Thursday, November 13, 2008

What about college?

[The following is an article I wrote in 2004 for the CHEACT newsletter. I have not modified it, so some of the references are specific to that time and place and it far from exhausts options on the topic, but someone recently asked me "What about college?" so I thought some might benefit from me posting this here.]

The most recent time I heard this question was from a couple in Tennessee. They called me because my phone number is on the front page of the CHEACT website. . . for the dad's breakfast I organized. They're both educators: she's in the public schools, he's a college admissions officer. Turns out, his sister was on her way back home to Texas and was planning to homeschool when she got here.

"What type of umbrella program do you have?" the sister-in-law asked.

"We don't."

"Why not?"

"In Texas, homeschools are private schools and are not regulated by the state with regards to schedule, curriculum or teach credentials."

"Well, what about college?" She was asking this about her 8-year-old nephew.

What ABOUT college?

First of all, I don't consider college to be a given for any of my children. It's not always necessary and the benefits are many time offset by many worldly negatives. I'm raising them for heaven, not Harvard.

But, that's not what she was asking, so I didn't even go there. Her question was: "When my nephew has `graduated' from homeschool, what university is going to accept him?"

The truth is: MANY colleges and universities, service academies and vocational schools around the country are actively seeking homeschoolers. But there are still some things you, as a parent, need to consider.

High School Diploma

Are you planning to issue one? The Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC) sells a very nice one that you can personalize for your school. As their site says: "In Texas, as private school officials, parents decide the requirements for high school graduation. When met, the student may receive a diploma." See their website, www.thsc.org, for more information.

Of course, THSC doesn't certify or recognize completion of a course of study simply by selling the diploma. That's up to you. You should keep records of course work, especially the last four years of your child's schooling so that you can create a transcript to show to a college. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has some great pointers for preparing for college at their website: www.hslda.org.

Accelerated Distance Learning

Brad Voeller, a homeschool graduate, is also a college graduate. Great achievement, to be sure. But what makes Brad unique is that he received his college degree in less than six months for less than $5000. And he wrote a book telling others how to do it: Accelerated Distance Learning: The New Way to Earn Your College Degree in the Twenty-First Century. Vision Forum and other great outlets carry it.

Dual Credit at a Community College

Did you know that most community colleges don't require a high school transcript in order to enroll? Did you know that most universities don't require a high school transcript if a student has 30 hours of college credit?

This has long been a popular option for homeschoolers. Simply enroll your child in classes at the local community college his or her sophomore year. It doesn't have to be a full load of classes: just 5 hours per semester. And you can count the coursework toward fulfillment of the high school diploma while your student is gaining college credit and experience.

By the time they graduate from high school, they'll have 30 hours of college credit and can transfer to the four-year college of their choice as a sophomore.

With just a little forethought and planning, your homeschooled student will be well on his or her way to a college degree, should the Lord take them in that direction.

[For a list of colleges that actively seek homeschoolers, see Homeschooling Today magazine's College Locator. —JBH]
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