What do Tim Tebow (NFL), Jason Taylor (NFL), and Serena and Venus Williams (Olympic Gold medalists) have in common? Obviously they’re all extremely talented athletes; however, you may not know that each of them is also a product of homeschooling. Homeschooling may not be the most common educational path of athletes, but it’s becoming increasingly popular. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Education, over the years from 2003 to 2012, the amount of students being home-schooled in the U.S. increased by 61.8%. With such growing numbers, it’s natural that the number of athletes being home-schooled is also on the rise. The great testimony of the athletes I began this article with, is proof that your home school athlete can go on to be a successful college athlete! As much as that’s a possibility, there’s also the reality that a great deal of hard work and planning will be required. If you’re already a homeschooling parent, you’re up for the task! In fact, homeschooling in general requires a great deal of hard work and planning.
Giving your home school student the opportunity to continue his or her education as a college athlete depends largely upon you both. As your child works hard on the field and in the classroom, it’s your job to be diligent behind the scenes. Below is a list of “need-to-know” information to set your student athlete up for a successful college career!
1. Research, Research, Research! When a student goes through a traditional school setting, the curriculum selection, grading, and reporting is all done for you. That’s not the case however with the home school student. Your first and most important task is to make sure that the curriculum you’re using is approved by the association that regulates the athletics at the college of your child’s choice. One common association is The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). If your home school student has goals to play athletics for an NCAA college, you must make sure that the curriculum you’re using is approved by the NCAA. This is a vital first step. You don’t want your student to get halfway through high school before you realize that the curriculum you’ve been using is not approved! You can contact the provider of the curriculum and ask them if their classes are NCAA approved. If they are, ask them for their NCAA School Code. You can use this code on the NCAA Eligibility website to search approved classes at:
If your child plans to play athletics at a college that is not governed by the NCAA, you need to research the curriculum requirements of the appropriate association. Some other associations are the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Some associations lean more on ACT and SAT scores for eligibility.
2. Know the Difference between Home School and Non Traditional School. The NCAA actually notes separate categories for home school students and those they consider to be the non-traditionally schooled. You may think that your student is home-schooled because he or she is completing their schooling at home; however, certain online high school programs are considered non-traditional schooling rather than home school by the NCAA. With non-traditional schooling, the educators and staff grade assignments and tests, compile transcripts, and do the reporting of required documents to the state for a state issued high school diploma. If you like the opportunity to “home school” your child, but you’d like to have the security of an accredited program that does the reporting and grading for you, a “non-traditional” program is a great option! The University of Texas at Austin High School is just one option that is approved by the NCAA and categorized as a non-traditional school. You can find more details regarding Home School versus Non-Traditional School at: http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Student_Resources/Home_School_Information.pdf
4. Know your Home School Requirements. If you have concluded that your student is a home school student and not a non-traditionally schooled student, you can then dig deeper into home school requirements set for the college of your student’s choice. To attend any NCAA college, the requirements for home school students can be found at:
5. Contact Schools of Interest. College admissions representatives are great resources concerning admission requirements. Although they will not be able to answer questions regarding athletic scholarships, they will be able to provide you with home school student requirements. Before a student can be eligible for an athletic scholarship, he or she must be eligible for admission into the university. Speak with admissions reps to find out what their university looks for specifically from home school students.
6. Build your child’s resume. Homeschooling provides the flexibility to build volunteering and shadowing opportunities into your student’s schedule. Although your child may not be able to participate in traditional school career shadowing programs, don’t let this stop you from pursuing this great opportunity for your child. Many professionals are happy to have students shadow. Volunteering is also great not only for resume purposes, but for the growth of your child. Universities look for well-rounded individuals, and notice more than grades on applications.
7. Schedule an official visit to your schools of interest. There’s nothing more informative than visiting the colleges your child is interested in. Being a student athlete, your child may have already visited certain colleges for sports camps. Even if he or she has attended a college ID camp, it’s a good idea to schedule a separate official visit. Most sports camps require the athlete’s time, and leave little for meeting with admissions representatives and observing classes. An official visit isn’t just for you and your child to get to know the school, but also to allow the admissions department to know your child. When visiting, it’s also important to get the proper financial aid information.
Overall, be proactive and involved. Prepare ahead of time by making yourself informed. Set your student athlete up for success!
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An on-the-go mother of 3 young athletes, and wife to a youth football coach, Amber's passion is to educate, encourage, and connect our sports community to raise a generation of healthy and successful athletes! She proudly does this with the help of The Athlete's Parent's team of experts. In this article, she brings the knowledge gained from her experience homeschooling her own college bound athlete!