Is higher education an option after homeschooling? Certainly! Even if a college or university doesn't currently have a specific admission policy for home-educated students, homeschoolers have still been able to gain admittance to many of these post-secondary institutions.
To help you explore your post-secondary options, we've gathered some information on existing university and college admissions policies. You can also find out what OFTP is doing to improve the ease with which homelearners gain admittance to higher education in Ontario.
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents is collecting information from homeschoolers who have applied for admission to colleges and universities. If you've had experience with this process, please help us expand our database by filling out the OFTP Post-Secondary Admissions Project Questionnaire. Thank you!
Preparing for post-secondary education
Many families homeschool their children through the elementary years and then have them attend high school to get their diploma. Others homeschool through the high school years and either obtain credits for a high school diploma through correspondence schools and virtual schools, or else gain entrance to institutions that have a special admissions policy for homeschoolers and do not require a high school diploma. Another option for homeschoolers who do not have a secondary school diploma, is to attend college or university as a mature student - age 21 for university and age 19 for college - since the criteria for the admission of a mature student are different than they would be for a student under the age of 19 or 21.
We recommend that you approach the particular college or university that you are interested in attending, and enquire about what their admissions policy is for homeschoolers or, if a specific policy doesn't exist, what the general admissions policy is. It's also a good idea to speak to the Registrar to inform them of your particular situation in order to determine what criteria would apply for you to gain admittance. Do this with enough of an advance to allow time to acquire all the pre-requisites.
The situation in Ontario
Many universities and colleges in Ontario are starting to prepare admissions policies for homelearners. Through its Post-Secondary Admissions Project, the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents has been instrumental in bringing the need for such policies to the attention of admissions officers, and helping them formulate what those policies might be through a 49-page report on Developing Homeschool Admission Policies.
Our efforts with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) have also resulted in changes to funding policies for colleges and universities, as of May 2001. Previously, home-educated students were not eligible to be counted for funding purposes.
Universities and colleges in Canada
OFTP volunteers have compiled a list of universities and colleges in Canada (including Ontario) that have admitted homeschoolers or are willing to consider doing so. We've included contact information and a description of their admissions policy for homelearners. Let us know if you're aware of anything that could be added or needs to be changed.
Universities and colleges in the United States
In the United States, hundreds of colleges, universities and vocational institutes all over the nation are accepting homeschoolers. In fact, many actively recruit home educated students because of their creativity, independence and ability to work on their own. Most are thrilled with these intelligent, responsible, capable young people and many are actively recruiting them. Most of these institutions value ability and attitude over formal transcripts, diplomas or GEDs.
Alternatives to college and university
It should be noted that college is not necessarily the only or even the best route for every young person. Going to college without a clear idea of what you expect to gain can be a very expensive form of self-discovery. And for many teens who already know where they are headed, apprenticeship opportunities and other forms of 'on-the-job' training can be a faster and more satisfying entry into their adult lives. Many homeschoolers become entrepreneurs.
And remember, the decision to forgo college is never irrevocable. Most institutions highly value older students, since they are usually enthusiastic and focused on learning.
For further information
Home-schooled students face hurdles to higher education ~ Reprinted from the University Affairs Newsletter,
January 2002 ~ "University registrars in Ontario and a federation of parents who teach their children at home are beginning talks about how to admit home-schooled students to Ontario universities."
Most libraries and bookstores carry a wide assortment of books, directories and guides that will help older homeschoolers get information and prepare for this next step. Here are some books that can be helpful to families working through these decisions:
- And What About College? (by Cafi Cohen)
- Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook (by Cafi Cohen)
- Teenage Liberation Handbook (by Grace Llewellyn)
- Making A Difference - College & Graduate Guide (by Miriam Weinstein)
- Making A Difference - Scholarships For A Better World (by Miriam Weinstein)
- Unschooling to University (by Judy Arnall)
Higher Education Facebook Group
- Higher Education for Homelearners — a national group sponsored by OFTP (formerly on Yahoo Groups, created in Feb. 2001)
Here are some other websites with useful information for homeschoolers looking into attending college or university:
- University Admissions .ca - This website provides information on university admissions in Canada "... with or without a high school diploma!" -- not just for homeschool students but also for students attending high school and mature students as well -- in other words everyone
- Ontario Universities Application Centre
- Ontario College Application Services
- Unschooling to University blog (Judy Arnall)
- (US) Colleges That Admit Homeschoolers - Learn In Freedom website
OFTP attempts to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. If you become aware of any inaccuracies or omissions, please notify OFTP.