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14 Mar 2012
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Colleges actively seek out homeschoolers. They find them to be independent, self-directed learners, and far more diverse than regularly schooled students. Ask the college you are interested in if their application process is any different for homeschoolers than it is for regularly schooled students. Each college is different.

Friends and family were again aghast when my older son returned to homeschooling for high school. Now the question was, “But what about college?” Concerns about him applying to college as a homeschooler were needless. Homeschooling turned out to be an asset rather than a liability. Colleges respect these kids as independent learners and want them for their diverse backgrounds.
– Laurie Block Spigel, from Education Uncensored

Laurie offers a lecture class for parents: Homeschooling for College.


It is typical for homeschoolers to take college courses while still in high school. It not only provides classroom experience, but also helps to prove their abilities on college applications. One A from a college may imply that all other non-graded courses have been done at that level. College credits look impressive on a resume, and can help to establish high school diploma equivalency (though most colleges don't require this). Homeschoolers in NYC can take advantage of the CUNY campus scholarship program called College Now, which requires a PSAT or SAT score to apply. But not all colleges require this from a high school student, and there are colleges that no longer require an SAT score from new applicants at all (such as Bates, in Lewiston, Maine).

Local homeschooled teens have earned credits from: Mercy College (a letter from a school or DoE official determining high school grade level status will get you a reduced rate); The School of Visual Arts (there are precollege courses for one credit each, and continuing ed courses for two – four credits each, all open to age 13 and up); Columbia U. (you will have to qualify the same way any applicant does, and pay full tuition); CUNY (Lehman, Hunter, John Jay, Brooklyn College, and more); colleges in New Jersey; and summer programs at colleges outside of NYC, including College of the Atlantic's Islands Through Time program.

Not everyone needs to go to college to have a successful life. In Michael Ellsberg's book The Education of Millionaires, he interviewed nearly 40 millionaire and billionaires, and NONE of them had finished college! Here you can read Ellsberg's eight-step program for getting a successful career without a college education (scroll down in the article for the eight steps).

Comment about your homeschooler's college experience by sending an e-mail to Laurie@HomeschoolNYC.com


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College Entrance Requirements

Most colleges do not require a diploma and are satisfied with proof that the student has received the equivalent of a high school education. This can be done by writing a brief but thorough transcript (the homeschooling parent should call this the Official High School Transcript), taking exams (such as the SAT), writing essays, undergoing interviews, submitting letters of recommendation, or by obtaining one of the following diploma equivalents.

SUNY requires a diploma or equivalent. Some private colleges demand extra SAT II exams from homeschoolers. When my son was applying for college with an intended major theater or film, Yale and Carnegie Mellon wanted three SAT IIs from him as a homeschooler, while NYU wanted only the regular SAT and no more. I think if he had been applying to NYU for math or business or science, he might have needed those extra SAT IIs.

SUNY will accept the following as proof of high school equivalency: the GED OR five Regents exams (not all, just English, math, US Gov't, science, and global history/geography) OR 24 college credits (which are supposed to be in general subjects like the Regents exams) OR a letter from a school principal or administrator. A parent in Yonkers got such a letter for her son from the Yonkers district office (making him eligible for scholarships to Mercy College as a high school student). If you ask for it and your local DoE office chooses not to provide such a letter, you can always go back to the college where you are seeking admission and ask them what documentation can stand in for such a letter.

(more info at: NYS Bd. of Ed: Home Instruction)

Fair Test has a list of colleges that don't always require the SAT or ACT exam for entrance. This list includes some well-known schools, such as Antioch, Goddard, Bard and Simon's Rock, Bates, Bennington, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Naropa, Sarah Lawrence, Texas A & M, Wheaton, and many more.

About High School Diploma Equivalents

(more info at: NYS Bd. of Ed: Home Instruction)

Section 3.47(a)(2)(ii) provides six alternatives for students beyond the age of compulsory attendance seeking to demonstrate acceptable preliminary education before they may be awarded a college degree:

  1. Holding a high school diploma; or
  2. Having completed the substantial equivalent of a four-year high school course, as certified by the Superintendent of Schools or comparable chief school administrator; or
  3. Holding a High School Equivalency Diploma; or
  4. Completing 24 semester hours or the equivalent as a recognized candidate for a college-level degree or certificate at a degree-granting institution, as defined in the regulation (6 semester hours or the equivalent in English Language Arts including writing, speaking and reading (literature), 3 semester hours or the equivalent in Mathematics, 3 semester hours or the equivalent in Natural Sciences, 3 semester hours or the equivalent in Social Sciences, 3 semester hours or the equivalent in Humanities, and 6 semester hours or the equivalent in any other courses within the registered degree or certificate program); or
  5. Having previously earned and been granted a degree from a degree-granting institution, as defined in the regulation; or
  6. Having passed and completed all requirements for the following five Regents examinations or approved alternative assessments for these examinations: the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English, the Regents examination in mathematics, the Regents examination in United States history and government, a Regents examination in science, and the Regents examination in global history and geography. See Past Regents Examinations.

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HSE (High School Equivalency)

Effective 2 January 2014, New York State selected a new high school equivalency test called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC™) to replace the General Educational Development (GED®) as the primary pathway to a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma. HSE Preparation Programs


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On testing for Regents, PSAT or AP

SAT and ACT exams are easy to sign up for online, but for these other exams you have to find someone willing to invite your student to sit with their own. Contact private schools (which tend more receptive than public schools) in late August, as soon as the administrators have returned, to make your request. There will be a fee (maybe $20).

AP exams are harder to find, so try Catholic and religious schools. Students have been able to sit for Regents exams at Brooklyn Tech. Often middle school students will take these exams in order to qualify for gifted programs, so not only homeschoolers come from elsewhere to take these tests.

The exam results will be sent to you, not the school where the exam was taken. Each school has an ID number; your student will fill out a form before the exam that includes name, SS number, address, and school ID number—use the ID number specifically for homeschool. Your student will have to have a proper photo ID in order to gain entrance to the exam (my kids used a non-driver's license ID).


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AP® Exams

AP® exams are rigorous, multiple-component tests that are administered at high schools each May. High school students can earn college credit, placement, or both for qualifying AP Exam grades. Each AP Exam has a corresponding AP course and provides a standardized measure of what students have learned in the AP classroom.


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CLEP Tests

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) gives students the opportunity to receive college credit by earning qualifying scores on any of 34 examinations.

One parent's experience taking CLEP tests: My boys took the CLEP test in French last year and did very well. It was cheap, easy to schedule, and didn't take long (just 90 mins). You get the results instantly. Many colleges will accept CLEP results for credit. But even if your college doesn't, I figure it can't hurt on college applications to have a few CLEP test results. You need two forms of ID. We used passports plus homemade IDs (made off the internet). We went to the Borough of Manhattan Community College to take it, but there are lots of NYC locations. You can find out all about it on the collegeboard website. CLEP tests are much easier to schedule than APs and SAT IIs. Whether they carry the same weight, I don't know. I think they may be easier tests.

See also One parent's comments below.


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PSAT, SAT, and SAT II

Note: the SAT mentioned on this page is the college-entrance exam (originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test and now called the SAT), and not the Stanford Achievement Test which is a standardized achievement test that also uses the abbreviation SAT.

Beyond Standardized Tests: How Non-Cognitive Skills Indicate College, Career Success

Homeschooled students can take the PSAT and SAT exams at any local school. Choose a school conveniently located. Give them a call and ask to speak to their testing proctor so that they will expect your child on the day of the test. There is usually a small fee. Try calling in mid-June, or two or three days after school begins in September. (Never call on their first day, when chaos is expected.) More information for Home-Schooled Students.

Test codes

To register for standardized tests, homeschooled students will need the appropriate code that represents homeschooling:

For other states' codes, see PSAT Homeschool Codes.

Free SAT Prep program online that includes a catalog of over 100 strategic study guides, an interactive vocabulary builder with over 5000 common SAT words, practice quizzes with explanations, and simulated practice tests.

SAT II tests are tests on specific subjects. See the College Board's page on SAT Subject Tests.

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The SAT and ACT have placement tests designed for students who have been out of school for a year or more. These exams are used by colleges to determine if a student needs remediation.


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Certificate of Completion new

Due to recent changes in the regulations regarding state financial aid, it is now in the best interest of homeschooled students to obtain a “letter of completion” from the DoE. This letter may vary from district to district. This is not a letter of “substantial equivalency” which is supposed to be a choice available to families who request it from a superintendent of schools. A “letter of completion” just states that you have filed your homeschooling paperwork and fulfilled all of those requirements through 12th grade. It does not say what level your work was done at, and it is not the same as an equivalency diploma. However, it may satisfy the requirements of some schools in New York State, such as CUNY (in NYC) and RIT (in upstate NY), where such proof of high school completion is necessary to obtain a college diploma.

This means that it may be in your interest to continue filing with the DoE through 12th grade even if the student is no longer of compulsory age (compulsory attendance ends when the student turns 17 by June in NYC, or 16 by June in the rest of New York State). Your local DoE office might suggest that you stop filing when the student is no longer of compulsory age, because less paperwork is easier for everyone, but that choice does not give you the option of obtaining a “letter of completion.”


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High School Transcript samples and blanks: Updated

You, the parent, can create your child's high school transcript for college applications, summarizing all of the experiences and courses taken in grades 9-12. It is helpful to have some graded courses taken at a local community college or other school included in the transcript, because those grades can help to validate nongraded homeschooled courses.

Books about transcripts:


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Books, Articles, and Websites


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Information on colleges


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Applying to Colleges


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One parent's comments

I am homeschooling my high school student. We will use CLEP and probably DSST and ECE examinations to document her independent study, which is now at college level. I have also found that Excelsior College, which is a large, accredited, not for profit distance learning school based in Albany, has a number of services which may be useful for home schooled students. Excelsior enrolls many members of the military and so offers some interesting options.
  1. High school students may take unlimited college courses as non-matriculated students.
  2. If a high school student has completed the required 24 credits, Excelsior will admit the student, prepare a transcript and certify the credits to New York State so that the student can obtain a high school equivalency diploma, even if none of the courses were taken at Excelsior.
  3. Excelsior also offers a transcript service to non-students. It will, for a fee of course, prepare an organized transcript showing all college credit from all sources so your child can submit a single college transcript with college applications. If your child has multiple sources of college credit, this might be worthwhile.
CLEP tests are given every Wednesday at LaGuardia Community College at 6:00. There are other test locations but this is the most user friendly. You can access information through the adult education portion of the college website. The staff members who administer the tests are pleasant and helpful.
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Questions about college

Next year, I would like to start home school college. I am 21 years old and there is no college that will take me in. I am in a Special Education program. Please help!

Try Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, by Mariah P. Bear MA and Thomas Nixon

Also available (some titles possibly out of print)

Bears' Guides are recommended by John Taylor Gatto as a way to think out of the box and still do college.

Also, there are many ways of getting a higher level education without attending college or obtaining a degree, beyond the use of local libraries or private tutoring. For example, most of MIT's courses are available free on-line as courseware. In fact, there is a consortium of colleges and universities around the world that have put their courses on-line for free (and some for a fee): www.ocwconsortium.org .


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Financial Aid

Scholarships for Homeschoolers

2010 Homeschool Graduate Makes Scholarship Road Easier for Others

OCEAN PARK, WA, USA—After spending much of the past year hunting down scholarships available to home-schooled students, David Craft realized there was a problem. “There are lots of scholarships available only to those in traditional schools, but none to speak of just for homeschooled students,” he lamented. “When I searched online for ‘homeschool scholarships’ I came up with only a few results, most of which had nothing to do with homeschooling.”

When David saw that many scholarships were in the $200 to $500 range, he realized there were businesses run by home school families who could probably also offer scholarships. “Perhaps they had just never thought of doing it,” he said.” It’s an important concern, because while some general scholarships invite homeschoolers to apply, the forms are designed for students in traditional schools. They place a lot of emphasis on class rank, and often have several pages asking for involvement in student government, school clubs, and student leadership positions. Homeschooled students are clearly the underdogs in these competitions.”

David, along with the support of his family, has launched a website, homeschoolscholarships.org . The two-fold purpose, as stated on the site, is “to inspire businesses and individuals to recognize the unique potential of homeschooled students by creating scholarships designed for them, and to provide a place for homeschooled students to find those scholarships.” Businesses who provide scholarships will be given a link to their own website.

Not destined to become another of the many scholarship search sites, this site will feature only those scholarships designed specifically for homeschool students, or scholarships that have a proven record of being homeschool-friendly. David hopes the homeschool community throughout the nation will help provide him with little-known scholarship opportunities to post on his site. He’s well on his way with 15 homeschool-specific scholarships already listed, and hopes to grow the list as more businesses and organizations decide to take the challenge. David can be contacted through the website.

See homeschoolscholarships.org for more information.


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Career Guidance


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More for Teens


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Proms for Homeschoolers new

Who ever said that homeschoolers don't have proms! My kids went every year in their high school years, and had a blast!

The NJ Spring Prom for Homeschoolers happens every April in central coastal NJ, maybe a 90-minute drive from NYC (http://njspringprom.com/). There are chaperones, but parents aren't allowed (take a walk on the beach and have dinner while they party up a storm). Teens get dressed up, request musical selections in advance on-line, dance, have their photographs taken, eat a catered meal, and generally act like teenage grown-ups.

There is a similar NJ Homeschool Prom at the end of June, marking the close of the school year. This one is farther south, maybe as much as a two-hour drive from NYC.

Both proms end around midnight or slightly after. Both proms are created for homeschoolers. Non-homeschoolers are welcome only as guests of homeschooled attendees.


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