Parents are often a little hesitant to home educate during the high school years. Many feel challenged to handle the "tougher" subjects at this level or are worried that their children will miss traditional high school experiences. Just like the elementary years, there is no need to go it alone. There are a bunch of resources - many of which we list here - and the homeschool community is very generous with sharing experiences and connections. There are lots of educational and social opportunities to support our older homeschoolers as they continue along their educational journeys.
High-school homeschoolers are positioned to create customized learning plans that are specifically geared towards their post-secondary goals. They can incorporate a wide range of resources -- classes that are specific to their interests, dual-enrollment, technical education, hands-on programs, volunteer opportunities, classes through their local district, online programs, or anything else in their educational journeys. GSHE has a helpful article to help plot out a plan based on your teen's post high-school plans. Their path does not need to replicate public education; the home ed requirements allow homeschoolers to self-certify graduation. Other than the list of subjects that must be covered at some point along the way, the law does not say homeschoolers must accumulate particular credit hours in specific subjects to graduate.
Success After Homeschool
It is a common apprehension that homeschool graduates will be at a disadvantage when applying to college. In fact, many top colleges are receptive to home educated students and have friendly application processes. Here are several articles regarding how universities are open to home educated students. When applying to any college, check with their admissions office for specific requirements. Employers and the military are also increasingly homeschool-friendly. They recognize the self-initiative and discipline that many homeschoolers demonstrate and value the wide range of educational experiences that often distinguish homeschoolers from their peers.
NH Equal Access
Local School District
Per NH statute RSA 193:1-c, home educated students may participate in curricular and cocurricular activities offered at their local public schools such as academic classes, AP courses, sports, music, theater, dances, volunteer activities, and statewide testing. The districts’ policies must not be more restrictive for homeschoolers than it is for the general student population. In other words, if public school students must maintain a particular GPA, provide a health certificate, or sign an honor code, home educated students must meet the same requirements to participate. Homeschoolers may need to take placement exams or provide other evidence for appropriate class enrollment. Note that if homeschoolers enroll in curricular or co-curricular programs at their local high schools, they will be assigned a Unique Pupil Identifier in the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). It is an interconnected student database that may be shared with third-party organizations.
Online Charter School
NH residents under age 21 who are not yet high school graduates may enroll in the state's only online charter school, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS). They offer part and full-time enrollment for students through 12th. Enrollment is not limited to the traditional school year. They do not charge tuition to NH residents and have nondiscrimination admission policies. Note that full-time enrollment is not homeschooling because VLACS is part of the state's public school system. See their website for information about classes and registration details.
Career and Technical Education
As part of New Hampshire's public education system, homeschooling students are also eligible to participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE). The same Equal Access statute, RSA 193:1-c, applies. To enroll, home educated students must apply through their local high school's guidance office. There are CTE programs across the state. Many programs are highly competitive and have prerequisites and enrollment limits so it is very important to initiate these conversations well in advance.
Learning Centers and Co-Op Providers
There are several homeschool groups, learning centers, and co-ops that can provide a portion or an entire high school curriculum. Find a full list of NH-based support groups and co-ops here. Additional enrichment classes and programs are listed here.
Homeschooling students have a great opportunity to include hands-on learning options in their program. It can include nearly anything of interest to your pre-teen and teen and "count" as learning! There is no limit to what may be part of your child's home education program -- volunteering at an animal rescue clinic, club theater program, robotics team, home-based business, Civil Air Patrol program, and more! Public high schools recognize these outside-the-classroom learning opportunities and are called Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) for in-district programs and Learn Everywhere for statewide programs. This is a wonderful opportunity to gear your pre-teen or teen's education towards his or her particular interests while still in high school.
Online Course Providers
There are many online providers for high school level courses; only some are listed here. Note that full-time enrollment in online programs is recognized as homeschooling in New Hampshire. Some of these providers offer earlier grades in addition to high school level courses. More are listed at Studypool. Additionally, some private educational providers may be accredited. This is not an endorsement or recommendation and they are listed only as a service to the homeschool community.
Students can earn college credit while in high school through dual enrollment programs. Project Running Start allows students to enroll in the Community College System of NH (CCSNH) at a reduced tuition cost. E-Start is a dual credit program for taking online classes through the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS).
Southern NH University also offers a program called SNHU in the High School. It allows qualifying sophomores, juniors, and seniors to take college classes and can earn college credit that may transfer to other colleges. They allow up to two classes per semester at a discounted rate. SNHU also offers online classes through the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS).
Other universities are friendly to home educated students, but check with them individually for their particular information.
Students can also participate in the Dual Admission Program. It takes advantage of one application process for enrollment at one of the seven NH community colleges and admission into the University System of NH all at once. Students earn associate degree credits at the community college and then transfer to one of the institutions in the University System of NH to complete a bachelor's degree. For more information consult the DualNH website.
The University of New Hampshire offers introductory college-level classes to motivated and academically strong high school juniors and seniors. The program is called Challenging Academically Talented Students (CATS) and is intended to supplement high school curriculum, not replace courses. For more information about the program and qualifications, refer to the UNH-CATS page.
As of spring 2019, Plymouth State University offers high school juniors and seniors with B grade-point-averages the opportunity to take classes at half the cost of regular tuition and earn college credits. It is called the Accelerated High School Student Program and application information is available here.
NH high-school students may also utilize free college classes and exams through a new program offered by Modern States. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) classes and tests are similar to advanced-placement programs and exams. They may count towards college credit in a variety of topics. These exams are accepted at nearly 3,000 colleges and universities across the country, including several in New Hampshire.
College Entrance Exams
College Board is the non-profit organization that creates and administers many of the college admission exams including the PSAT, SAT, and the SAT subject exams. They are also responsible for the Advanced Placement (AP) curricula and tests as well as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam.
Homeschool students may participate in the PSAT exam, typically in mid October of their sophomore and junior years. The PSAT is often used for distinctions and scholarship qualifications including the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students may participate with their local high schools, but make these arrangement in spring of the previous school year so additional tests may be ordered. Fees may apply. Refer to the PSAT pages on College Board for additional information.
Most students take college entrance exams during the spring of their junior year to allow for any re-takes over the summer. Registration is through the organizations directly, not the local public schools, and students have options regarding locations and exam dates.
For exams through College Board, a student may request accommodations for an IEP or documented disability. The request must be filed and approved by Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). The process takes at least seven weeks, so file all documentation early. See College Board's SSD pages for more information.
The ACT test has slightly different content than the SAT and is managed by a different organization. See their website for registration, fees, test dates, and practice exams. They also accept homeschoolers' requests for accommodations. See this page for the process.
Note that homeschoolers have a unique "school" code (by state) for these exams. If testing is arranged through the local schools, they may not provide the code so be sure to have that information when registering and taking the exam(s).
Test proctors are supposed to know the homeschool code, but it may be helpful to call the school in advance to alert them that a homeschooled student will be taking the exam so they are prepared.
Some colleges have additional requirements for home educated students such as additional recommendation letters and essays. It is important to check with each institution for their admissions requirements.
The two major college entrance tests - the ACT and SAT exams - are aligned with Common Core (aka College and Career Readiness Standards). For that reason, homeschoolers who do not follow those standards may wish to consider alternatives.
A new test was launched in June 2016 to provide an option to college-bound homeschoolers, the Classical Learning Test (CLT). So far mostly small, private universities accept this exam, but the list is growing.
Students may forgo testing completely, called "test optional." More universities including top-named schools such as the University of Chicago, George Washington University, Bryant University, Columbia College, Brandeis University, Lewis & Clark College, and Roger Williams University allow students to skip the common entrance exams in favor of completing an additional essay question or two. If a student is considering this option, it is best to check directly with the institution’s admission office or website for details. For an updated and comprehensive list, refer to FairTest.org. Some universities are "test optional," meaning that applicants may forgo tests or submit alternatives if they meet certain criteria such as a minimum GPA or applying for a specific program. Policies vary greatly.
AP Classes and Exams
Homeschooled students may enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams through their local public schools or online providers. Some online classes require students to take exams through the public schools. If this is the case, be sure to make arrangements with the SAU or high school several months in advance. Additional fees may apply. College Board has good information for homeschoolers here.
In New Hampshire, homeschoolers may self-certify their children's graduation. If a student completes the equivalent of 12th grade prior to turning 18 years old, parents must file notice with the state Department of Education to satisfy compulsory attendance requirements per RSA 193:1, I(f)(2).
The NH DOE has a sample self-certification form, and GSHE created a sample high school graduation letter.
It is highly recommended to send the notification via certified mail as parents are responsible for maintaining these records. The state DOE’s mailing address is 101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301-3860.
If the student is 18 years of age or older, there is no need to file a notice with the NH DOE because the student is above the education attendance requirement age per RSA 193:1.
Federal law recognizes that NH home educated students can self-certify graduation to be eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds.
Some colleges require a self-certification of graduation on file to finalize admission.
Transcripts and Applying for College
There is no one correct format for home ed transcripts, but essential elements should include the following: classes, dual enrollment courses, grades, grading scale, volunteer experiences, work-study programs, graduation or completion date, as well as the homeschool name, address, and phone number. If the student takes college entrance exams, be sure to have results sent directly to the colleges; scores will not be accepted from other sources. There are several helpful transcript sources, some of which are listed below. Some private school Participating Agencies offer transcript services.
The NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) offers several services and resources to help with the prep and application process. They also host an annual spring event called Destination College that helps high school juniors and their families prepare for entry into college. It is a statewide college planning convention and is free to students and families. We held an online event with NHHEAF and three NH college admissions officers to discuss what they want to see on transcripts from homeschoolers. GSHE has other events with NHHEAF recorded and available here.
If you have a child with special needs, there are good tips shared on True North Homeschool Academy.
Federal law recognizes that NH home educated students may self-certify graduation to be eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds. NH homeschool students meet the requirement of the federal Higher Education Act of 1965 (as amended) Sec. 484(d)(3), 34 CFR 668.32(e)(4) and the Federal Student Aid Handbook Volume 1, Chapter 1, page 6 in compliance with New Hampshire law, RSA 193-A.
The NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) has many resources to support families in the financial planning and aid application process. They also have information about scholarships available on their website.
Youth Employment and Volunteering
The New Hampshire law regarding youth employment certificates changed in summer 2016 to allow families to complete the required documentation for students under 16 years old. Find details and links on our Youth Employment page.
The NH Higher Education Foundation (NHHEAF), based in Concord, is a free resource to families for the college search and application process, and can offer financial aid supports. They have publications and online resources, host workshops and seminars, and other supports for college-bound students. GSHE occasionally co-hosts special events with NHHEAF especially for homeschool families.