- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Home-schoolers are going to all sorts of colleges and universities these days, not just the new Patrick Henry College.

Although Patrick Henry will have an almost totally home-schooled student population when it opens its doors in October, home-schoolers are going to large public schools like Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland as well as smaller Christian schools.

Jeremy Sewall knows a home-school friend who is going to George Mason University and others who are considering American University, the College of William and Mary, and Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va.

"Most people think of home-schooling monolithically as [comprising] Bible-believing Christians, but it's not true," says Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore. "There are Muslim home-school associations, Jewish home-school associations, pagan home-school associations. They're out there, and I have a hunch that what you'll see if you talk to them is these people talk more about free thinking, critical thinking, libertarian kinds of things."

In other words, home-schoolers aren't just going to small liberal-arts colleges or Christian colleges.

Neither Mr. Ray's organization nor the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va., have any data to indicate the kinds of schools home-schoolers attend. Mr. Ray says there have been relatively few studies done on that kind of topic, but there probably will be in the next few years.

The National Center for Home Education, an arm of the HSLDA, estimates that 1 million home-school students will enroll in college in the next 10 years. As a service to home-school parents, the NCHE rates colleges across the country on how "home-school friendly" their admissions policies are.

Tier I schools, which the NCHE describes as the friendliest to home-schoolers (usually no GED required), includes such local schools as Catholic University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Gallaudet University, Western Maryland College, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Frostburg State University.

Tier II schools, which require a GED, include American University and Liberty University. Tier III schools, which require home-schoolers to take extra standardized tests or require them to score higher than traditionally schooled students on standard tests, include Howard University and Virginia Tech.

The University of Maryland, which was not included in the NCHE's ratings because school officials did not respond to NCHE's survey, has a "handful" of home-school students, but the entire school system has no formal methods of tracking them right now.

"It's a fairly new category for us," says Yung Kim, director of the school's Office for Planning and Research. "But we know it's definitely growing. I can't tell you exactly how many [attend Maryland now]. But we have a handful of students who have never attended a formal school setting."

She said the college's public affairs department is creating a category for admissions to indicate whether a student is a home-schooler.

Mount St. Mary's College Director of Admissions Steven Neitz says he gets more inquiries about home-school applicants from the media than actual applicants.

"Every year for the last couple of years, we've gotten maybe one or two home-school applicants," he says. "Certainly in this area, Maryland is one of the largest growth areas [for home-schoolers], and I think one of the reasons we do get inquiries [from home-school students] is the individualized aspect of the education we offer. But we're trying to ID what their curriculum was and how they've been evaluated."

Even at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., which draws heavily from Mennonite and Amish families, there are few home-school students on campus.

"We haven't been tracking them," says Michelle Baker, a spokeswoman for the school's admissions department. "I have noticed there are more and more each year. My guess is there are about 10 [coming] this year."

Mr. Ray says many schools may not even know how many home-schoolers they have because home-school families often use their own names when they fill in the "school attended" line on the application, and the college assumes it is some sort of private school.

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