Online Education for Home-Schooled Students

Online education and home-schooled students are a perfect fit. Since many home-schooled students use the web throughout their primary and secondary educations, an online university can be a relatively smooth transition—and many home-schooled students make the decision to continue their studies online.

If you’re a home-schooled student interested in online education—or the parent of one—here are a few things you should know.

Qualifying For College

Like traditional students, home-schooled students need to have completed a secondary course of study to qualify for college—both online and off. Traditional students get their degree from their high school upon graduation. Home-schooled students have a few other options.

The GED. “GED” stands for “General Education Diploma.” This is a diploma designed to replace a high school diploma for those who left before graduating or never attended a traditional high school. The GED is recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma by almost all training and academic programs, and serves as equal to the high school diploma for job qualifications.

The GED is awarded after a student scores acceptably on a five-part test including science, social studies, literature, writing and math. While a test-prep class may help students prepare, classes are not required—only a passing score on the test.

Online high school. Entire high schools have taken their operations online to offer the same classes you’d get at your local high school—over the Internet. Some are free public schools, while others are paid private institutions.

If you’re interested in going to online high school, there are a few things to consider. The first is that some public online high schools are only there to supplement traditional schools—they offer classes, but they don’t award degrees. The second is that many online charter and public schools are only permitted to serve students within their school district—so even though you’re studying online, distance is still a factor. The third is graduation requirements—state high school graduation requirements may vary, so be sure the school you choose fulfills requirements in your state.

A test score. The GED or an online high school diploma are often not required of home-schooled students as long as the students meet the college’s other requirements for admissions. Students will also have to take a college admissions test such as the SAT or ACT, undergo an interview, and submit essays, recommendation letters, and other documents required by the school. In addition, some schools may ask for a transcript listing the at-home courses of study the student took in grades nine through twelve, as well as the amount of credits earned as decided by the parent or a formal parent evaluation.

Check out the HLDSA website for comprehensive information about home-schooling requirements on a state-by-state basis.

Money for College

College can be expensive, even if you’re attending school online. Here are a few ways home-schooled students can lessen tuition bills.

Earn college credits through testing and AP courses. As a home-schooled student, you may be able to take an Advanced Placement course at an online high school to earn credits toward college. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests are another option for home-schoolers. These tests are offered on a wide variety of subjects, and some participating schools accept them for college credit. These courses may help reduce the amount of time spent in college as well as tuition costs.

Look for grants and scholarships to lower costs. Home-schooled students are eligible to fill out the FAFSA, which offers access to Federal grants and low-interest loans. In addition, there are a few grants and scholarships out there specifically for home-schoolers. For example, Wal-Mart offers Walton Family Foundation Scholarships targeting home-schoolers, and the state of Florida offers the Bright Futures Award for home-schooled students.

Don’t forget about scholarships that are not specific to home-schooled students. As a prospective college student, home-schoolers may qualify for a range of grants and scholarships for academic achievement, community involvement, and financial need that are also offered to traditional students.

Online college can be a perfect option for home-schooled students. The programs are often well suited to students who have the motivation, good study habits and independent work skills to learn at home. Each college’s admissions requirements for home-schooled students is different, but chances are that as a home-schooled student, you already possess the qualifications to attend college.