Originally Sent: 5/29/2015
June 4, 2015
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Saluting The Military’s Homeschool Policy
June is when many of you will finish courses, pack away books, and look forward to taking a break from your school routine. The summer provides a much needed school respite for many families, even as other responsibilities take up the slack.
Remember that June 14 is Flag Day—a day to celebrate the adoption of the United States flag in 1777. The flag is the most recognized symbol of our country, liberties and values. Preserving our freedoms is the responsibility of all Americans, but the men and women who wear our country’s uniform shoulder a big responsibility. We salute them and their families for their sacrifice, commitment, and duty!
A Little History is In Order
Homeschool graduates have honorably served in the military for many years, but the playing field was not always level for homeschool enlistees. Although all enlistees are required to meet a minimum score on a section of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test) called the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualifying Test), prior to December 2013 the necessary minimum score was higher for homeschool enlistees than for public or private school students.
Under the leadership of Will Estrada, HSLDA’s Federal Relations Department successfully lobbied, and HSLDA was instrumental in the promotion of congressional amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. This revised wording eliminated the discrimination against homeschool enlistees, and now all students—regardless of how they receive their education—are required to meet the same minimum requirements on the AFQT section of the ASVAB.
HSLDA has a great deal of experience in helping homeschool graduates deal with recruiters. For member families, your HSLDA legal assistant can walk you through the enlistment process and provide advice and assistance should your teen encounter any problems. Because recruiters may not have personal experience with the military’s homeschool policy, they sometimes inadvertently give homeschoolers erroneous information.
If your teen has any interest in military enlistment, here are practical steps to prepare your teen academically and some pertinent information for you to gather for the recruiter.
Preparing to Enlist
Many military jobs require a good foundation of academic skills upon which to build more specialized skills. Teens desiring to enter the military should develop in the core subject areas: English, math, history, science, and foreign language. Check your state’s legal analysis to ensure you cover any required subject areas. Add elective courses in areas of interest to your student. This back issue of the high school newsletter, The “Four Year Plan Form: Batter Up for the Big Leagues” provides helpful tips to design your teen’s high school program.
A Guide to Homeschooling through High School gives sample high school plans. One suggests courses and the typical number of credits for those desiring to enlist in the military after high school graduation. Your job as a homeschool parent is to finesse these suggestions and determine what courses will best suit your teen.
Keep in mind the military somewhat frowns on online learning, so it may be wise to limit the number of online courses your teen completes. When speaking with recruiters, your teen should point out that his homeschooling was done under his parent’s management and supervision.
The military desires that enlistees exhibit good character, teamwork, and cooperation. Your teen should choose extracurricular activities that develop these traits in areas that interest, motivate, and encourage your student. Sports, community service, part-time jobs and other activities give teens an opportunity to acquire proficiencies, learn from professionals, and in some cases give back to the community.
The recruiter will want to review your teen’s high school transcript. HSLDA’s website provides step-by-step instructions for creating a transcript along with samples, and free templates for you to use. For HSLDA members, we are available to review your teen’s transcript and offer suggestions, as well as help you calculate the grade point average (GPA).
Or, you may purchase HSLDA’s Fast Transcript service. With the information you enter, Fast Transcripts formats the transcript, automatically calculates the grade point average (GPA), and provides a document to store and print from your home computer. The resulting transcript is professional and well-received.
Some recruiters may ask that the transcript be notarized. If so, the notary public is attesting simply to your signature based on acceptable identification. The notary public is not validating your course work.
In additional to the transcript, you teen will need to show the recruiter your homeschool diploma. The military recognizes homeschool diplomas awarded by parents. Again, you can create a professional-looking diploma or consider purchasing one from HSLDA.
A diploma should state that a prescribed course of secondary education has been completed and witnessed with the parents’ signatures. HSLDA strongly recommends that your teen not take the GED or any other high school equivalency test. Taking the GED complicates matters for enlistees. HSLDA members with questions relating to your homeschool diploma may call our legal department to clear up any issues.
Watch these short videos for more information relating to developing a plan for high school and creating a transcript.
Testing for Enlistees
As noted previously, all enlistees are required to take the ASVAB test and meet the minimum score requirements (in the 30s) on the AFQT section of the test. Local recruiting offices sometimes provide classes or test prep for doing well on the ASVAB, and homeschooled teens should take advantage of practice tests because test scores determine the opportunities and occupational specialties for which each enlistee qualifies. Check with the recruiter to find out when your teen may take the test.
Although not a requirement for enlistment, some enlistees may be asked to take the TAPAS test (Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System). The test predicts motivation and personality traits that can affect performance such as job effort, physical fitness, risk assessment, and drive to perform at high standards. Performance on the TAPAS may qualify or disqualify enlistees for certain training, so graduates should take this exam seriously.
For a more detailed explanation of the military’s homeschool enlistment policy visit our website. Recruiters look favorably on enlistees who complete college credits prior to enlistment, so motivated teens will benefit if they complete 15 or more college credits.
Applying to the Service Academies
Homeschool teens who desire to apply to one of the military’s service academies should demonstrate excellent academic skills, participate in extracurricular activities showcasing leadership skills, and gain an awareness of the service academiesâ€™ requirements and deadlines early in the high school years. The academies are very selective schools, and their acceptance to application ratio is quite low. All applicants must also apply to either their stateâ€™s U.S. representative, either of their two U.S. senators, or the U.S. president for a nomination to a specific service academy
Applicants to the service academies should develop a rigorous high school plan including dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses. Credits from these courses do not transfer to the academies; however, doing well in advanced courses demonstrates that a student is ready for the rigors of the academies’ classes. These helpful tips for applicants from those who have experience with the military academies (such as former graduates, recruiters, and admission officers) provide a checklist of items to consider.
Parents of serious applicants should document all of their teen’s high school classes with course descriptions. All of the academies offer summer programs for rising seniors, and interested teens should consider applying for one of the following summer opportunities: the Coast Guard AIM Program, USNA Summer Seminar, West Point Summer Leaders Experience, and the Air Force Academy Summer Seminar.
Competitive sports are another important facet for the military academies because all applicants must complete a rigorous physical test and physical examination as part of the application process. Some homeschool organizations offer competitive sports, and we recommend interested families search locally for opportunities to help teens compete in varsity level sports. Opportunities may be found at public schools in states that offer equal access to homeschooled students. Other possibilities may be private schools that open varsity sport participation to homeschoolers. In some instances, homeschooled teens may participate on select travel teams that encompass students from many schools in the area.
Considering Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC)
Around 1,000 colleges and universities around the country offer ROTC programs. Selected students receive a full-ride scholarship and post-college career, and they commit to serve in the military for eight years after graduation from college. By combining military training with full scholarships, ROTC students have the option to attend prestigious universities without the worry of taking on college loan debt. This can be a win-win situation for certain homeschool families.
Serving in our nation’s military is an honorable profession. Prepare your teen well, know the requirements for homeschool enlistment, and contact HSLDA should you have any questions when interacting with a recruiter. Hats off to our men and women in uniform!
Join us next month as we take a tour through the high school newsletter archives.
Waving the flag and appreciating all it stands for,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
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