J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
College Complications: Homeschool Graduates Overcome Obstacles
HSLDA Senior Counsel
August 27, 2008
Homeschooling is growing up. The primary battle HSLDA waged was winning the right to homeschool. Then the battle shifted from families having the right to homeschool to the amount that states could regulate homeschools.
Although that latter battle remains, as HSLDA deals with 10,000 legal conflicts each year, many homeschoolers have graduated and are moving on to higher education. Homeschoolers are growing up!
Starting ten years ago, Senior Counsel Chris Klicka took part in, three years in a row, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors Annual Convention attended by thousands of admissions officers. He presented the homeschool cause and the importance of not evaluating homeschool graduates according to conventional requirements such as class ranking, accredited diplomas, or a GED. The college officials welcomed the message and adjusted their admissions policies.
Also, Klicka worked with the Congressional Education and Workforce Committee in 1997–98 to amend the Higher Education Act to offer homeschoolers federal financial aid solely on the basis of having a homeschool high school diploma. Requirements that homeschoolers obtain a GED or take the federal Ability to Benefits Test were dropped.
In addition, he helped add congressional record language which stated the importance of colleges admitting homeschoolers without requiring accredited diplomas, the GED, or evaluating class rank. Further, Klicka was able to get on a list server to inform thousands of college admissions directors and counselors across the nation of these developments and the progress of homeschooling.
The most convincing argument to persuade most colleges to recognize homeschool diplomas was the track record of homeschoolers’ academic achievement. Over the past 20 years homeschoolers have scored at or above the average on standardized achievement tests at the elementary and secondary level, and have scored higher than average every year the last 10 years on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.
The doors were flung open, and many homeschoolers entered institutions of higher learning across the nation, earning multiple degrees.
Nonetheless, troubles still happen. For instance, a homeschooler from Texas was trying to get into the ATI Technical School in Dallas. He was told that even though he had been admitted, he could no longer remain a student without taking the Ability to Benefits Test. HSLDA contacted the college and was able to convince the director of education to accept the homeschool diploma in lieu of the ATB test.
Another homeschooler was seeking admission to Mercy College of Northwest Ohio. The student was told that he could not enter the college unless he took the GED. Klicka contacted the admissions officer, who quickly responded with an affirmative. All obstacles were removed, as the admissions officer said she wanted the student and would not require the GED.
Although the problems still come up, they are few and far between compared to the many universities that have adopted very supportive admissions policies for homeschoolers.