Homeschooling college might not be for everyone, but for the student willing to put in the work, it can be an effective fast track to a college degree. Here are a few of the benefits of homeschooling college.
Provides outside documentation
Colleges like to see proof of learning from all students, not only homeschoolers. College level tests can provide this proof, like SAT® scores do. Some colleges use these tests to award college credit. Others use the test to prove the student has some understanding of the subject but may not necessarily give college credit for it.
Outside documentation is a reflection of the child's education. I often tell people that their transcript grades should be reflected by their test scores in the same way a lake reflects the image of real objects. Test scores reflect your child's education. Even though we commonly think of this in terms of the SAT® or ACT® test used for college admission purposes, this is also true for subject tests used for homeschooling college. They still provide outside documentation that colleges like to see.
Allows your child to obtain college credit
Each university has its own unique policy. They vary widely, so check with the schools your child wants to attend. Some colleges accept specific CLEP® scores, others accept them all, and some will not accept any. AP® credits are also accepted at some colleges but not all. Some colleges accept community college credits but may not accept them all, or prefer community college credits but won't give college credit for community college courses.
At one of the colleges my sons applied to, they did not accept CLEP® for credit but were thankful to have outside documentation of our students' grades. Another college accepted any CLEP® with a score over 50 but would only accept up to one year of CLEP® credits.
It's up to the parent and student to work together and figure out what their chosen colleges want. Each of the four colleges we applied to had a different policy. Consider your student, and what is most helpful for them. If push comes to shove, I suggest looking at your first choice college most closely. This is the college your child is most likely to go to should you decide not to homeschool college all the way through to a degree.
May allow your child to earn a college degree
You can mix and match the credits from different college level tests, combine them to meet college requirements, and fill in any additional credits from different sources to meet specific degree requirements. Then send these credits to a university that provides a diploma.
It's important to check the accreditation status of each university. Check the school's rules and regulations, and make sure they are still accredited by the time your child is done. At least this will give you a starting place. You don't want your child to use any university online because some are merely diploma mills. Unless it is an institution you know and trust, make sure it is accredited. Sometimes I recommend Lumerit Unbound as a resource because they are familiar with which universities are accredited, and I trust their opinion.
Although homeschooling college can be helpful, it's not as useful for hands-on degrees. Classes such as science, technology, engineering, and medicine generally require on-campus work. Homeschooling college may not be helpful for kids who want to go to graduate school, either. An online degree may not transfer easily to a graduate school, and your child might be unable to attend a medical school, law school, or other masters or doctorate programs. Some graduate programs care where your child earned an undergrad degree. Keep this in mind if grad school is part of your student's long-term plan.
Homeschooling college also requires student self-motivation. You cannot force a student to learn—the desire must come from within. This is probably three thousand times true when a child is eighteen and you can no longer tell them what to do! And especially true when they're working on a college degree and suddenly realize they are independent adults! As much as homeschooling requires self-motivation, homeschooling college requires an enormous amount of self-motivation.
I know that homeschooling college all the way through wouldn't have worked for either of my children. My older son was into science and engineering and wanted to get an engineering degree, which requires a certain amount of hands-on learning. Even though he took one year of community college and one year of homeschool college, he still had to attend university for four whole years to get his engineering degree. Homeschooling college didn't gain anything in time. However, we were thankful that the experiences helped him earn a full-tuition scholarship, so we could afford the four years of college.
My younger son wanted to pursue a law degree after earning a B.A. and had his heart set on going to Harvard. We knew that Harvard would not accept a homeschool college degree and the degree would have to come from a brick and mortar university.
Our children didn't earn a complete degree by homeschooling college. However, for both kids, homeschooling college was incredibly beneficial. It helped them get scholarships since it provided wonderful outside documentation. In theory, it could have shortened my youngest son's undergraduate degree, but he chose to go to school for four years because he loved it so much!
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