Changes for Homeschoolers

Article excerpt

Karen Goldberg Goff is a staff writer for The Washington Times.

Forty percent of colleges and universities reported an increase in applications from homeschoolers in 2003, according to the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), a professional organization. The group had no statistics on acceptances of homeschoolers.

The NACAC also reported that 77 percent of colleges and universities have a formal evaluation policy for homeschoolers. That is up from 52 percent in 2000.

What this means to college-bound homeschoolers is an easier path to admissions than in the past. "In the last seven years, there have been tremendous breakthroughs" [regarding college admissions policies], says Chris Klicka, senior legal counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a Virginia-based advocacy group for homeschoolers' legal rights.

"Seven years ago, less than half of colleges made it possible or easy for homeschoolers to apply," he says. "Now, I'd say 95 percent of colleges have wide-open doors. There are still some barriers, though."

Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, agrees. He calls reviewing homeschool applicants a "widely accepted" practice at his university. "More and more universities are being accommodating to homeschoolers," he says. "While policies are very much on a school-by-school basis, there is a great deal of flexibility on what institutions can do."

George Mason, for instance, is phasing out the requirement of the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) test. Although it varies from school to school, the GED requirement for homeschoolers is largely dropped at many universities. The GED used to be necessary not only for admissions, but also for financial aid. The Higher Education Act Amendment of 1998 stated that students could apply for financial aid with a self-certified homeschool diploma, Klicka says.

"Now it is a separate option for those in a homeschool setting to have a self-certified diploma," he says. "As a result, universities have backed off the GED requirement."

Still, there are several actions to take when a homeschooler is thinking about college, Klicka says.

* Parents should keep a detailed transcript. It is a good idea to check with your state's department of education to know what the proper number of units is for college-prep students. …