When the parents of homeschool graduate Stori Peterson hit an obstacle while attempting to enroll her in a local community college, they didn’t give up. And their perseverance paid off not only for their daughter, but also may help smooth the way for other homeschoolers.

Sarah Innerst-Peterson and her husband Erik switched to homeschooling after several years of Sarah teaching at a Montessori school, where Stori was one of her pupils.

Sarah explained that, based on her experience teaching an honors class at the college level, she felt homeschooling would allow her children to benefit from a learning program that was less hectic and more in-depth.

“We did what I call a deep dive,” Sarah explained in an email. “When we read something, we lingered.” Her goal was to “make sure our teen homeschoolers have time to breathe, to consider, to mull over, so they can achieve understanding, rather than just absorb information.”

Ready for College

As a result of Sarah’s teaching methods, Stori was eager to begin studying English on the college level upon graduation.

She applied at Mount San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) and submitted the usual documentation, including her federal financial aid forms. It wasn’t until she had completed online orientation and was meeting with a counselor to schedule classes that the fact she had been homeschooled was raised as a possible impediment.

Sarah was asked to provide copies of Stori’s homeschool diploma and transcripts, which she did. At that point the head of college admissions said he could not accept the documents unless they were validated by the local public school district.

“As you can imagine,” wrote Sarah, “I was pretty shaken by the idea that our hard work might be invalid in the eyes of a college!”

Unsure of how to proceed, Sarah contacted Home School Legal Defense Association.

A Valid Education

I wrote a letter to Mt. SAC explaining that Stori’s family had homeschooled under the state’s private school affidavit. This meant their education program was a bona-fide home-based private school which is not to be approved, accredited, or certified by public schools. I also pointed out that the federal government considers homeschool diplomas valid documents for applying for student aid.

We advised Sarah to prepare copies of the family’s private school affidavit. Equipped with these documents and our letter, Sarah and her husband returned to speak with Mt. SAC’s head of admissions.

“He listened carefully and was very respectful,” Sarah reported back to us. “He lifted Stori’s registration hold and said he would be sharing the information we brought to him with the appropriate people, with the purpose of reviewing and revising their current enrollment policies for homeschoolers.”

She concluded with a note of thanks: “Stori is so excited to attend college and begin the next chapter of what I am sure will be a spectacular life. My family was helped when we couldn’t help ourselves, and I will never forget it.”