Many home educators think they need to use a curriculum that has some sort of homeschooling accreditation for their children to have any chance of attending college. Thankfully, this is not the case and homeschoolers can easily enter college with nothing to their name except a decent SAT or ACT score and a parent-written transcript. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t certain advantages of homeschooling accreditation. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean there aren’t certain disadvantages of accreditation that stem from being restricted to a rigid curriculum.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is homeschooling accreditation?
- The benefits and disadvantages of accreditation
- If my child isn’t accredited, how do they enter college?
- SAT, ACT, and CLT
- A short list of accredited homeschool programs
Let’s get started!
What is Homeschooling Accreditation?
Homeschooling accreditation happens when your homeschool is compared to the current and established educational standards to see if they measure up – if they match up satisfactorily, the program is accredited. If they don’t, it’s not.
Just like universities evaluate research articles by peer review, educational programs are also reviewed by peers who know about that educational area and what the established education standards are.
If a program doesn’t have accreditation, it doesn’t mean the program is no good (even though accredited institutions might want you to believe this). However, it may mean the program doesn’t fit with what is currently accepted as a normal educational standard.
For instance, many parents use an eclectic homeschooling style as this allows them to present a variety of ideas to their children which parents value children learning. Parents may choose to do this over having accreditation as a normative education is not more important to them than teaching the ideas they are presenting.
Some people might say homeschooling accreditation is a method of differentiating homeschools that uphold consistent academic standards and homeschools that don’t. However, it seems that this is only sometimes the case.
In fact, there are many homeschools and home education programs that aren’t accredited that have great academic standards. The Easy Peasy All-in-One curriculum seems to be an example of this.
The Benefits of Homeschooling Accreditation
Some of the benefits of homeschooling accreditation are that parents know their children are studying a program that covers a wide range of educational materials that the accreditation agencies are happy with. This means children are probably not going to have huge gaps in their educational knowledge as might happen if a parent were organizing the curriculum themselves.
I’ve heard of some unschooling ‘graduates’ (who study with unschooling methods) who are a little frustrated because they don’t feel their upbringing prepared them for college. This might not dissuade them from college, but they might feel they wished their parents gave them a slightly more structured upbringing than unschooling usually allows for.
If You Have No Educational Philosophy or Idea About Homeschooling
Some parents are thrown into homeschooling, perhaps because their children are being bullied, or they believe this is the best choice for their children.
Institutions that are accredited give these parents an easy plan to follow. This is because all the educational planning has been done for them! Our family used Abeka Academy to homeschool and my mother always joked that it was so easy because all she had to do was ‘sit us down and crack the whip’.
You might find studying under a program that’s accredited is an advantage if your children are going back to public school in the future. Automatic transcripts from an online school could make their transition easier as public schools will more easily accept them if they’re from recognized distance education providers.
If you’re living in a state that has strict homeschooling laws, you might find a program that gives you a state-accepted curriculum is easier to use. In this case, some of the big curriculum providers might be a decent option. These include:
Why You Can’t Actually Get “Homeschool Accreditation”
In the above examples, you’re not technically homeschooling.
Instead, you’ll be studying online school with the institution you choose. This is because homeschool curriculum can’t be accredited, but academics can. See what Alpha Omega Publishing said about it below:
Q: Is AOP curriculum accredited?
A: No, only an educational institution can be accredited. Curriculum alone cannot be accredited; it can only be accredited as part of an institution’s program. In other words, because Monarch, Switched-On Schoolhouse, LIFEPAC, and Horizons are not schools, they cannot be accredited.
Q: Are only physical schools accredited?
A: No, Alpha Omega Academy is a fully accredited online school that uses Alpha Omega Publications curriculum. AOA is accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), a division of AdvancED, the world’s most trusted and recognized accrediting organization, representing over 34,000 schools.
Therefore, you can’t technically have ‘homeschooling accreditation’. That is, you might think you have it, but you’re really studying in an accredited online school.
Biggest Advantage of Homeschooling Accreditation
If homeschoolers don’t need accreditation to get into college, what’s its use?
It seems the biggest advantage of homeschooling accreditation is its ability to offer parents peace of mind. Some parents are happy to be relaxed about their homeschool and the curriculum (or non-curriculum) they use.
However, other parents will worry incessantly, anxious their children are not learning the things they need for life. (This is a big reason parents don’t want to homeschool in the first place!) And, it is for these parents that accreditation is worth its weight in gold.
Knowing the curriculum you’re studying is accepted by reputable educational institutions is going to be a huge weight off a lot of people’s shoulders!
Because a lot of colleges want a transcript of what home educated students have studied, studying with an accredited institution means getting these transcripts is easy. For example, if you study the SOS online homeschooling curriculum, all you have to do is print out all your transcripts at the end, do the SAT or ACT and then give these to the college and you’re done.
If you don’t have transcripts done for you automatically, you have to assemble these yourself (like a portfolio) which might be a painful process.
As a homeschool parent, you can create your own homeschool transcript by looking at this link.
The Disadvantages of Homeschooling Accreditation
Some of the disadvantages of homeschooling accreditation centres around being compelled to study everything in a curriculum just to gain accreditation.
Sometimes parents might not want to study the curriculum because:
- they don’t want to focus on that particular belief (for instance, creation/evolution disagreements)
- children already know the material and they have to go over it to pass the test to get accreditation (this is called busywork)
- parents feel another type of curriculum would be a better fit for their children but that curriculum isn’t accredited (i.e. Charlotte Mason, unschooling or eclectic homeschooling are methods that often don’t come with the option of accreditation)
To be frank, you don’t really need homeschooling accreditation at all to get into college! It’s just nice to have.
If My Child Doesn’t Have Homeschooling Accreditation, How Do They Enter College?
Can homeschoolers study courses like law, medicine, and architecture without formal homeschooling qualifications? I can say yes because I’m one of those people!
My parents didn’t use an accredited homeschooling program. Instead, they showed me how to work hard and chase after the things in life that I (academically) wanted. This meant that, even though I was technically a high school dropout, when I decided that I wanted to study for a medical degree I eventually got there because my homeschooling education had taught me to work hard.
My brothers also worked hard and one is now working as an architect, while the other is working as a lawyer.
Again, one of my brothers didn’t finish high school. Instead, he went straight into doing a bridging course to study law. This meant he got to cut out one year of high school!
You can read more about these different homeschooling pathways to university here.
What Universities Require for Entry
Universities usually don’t need you to have studied a course that has homeschool accreditation. In fact, many eminent colleges acknowledge the portfolios home educated students produce, such as Harvard:
Standardized tests provide a rough yardstick of what a student has learned over time and how that student might perform academically in college – but they are only one of many factors considered in our admissions process. High school grades can also be helpful in assessing readiness for college courses but secondary schools around the country and the world employ a wide variety of grading systems – and some students have no grades at all from their schools or are home-schooled. There is no “one size fits all” rule about which curriculum to study during secondary school years. [Harvard College; Application Process]
So, don’t sweat it.
The best way to assuage your anxiety on college entry is to read how homeschoolers can be admitted according to the colleges themselves. A quick google search is enough to see their requirements.
If you do this, you’ll probably find parents just need to write out the subjects their children did and how they scored in them…and the college will accept that in conjunction with an ACT or SAT score.
SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test
In America, you don’t need homeschool accreditation to get into college because you can do the SAT test and enter college that way.
The SAT test is a test used to determine your scholastic aptitude. This test is meant to assess a student’s readiness for college. It takes about three to four hours for the test plus the essay and costs about $45-55 USD.
The ACT test covers almost identical knowledge compared to the SAT test. Jeremy Tate, a former college admissions test prep consultant and counsellor, said this about the ACT and SAT exams:
These two testing giants, which now use tests of nearly identical content, also communicate a similar philosophy of education. For these two behemoths, it is all about “college and career readiness.” In fact, the College Board, which creates the SAT, lists “college and career readiness” first when stating the purpose of the test. [James G. Martin Center]
Jeremy Tate said he was, however, disappointed with the content in the SAT and ACT tests as they ‘reflect an impoverished philosophy of education that stands in sharp contrast to the traditional or classical understanding of why we educate our children.’ (These days, the SAT and ACT tests are more in line with Common Core materials.)
As such, Tate created the Classic Learning Test (CLT) which we’ll talk more about below.
Other Options Besides the SAT and ACT
CLT – The Classic Learning Test
The CLT is another test besides the ACT and SAT you can use to enter university. They test knowledge from more of a classical perspective and differ from the SAT and ACT in that they’re not so aligned with common core standards and are not focused on just testing you for admission into college.
Although not all colleges accept the CLT, there is a large number that will. You can see the full list of universities that accept the CLT here.
GED – General Educational Development Test
The General Educational Development Test (GED) is like a high school completion certificate. It says the student being tested has American or Canadian high school academic skills. This test examines science, reading, writing, mathematics, and social study proficiencies.
Passing the GED test gives those who do not complete high school, or who do not meet requirements for high school diploma, the opportunity to earn their high school equivalency credential, also called a high school equivalency development or general equivalency diploma.
So, the GED is another pathway if you haven’t studied a curriculum with homeschool accreditation.
Don’t Let Them Scare You
Don’t let people scare you by telling you that you need to be studying a program with accreditation. Technically no homeschools have accreditation because only institutions can be accredited!
Today there are so many pathways to college that homeschoolers just need to do a little research to find out how to get in. As we’ve delineated in this article, you don’t need homeschooling accreditation to enter college. Homeschoolers can easily (1) do their SAT or ACT test and (2) get their parents to write out a list of their subjects enter college that way. A portfolio also doesn’t hurt and will put you in good standing with the college. If you’re a homeschooler entering college this way, you’ll have something that other school graduates don’t – and that’s life experiences in different areas. So, if accreditation is a reason why you’re perhaps fearful of starting homeschooling, I encourage you to not let that stop you!