As a homeschool parent of current and former high school kids, one of the most annoying things I come across are posts about how homeschooled kids and unschooled kids get into college by doing dual enrollment or community college after homeschool. These articles will use the fact that a homeschooled student was able to transfer from community college to a four year college as evidence of the success of homeschooling/unschooling. Are you KIDDING me?! If a student is applying to college after earning credits at a community college, then that student is applying as a transfer student – NOT AS A HOMESCHOOLER. Going this route does not validate homeschooling. In fact, it sends a message that homeschoolers had better take community colleges – either by dual enrollment while in high school or after high school – if they want to apply to a four year university.
If a student wants to do dual enrollment or go to a community college after completing homeschool high school, that can be an excellent decision for many reasons. I am not arguing against dual enrollment or attendance in a community college in general. I’m arguing that there is a significant difference in applying to colleges as a homeschool graduate vs as a transfer student who has earned college credit at a community college.
When I first read that unschoolers were being accepted to colleges, I was thrilled. It meant that if colleges were open to unschooling then surely they must be open to other methods like Waldorf and Charlotte Mason. I was also very intrigued and downright delighted that unschoolers were getting into colleges because that must mean that more colleges were becoming flexible on their entrance requirements. Well, my delight has turned into contempt, annoyance, and anger. Almost every single post or study done on unschoolers going to college has nothing to do with unschoolers being accepted to college, but everything to do with TRANSFER STUDENTS being accepted. These students were accepted because of their transfer credits – not because of a homeschool/unschool transcript.
I have yet to see ONE article on unschooling that mentions acceptance into a four-year college without mentioning earning community college credits. Again, there is nothing wrong with earning these credits - either during or after high school. In fact, it’s a very wise thing to do. It will definitely help with applying to a four year college. It is cost-effective – even free in most states if those credits are earned through dual enrollment.
One of the reasons that I feel it is important that there always be clarification on applying as a homeschooler vs a transfer student is because of data and research collected on homeschoolers. There has been a growing acceptance of homeschooling by many colleges and universities over the years. If former homeschoolers are applying to colleges as transfer students, then the ability for researchers or admissions counselors to track and evaluate the success of homeschool students is diminished because the student is not counted as a homeschool graduate. I’m not saying that all homeschoolers should stop participating in dual enrollment, but this needs to at least be acknowledged by the homeschool community. Is it too much to ask that an article on homeschooling high school be absolutely clear and state that applying as homeschooler/unschooler is different than applying as a transfer student?
As a (mostly) Charlotte Mason homeschooling parent, it would be completely unethical for me to demonstrate the success of this method of homeschooling in terms of college acceptance if my child applied with community college credits. At the absolute most, I could argue that this method of education sufficiently prepared my child to take the entrance exams for community college classes.
I’m not arguing that unschoolers, or any other homeschooler, shouldn’t do dual enrollment. However, there is a vulnerability in place when a student applies as a homeschooler that is completely erased when a student applies with community college credits or accredited high school credits. A homeschool diploma is legal and it is not necessary to have an accredited diploma nor is it necessary to have college credits, but colleges can still cast a suspicious eye on homeschool transcripts and diplomas.
This all makes me very angry because it can be difficult to know how to go about things like assigning credits both for work of an academic nature and for interests pursued. If, as a homeschooler, you are buying or using an established curriculum, then you have more of an assurance that what your child is doing is sufficient. However, when you leave that mold, the questions really abound. It is in this frame of mind that I went looking for advice, mostly from unschooling resources, as to how to pursue and present this style of learning. Even though we aren’t unschoolers, we aren’t strictly Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. There are some aspects of CM that weren’t pursued in high school, and other interests were followed instead. But if anyone was going to know how to go about presenting a non-traditionally educated student, I figured that it simply had to be the unschoolers. I was so wrong. As I have written here, the advice given over and over again is to get the community college credits. There is nothing on presenting oneself to a college as an unschooler and soley as an unschooler. At most, there is this article https://unschoolrules.com/unschooling-high-school-transcript/ on turning unschooling experiences into a transcript. But the author’s daughter was too young at the time of the post to have gone through the college application process. So, while the post is great with a lot of great suggestions, it hasn’t been through any practical trial. What angers me is the pioneering attitude of these unschool sites that talk about the success of unschooling, but then go and rely on community college credits to validate them. I don’t see how that’s pioneering if they are just following a prescribed path in the end.