Getting homeschoolers into college just got easier
One of the biggest hurdles homeschoolers have faced in some areas is getting into college. But some colleges have started to make it easier:
David Sample wanted to attend the University of California, Riverside but thought it was a lost cause because he had been homeschooled.
The UC system is known for being tough on nontraditionally schooled applicants. For them, the best tickets to UC have been transferring in after taking community college classes or posting near-perfect scores on college entrance exams.
"For homeschoolers, it was basically a shut door for us because of the restrictions," Sample said.
Last fall, however, Riverside joined a growing number of colleges around the country that are revamping application policies to accommodate homeschooled students.
The change came just in time for the 18-year-old Sample to apply and get accepted with a substantial scholarship.
Under Riverside's new policy, homeschoolers can apply by submitting a lengthy portfolio detailing their studies and other educational experiences.
Sample's package showed he had studied chemistry, U.S. history and geometry, rewired a house and helped rebuild a medical clinic in Nicaragua.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that 1.1 million, or 2.2 percent of all students in the nation, are homeschooled.
Some private colleges have eagerly recruited those students for years and tailored application processes to include them. Homeschoolers still face challenges when applying to many public universities, but their chances of being considered are improving.
In 2000, 52 percent of all colleges in the country had a formal evaluation policy for applications from homeschoolers, said David Hawkins, director of public policy for the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Four years later, the number jumped to 83 percent. During that time, 45 percent of colleges reported receiving more applications from homeschoolers, he said.
Major schools that now post application procedures for homeschooler [sic] on their Web sites include Michigan State University, Oregon State University and the University of Texas.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also willing to consider homeschoolers. The highly regarded school does not require a high school diploma. As part of its admissions process, it considers scores from college entrance exams and asks applicants to submit a 500-word essay, detail five extracurricular activities and offer two teacher evaluations.
"We evaluate every student based on who they are," said Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at MIT.
UC Riverside is actively recruiting homeschoolers, said Merlyn Campos, interim director of undergraduate admissions.
"There are a lot of students out there that are very prepared for a college level education," she said. "They are kind of being forced into going into a community college."
As leery as I am of some homeschooling arrangements, having seen some that were covers for neglect of children and some that never ensured any sort of literacy, I have seen others that have done an admirable job. We have seen homeschoolers acquit themselves admirably in the National Spelling Bee and National Geography Bee, as well as to write wonderful books such as this or this.
Students who demonstrate qualifications should be admitted to college, and it is obvious that young Mr. Sample has had a rich and varied educational background. I hope these young homeschoolers are able to transition into the regimentation of the college classroom and enrich our country with their talents.