list.

  3. Do you have any sample pages of the portfolio to share? Format?


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