Homeschoolers and College

In our family, children are expected to attend college.  We told them that given the problem some business have accepting a homeschool diploma, we expect them to earn at least an associates degree.  But every child is an individual, and if God has something different in store for our kids, ultimately He is in charge, not us.

When our oldest first started looking at colleges, I remembered reading about a college founded by a christian businessman.  Once our son looked at LeTourneau University, he never looked at any other colleges.  It’s the only school he applied to. We told him flat out that we had no idea how we would pay for it, but if that’s where God wanted him, He’d provide the money.  Our son’s letter of acceptance included a partial scholarship.  Our son graduated four years later with an engineering degree and 4.0 gpa (we are proud of him!), and had a job offer by October of his senior year.  LeTourneau is very friendly toward homeschoolers, and many of the professors homeschool their own children.

While we were driving child number one to his college, child number two was looking out the car window and noticed Colorado Christian University.  She investigated and decided that’s where she wanted to go.  As parents, we said we’d look but weren’t especially in favor. Then we looked at the website and prayed, and both of us believed that was where God wanted her. That’s the only place she applied, and was accepted with a partial scholarship.  She earned a 4.0 gpa, but it was a tough year, and just before leaving for her sophomore year, decided that a change was in order.  Instead of returning to CCU, she stayed home and prepared to go on the mission field. She spent a year with YWAM, first completing a medical DTS, which involved 2-1/2 months of training in Australia, then 2-1/2 months on outreach in India and Nepal.  When she came home at Christmas, we discussed what God had in store for her next and she elected to return to Australia for more in-depth training and more outreach.  When it took 46 seconds for her visa to be approved, we knew she was on the right track!  While she was overseas, she decided that she wouldn’t return to CCU, so applied to (and was accepted at) three different schools:  Cedarville University, Whitworth University, and George Fox University.  We anticipated that she’d choose Cedarville (which looks like an amazing school), but that’s the only one that didn’t come with a scholarship offer, and after being away from family for a year she wanted a school closer to home. She is currently a student and applying to nursing school.

When child number three started looking at colleges, we joked that there are schools in Washington state!  She received mountains of paperwork from colleges that had programs she was interested in (when kids take the PSAT/NMSQT, they should definitely fill out the info about their interests and preferences).  Her criteria was 1) a Christian school, 2) with a degree that would allow her to get into a DPT program after graduation, 3) close enough that she could live at home and commute.  It didn’t take long to discover that she could only get 2/3 of those things, so she had to decide what was most important.  While visiting one college, we heard a guest speaker from a different college during chapel and decided to take a second look at George Fox University.  Like her siblings, she received a scholarship to make it more affordable.

Child number four listened to his oldest brother’s advice and decided to take a couple dual-credit courses while he was still in high school.  This can either make it take less time after transferring to a four-year university, or it can let students take a lighter load at uni, or even make space in the schedule so they can earn a double-degree.  He planned visits to his top three university choices, but after visiting his brother at LeTourneau University cancelled the other visits.  Like his older siblings, he was accepted at the only school to which he applied, and received a scholarship — it’s costing about $2,000 a year less at the private school than it would cost at a state school closer to home.  This child also turned out for the university baseball team and had a wonderful time during the fall season.  Spring season is more intense, and he’s decided that he doesn’t have 32 hours a week to play baseball and still get his schoolwork done.

How Do Homeschooled Students Get Admitted to College?

Look at the website of colleges you’re considering.  They will tell you their entrance requirements.  In general, they want to see that students are interesting people who will contribute to their culture.  They want to see community involvement and volunteer work.  They want to see rigorous college-prep classes.  Most universities want to see two years of high-school level foreign language – but our experience is that they won’t accept homeschool foreign language without some sort of independent verification such as the subject-area SAT. Taking foreign language through the community college for dual-credit while doing the rest of her classes as a homeschooler worked very well for our daughter, and is probably what our youngest will do.

It’s not enough to say that your student studied algebra or American literature.  Expect a college to ask about the curriculum you used so they can verify that your student is prepared to succeed in college.  Plan to use college-prep materials to teach:

  • English (4 years – 3 composition/literature plus 1 other, some universities require speech)
  • Math (3 years minimum at least through trig/precalc)
  • Science (3 years, with 2 years lab science, some states require specific courses)
  • Social Science (3 years including U.S. history, world history, and civics. Psych recommended)
  • Foreign Language (minimum 2 years same language, or 1 year dual-credit)
  • Extra (another math, science, or social science credit)
  • Fine Arts (1-2 years)

See also my posts on College & Career Planning, High School and Beyond PlanCollege-Bound Student Athletes, Planning a High School Curriculum, College Admissions Testing, Are You Ready for Your Child to Go to College?, Preparing Transcripts, Looking Ahead to College, Sending Young Adults to College, and Testing for Credit.


You Can Do It!



Organizing the Books

Over the years as we’ve added to our book collection, we’ve also acquired new bookcases for the storage of said books.  These bookcases have just been squeezed in wherever I could find space, the result being that we ended up with bookcases everywhere.  Well, not exactly everywhere. Books shouldn’t go in the bathroom because the humidity would damage the books – but everywhere else.  There are bookcases in the family room, and the music room, and the dining room and even a bookcase full of cookbooks in the pantry. There are bookcases in every bedroom, in the entryway, in the den, in the oversized hallway, and in the laundry room.  People step into my house and remark, “Wow! Someone likes books!”

Well, recently we decided to turn the den into a guest bedroom so that when our oldest child and his new bride come to visit (yes, homeschoolers grow up, go to college, get jobs, and get married), they won’t have to sleep on the couch.  Our enormous executive desk went off to college with our daughter, but if we’re going to put a bed in that room, the bookcases had to move.  I wandered about the house, staring at things, pondering how I could possibly make this work.

I thought and planned. I measured bookcases and I measured walls.  Since moving bookcases means that those bookcases must first be emptied, I had to find a temporary place for all those books.  I made stacks.  Books everywhere: on the tables, under the tables, on the floor beneath the windows… .  I couldn’t just empty one bookcase, relocate it, then fill it back up, because my goal was a better organization of our entire library.  I didn’t just move the books out of the den; I rearranged every book in the house.


First I gathered the books for younger kids and arranged them all together in the upstairs hallway. These are favorites everyone loves, and we enjoy reading them again and again.  They’re now centrally located for easy access.  Our third-grade curriculum is out on loan, so by June I’ll have to find space for another 100 books here. I think there’s space for 20, so that’s a bit of a problem.  My plan is to move the baby & toddler books to our new guest room, leaving space for the others.

BooksEntryNext I moved the theology and Bible study books into the entryway. These used to be in our bedroom, which was highly inconvenient when someone would want to browse through them and borrow a couple.  That leaves two tall and four short bookcases in our bedroom for books we’re unlikely to loan out, such as old college textbooks, high school yearbooks, books we inherited from grandparents, etc.

Next, I moved the china hutch out of the dining room into the music room to make space so that the den’s bookcases could move into the dining room (that also resulted in moving the piano that was supposed to go to college with my daughter but is somehow still here).  This works so much better! The grammar and writing and spelling and learning-to-read books are all together.  The foreign language books are all together.  The art curricula are no longer scattered about the house based on which year it was purchased.  Likewise with the science books.  History is a little harder; the curricula guides are all together (except for one publisher, which is grouped together on its own shelf), while the historical literature is elsewhere. Since the bookcases aren’t as deep as the china hutch that used to be in that spot, as a bonus we have more space around the table.  I am very happy with the result!

BooksDining  BooksDining2

The opposite wall of the dining room has shelves for secondary-level literature and history:  U.S. history with American historical literature, church history with classical literature, civics with American lit, 20th century history and lit, as well as British lit.

Books that guests might like to read while they’re visiting are now in the guest room.  That just leaves the Great Books, one set of encyclopedias, and a few other books in the family room.

No longer will I have to hunt for books each summer in preparation for a new school year, and no longer will I need to rearrange shelves to make “this year’s” books accessible.  And if we really do move after hubby retires, I think I want our house to have an entire room set aside as a library.  It’s really nice having the books organized!

Kindergarten is Not Mandatory

Once again the schools have signs out telling parents that they must register their 5-year-olds for kindergarten next fall.  This is false!  Attendance is optional for five-year-olds in Washington state.  RCW 28A.225.010 clearly sets the compulsory attendance ages as 8-17.  That means five-, six-, and seven-year-olds do not have to attend school!

Parents occasionally mention to me that they’re considering homeschooling.  By all means, before children turn 8  is great time to consider it.  You don’t have to do any paperwork for the school district.  There are no testing requirements for children who are not yet old enough to be affected by the compulsory schooling laws.

If you have a child who will be old enough that kindergarten is an option next year, but are considering waiting a year or two, know that it is okay to continue enjoying time at home with your child.  There is a reason that schools don’t begin at age four.  Five is a fun age!

While you’re deciding, here is some reading material that might help.   If these books are not on the shelf of your public library, you can request them through inter-library loan:

You could make use of the public library and teach your five-year-old at home for free.  Or you could invest some money in things that the child might not realize are educational.  I’d be inclined to get these things whether or not I was homeschooling:

Read also:


College and Career Planning

CollegeCareer 008This year my high school junior’s schedule includes a course titled College and Career Planning.  Initially it was supposed to be a one-semester course, but based on the amount of time and effort required, it appears that it will take a full year.

To begin the year, the college-bound student should spend a significant amount of time studying for the Pre-SAT/NMSQT.  After taking this test in mid-October, the student should switch to studying for the SAT/ACT.  Ideally, the student already knows that colleges require test scores as part of the application process.

In addition to studying for college entrance exams, students also work on developing goals for their life after high school.  This involves reading about learning styles, aptitudes, and career interests.  The goal is for the student to discover/reinforce a direction for future studies (or, I suppose, some students might reinforce not wanting to attend college), and know what will be needed to attain their goal.

Resources we are using include:

My high school junior is creating a notebook documenting his work.  We are beginning the process earlier with my younger son. He will begin his notebook this year (8th grade) and create a High School and Beyond Plan similar to what his friends in public school are making (ours is better, and geared to our family rather than the generic average student).

These pages get inserted into a 3-ring binder.  At the back of the binder, I am inserting one binder pocket (with the interest inventory), and two poly-envelopes (one for filing test scores, and one for letters from colleges).

Good luck with your planning!

College and Career Planning (HSBP)



College-Bound Student Athletes

Does it matter what classes kids take during high school? Most definitely!  The National Collegiate Athletic Association has strict standards that examine the specific courses taken in high school.  The NCAA focuses on core courses, and recommends that students’ high school schedule includes:

  • 4 English credits (1 per year)
  • 4 math credits (1 per year)
  • 4 science credits (1 per year)
  • 4 social science credits (1 per year) can include some foreign language

That is just a recommendation, though, and exact requirements vary slightly for Division I, Division II, and Division III schools.  These classes are called core courses:
NCAA Course Requirements

If you’re saying to yourself, “That looks like anyone who graduates from high school will automatically have all the classes they need,” you’d be surprised.  First, not every class offered in a subject area counts as a core course. Students at public and private schools can find their school on the NCAA Eligibility Center’s website and scroll down to view the list of approved classes from which to choose.  If you homeschool, you will have to complete a Core Course Worksheet for every class and have the course evaluated to confirm that it qualifies. None of us want to graduate our athletes and then discover that the NCAA finds our curriculum lacking, so it is important to check early and make sure your curriculum will be accepted.

Second, it matters when the classes are taken. Of those 16 core courses, ten of them must be completed before the student’s final semester; seven of those ten must be in English, math, and science.  I honestly can’t figure out how a student could complete 3-1/2 years of high school without earning the 10/7 credits needed for NCAA eligibility, but apparently there are good athletes recruited by colleges who end up ineligible due to their poor choice of high school classes.

GPA – For purposes of NCAA eligibility, students must earn a minimum 2.3 GPA in their core courses. Note that for purposes of college admission, a 2.3 GPA is not nearly good enough to get into many universities.  Schools are looking for good students with high GPAs.

SAT/ACT Scores – Athletes who want to participate in sports at the college level need to have their SAT/ACT scores sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center.  There are minimum acceptable college admissions test scores, but the standard is pretty low so a good student shouldn’t have anything to worry about.  Bad students do need to score well to counteract a bad gpa.

Registration with NCAA – Yes, that’s right. Students must register with the NCAA.  The NCAA evaluates courses and transcripts, checks gpa and SAT scores, and takes care of all the minutia.  Colleges just have to look up students on the NCAA website to see whether or not the student is eligible.  Students not declared eligible by the NCAA are not allowed to practice or play or receive athletic scholarships, so this is a crucial step.  However, registration is only required for DI & DII schools. NCAA registration is not required for students to play at DIII colleges.  Now that I’ve looked at all the paperwork involved, I’m highly tempted to tell my boys that they’re limited to DIII schools 🙂

When to register? According to NCAA materials, students can register during their sophomore year of high school.  It’s okay to wait until the junior year, but avoid the rush of waiting until your senior year to register.  You want your name out there so that college coaches have more opportunities to want to recruit you.

Running Start & Dual Credit – Students may take dual credit courses and college classes while in high school, but once a student is registered full-time in college courses, a 5-year clock begins on athletic eligibility. Therefore, students wanting to participate in college athletics will probably not want to be full-time Running Start students.  Taking ten credits at a local college plus two high school courses (or one college course plus four high school courses) should be acceptable.

What About High School Classes in Junior High? – Yes, according to the NCAA’s FAQ page, those can count as long as the credits are listed on the high school transcript and are approved core courses from the high school.

Jumping Through the Hoops – there are certain things that all student athletes must do to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, and a few extra things that homeschoolers must do.  All student athletes must:

Homeschoolers must also provide:

For more information, the NCAA provides a handy checklist for homeschoolers, as well as a homeschool FAQ sheet. Another helpful resource is the NCAA’s Home School Students page.

I am about to begin filling out our Core Course Worksheets.  The evaluation criteria I’ve been able to find says that courses:

  • must be college-prep
  • must have comparable content to approved courses

It would be nice if the NCAA’s website included a list of approved/disapproved curriculum popular with homeschoolers, or if publishers included information for parents to copy & paste onto the NCAA’s worksheet!

Washington State History

WASTHistAfter purchasing what sounded like a decent curriculum, I was greatly disappointed to discover that it was for elementary, not high-school level Washington state history.  I ended up creating my own.  At the bottom of this post is a link to the PDF of the booklet I ultimately created.

Note:  my sons will concurrently receive a research-writing credit.  There is a significant amount of writing required for this class.  This is because my older children have not felt as well prepared for college-level writing as would be ideal.  I am attempting to address that with the younger children.  Since they need both writing and WA state history, I’m combining the two.

Chapters include:

  • Historical Overview
  • Expansion of the United States
  • State Symbols
  • Counties
  • Native American Tribes of Washington
  • State Geography
  • Stories & History
  • Government
  • State Parks
  • Historical Sites

This study requires:

  • Internet access
  • It Happened in Washington, by James A. Crutchfield

This course requires research of the Lewis & Clark trail using your choice of resources. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:

  • Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail, by Julie Fanselow
  • The Perilous West, by Larry E. Morris
  • Meeting Natives with Lewis and Clark, by Barbara Fifer
  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition, by Richard Newberger

Additional resources for a report on hydroelectric dams on Washington’s rivers will be needed. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:

  • Water Power in the “Wilderness” – The History of Bonneville Lock and Dam, by William F. Willingham, PhD
  • Grand Coulee: Harnessing a Dream, by Paul C. Pitzer
  • Power Lines: Giant Hydroelectric Power in the Pacific Northwest, an Era and a Career, by Russell McCormmack
  • Washington State Hydroelectric Dams
  • Department of Ecology website ( Select Water then Dams
  • Inventory of Dams of the State of Washington

Additional resources for a report on Washington’s history will be needed. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:

  • Pioneering the Washington Territory, by Welcon W. Rau
  • Lorinda Bewley and the Whitman Massacre, by Myra Sager Helm
  • Northwest Heritage, by William E. Scofield
  • Sagebrush Homesteads, by Laura Tice Lage
  • Images of America: Fort Lewis, by Alan H. Archamhault

I recommend printing the cover sheet on cardstock and having it laminated. Also laminate a back cover.  Sandwich the pages between the two covers, then take the book to a printer and have a plasti-coil binding put on your book.

Washington State History WorkText (no appendix)_

High School and Beyond Plan

While homeschoolers don’t have to fulfill the state’s High School and Beyond requirement, the more I’ve looked at it, it appears to be a good process to guide students through if they haven’t expressed a solid career goal.  The process is designed to begin in 8th grade and be revised/updated every year until graduation.

According to the state Board of Education, high-quality HSBPs include the following elements:


How these components are put together depends on the school.  Many schools and districts include detailed information on their websites.  In general, a portfolio will include:

Career Assessment – students take skills assessments, interest inventories, and make use of your choice of other tools to try to determine a good match between interests and abilities that will lead to a fulfilling career.

Four-Year Plan – beginning in eighth grade, students and their parents work together to develop a plan for their high school studies so that kids graduate on time and take all of the classes needed so that they will be able to pursue their post-high school goals.  While eighth graders obviously need some idea what classes to take in ninth grade, in my house I prayerfully determine my children’s coursework.  They don’t choose.  Of course, my selections are based partly on my children’s interests (for instance, last year we added a study of American Indians for one of our children, and this year I have a child spending enough time working out on the home gym that he will get a weight training credit), but when beginning high school, there’s nothing my kids need to plan. I believe that it is my job to give my kids the tools they need to go do whatever it is God wants them to do — including fulfill college admissions requirements so that they have that option if God calls them that direction.  In our family, all children are required to earn at least an associates degree so that they will never have to deal with employers who won’t recognize a homeschool diploma.  The HSBP portfolio should include the student’s four year plan, regardless of who creates the plan.

Personal Statement – This essay spells out the student’s college, career, and life goals.  It should clearly show how the student’s coursework relates to those goals, and also explain how the student intends to pursue those goals in the future.

Best Works – This component is only required by some schools.  It gives students an opportunity to showcase their best work in a variety of subjects.  It can include reports and essays, artwork, poetry, tests, and even URLs to recordings of musical performances.

Resume’ – Since students need to either begin college or get a job once they graduate, creating a resume’ can be a good exercise for students.  Either they will use the resume’ to obtain employment, or they will realize that they are in need to additional education/training if they want to eat and live indoors.

Volunteer Hours – students will include volunteer information on their college applications, so keeping a running log of those hours and experiences while they go through their high school years will create a useful document when it is time to begin the application process

Awards & Recognition – students can easily forget about awards they have received, but they look good on college applications.  By keeping a log throughout the high school years, it will be easier to transfer this information to college applications when the time comes.