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Art School Jeopardizes $50,000 Scholarship

by Dan Beasley • May 9, 2018

Erikka’s unique artistic talent has fueled her dream of one day creating art professionally. She enjoys everything in the artistic realm—especially drawing and painting. Her mom attests that she is also a diligent student.

“She’s a self-starter,” Mrs. Leazer explained. “She sets a goal, attacks it, and gets it done.”

Her high school transcript and above-average ACT score verify her academic excellence.

This balance of creativity and drive makes her an excellent candidate for art schools, but the fact that she was homeschooled nearly eliminated one of her top college choices.

Art schools: seeing red

After submitting her application and a portfolio of art samples to the School for Visual Arts in New York City, the waiting game began. Less than two weeks prior to the deadline for priority enrollment, Erikka was notified via email that she was ineligible for admission unless she submitted a GED. Perplexed, Erikka forwarded the email to her mom, asking why she would have to take a GED.

Mrs. Leazer emailed admissions staff to clarify that Erikka was a homeschool graduate. But SVA wouldn’t budge. The admissions representative reaffirmed that in order to be considered, Erikka must take the GED.

Her high school transcript, above-average ACT score, and impressive portfolio of art reflected Erikka’s hard work throughout high school. There appeared to be no substantive reason why she ought to take the GED—the test is meant for students who do not complete high school.

Mrs. Leazer contacted HSLDA for guidance. I quickly reviewed SVA’s policy, and sure enough, it spelled out categorical discrimination in black and white, mandating that for homeschool students: “[a] GED score will be required for enrollment.”

Erikka quickly provided me with copies of her transcript, ACT score, and proof of compliance with Mississippi homeschool law, which I used in pointing out to SVA that Erikka is a high school graduate and should not be treated like a dropout. In a letter to the director of admissions, I also explained in detail why there is no legal basis for SVA’s discriminatory policy.

One week later I received the wonderful news that Erikka had been accepted to SVA, but that wasn’t all. In recognition of her academic and artistic accomplishments, she was selected as a recipient of the Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship, which is a merit award of $12,500 each year, or $50,000 over four years at SVA.

Erikka and her family were delighted by this good news. And so am I. I applaud SVA for its willingness to reverse its initial decision and accept Erikka.

The support of over 80,000 homeschooling families paved the way for Erikka to pursue her dream. We’re committed to advocating for homeschool graduates who encounter policies that don’t reflect a proper understanding of the legality and legitimacy of homeschooling.

We hope that Erikka’s persistence will open the door for future homeschool graduates to study the visual arts at SVA.

Dan Beasley

Staff Attorney

Dan is an attorney and homeschool graduate who provides legal guidance and answers questions for HSLDA member families in 13 states. Read more.

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