|| COVER STORY
The big picture
New York's policy toward homeschoolers is out of step with the rest of the nation and with ivy-league schools. A number of other states'including New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, and Illinois'have recently acted to eliminate post-secondary admissions discrimination against homeschooled applicants.
Home School Legal Defense Association maintains a list of colleges and universities ranked by the "homeschool friendliness" of their admissions policies.1 All of these institutions submitted their admissions policies for posting on HSLDA's list: out of the 570 institutions currently listed, only two do not accept homeschoolers. Seventy-two percent (413) do not require a GED.(General Equivalency Diploma).
Federal policies encourage fair admissions policies
In addition, recent letters from the United States Department of Education to all colleges and universities that receive federal financial aid state that a homeschooler can "self-certify" the completion of his program. This means that a homeschool diploma makes a student eligible for federal financial aid.
[A]n institution may accept a home-schooled student's self-certification that he or she completed secondary school in a home school setting, just as it may accept a high school graduate's self-certification of his or her receipt of a high school diploma.
This interpretation coincides with the United States House of Representatives and Senate Committee Reports accompanying the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (Pub. L. No. 105-244), encouraging colleges and universities receiving federal funding to discontinue discrimination against homeschoolers. The House Report specifically recommends that colleges and universities change any admissions policies which force homeschooled students to take additional tests beyond what is required of traditionally schooled students, including the GED and the SAT II exams.
Congress has revised and clarified federal law affecting homeschoolers, based on suggestions from HSLDA. The U.S. Department of Education has changed its policy as well. Both point to a common principle: homeschoolers should be admitted to colleges and granted financial aid without having to take additional tests beyond what is required of traditionally schooled students. Ignoring a homeschool graduate's diploma and requiring him to take a GED, SAT II, or ability-to-benefit test, while not requiring graduates from traditional high schools to do so, is seen as discriminatory by Congress.
Other universities welcome homeschoolers
A Harvard University (MA) admissions officer said most of their home-educated students "have done very well. They usually are very motivated in what they do." Results of the SAT and SAT II, an essay, an interview, and a letter of recommendation are the main requirements for home-educated applicants. "[Transcripts are] irrelevant because a transcript is basically a comparison to other students in the school."
In addition to Harvard, prominent schools like Yale (CT), Princeton (NJ), Texas A&M, Brown University (RI), the Carnegie Mellon Institute (PA), the Universities of Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, and Hawaii, and many others all have flexible transcript criteria, accept parental evaluations, and do not require any accreditation or a GED. At Kansas State University and others like Lipscomb University (TN) and Middlebury College (VT), transcripts are optional.
Jon Reider, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Stanford University (CA), told the Wall Street Journal: "Home-schoolers bring certain skillsmotivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their educationthat high schools don't induce very well.2
In an article entitled "Homeschooling Comes of Age" in the January/February 2002 alumni magazine of Brown University (RI), Dean Joyce Reed states, "Homeschoolers are the epitome of Brown students. They are self-directed, they take risks, and they don't back off."
As studies consistently demonstrate, home-educated high school graduates offer an academically successful and socially diverse background. More and more colleges and universities are recognizing homeschoolers' unique capabilities and circumstances. In light of the proven success of home education at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, HSLDA recommends that colleges adopt specific written homeschool admission policies that treat all applicants equally.
Read more on this topic at www.hslda.org under homeschooling/issues/colleges and universities.
Christopher J. Klicka
1 See http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000002/00000241.asp
2 The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 1994