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September 6, 2017

This student almost lost her chance to study art.

NYC Art School: Cancel Your Flight, Take the GED

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Sarah Dunford is a legal assistant for HSLDA SARAH DUNFORD Legal Assistant

She had graduated early from high school, proven her talent, and was anxious to take advantage of a scholarship offered by a prestigious arts school. But this Minnesota student’s stellar homeschool credentials confused admissions officers—nearly derailing her plans.

A few months into her junior year of high school, Lauren realized she had enough credits to graduate one year early at age 16. She excitedly began apply to top arts colleges.

Soon the acceptance letters began coming in, many with generous scholarships. Lauren finally decided to attend the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

At the beginning of August, she received an email from the school’s admissions office saying that they needed a GED score to complete her high school verification.

This came as a surprise to Lauren because two weeks before, she had emailed her admissions counselor to verify that he had received her final high school documentation and everything was set for the fall semester. She thought they had received all that they needed—she had even booked her flight to New York and paid the tuition deposit.

Impossible Demand

Confused, Lauren called the admissions office to receive an explanation. As it turned out, her main counselor was out of the office, set to return less than two weeks before the teen’s flight left for Manhattan. The new counselor she spoke to insisted that the college required homeschool students to supply a GED score.

As her family were members, they called HSLDA. We prepared to respond to the college’s unecessary demands and provide some verification of the legality of a homeschool education program. Not only is it superfluous to require homeschool students to supply a GED score to verify high school graduation—for Lauren, it was impossible. Her home state of Minnesota does not allow 16-year-olds to take the GED. Even 17- and 18-year-olds need to submit an age waiver to take the exam.

Three days after the graduate contacted HSLDA, her admissions counselor returned to the office. He clarified that he did not need her to submit a GED score, but he requested that her local superintendent “sign off on” her high school transcript.

As HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt explained, this, too, was impossible. Unlike New York, which allows homeschool graduates to receive a letter stating their diploma is substantially equivalent to one issued by a public school, Minnesota has no such provision.

The admissions counselor quickly responded, stating that Lauren’s high school diploma was fully verified and everything was set for the fall semester. She was able to start school on schedule without any further difficulty.

We wish her the best as she pursues a career in the visual arts.