Monday, February 21, 2011

Homeschooling to college

We are long-term homeschoolers. Since we are outside the norm, we often get questions like, "What about high school?" and "How will they get into college?"

Our oldest daughter is in the "11th grade" (what ever that means for a homeschooler). So, the college question is very much on our minds. Since she is our first, she is also our learner child. If our strategy doesn't work well for her, we can try something different for the next kid.

This is our college strategy:

She will attend community college for a year or two and then transfer to a 4 year university. Our oldest has started her second class at a local community college and we plan for increasingly more classes during her "senior" year of homeschooling.

Our local community college system allows concurrent enrollment. High school juniors and seniors can take up to 6 per semester for free. I think they can take even for than 6 per semester if their principal (me) signs a waver.

However, our oldest daughter is also taking all the standardized tests (SAT, ACT), so that she could apply as a freshman. The universities that she would like to attend will take homeschool students with reasonable SAT or ACT scores. These universities require higher scores for the homeschool students than the traditional students. Our oldest tests well, so it shouldn't be an issue.

A friend's son ran into problems applying to a university we are considering. He scored high on the SAT but they wouldn't accept his CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) as proof of high school completion. The wanted him to pass the GED. However, students are NOT allowed to take the GED until they are 18 years old, which is a little late for the regular application period. There is an exception to the GED testing age. Youth who have been incarcerated can take the GED early. We joked that he needed to get himself arrested so that he could take the GED, so that he could go to college on track with his friends.

We hope to avoid this issue with a transcript from the community college. However, we also hope to get scholarship offers from the SAT and ACT scores.

In addition to the community college classes, we are encouraging our daughter to take a few CLEP tests. I started university as a sophomore because of CLEP credits. However, the universities that are on the top of her list don't accept CLEP credits. Since many of the California Universities do accept the credits and we don't know where she will end up yet, we figure it can't hurt to have the credits. If the school doesn't accept the credit, it can still make her homeschool transcript look more impressive.

Our goal is for our daughter to get accept to a good university with a scholarship of some sort. We will keep you posted on how well this plan works for us.


C T said...

Did the friend's son try applying as an "early enrollment" student? I left high school after my junior year and started at the university full-time the next year. Since I was an "early enrollment" student, it didn't matter to anyone that I never graduated from high school. My BS and JD since have established that I wasn't just a high school dropout. ;)

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

Check around on the GED age requirement - I know one of my patrons, who is 17, just took it. We are in southern NM. It may vary by state, or even by the organization administering it. If nothing else, he could take an extended field trip to take the test elsewhere:)

K@Renown and Crowned said...

Homeschool alum here! :) I am currently a junior in college, so having been through that process, I've learned a few things.

Some colleges offer dual-credit courses you can take while in high school... I was able to take College Algebra, English Comp 1, and Cultural Anthropology from the local Christian university while I was in high school... We counted those classes as high school credit AND I received college credit for it. What a blessing!

I only earned 9 credit hours, so I didn't have to worry about losing any freshman scholarship opportunities. Be very careful with that - some colleges count ANY post-high school college credit as a loss of freshman status. My college says you are a freshman transfer with up to 21 credit hours.

I applied to multiple colleges, including ones out of state. Mom was always very good about asking about the admissions' policy regarding homeschoolers. Any colleges with unwelcoming policies I chose not to apply for... This included the college that required I take the GED. I'm not a high school drop out, and I refuse the stereotype that comes with the GED.

I took the ACT (better for midwest/southern colleges) 3 times and I studied the test after I got each set of results to see how I could improve my score. was an excellent resource for this.

The colleges I was interested in, I played their financial aid offices "against" each other. Which school really wanted me? Who was going to be willing to find me more money? I knew from the get-go that IF I was going to attend college, I would only be doing so debt free, so I had to find as much free money as possible.

As it turns out, I am at a college 12 hours from my parents (because there are only 32 bachelor's degrees for my major in the U.S.). This semester I was refunded $1,100... I basically got paid to go to school. To date, I have no school debt. I have worked a workstudy job every semester and a job back home every summer. I didn't have a car my first year; I flew home. Now I drive home to save even more money.

Point of my extremely long comment: It is completely doable. Just ask a lot of questions, and be determined not to settle for less than the best.

Susanne said...

My son ended up leaving "regular" homeschoolng when he was 16 and enrolled full time in community college. In order to do this without problems, he (easily...) passed the CHSPE. But - a warning about CHSPE and UC! If you tell UC that you have the CHSPE, then they will consider that you took CC courses "after high school graduation", which forces you to become a transfer student. Nothing wrong with this, except that you need to accrue 90 transferable units before you can transfer. This was not exactly what we had intended, since the CC courses were taken as "high school replacement". My son could not apply to UC this year becuase he did not yet have 90 units. Some of the UCs and some CSUs are OK with this, but Santa Cruz, Davis, Berkeley, UCSD, etc, are not. Be warned!