Currently, public and private schools are not the only two options for children to receive sufficient education in preparation for college. Homeschooling is another option; parents can choose to teach their children at home or with the help of a local association. Many reasons exist for families to prefer homeschooling over a public school. However, this choice can affect the child’s future higher education and career, as some stigma surrounding college admissions for homeschooled students exists to this day.
Therefore, the question arises of how one can encourage colleges to include homeschooled children into their plans. Schools engage in marketing opportunities to reach out to students through schools but often miss out on the homeschooling population’s market. Colleges should consider new communication channels to connect with homeschooled children and create such opportunities as learning camps and special admission advice conferences for homeschooled students to establish a relationship with the community.
History of the Problem
Many families start recognizing the benefits of homeschooling for their children, and this shift influences colleges’ perceptions of this practice. In 2016, about 3 percent of all children between 5 and 17 were homeschooled in the United States (Powell). While this rate seems minuscule, in reality, it represents almost 1.7 million students. Historically, one of the main reasons for homeschooling was the focus on the religious study (Bolle-Brummond and Wessel 224). Nonetheless, now, many parents cite school safety, dissatisfaction with the curriculum, and high costs of private and public education as fundamental reasons for opting out of public schools (Haan and Cruickshank 26). As Powell comments, the lack of high-quality public schools is staggering in some regions or whole states. Simultaneously, private schools’ costs start at $25,000 – a price that many households cannot afford to pay annually (Powell). Parents attempt to provide better education for their children at a lower price, which increases the demand for homeschooling opportunities.
The introduction of internet-based learning further changed the way students acquire knowledge and develop career-specific skills. Several platforms currently offer full curriculums or separate courses, and universities even recognize some of the programs as credits toward a degree. Nevertheless, the lack of standardization in homeschooling (which many parents find beneficial) remains a crucial drawback for colleges. Admission officers have to screen thousands of applications with report cards, test scores, and portfolios, and homeschooled students’ papers may not showcase their knowledge reliably.
One of the assumptions surrounding homeschooling is that, during such education, children do not develop communication skills and do not prepare for social situations. Researchers find these claims unsubstantiated, arguing that homeschooled students build relationships with family and friends during out-of-school social gatherings (Hamlin 317). The parents of these children are intensely involved in creating learning experiences, including the elevation of communication skills. Moreover, children acquire cultural capital as parents have the ability to talk about their heritage and place in the community.
The second issue surrounding one’s transfer from high school to college is proof of knowledge. Colleges have standards for applications and tests that students must submit. However, they may view a homeschooled student’s portfolio in a negative light. For example, Powell finds that some schools require homeschooled students to provide SAT or ACT scores while allowing public school graduates to skip this step. Parents often need to specify the reasons behind their schooling choices and describe the homeschooling setting and their educational philosophy. Currently, the recognition of homeschooling as a legitimate type of education has incentivized colleges to work with local homeschool support chapters and curriculum creators to set up standards for student admission applications (Haan and Cruickshank 30). The changes are starting to occur, but many colleges still cannot establish a strong relationship with homeschooled students.
In this situation, the problem of finding and contacting homeschooled children is at the center. As Baker notes, colleges do not acknowledge the population of homeschooled students when creating projects helpful for future college admission. Schools often work with colleges to provide information about potential graduates to contact – homeschooled children do not have the same opportunities (Haan and Cruickshank 39). Parents seek to find many interesting learning experiences for their children, and many people in the community of homeschooling participate in social media community discussions to share pertinent knowledge (Baker). However, the reach of these local or online-based organizations is limited, and universities may fail to include this demographic into their strategy.
The issues that arise from homeschooling’s history show that colleges fail to reach out to homeschooled children and invite them to experience college life. The negative portrayal of homeschooling leads to stigma, limited information about students, and the lack of demographic’s recognition. Thus, the proposal for colleges to connect with this part of the population includes creating better communication channels. Moreover, universities must organize opportunities for homeschooled children and their parents to get acquainted with the admission process and college education.
First, colleges must take advantage of social media to connect with students and parents to market university education. Although more homeschooled students enter college than public high school graduates, the former may have a limited number of colleges from which they choose (Hinrichs 19). Thus, marketing through platforms popular among homeschool supporters is an option for colleges to introduce their facility to potential applicants. Baker describes a similar experience – the Abilene Cristian University discovered a social media-based network that quickly spread the news about a social learning activity accepting homeschooled children. As a result, the educational camp that the university’s library established became widely popular in the community. Other colleges can use this example and devote funds to appoint social media marketers and event organizers to reach out to homeschooling parents and students and invite them to learn more about their learning programs.
The second part of the proposal is the creation of events that target homeschooled children. These opportunities may cover social or course-specific learning or discuss the specifics of admission for the demographic. The events such as maker day camps and preparatory programs for homeschooled students aim to help both colleges and the youth to establish a relationship and see what young people can expect from a college education. Furthermore, universities can build these projects based on the curriculums they require the applicants to complete. Adherence to a school curriculum eliminates the necessity of additional testing for students and balances the opportunities for all graduates, removing stigma. These programs can be paid or free, although the reasoning behind homeschooling makes free options are preferred choice among many parents (Powell). Colleges must sponsor annual events to establish a reputation for supporting homeschooled students.
Another type of program is workshops or conferences for homeschooled students and their parents. As college admission is a complicated process that requires many documents and has specific standards, homeschooled students may feel discouraged or confused about their opportunities. (Powell) suggests holding events at the university or in local community centers, where college representatives explain admission requirements and steps in the process to homeschooled children and their families. Similar to open learning experiences, these workshops create a positive reputation in the community, spread the information about the college, and make the admission process transparent. Additionally, they may establish a standard for admitting homeschooled children, increasing competition among colleges for the demographic, and eliminating negative perceptions of homeschooling.
Opposing Views and Response
As noted above, some colleges still view homeschooling negatively and have unequal standards for admission for the public- and homeschooled students. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to implement this proposal and offer additional opportunities to homeschool supporters. One opposing view of the suggestion is that free and open events will not benefit the college. The number of homeschooled children is relatively low in the United States, about three percent (Powell). Moreover, events are expensive to design and execute as they require staffing, venues, materials, and marketing. Therefore, it is unprofitable for colleges to hold free workshops and camps that target homeschooled children.
A rebuttal of this point lies in the reason behind many parents’ choice of homeschooling. As noted by Powell, private schools are expensive, while public schools are often not up to parents’ or colleges’ educational standards. Moreover, the existence of online learning platforms provides parents with developed curriculums and interactive learning materials that are free or cheap to use (Haan and Cruickshank 32). Thus, the preference of accessible information is present in the modern homeschooling community. Baker finds that more than 70 percent of all homeschool parents use free material to build their curriculum. Colleges that offer free programs have a higher chance of being noticed by the community, which can lead to more applicants, higher participation in events, better outreach, and better-skilled students.
The use of social media is difficult to oppose since most colleges already use these platforms to connect with students and potential applicants. Nevertheless, universities with a separate website page for homeschoolers’ admission requirements may find that they do not need an independent social media team since people can find all necessary information online. Nonetheless, social media marketing plays a significant role in promoting one college over another (Baker). A page talking about specific requirements and events related to homeschoolers’ support targets a specific demographic, introduces the facility to a community with a robust sharing network and establishes a personal connection.
Overall, the view of homeschooling as a way of receiving an education is changing in the United States. Such issues as safety, the quality of education, and cost are among the main concerns that parents raise. However, many colleges fail to connect with homeschooling parents and students. As a result, students see harsh requirements and a limited number of colleges with a good chance of admitting a homeschooled person. Colleges must develop free events that target homeschoolers to improve the facility’s image and reach out to a vital demographic. Moreover, universities should take advantage of technology and implement social media marketing to contact homeschool supporters who often share information with their peers.
Baker, Laura. “Extending Our Reach: Using Day Camps at Academic Library Makerspaces to Include Homeschoolers.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe, 2018. Web.
Bolle-Brummond, Mary Beth, and Roger D. Wessel. “Homeschooled Students in College: Background Influences, College Integration, and Environmental Pull Factors.” Journal of Research in Education, vol. 22, no. 1. 2012, pp. 223-249. ERIC, Web.
Haan, Perry, and Cam Cruickshank. “Marketing Colleges to Home-Schooled Students.” Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, vol. 16, no. 2, 2006, pp. 25-43. Taylor & Francis Online, Web.
Hamlin, Daniel. “Do Homeschooled Students Lack Opportunities to Acquire Cultural Capital? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey of American Households.” Peabody Journal of Education, vol. 94, no. 3, 2019, pp. 312-327. ERIC, Web.
Hinrichs, Shelby. “The Speech and Language Skills, Needs, & Services for Children Who Homeschool: A National Survey.” Undergraduate Research Journal, vol. 23, no. 6, 2019, pp. 1-31. OpenSPACES, Web.
Powell, Farran. “How Home Schooling Affects College Admissions.” U.S. News, 2018. Web.