Gaining College Admission: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 5)

Everybody is an expert in something. Some feel they are experts in most things.

I say this because we once had a great way of preparing unaccredited home educated students for post-secondary admission, but the idea was stolen, sabotaged and made useless. I am talking about the portfolio.

We taught parents and students how to make a simple portfolio of accomplishments within a home education program. We developed it on a KISS principle which was to keep it straight and simple.

It started with a résumé, expanded to a transcript and ended with specifics on pertinent subjects. It was simple, easy to use and mostly accepted by registrars and admissions personnel.

This happened a long time ago, when most everybody was sending their children to school to be completed with credits to meet the standard admission criteria of colleges, etc. Wanting to help the home education community, I naively presented my secrets at the provincial conference.

A mom who was not a part of our organization, but rather an integral part of another that did not have experience with moving unaccredited students to college found the idea fascinating.

By carefully following my directives, she managed to create portfolios for her two children who were then accepted into college on their strengths.

Unfortunately, this success got to her head and she presented her board with her finding as though it was uniquely her idea. Normally we would call this theft, but the portfolio idea was shared with the objective of helping others.

What should have been a good thing for the home education community became a problem. It was not that the portfolio idea did not work in gaining admission. The problem was that this wannabe leader thought that a good thing would become better with more.

What began as a simple little half inch portfolio most admission people found helpful, grew and evolved to became a four inch scrapbook that represented every detail of everything the student had done or even hoped to do.

There was not an admissions person anywhere who had the time, nor the inclination to review a giant tome of useless material. My great idea was destroyed and portfolios were no longer accepted by most institutions which had come to equate portfolios with a lot of work, time and energy.

Is there a moral to this story? Yes. First, one always has to be wary of self-appointed experts, as their focus is usually more a matter of self-aggrandizement than the welfare of others.

More related to our topic, the lesson is that most solutions are not complicated. Most of the time, very little needs to be done to meet the admission criteria of college programs.

Admission to college is accomplished by presenting what the college needs to properly evaluate your potential for success in the program. This is especially so with prescribed one, two and three year programs usually offered in colleges and technical institutions.

Since English proficiency is always required, make sure your English skills are good. Need math, biology or chemistry? Again – no problem. It does not have to be 30 level courses. Prove that you have the required skills by having followed a different program.

There are a number of ways to meet those requirements and if you have not done that within your home education program, do it some other way. Remember that going to school to get those missing courses is a silly way of going backwards in order to advance.

If biology is a requirement that you don’t have, take an online course from a reputable university or college. Make sure that it can be transferred to the college you want to attend.

The good thing about doing it this way is that, not only do you demonstrate proficiency, but you are likely to be able to apply the course to your program, eliminating the need to take that first year course.

Alternatively, you could always challenge the institution’s first year biology program, and if successful, establish your proficiency while already having completed a course required within the program.

Understanding that colleges are businesses looking for people who will pay tuition for the entire program is critical to understanding why they are so fussy about who they accept for the prescribed programs.

Students who fail or quit the first year of a two year program will not be paying tuition for the second year of the program. This creates opportunity for a resourceful student to go directly into the second year of a two year program.

Why go through the pain of creating a four inch solution for a half inch problem?

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