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Home Schooling and Making a University Application

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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The basic answer to the question 'what do universities think about home schooled students' applications to further education?' is that every institution differs. Most universities want to be certain that applicants to their courses will be able to cope with and benefit from their education at universities, and to many that will conventionally be proven by formal educational qualifications such as GCSEs, A Levels, or in Scotland qualifications such as Highers.

Many universities, however, have policies about responding to individual applications on their own merits. This means that a lack of standard qualifications by a home schooled student might be overlooked if he or she showed ability and/or potential, but any university candidate would normally have to provide evidence of that ability of potential, such as work that showed personal attainment. That might be in the subject applied for, or might be more generally in subjects including maths and English.

Note when considering applying for university that some courses have their admission criteria defined by a professional body, whose requirements may include qualifications such as GCSEs, and in this case the university will probably be bound strictly by these criteria. It is best, therefore, to begin researching course and study options as soon as a home schooled child shows interest in continuing a certain subject (or beginning a new subject) to a higher level, since then their education and proof of ability can be developed in that direction, well in advance of the time to apply to university.

More Detail on University Admissions Criteria

While it is important to recognise that individual institutions and courses will require different qualifications, educational evidence, etc., here is a brief look at some of the admissions criteria that institutions may require from home schooled students.

Some might insist upon evidence of exam results, in which case formal qualifications would have to be integrated into the home schooling. Academic reference(s) and interviews may also be a part of the admissions procedure: at the colleges that make up Oxford and Cambridge, for example, all students are usually interviewed at the college before being offered a place, with interview topics often taken from the A level syllabus, but for students who did not study A levels, university admissions officers might instead (or also) focus on subject issues that are part of current affairs. Students might also be asked to send in essays to show their written ability and/or academic interests.

All, home schooled and mainstream-educated students, will be asked to fill in a UCAS (University and College Admissions Service) form, which includes details such as a personal statement and predicted and final A level results. The next part of this article will look at factors on the UCAS form that might especially apply to students who are involved in home schooling.

Home Schooling And The UCAS Form For University Admission

Students making applications for full-time undergraduate study at universities in the UK apply through UCAS, and a majority now apply using their online service, apply. Applying online or via a paper application, the UCAS form contains several key pieces of information. This includes a page of personal details, a page of additional information requests, a page about a student's institution and course choices (most students are allowed to apply to a choice of six institutions), a page about the student's education, qualifications and examination results, a page about an applicant's previous employment history, a page for a student's personal statement, which describes why he or she wishes to study a particular course and information about his or her background and interests, and a page for student references.

Home schooled applicants might feel confused about what to put under the 'school/college' question on their UCAS form, which crops up when adding a qualification. There is no single answer to this issue, but some students choose to enter the school(s) where he or she sat the exams and then select 'part time' as the mode of study - what is most important, however, is that in the personal statement part of the UCAS form the student fully elaborates his or her home schooling, for example whether qualifications were obtained independently or through a college or private tutor, for example, and the method that he or she studied.

Another difficulty may be found in the 'reference' section, since some universities may not accept a reference provided by a child's parent. The reference usually demands information about a candidate's character, ambitions, motivation, and commitment, as well as details about the candidate's extra-curricular interests and hobbies. In the absence of the option of an academic teacher or tutor, some parents ask teachers like music or art teachers, youth leaders, religious leaders or similar figures who know a candidate well and can also comment on his or her academic ability and potential.

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