more of July, 2005, HEADSUP newsletter

by Wayne S. Walker
     I attended Florida College from 1972 to 1974, graduating with an Associate of Arts degree.  Of course, that was back in the days before anyone even heard of “homeschooling” per se.  At that time, Florida College was primarily a junior college, although it did offer a four-year certificate in Bible studies.  However, the college has now developed several accredited bachelors degree programs and is in the process of adding even further ones.  During the 1980's and 1990's, as homeschooling became more popular with many people, including a lot of folks associated with churches of Christ, Florida College was not always considered homeschool friendly.  One of the big bones of contention that many homeschooling families had with the college was its demand that homeschooled students take the GED.  The Feb., 2004, edition of this newsletter dealt with this issue.  Eventually, that requirement was dropped, and it is my impression that as homeschooling has become more popular and perceptions of home education have changed the college is trying to be more accommodating to homeschoolers.
     However, it is clear from the Academic Requirements for Unconditional Admission for Homeschooled Students listed in the previous article that the college still does have additional requirements for homeschooled students that are not required for students from an accredited high school.  For instance, if a person is fortunate enough to have graduated from an accredited high school at age 16 (rare, but it does happen) he can enroll at Florida College, but a homeschooled student, who may have taken just as rigorous a course of study and graduated at 16, cannot enroll until he is 17.  Homeschooled students must not only have taken the ACT or SAT, as all entrants are required to do, but also made certain minimum scores which are not required of those from accredited high schools.  I do believe that this requirement is demanded to show proficiency in the absence of an “accredited” diploma (which even from many public high schools means almost nothing) or GED, but it is still a difference.  And homeschooled students are required to write an essay, which is not required of accredited high school graduates (although all entrants had to write one when I enrolled), but this requirement is waived if the student has taken one semester of college English, which many homeschoolers do through dual-enrollment at local junior colleges.
     I suppose that the college has its reasons for making these extra demands of homeschooled students, but since homeschooled students have proven themselves in college over and over again in the last few years, I do not profess to know why they have such additional requirements, so please do not ask me about it.  If you want to know more, you will have to direct your inquiries to the college.  However, this made me curious and I contacted several other small colleges to see what their requirements for homeschooled students who wished to enroll were.  I wrote to nine: Anderson (SC), Bowdoin (ME), Wooster (OH), Cumberland (KY), Eckerd (FL), Goshen (IN), Grove City (PA), Harris-Stowe (MO), and Hillsdale (MI).  All of them are private or religious institutions except for Harris-Stowe, here in St. Louis, MO, which is a state college.  I did want to include one public institution for comparison purposes.  One would think that with a son entering high school, all of these colleges would be eager to provide information, but I actually heard from only three of them: Anderson, Cumberland, and Harris-Stowe.  Interestingly enough, I also received some information from a college which I did not initially contact, Green Mountain College in Vermont.
     Jared Christiansen, Admissions Counselor at Anderson College, 316 Boulevard, Anderson, SC  29621 (864/231-2030 ext. 2005), which is claims to be “very intentional about its standing as a Christian college…not merely historically Christian…but…actively Christian…founded by the South Carolina Baptist Convention,” provided the following information.  “I don't have the exact information that you requested, but I can give you a quick snapshot of our current incoming homeschool student population.  This year we had eleven homeschool students apply as incoming freshmen, of which ten were accepted to Anderson College.  Seven of those ten will be attending AC in the fall.  Our entire freshman class will total approximately 320 students, with students from a homeschool background making up just over 2%.
     “We do not have any special admissions terms (to help or hinder) homeschool students.  Like any other incoming freshmen, a  homeschool student must complete all application materials and submit SAT/ACT scores and a high school transcript.  We accept homeschool transcripts in many different forms, but we prefer to see transcripts that come from some official state or local homeschool association, or from the publisher of the curriculum that a family may be using.”  This sounds pretty good to me.  The only difference is that they prefer to see transcripts from a homeschool association or curriculum publisher, but he still said that they accept homeschool transcripts in many different forms.
     Erica Harris, Director of Admissions at Cumberland College, 6178 College Station Dr., Williamsburg, KY 40769 (606/539-4241), which is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention (SBC), wrote, “Each year, we do enroll a few students who have been homeschooled.  We ask of them the same information we ask of all applicants.  If they do not have official transcripts through a clearinghouse, then we do require a GED.  We have not kept any records of percentages comparing our homeschoolers to other students, although I feel confident they do quite well.  Most of our homeschool applicants have high standardized test scores.”  So here, there is a major difference.  Unless the homeschooled student has an “official” transcript “through a clearinghouse,” he or she will have to submit a GED score.
     In received both an e-mail and an information packet from Harris-Stowe.  Brandy Crist-Travers, Admissions Officer at Harris-Stowe State College, 3026 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, MO  63103 (314/340-3302) wrote, “To answer your questions regarding admissions standards for homeschooled students, all students are treated equally.  We request official high school transcripts and ACT scores from each applicant.  We look at a student's cumulative G. P. A., class rank percentile, and ACT score percentile to arrive at an admissions decision.  In the case of homeschool transcripts, which lack a class rank, the Director of Admissions will assign a class rank percentile.  An ACT score of 21 will automatically admit a student as a full-time degree seeking student.  An ACT score of 19 will automatically admit a student as a part-time degree seeking student.”
     The letter did not define what “official high school transcripts” are, but the college obviously understands that there will be a difference between an institutional high school transcript and a homeschool transcript, since “In the case of homeschool transcripts, which lack a class rank, the Director of Admissions will assign a class rank percentile.”  That sounds a little subjective.  However, if I understand what Brandy says correctly, if one makes an ACT score of 21, everything else is pretty much “academic,” so to speak, since “An ACT score of 21 will automatically admit a student as a full-time degree seeking student.”  That sounds pretty objective.  The information packet did not really add anything further.
     Jessica A. Day, Director of Admissions at Green Mountain College, 1 College Circle, Poultney, VT  05764 (800/776-6675) said, “Green Mountain College is a smaller school, we see a fair number of home schooled students, who are looking for a close knit environment that GMC can offer.  We work closely with all of our applicants through the admission process.  For homeschooled students – we ask to see proof of coursework and grades – and that comes in many forms, usually the state you live in, will provide a transcript of sorts for the colleges.  We also ask students to submit either SAT or ACT scores, personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and any other pertinent information that may help us in the admissions process.  We do not require students in most instances to interview, but highly encourage it.  So really, the requirements are not very different from the regular high school applicant – usually the transcript looks different and that's about it.  I hope this information is helpful.”  I do not know how the state can provide a transcript of sorts for the colleges regarding homeschoolers, but otherwise this is another reasonable-sounding policy. 
     So that is the sum total of my attempt to find homeschool requirements for entrance at comparable colleges, and the results seem to be a mixed bag–some make homeschoolers jump through extra hoops while others do not.  It is interesting that while preparing this issue of the newsletter, I came across some information by Chris Klicka in the The Home School Court Report (Jan./Feb., 2005, p. 6).  “Arizonans launched and passed a bill requiring their board of regents to write admissions policies that grant equal treatment to homeschoolers applying to Arizona colleges.  (Some state colleges were discriminating against homeschooled students because their documents are different from those of traditionally schooled students.”  It does look as if “the times, they are a changin'.”  Perhaps, one day in the not so distant future, all college admissions officials will understand home education sufficiently so that there will be no distinctions or discrimination.  Now, consider a couple of articles dealing with this situation.

excerpt from July newsletter

Here is the lead article from the July, 2005, issue of the HEADSUP homeschooling newsletter.  The entire newsletter is too long to include in one blog, but I will give a few excerpts over the next few days.


Monthly newsletter of general interest, encouragement,
and information for homeschooling Christians
% Wayne S. Walker, 9024 Amona Dr., Affton (St. Louis), MO  63123
E-mail:; phones: (314) 638-4710 home, 842-1612 office
July, 2005; Volume 7, Number 12 (part 1)
2. ADMISSION TO FLORIDA COLLEGE from The Florida College Catalog
11. POETRY CORNER: The Bible by John Greenleaf Whittier
by Wayne S. Walker
     This newsletter is intended primarily for homeschooling families who are associated with non-denominational, New Testament churches of Christ (although it is available to anyone who wants it).  These churches are local, independent congregations of Christians which are not affiliated with any synod, association, or other church-related, hierarchy-forming type of organization.  Through the years, individual members of these churches have started various institutions of higher learning.  Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College in Bethany, WV.  Eventually, Bethany College became identified with a group of churches known as the Disciples of Christ who have since constituted themselves officially as a denomination.   Those who did not join in with the Disciples/Christian Church began other colleges, such as Freed-Hardeman in Henderson, TN; David Lipscomb in Nashville, TN; Abilene in Abilene, TX; George Pepperdine in Malibu, CA; Harding in Searcy, AR; and more.  Each of these was originally a completely private institution that was looked upon as something separate from the church, an adjunct of the home.  However, over time, almost all of them eventually became tied to churches by soliciting and receiving financial support from them.
     Among those of us who believe that local churches should remain independent and not be bound directly to human institutions such as colleges, only Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL, has resisted the urge to seek financial support from churches.  Therefore, many homeschoolers who are associated with non-denominational, New Testament churches of Christ have planned for their children to attend Florida College, primarily because of its Biblical worldview and commitment to speaking where the Bible speaks.  The Feb., 2003, issue of this newsletter contained a historical survey of homeschooling among those associated with churches of Christ and provided some information about homeschoolers and Florida College since, while the college is not a “church related” institution, it is owned and operated by individuals who are associated with churches of Christ and many homeschooled Christians have attended there.
     However, no human institution is without some degree of controversy, and homeschoolers among churches of Christ are not immune from the controversies that have arisen regarding Florida College.  Basically, there have been two most recent controversies involving the college.  The first is that because the college has a department of Biblical studies in which many gospel preachers have taken classes, it is “usurping the work of the church” by teaching the Bible and training preachers.  This issue has been discussed at length among brethren generally through the years, and is the subject of a debate between my good friend, the late Cecil Willis, and Jesse Jenkins, which has been printed in book form.  If you are interested in considering the matter at length, I would suggest that you obtain the book, which is published by the Guardian of Truth Foundation in Bowling Green, KY.
     However, I will make a few brief comments on this.  My conclusion is that this argument assumes that all “preaching and teaching” of the Bible is an exclusive function of the church.  Most who hold this view would agree that individuals may preach and teach the gospel but would say that if individuals work together to preach and teach the gospel, their work must be done through the church and not some human institution such as a college.  However, everyone should agree that individuals, even those who are Christians, have a right to establish an institution of higher learning, and when such a college includes instruction in and study of the Bible and related topics as part of its overall curriculum, this in no way usurps the function of the church in either evangelistic preaching of the gospel or edification in teaching the word of God but is simply a forum for individuals (teachers and students) to discuss Biblical subjects as part of a well-rounded education.  It is a completely private enterprise.  While some statements may be found where the college invites and encourages young men who plan to preach to attend, this in no way makes the college a “seminary” for the express purpose of training preachers, nor does the college in reality present itself as such to churches.  If those who want to preach wish, on their own, to get a good education, does it not make sense for them to do so in a college operated by saints of like precious faith rather than a humanistic university operated by the state or an institution where denominational doctrine will be taught?
     The second such controversy revolves around the college's association with the late Homer Hailey, long-time Bible professor and Vice-President of the college, who held what most of us consider a very loose position on divorce and remarriage, and more lately Shane Scott, a Bible professor who apparently promoted a view of the creation in Genesis which allowed for a much longer period of time than a literal six days.  For most of his life, Hailey kept his view on divorce and remarriage as a private conviction, but in later days, mostly after he retired from the college, became more outspoken on it and even published a book to promote it, yet the college continued to invite him back for lectures as long as his health permitted.  The “days of creation” problem involved not only Scott, who eventually left the school, but also Hill Roberts, a schoolmate of mine, who teaches a similar concept of “progressive creationism” and was invited to present his material for the college at its lectureship.
     Without going into a long, drawn out explanation, I will say this.  I disagreed with brother Hailey, and I disagree with both Shane Scott and Hill Roberts.  In fact, I understand that many at the college itself have disagreed with them and still do.  Remember, the college is a HUMAN institution, and all human institutions are bound to have weaknesses.  It is truly a shame that the college ended up becoming embroiled in these kinds of controversy, because they take away from all the good that the college has done and can do.  On the one hand, parents who are Christians want to send their children to a college where their faith will not be undermined by teaching that is plainly opposed to the word of God; yet on the other hand, we must remember that because a college is a HUMAN institution, there has to be the free exchange of ideas.  I have reached conclusions on what I believe the Bible to teach about divorce and remarriage and about the days of creation, and I will hold firmly to those conclusions until proven wrong.  However, I am not so vain as to think that everyone who disagrees with my conclusions is necessarily a false teacher.  And even if I do decide that he is a false teacher, that does not give me the right to mistreat him or start calling him nasty names.  The point is that we really have no reason to hold HUMAN institutions to the same level of accountability that we hold the local church, which is a DIVINE institution.       
     One other “controversy” that sometimes arises among homeschoolers in general, including those associated with churches of Christ, is the question of whether our children even should attend college or not.  There are some in the homeschool movement who tend to be very “anti-college.”  This is obviously a decision that each individual or each family must make for itself.  College is not necessarily for everyone.  And Florida College is not necessarily for every Christian.  No one I know of says that one must attend Florida College to be a faithful Christian.  However, for those Christians who want their children to go to college and are willing to consider Florida College, and I hope that they would consider it, I will provide the requirements that the college has for homeschooled students.  After that, I will compare those requirements with those that have been sent to me from a number of other similarly sized colleges.  Then there will be some other articles about homeschoolers and college in general.
     Our oldest son is now fourteen and this fall will begin what we normally call his “high school” years, so this is a subject which is beginning to demand our personal attention.  I do not know whether he will choose to go to college or not, and if he does whether he will decide on Florida College.  We certainly want him to go to college and, in fact, to go to Florida College, but we will not force him into anything against his will.  However, if he does decide to go to college, we want him to be well prepared for it and to consider Florida College.  Therefore, we are obviously interested the relation of homeschooling to college in general and to Florida College in particular.  The fact is that we need faithful Christians in those fields which require a college education in order that they might be the salt of the earth and the light of the world to have a good influence and make an impact for righteousness in this world.