Postsecondary Admissions for Homeschool Students

post-secondary admissions

By Patty Marler, Government and Media Relations, HSLDA Canada 

It is no surprise to us that many postsecondary institutions recognize the great value in admitting homeschooled students. A past president of Concordia University of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada)  was once asked if homeschooled students do well in university and his response was, “Have you been to our awards ceremonies? A significant number of the students crossing that stage have been homeschooled!” 

Having the confidence to homeschool through high school often necessitates an understanding of how a homeschooled student will obtain postsecondary admission. In many cases homeschooled high school students typically do not have government-issued transcripts, so alternative methods of demonstrating academic proficiency are required. 

The method used to gain admission will depend upon the institution and/or the program to which the student is applying. Many universities, colleges, and trade schools have developed specialized homeschool admissions policies (see list below). We recommend that parents, along with their high school children, research institutions and programs several years before beginning applications. It takes time to understand the acceptance requirements in order to determine how to approach admissions. Remember to apply very early to have the time for additional inquiry and advocacy. 

 

Homeschool Admissions Policies 

See how some postsecondary institutions in Canada have developed specific admissions guidelines for homeschooled students. 

Trinity Western University (BC)

Concordia University of Alberta (AB)

University of Saskatchewan (SK)

Briercrest (SK)

University of Winnipeg (MB) 

Assiniboine College (MB)

Brock University (ON)

Western University (ON) 

Kingswood University (NB)

 

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Admissions Avenues

Home educated students have used several different pathways to gain admission to postsecondary institutions. 

 

Portfolio Method

A collection of information tailored to the desired institution and program outlining the student’s high school education to be submitted for admissions evaluation. 

The portfolio may include: 

  • a transcript of completed coursework and assigned grades (a fillable transcript is available on HSLDA’s Member site);
  • the scope and sequence of coursework (e.g. table of contents, sample textbook pages); 
  • transcripts of any formal courses taken during high school (e.g. open studies courses, AP/SAT/ACT marks, equivalency exam marks, etc.); 
  • dated writing samples (a minimum of 10);
  • reading lists;
  • related extracurricular activities (i.e. music, sports and fine arts achievements, employment/volunteer information); and,
  • letters of recommendation and references.

 

Open Studies Method

Many postsecondary institutions offer individual courses through Open Studies without being admitted to the school or a specific program. Homeschooled students may take one or more courses, and potentially use those completed courses to gain admission to a specific program.

 

Standardized Tests 

SAT, ACT,  College Board Courses (AP, IB,CLEP,)

High school homeschooled students may use their marks for these tests as the base for their postsecondary admissions.  AP/IB courses may be used as high school equivalents and the student may receive postsecondary credits if their grades are high enough. Modernstates.org offers a vast array of AP, CLEP and IB courses for free. 

 

Equivalency Exams

Some universities will offer prospective students the opportunity to write equivalency exams or take high school equivalency courses. These may be used for admission to that institution.

 

Advocating for Postsecondary Admissions

If none of these options are available or suitable, you may want to advocate directly with the postsecondary institution. Many homeschooled students have demonstrated their suitability and competency for a given program with the registrar/program head, or the institution president, and have been accepted. These students have paved the way for institutions developing specialized homeschool admissions policies. 

Postsecondary admission for any student is never guaranteed, but home educated students have been highly successful in obtaining admissions. When institutions are unfamiliar with graduates of home education, it is up to the parents and student to build a solid case as they apply. Preparing and presenting well are keys to successfully advocating for postsecondary admissions. 

 

Preparing Your Case

As home educators, you can prepare for the application process by doing the following: 

  • Ensure that high school studies include the scope and depth of material necessary to gain admission. Study in excess to demonstrate competence and confidence. 
  • Tailor a portfolio to the program being applied to and have a copy to leave with the institution. (For more information, watch the video seminar “Homeschooling through High School and Beyond”.)
  • Be confident in describing your approach to high school education and curriculum. For example: 
    • Describe the rigor, scope, and depth of courses. Demonstrate how your child’s academic journey makes him/her a competent and qualified candidate for the program. 
    • Be prepared to discuss equivalencies of studies (i.e. how the human anatomy course used is equivalent — or higher quality — to provincial programming).
    • Show your writing samples, reading list, extra curricular accomplishments, etc. that demonstrate the diversity and excellence of your homeschooling.
  • Have your child describe the qualities they possess as a result of homeschooling that will make them a good postsecondary student (e.g. independent learner, organized, self-motivated, etc.). A personal statement from the applicant can include this which is a requirement for most undergraduate admissions to universities.
  • Share homeschool admissions policies from other institutions that demonstrate that home educated students are valued at other postsecondary institutions. See the list above for links to postsecondary institutions in Canada with specific admissions processes for homeschoolers. 

 

Making Your Appeal

You must effectively present your case to those involved in admissions. This may include the registrar, department head, academic dean, and even the president of the institution. Should your child receive an application denial, request to speak with another person, making your way up the chain of command to advocate for your child’s acceptance. 

Be willing to compromise in order to meet the terms of the institution (i.e. suggest the institution accept you as a probationary student in the first year with a limited number of courses). Remember to leave a good impression with every person you speak with, as each person may have an influence on the final decision. 

Each postsecondary school that accepts home educators has had someone who was first to ask. It may be that your interaction could pave the way for a ‘yes’ in the future — for you or for other home educators. If your child is interested in applying to postsecondary institutions outside of Canada, you will want to research their admissions policies for homeschooled applicants. 

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