Press "Enter" to skip to content

Regents Struggle with Easy Call: Admit Early Home-School Graduates

The South Dakota Board of Regents is struggling with how to deal with ambitious home-schooled students who accelerate through high school and want to start university early. Apparently under current policy, South Dakota's public universities are denying these precocious home-schoolers admission because they haven't served their time:

Several home-schooled students ages 15 and 16 applied for admission as degree-seeking students who would commute from home and wouldn’t live on campus. They were denied admission because they weren’t yet 18 years old and their high school class hadn’t graduated yet.

The students’ transcripts showed they had graduated. But they hadn’t fulfilled the state board’s requirements that they complete four years of English, three years of advanced mathematics, three years of laboratory science, three years of social studies and one year of fine arts for admission to a bachelor-degree program [Bob Mercer, "South Dakota Universities Seek Policy for Admitting Home-Schooled Students," Aberdeen American News, 2013.10.11].

The Regents are convening a working group to ponder the issue. Regents, let me ease your struggle: let the kids in!

Graduation requirements should be a matter of completing course requirements, not spending a set amount of time in any particular room. Some kids will stare the whiteboard for 27 months and know less algebra than the kid who plows through every problem in the Algebra I, Algebra II, and Pre-Calc textbooks in nine months. Whether those early graduates are making the grade at school or at home, if they can pass muster with their local school boards and the ACT, calendar requirements should not stand in their way.

Attending university early will save home-schoolers' families money on tuition (this year is always cheaper than next year) and especially on room and board. It will also allow them to enter the workforce sooner (if that's what they want) and boost their lifetime earnings. Students who work extra hard to finish high school deserve at least that reward. Regents, make it happen!


  1. Rorschach 2013.10.16

    I'm wondering what kind of "transcript" showed they "graduated". Is that something their mom wrote up? If a student at a public or parochial school has their mom write up a "transcript" showing they "graduated" should they be admitted to college early too as long as they have an ACT score? Hmmm.

    Maybe trying to treat people equally in such a situation requires some discussion at the Board of Regents level.

  2. TonyAmert 2013.10.16

    I ran into similar bad thinking when I took college classes at DSU while still in High School. It was very frustrating and came down to bad policy rather than capability on my part (or the other high school students who did the same).

  3. Rorschach 2013.10.16

    So high school kids can already take college courses? or AP courses? Or CLEP tests? Problem solved.

  4. FireBreathingDragon 2013.10.16

    Regents should be working with K-12 on this allowing students to work through there generals while they are yet in high school. Which happens but isn't encouraged as much as it should be. Regents need to be forward thinking and stay a head of this issue but we are in South Dakota. Ageism is not the answer if students are capable of competing at a higher level I.e. College let them.

  5. TonyAmert 2013.10.16

    This policy comes from a liability and contract position. Not from some ageism idea. 18 is a magic age for both.

    No regent or anyone wants to keep the youngins from college.

  6. Michael B 2013.10.16

    My son took classes as a non-degree seeking student long before he was 18. Once you understand the system, it isn't hard at all.

  7. twuecker 2013.10.16

    I think Rorschach has a point when it comes to the validity of the transcript and/or who's declaring the students "graduated." BOR policy would seem to indicate that high school graduates have one set of admission requirements (which makes NO mention of age) for degree-seeking students and a different set for degree-seeking "Non-High School Graduates, Including Home Schooled Students" which does set the 18-year-old threshold (OR "the high school class of which the student was a member must have graduated from high school" ... which just seems like confusing language that asks for foggy interpretation). So really, the discussion might need to be about what defines a home schooled student as a "high school graduate" because if they meet that criterion, there's no written BOR age threshold as currently written. And if, as the current language seems to imply, the BOR wants all home schooled students to fall into the "non-high school graduates category," they need to have some different wording about what exactly home schooled students are, if not high school graduates.

    All that said, the University System does have some legal basis, as TonyAmert points out, for an 18-year-old age limit that (though it might require them to make clearer Admissions policy statements than what's currently online) give them legitimate non-academic-preparedness-related reasons to limit access while still allowing some of the work-arounds that TonyAmert, Michael B, and Rorschach point out.

Comments are closed.