That is the question—at least, in several of the high school homeschool communities that I frequent.
This is an exciting time of year for those that are in the throes of college applications, acceptances, and (financial aid) agreements. This latter portion—put quite simply, getting someone else to pay for your child’s education, always leads to discussion about having to meet someone else’s requirements to receive funding.
The discussion about having to meet others’ requirements leads to a number of questions, including:
1) Should we take the SAT and/or the ACT?
2) Should we plan on taking SAT II’s, and, if so, how many and in what subjects?
3) How do we prepare for the interview/college trip?
4) From whom do we seek letters of recommendation?
…and one that we’ve toyed with for a bit, should we take the GED (General Equivalency Diploma)?
My husband and I have discussed this and other college entrance hoops a lot. In fact, Barb’s confession of her middle-of-the-night fears (see here) were hauntingly real for me, though I’ll admit that I’ve not had many awake nights of this sort. Then again, the oldest is only a freshman (smile). I’ve heard of all sorts of articles from HSLDA and other places about the pros and cons of having a homeschooled student take a GED. The biggest advantage, from my perspective, is that there are a number of schools who require such a validation, both for entry and/or financial aid. If that school is your child’s heart’s desire, then you must act as the Romans when in Rome. GEDs, and SATs and ACTs, for that matter, are considered objective, independent measures of knowledge; for a homeschooler, these assessments help get us out of the realm of what one homeschool loop calls “mommy grades.” Though I have my doubts about the SAT, given all the data about cultural biases, I accept that these are the standards for how colleges try to compare one child’s abilities to another’s.
There are also a myriad of reasons not to take a GED.
With all due respect to those who have chosen to take it, the prevailing thought is that there is a stigma attached to this particular test. By design, its primary audience is high school dropouts who need to demonstrate that they have accumulated the equivalent of a high school diploma. Is a homeschooled student who has worked hard for four years and graduated in the same category? If you ask the military, the answer is yes. If you ask certain schools, particularly those in homeschool-unfriendly states, the answer is yes. If you ask most homeschooling parents, the answer is an adamant NO, with the appropriate amount of blood, sweat, and tears dripping from furrowed brows.
As for us, if the Lord continues to say the same, we will not go the GED route. Homeschooling is a far more common practice than it was, say, even 20 years ago, and I like to think the days are gone when the term ‘homeschooling’ makes people look at you as if you have something hanging from your nose.
There are simply too many colleges out there that actively seek out homeschooled kids to deal with jumping with extra hoops. And, admittedly, I’m one of those parents with a furrowed brow who feels as if I’ve worked too hard to lump my kid in with another who chose to quit early.
But there are also other, more paramount, reasons that we will seek a college that does not require a homeschooler to complete a GED. When we began homeschooling, we (my husband and I) started this journey believing that we could do something better than the traditional school system. We bought into the fact that homeschooling was a viable alternative to what we were being offered. We still believe that, and we’ll stand proudly with the transcript that we’ve compiled over four tough years. This has been no cake walk; there have been no free rides, and shame on those who think anything different might be the case. I’m finding that some outside validation is a plus, so we’ll get it. The oldest has taken at least one course outside of us to date, and she’ll probably enroll in the local community college to complete dual degree courses. She will take the standard college prep/ entrance exams.
As for the GED, though, we say no, thank you; we will stay firmly on the path that we believe God paved for us, and we’ll walk in it to whatever doors He chooses to open.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding;
Acknowledge Him in all thy ways, and He shall direct thy paths.
Belinda Bullard is a wife and homeschooling mother of three, Belinda is an author and the owner of A Blessed Heritage Educational Resources, a literature-based history curriculum featuring African-American presence in history, as well as the contributions of other races to American history. A chemical engineer by formal education, she also serves as adjunct faculty for college distance learning programs.