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  • Writer's pictureHappy Homeschool

Writing The Counselor Recommendation Letter, When YOU Are The Counselor

As a homeschool mom, you likely have many roles. Principal, teacher, and counselor. Many universities request a letter of recommendation from both teachers and a counselor. Hopefully at some point in your child's schooling, you likely outsourced a class to someone that would be willing to write a recommendation letter as a teacher.

**** My son did almost entirely dual credit at the local community college and allow me to insert a quick note here stating that I CANNOT recommend enough that you encourage your children to introduce themselves the first day of any class, even online classes. A handshake, an email, state your name, tell the instructor that you are happy to be in the class, maybe what you look forward to learning about, anything. I know the difficulty some home educated students might feel being in a class with older peers, but it is imperative to speak up. My son was so fortunate to have the most well-crafted, incredible LOR's written by his college instructors for his university applications. This was all because he made himself known in the class, thank goodness!****

But that leaves YOU to write the LOR as the counselor. It's hard, right? You don't want to feel like "the mom" here, but the reality is that you are. It's ok. While a teacher LOR should emphasize academic abilities and classroom performance, your counselor LOR will focus on personal growth, character, interpersonal skills, and your child's goals. And no one knows your child better than you!

So run with it. Take a different approach. You are lucky to be in such a great position to know this young man or woman so thoroughly. It is impossible to not make this personal, so go ahead and make it personal.

When I wrote my son's LOR, I used it as an excellent opportunity to explain gaps or what may look like deficiencies compared to a public schooled student, and to point out and magnify unique opportunities that he had because he was homeschooled. I asked myself, "What doesn't this application say about my son? What is different about him?"

It is absolutely possible to balance personal stories with professionalism. In 2020 I had to return to work outside the home, leaving a lot of farm responsibilities to my son, as well as having him assist with the other younger children, all while he maintained his 4.0 in college and high school. What positive character traits can highlight from this situation? Homeschooling allowed us to travel/camp a lot, so that was incredibly valuable for him to develop and display a deep love of his country when applying to the USCG Academy.

As a homeschooler, he was never bound by zip code or age to his peers, he worked with a diversity of kids in his robotics and coding clubs, his fellow students in college came from a plethora of demographic and ethnic backgrounds. So, while he might not have four years of varsity sports or student council presidency, he has had incredibly unique opportunities that a classroom could never have provided. Just keep asking yourself, "How is my child's schooling different? And why is that a positive?"

Example with an introduction:

The body should include more positive character traits and examples of leadership. The conclusion tells the committee how you feel your child will contribute to the university and beyond that.

Best of luck and always happy to help :-)

-Happy Homeschooler

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