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March 28, 2016

Shear Discrimination

Why Trade Schools Brush off Homeschool Graduates

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

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It’s a situation we face quite often at HSLDA. A homeschool graduate is accepted into a cosmetology or vocational school—but then, like a bolt from above, the admissions office reverses course. Officials tell the applicant that the school cannot accept homeschoolers.

Sometimes this notification is accompanied by a stipulation that if the homeschool graduate takes the GED, the school will be able to accept the student. Other times the rejection is final.

Why does this happen so often when nearly every other college and university in the nation (including Harvard and Princeton) not only accept homeschool graduates but actively recruit them? Why are these vocational schools so restrictive?

There are two reasons.

  • Vocational schools are often very small. They may have never seen a homeschool graduate before. As a result, they default to “homeschoolers cannot be accepted.”
  • Vocational schools are more likely to be audited for compliance with federal higher education laws. They’re worried that if they accept a homeschooler who doesn’t have the documentation of a public school graduate, it could cost the vocational school its accreditation.

The Solution: HSLDA

Over the last few years, our lawyers have handled a rising number of calls from homeschool graduates who have been turned away from vocational or cosmetology schools. And through our work to prevent discrimination against homeschoolers, we have succeeded in the vast majority of cases. Thanks to HSLDA’s advocacy, numerous homeschool graduates have been able to pursue their chosen career.

It is important to acknowledge that we have not had 100% success. Unlike community colleges and universities, nearly all cosmetology and vocational schools are privately run. That means they can set their own admission policies, and some of them have chosen to discriminate against homeschoolers. We have run across a handful of these schools that absolutely refuse to accept homeschool graduates.

One cosmetology school president told one of our lawyers, his voice shaking with rage, “I will not let a homeschool graduate into my school unless he or she has a GED. My brother had a GED, and if it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for a homeschool graduate.”

That is why our first question to cosmetology and vocational educational schools is always, “Why are you refusing to let a homeschool graduate enroll? Is it because of your own internal policies? Or is it because you are worried about your accreditation if you let a homeschool graduate receive federal student aid?”

In the vast majority of these cases, the school is worried about accreditation. And thanks to HSLDA’s work over the last two decades to make sure that federal higher education law treats homeschoolers fairly, we are able to show them that homeschoolers are eligible for federal student aid. The U.S. Department of Education has made it crystal clear that not only are homeschoolers eligible for federal student aid, they do not need a GED.

HSLDA has a resource page for homeschoolers who are preparing for higher education, whether in a college or university or in a cosmetology or vocational school. We have materials that you can print out and show to the admissions office.

We have also begun working closely with the associations that accredit cosmetology and vocational schools. One of the largest in the nation is the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), and we have built a good relationship with their leadership team. We are working with NACCAS and the cosmetology or vocational schools accredited by them to eliminate discrimination against homeschool graduates, and we are grateful for the work of NACCAS to help educate these schools that homeschoolers are great students who should be accepted with open arms.

Conclusion

When applying to a cosmetology or vocational school, your student should provide a parent-issued high school diploma, a high school transcript, and evidence of compliance with your state’s homeschool law. If the school insists that your child cannot be admitted or that they need to take the GED, please contact HSLDA immediately. Our attorneys at HSLDA will immediately swing into action on behalf of our members.