Homeschooling: The Transition to College
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By Beth Waltman
Have you wondered whether your homeschooled children will ever
graduate and successfully attend college? As a parent with one
homeschooled child already attending a university and another
beginning junior college, I can testify that the goal is attainable.
Yes, the application process is arduous and frustrating at
times. However, in choosing to homeschool, we tread a less-beaten
path. We have to prove to a skeptical world that our children
have mastered all the required subjects in a non-traditional
atmosphere and have acquired the study skills necessary for
college success. Taking some thoughtful steps will assure your
readiness for the application process:
1. Document homeschool classes, extracurricular interests,
and community service.
We found in applying that universities were almost as interested
in our daughter's hobbies and social activities as in her grades.
Essays ask such questions as, "What are your life goals?
What do you have to offer our school's multi-cultural atmosphere?"
All Julie's youth group activities applied. Colleges wanted
to know about sports, jobs, music, and interests.
2. Keep your high school curriculum high in academics.
Foreign language, science, and higher math should be included.
If the primary parent/teacher is weak in these areas, seek an
on-line course, video instruction, or another homeschooling
parent proficient in the subject.
3. Prepare for the SAT.
Sample tests really prepare kids. These can be obtained on-line,
in CD form or pamphlet form. I can recommend the Kaplan Road
Trip. Julie's final SAT score was very close to her practice
score. I would urge parents to allow their children to take
the PSAT their junior year of high school if at all possible.
One of our homeschooling friends found when he took the SAT
that his scores were incredibly high. He might have begun applying
for scholarships a year earlier had he known.
4. Research the schools of your choice.
Don't assume that entry will be a breeze, even if the college
is known to accept homeschoolers. Do the homework!
My oldest daughter was educated at home for five years before
enrolling at Texas A&M University. We were told when we
began the application process that A&M had accepted only
12 homeschooled students in 1997, so we wanted to research and
apply properly. Twelve is a relatively low number when you consider
that Texas has a huge body of homeschoolers, and A&M is
one of the largest universities in the state. A&M appealed
to my daughter for many reasons. It's fairly close to Houston,
where we make our home. Julie had several possible careers in
mind, and this college had courses in all of them. Business
interested her, but elementary education was also a possibility.
My husband had attended A&M, and is a proud "Old Ag".
Also, there are several excellent Christian student organizations
on campus. We didn't want Julie to be totally without spiritual
influences after all our careful communication of values. Finally,
Julie really felt God's leadership to apply to the school. Therefore,
we marshaled our wits and gave applying our intense efforts
during her whole senior year of high school.
Immediately, I found that information about the special requirements
for homeschoolers is rather obscure. Many of the telephone counselors
handling applications didn't seem to know all the policies required
in processing homeschooling applications. After numerous phone
calls, we ascertained that Julie would need to take the SAT
II test in addition to the SAT I. She would need to submit the
typical application which included a long essay and three letters
of recommendation. Another requirement was a high-school transcript
and 'letter from the principle.'
I submitted these items at least three times, with the explanation
that "I can supply no official school seal or class rank,
because Julie was educated at home. She was the only senior
in her class." Even after attending college for one semester,
we received a notice that she would not be permitted to enroll
again, because her transcript did not seem to be an official
high school document! We learned not to assume that a matter
was settled until we received written conformation in the mail.
Because of Julie's experience, we have adjusted our middle
child's education somewhat to smooth the way her for college
entrance. Krystal is a 15-year-old high school junior. We hope
to obtain more "official" documentation in this way,
besides proof of her competitive ability. Houston Community
College has permitted her to take one class, English Comp I,
this year. In this way, she can earn college credit in addition
to picking up classes requiring labs.
Krystal had to pass the Texas ASP in order to qualify so early
for junior college. As a homeschooler, she had to talk to a
committee on special admissions (alone!) and explain her hopes
and dreams, and why she wanted to take a college class. Her
goal to go to University of Houston for pharmacology seemed
to impress the committee.
Finally, I offer the best encouragement of all for homeschoolers
with college dreams. Homeschoolers can be even more capable
than their contemporaries in institutions of higher learning.
Perhaps teaching how to learn and love of learning is more important
than offering the wide variety of subjects that public schools
can offer. My daughters seem to juggle their schedules and achieve
grades with ease. Julie eagerly signs up for difficult courses
such as "Literature of the ex-Soviet Union" that would
daunt any more timid student. Now that college is a reality
for two of our children, we breathe a sigh of relief. I'm already
designing the high school years for our 7th-grade son. What
is his consuming interest? Marine biology!
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