In the Mix: Homeschoolers and Higher Education
- Friday, April 30, 2004
According to information from Illinois' Wheaton College, accepting homeschooled students is old hat. "Wheaton College has enrolled many homeschooled students in recent years," read their admissions guidelines. "Nearly ten percent of our current freshmen were homeschooled at some point, and about a dozen were homeschooled through high school. We encourage homeschooled students to consider Wheaton."
Dr. Brian Ray at the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) says that most colleges welcome homeschoolers and want to accommodate them. In fact, he told TOS that homeschoolers should have no problem getting into a college, because "The truth in America is that if you have money and you want to go to college… if you have decent test scores and a warm body, you can get in!" Ray agrees that homeschoolers are usually treated as equals with their traditionally educated peers. "[Colleges are] …interested in making sure that students take the SAT or ACT and get the same score as anyone does. They'll want to know whether the person was involved in extracurricular activities. It's highly variable if they want a transcript or personal essay or an interview. The more prestigious the school is, the more they're going to demand."
Helping Homeschoolers Serve Their Country
Military Academies are also very willing to accept homeschooled students, although their admissions procedures may be more rigorous than the standard college. Athletics play a huge role in admissions at military schools where large percentages of each new class have participated in high school sports or earned varsity letters. Candidates to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the United States Military Academy at West Point must pass the Physical Aptitude Exam (PAE), a test of strength, agility, speed, and endurance. The PAE is used to judge how well a student will handle the military's grueling physical program – a challenge that some homeschoolers find hard to meet.
"[Homeschoolers] have always been pretty well qualified academically," said Rolland Stoneman, Associate Director of Admissions at the Air Force Academy. "[But] athletics play a major role in our program. We use their athletic participation not just to judge their physical ability, but as a means of helping us determine character, leadership, tenacity – all of the things that make a good candidate."
At West Point, admissions officers are more concerned with the leadership qualities that a student possesses. "The students that come in through a homeschool program…fit in well," Colonel Jones, Admissions Director at West Point told TOS. "We believe that demonstrated leadership in high school is very important…they're showing the ability to step up and take responsibility when others fail. Leadership is really important to officers in the Army – and for a brand-new lieutenant going into a platoon… especially if that platoon is in combat, leadership has got to be a given. If [leadership is] demonstrated early on, it'll probably come through and we can improve on that."
The opinion of military academies is probably best summed up by Rolland Stoneman's statement to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: "While we're not actively recruiting homeschoolers, the numbers are definitely increasing," he said. "We want to help them succeed. There are a lot of kids out there with a desire to serve their country, and we're certainly going to help them do that."
Advice on how to get admitted to different colleges varies just as much as different admissions processes, but there are three factors that remain the same no matter where you go. A student must have a good SAT or ACT score in order to get into almost every college. The one exception to this rule may be found at community colleges, most of which require an English and Math Proficiency test. The more prestigious the school, the higher your test scores must be. Extracurricular activities are also a big plus – they show a willingness to pursue your passions and beliefs.
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