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No. 3

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Career Center Educated on Outdated Policy

Drew Smith* was homeschooled since kindergarten and received his diploma from his parents in the spring of 2003. In 2005, after attending Pensacola Christian College for two years, Drew enlisted in the U.S. Army on a delayed admission basis so he could first earn his emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.

But despite Drew's remarkably high entrance test score, the South Central Career Center refused to enroll him for EMT classes because his high school diploma was not accredited.

Drew's parents, who are members of Home School Legal Defense Association, called us for help. We immediately contacted the assistant director of the career center.

She said that all applicants must have an accredited high school diploma because the career center receives federal funds for financial aid.

We explained that an accredited diploma is no longer necessary. In 1998, HSLDA helped amend federal law so colleges could accept homeschooled students who have unaccredited high school diplomas without endangering the college's receipt of federal financial aid.

The assistant director told us she would research this issue.

A few days later, the assistant director called HSLDA and said that the career center had misinterpreted the federal guidelines, and Drew would be accepted into the EMT program. She agreed to update the center's admissions policy.

While the career center was dithering over Drew's diploma, the U.S. Army, impressed by his extremely high IQ and military aptitude test scores, offered to place him in a program through which he could earn a paramedic license and a bachelor's degree in six months-if he would enlist immediately. This was an offer Drew could not turn down. He has since completed boot camp, married, and embarked on his military career.

— by Scott A. Woodruff

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.