If your homeschooler is interested in playing sports in college you should look carefully at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requirements. All students interested in Division I or Division II college athletics will go through the NCAA procedures for eligibility. This includes both traditionally educated and homeschooled students. The NCAA requires certain academic standards are met including completion of a core curriculum and minimum ACT or SAT standards. Here are a few tips as you being this process of exploring NCAA eligibility:
1. Start Early
The earlier you start during your student’s high school education the easier the process will be. Starting early will allow you to keep the specific kinds of records that the NCAA expects. While it is certainly possible to reconstruct this information later in high school you can save some hassle by starting first year in high school. For example, the NCAA requires that you list the name and information from every textbook your homeschooler uses during high school. As you make curriculum decisions you will want to keep in mind NCAA requirements in mind. One basic beginning step is to determine if your child is homeschooled according to NCAA standards. Some students who learn at home are not classified as homeschooled. For example, students who attend an accredited state virtual school are often public school students even if they complete their work at home. Make sure you understand the distinction between nontraditional student and homeschooled student according to the NCAA standards.
2. Complete Core Requirements
Most homeschoolers who are college bound will likely not find it too challenging to meet the core requirements of the NCAA. Still, it is worth a look at these requirements to make sure your student is on track. The NCAA expects that students use college preparatory materials and complete core courses. Homeschoolers should expect to submit core course worksheets for English, math, natural or physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy classes. On the worksheet the parent details goals of the course, topics covered, materials used, and grading approach.
3. Be Careful with Online Courses
While online courses are a great fit for many students, you will want to check to make sure they meet NCAA requirements. Over the years the NCAA has come to scrutinize online courses. There was concern some students were using online courses as a means to earn easy credits and get around eligibility guidelines. Even some well-known providers that have been popular with many homeschoolers are not accepted as eligible for NCAA credit.
4. Register Early
Juniors will want to visit the NCAA eligibility center and register.
5. Pay Attention to Transcript Requirements
The NCAA expects to see complete information on the transcript including:
- Course title
- Course grades
- Units of credit for each course
- Grading scale
- Signature of homeschool representative
Even if you homeschool using a more eclectic or nontraditional approach, it is crucial that the final transcript reflect the more traditional categories of information that the NCAA expects to see. So, for example, an ungraded or pass/fail type of approach may be fine with many colleges but does not meet NCAA standards. Also, homeschoolers should be aware that the NCAA expects them to graduate according to the laws in their state. In rare states parents cannot simply issue a diploma.
Best of Luck To Your Student Athlete
There are homeschoolers every year who make it through this process and end up being recruited to play college sports. It requires effort to make sure your homeschool complies with all of the regulations, but it is certainly a worthwhile investment of time for students who are serious about playing sports in college.
Get started by downloading the free homeschool tool kit from the NCAA Clearinghouse