Home-schooled Evanston teen accepted by Harvard, Yale, more
7 of the nation's top universities want her
In what has been called the most competitive year ever for college admissions, Chelsea Link defied the odds to get accepted into Yale. Then Harvard.
Then came the fat envelopes from Princeton, Columbia, University of Chicago, Stanford and Northwestern University.
Making that feat still more extraordinary, Link has been home-schooled since age 5.
"I was a little nervous," the Evanston 18-year-old said. "I was worried that I might not get into even one school."
This isn't false modesty on Link's part, but an acknowledgment that many stereotypes about home schooling—think barn raisings and "Little House on the Prairie" wardrobes—are still entrenched.
True, she had nailed perfect scores on the SAT and ACT, is the reigning world Irish harp champion, aced all her AP exams and enjoys nothing more than kicking back with the latest copy of Scientific American.
But being both first and last in your senior class poses a challenge for colleges accustomed to comparing credentials from conventional high schools.
"There's a built-in conflict of interest when the person evaluating your performance is Mom or Dad," said Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Still, many admissions officials say they are becoming more at ease with applicants who took alternative paths, if for no other reason than it's a booming market. Almost 2 million American students are educated at home, and more than 80 percent of colleges have formal policies for assessing these applicants—up from 52 percent in 2000.