From Homeschooling to a UC School

This post was originally published at Simplify.
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For years in the homeschool community, we have heard how difficult it is for a California homeschooler to gain admittance to a UC school. With the a-g requirements that the UC schools used and a limited number of approved providers of a-g classes, the path seemed impossible. Over the years though more and more homeschoolers are getting into UC schools which is definitely wonderful news for both the schools and for homeschoolers!


The reasons for more homeschoolers getting into different UC schools seems to be a combination of things. First, it seems that the UC schools are becoming more and more open to homeschoolers perhaps as a consequence of the high number of homeschoolers in California. Second, with online educational providers and the use of community colleges, there are more opportunities for California homeschoolers to meet the a-g requirements. Lastly, there is more than one path to gain admittance to a UC school making it easier for homeschoolers to meet the requirements in a variety of ways.

There are three pathways for homeschoolers to meet UC admission requirements and they are:

  1. Admission by meeting the a-g requirements
  2. Admission by exam
  3. Admission by exception

Admission by meeting the a-g requirements

As stated on the UC website, a-g requirements (usually referred to as “a through g”) are subject categories as follows:

History/social science (“a”) – Two years, including one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history, or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of  American government or civics.

  • English (“b”) – Four years of college preparatory English that integrates reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.
  • Mathematics (“c”) –Three years of college-preparatory math, including or integrating the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry.
  • Laboratory science (“d”) – Two years of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
  • Language other than English (“e”) – Two years of the same language other than English or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction.
  • Visual and performing arts (“f”) – One year chosen from dance, music, theater or the visual arts.
  • College-preparatory elective (“g”) – One year chosen from the “a-f” courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements above, or courses that have been approved solely in the elective area.

Remember, these are minimum requirements, which means that fulfilling them as stated does not guarantee admittance to any of the UC campuses.

California high schools seek a-g approval from UCs by submitting their courses for an audit process. This is where as homeschoolers, we find our hands tied. There is nowhere for us to submit our home-made classes to UC for approval!

However, homeschoolers have found various ways to still fulfill UC’s a-g requirements, i.e through:

  • Community college (CC) coursework: usually starting in 10th or 11th grade, homeschoolers are able to access a-g compliant coursework to fulfill requirements. These classes are especially helpful in the lab sciences, higher math classes, and for foreign language requirements, the three areas that are often the most challenging for homeschooling parents to teach. To search for a-g approved CC coursework, utilize the UC A-G Course Listsite. Plug in the CC’s name in the Institution Name search bar to see a drop down list of a-g approved classes by year and subject category.
  • Homeschooling through the Private School Affidavit using a-g approved vendors: Families may choose to use this path with or without CC coursework. Many enterprising homeschool course providers have submitted their classes to UC for a-g approval and year by year, the list seems to be growing, giving us so much more choice than what we had before! To find these classes, use the UC A-G Course List site by typing the vendor’s name in the search bar.
  • Charter school or public school independent study enrollment: Many homeschooling families choose to enroll in independent study and high school programs offered by various state-funded charter school programs. Since the schools are publicly-funded and issue the final high school transcript, students are required to follow a state-mandated, four-year high school program with less flexibility to choose their classes. Some charters allow students to take a non-college-prep pathway that does not stress on fulfilling a-g requirements. We recommend checking with the relevant schools to see what options are available to your child.

Admission by exam  

Admission by exam refers to taking the SAT or ACT with Writing test and two SAT Subject Tests of your choice. The scores from these tests will then be used to determine if the student has earned a minimum UC Score total for admission. To learn more about this path and to see how you calculate the UC Score please see this page.

If the student has taken a transferable college course and has received a grade C or higher, there is a risk that UC will not consider a Subject Test in the same subject area as one of the two Subject Test scores for admission by exam. For example, if a student has taken algebra-based physics through the community college and received a grade of A, B or C, UC might not use the student’s SAT Physics score as a qualifying score for admission by exam.  We strongly recommend speaking with a UC admissions counselor before your student takes Subject Tests with the view of applying for admission by exam.

Admission by exam is a great choice for families who have students who are strong test takers. Depending on their goals, admission by exam allows students more flexibility to either put aside or supplement the required a-g coursework, and to continue on in high school with individually planned classes.

Admission by exception

Students who have not met the admission requirements through a-g or testing might still be accepted to a UC school via admission by exception. This path is usually reserved for students who do not have transcripts, who have not had the same opportunities as other students, or who have had to overcome highly unusual and/ or very difficult circumstances.

If using this path to apply, you will need to utilize the personal insight questions to present your unique life story. You may also want to use the additional comment section on the application to better explain yourself as a candidate. Certain UC campuses may be more open to this option than others and again, we recommend contacting the schools directly if planning to explore this application path.

Still confused or worried about applying as a homeschooler to a UC school?

We have two suggestions. Complete a pretend application and apply to more than one UC school.

In your student’s freshman or sophomore year, when the UC application becomes available in August, register for a UC application account and (with your student if they are interested) take a test drive of the application to see how best to complete it. This, in turn, will provide valuable insight into how best to plan your student’s upcoming high school years. Repeat the test drive the following year to give more certainty. By the time your student is ready to apply to a UC school in senior year, they will feel so much more confident about the UC application process as so much of the application will look and feel familiar to them.

The UC application makes choosing schools easy with one check box per school. Too many times, families target only selective UCs without realizing that another UC school might be a better fit for the student. To give your child the best chance of being accepted to a UC, research as many of the schools as you can and be practical about which of these schools are reaches and which ones matches or safeties. Then, apply to at least three or four UC schools. It only takes one application and one round of writing personal insight questions so why waste the opportunity?

Jill and Suji are both well-versed with the UC application process, so do reach out to us either via our Contact form or our Facebook page if you have more questions.

Accommodations for College Admission Exams: A Guide for Homeschoolers


This post was originally published at Simplify. To utilize Simplify‘s services please contact us here.

Homeschoolers are often judged more on their test scores than their public and private school peers because of the fact that their education is evaluated at home and often by parents. Having an outside test score or scores to back up the information on a homeschool transcript is essential. In addition, test scores are often used in awarding merit scholarships at many colleges and universities and AP scores can be used for awarding college credit. For many homeschoolers the SAT, ACT, and the APs are a very important part of the college application.

For homeschooled students with disabilities, whether they are physical disabilities or learning disabilities, this is also true. But the process to get accommodations approved can often seem overwhelming and confusing to a parent just starting out. This guide is to help you get through the process.

The first thing you need to decide which test you need accommodations on. If your student will be taking the ACT then you will be working with the ACT only. If your student will be taking the SAT, SAT Subject Test, the PSAT, or the APs you will need to go through The College Board for accommodations. Both of them do work with homeschoolers but the process is different for both. One thing to remember is to start early on accommodations as sometimes they are not approved in a timely manner.


Step 1: Register for the ACT first – you have to actually register your student prior to requesting accommodations. When registering indicate that your student will need accommodations. Select the type of accommodation or accommodations that are needed and complete the registration. ACT will send you an email about working with your school. As an independent homeschooler you will not need to worry about this.

Step 2: You will need to complete the Request for ACT-Approved Accommodations Supports form. It is also recommended that you, as a homeschool teacher, fill out a Teacher Survey Form to provide more information on your student and the accommodations your student receives in your classroom.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation that you have in regards to your student’s disability, the teacher survey form, a copy of your student’s ACT admission ticket, and the support form you filled out and email it all to

If you are unsure about what supporting documentation you need please see ACT Policy for Accommodations Documentation.

After ACT has received your request they should get back to you within a timely manner. Depending on what test date your student has signed up for the deadlines are as follows:




For anyone wanting their student to have accommodations on the SAT, PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, or the APs you will have to work with the College Board. In previous years the College Board was very hard to work with and more times than not accommodations were not approved not only for homeschooled students but for public and private school students as well. With accommodations so hard to come by there was a great deal of backlash and in response the College Board has made some changes to the process and made it simpler for qualified students to get their much-needed accommodations. Remember to start the process early in the year especially if you are trying to get accommodations for the AP exams.



Step 1: When you begin researching accommodations through the College Board you will see that they have moved to an online platform. Homeschool parents will not be using this platform to request accommodations. Instead you will need to email the College Board at and request a paper Student Eligibility Form. Make sure to include your physical address in the email as the form will be sent to you through the mail.

Step 2: You and your student will need to fill out the Student Eligibility Form. Instructions will be included with the form The first half of the form is easy to fill out as it is just student identifying information. Sections 13 through 16 deal with the accommodations requested, the student’s disability, and documentation. Make sure you, as the parent, fill this section out and read the instructions for each step prior to filling in your student’s information. Section 17 is for schools only. As a homeschooling parent you do not need to worry about this section.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation you have to justify the accommodations. You can get more information on what documentation to send by visiting the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities here.

Step 4: This is not a required step but I do highly recommend it. Download the Teacher Survey form from the College Board and fill it out. This form gives you, as the homeschool teacher, a chance to explain accommodations that you use in your homeschool for your student. You also have an opportunity to discuss if you give your student extended time and what the impact of having accommodations has on your student. If you have another teacher that works with your student and has insight into their accommodations they may also fill out a form. Remember: when it comes to getting accommodations, the more documentation and information you have on your student the better.




Step 5: Place all the forms and documents you have in the envelope that the College Board sent you and send it back in. You can send it via regular mail or if you are worried about the highly personal and sensitive information you may want to send it via trackable mail. After mailing the materials you can expect to hear back from the College Board within seven weeks. The decision will be mailed to your student and will be available online if a student has an account on My Organizer.

Step 6: If your accommodations have been denied, don’t give up yet. Usually, they are denied because more documentation is needed. Or, they may be partially approved. Either way your letter from the College Board will explain everything and give you your options to proceed. For more information on denied accommodations head over to the College Board.

Having a student who needs accommodations in order to perform at their optimal level can sometimes feel overwhelming. Hopefully, this guide helps you work through the steps needed in order to receive accommodations for whatever test or tests your homeschooled student needs to take. If you would like further help with this process or any other part of the college admission process please contact Simplify. We would love to work with you!

Beginning the college application process

It's about starting over andcreating something better. (1)

We are in the ending stage of the college application season, and I am so happy that we are nearing the end. I cannot explain how drawn out the application process is or all that goes into it. Applying to colleges is not just about the initial application. It is about researching schools, visiting campuses, writing essays, and communicating. It is a year-long process and one that the student needs to be in control of but one the parent should support along the way.

If you have a junior in high school right now, you should already be starting this journey. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Have your student begin researching schools. They should start by researching online. To get them started discuss possible majors, locations, and college size with them.
  2. Visit some schools that are close by to get a feel for different campuses. Touring a university or college helps high school students get a better idea for what they like or don’t like. I found it also gets teens excited about the process.
  3. Run the net price calculator at various colleges. This will help you get a better idea on the cost of sending your child to college and will help you eliminate some schools that are too expensive.
  4. Begin working on essays – It’s never too early to start thinking about essays. If your student will be using the common app (which they most likely will for some of the schools they apply to) the essays prompts are already available.
  5. Register your student to take the SAT or ACT. If they have already taken the test discuss with them if they think they could score higher on a retake. One thing I learned during this whole process is that test scores are still a huge factor in the decision making. If there is a chance your student could score higher have them retake the test.
  6. Start working on their transcripts and course descriptions if you haven’t yet. Ideally you have been keeping records for the last three years. If you haven’t give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order.
  7. Have your student begin contacting people that they would like to use for recommendations. It is better to get this set up now while you have time. Having strong recommenders is another vital component so don’t leave this until the last minute.
  8. And finally – try to let your student do as much of this as they can on their own. This is their first major decision of their adult life. They should be figuring out where they want to go/what they want to major in for themselves. They should also be the ones reaching out to colleges, professors, and recommenders. It is a learning process and will help prepare them for the next four years of their life.

Homeschooling – A Grandparent’s Point of View


Special guest author – Jill Kimbrough, my mother, and homeschool grandparent extraordinaire.

I have eight grandchildren five of which are homeschooled and three of which are in public school. They have all blossomed, each in their own environment, and are continuing to find their place for the future. However this article is for the parents and grandparents of homeschoolers. I hope this helps.

When my daughter asked me to write an article on homeschooling from a grandparent’s point of view, I guess I was somewhat prepared for her request. I’ve been on the periphery of homeschooling for 12 years by observing her. Had she asked me this a few years ago my take on it would no doubt be different. This year, this week in fact, my opinion is this: I’m jubilant. I’m jubilant because I can see what has taken place, I can see the journey they’ve made, I can see the outcome. I’ve come from being wary to being envious of my children and grandchildren; envious of my children for being brave at a time when everyone thought they were crazy and envious of my grandchildren because they have a superior education with a full grasp on classical studies, languages, technology and the arts. That’s not to say I always felt this way. It hasn’t been the catastrophic outcome that I imagined in my head when my daughter informed me that she was going to homeschool her children.  I probably did say something like ‘You’re going to do what?’

Like most people my age I came from a public school setting, as did my children, so when my daughter informed me of her decision to homeschool I was curious and scared at the same time. The only thing I knew about homeschooling was from an article I had read a long time ago in Time magazine of a homeschool family living in California who had successfully seen their children enter high ranking universities, one being Yale University. Who knew that years later we would also be living in California and homeschooling would be a part of my lexicon?

Homeschooling began for three of my grandchildren at preschool. Since I lived close by I could clearly see the struggles and successes they were having. It was an adjustment for everyone, as starting any school sometimes is. At the time that this was going on with my daughter in California, my son and his wife in Indiana were thinking about doing the same thing. They finally made a decision to pull their children from public school and bring them home to teach them in a less stressful atmosphere. Their oldest was anxious in school and the youngest got lost in the shuffle of a crowded class room. It worked for both families. As I look back, I think I did some kibitzing, but I also learned a lot: homeschooling doesn’t take all day when you’re only schooling a few children but covers a lot of learning. It fosters respect and relationships with others, it allows time to discover a passion and, with a diligent teacher/parent, it opens doors that one didn’t know existed!

So here are some offered suggestions on how to be a relaxed and supportive homeschool grandparent; a list I wish someone would have made for me during some handwringing and sleepless nights:

1) Do yourself and your child a favor and trust that they know what they’re doing. We are smack dab in the computer age where it is so easy to gather information and facts about any subject and, additionally, to find classes for highschoolers outside the home, and later, to research colleges that are homeschool friendly. My granddaughter has already begun this process and, along with her mom, has visited a few universities.

2) Don’t start comparing your homeschooled grandchildren to other children, perhaps to your peers’ grandchildren. Remember that children grow and mature and learn at different rates.

3) Ask your daughter/son if there is any subject you can help with-you’re not a grandparent for nothing.

4) Offer to teach a class in knitting or wood crafting or any talent you might have, even if it’s teaching your grandson or granddaughter how to write in cursive or how to cook. Any skill passed on from grandparent to grandchild is a skill worth having.

I took my grandkids to my painting studio in Laguna Beach to teach them about art in general but also to just have coffee and talk. I got to know them a bit better and they got to hear funny stories about when I was in school. I also was asked by my grandson if I would write a Scooby-Doo story. I did and that was several years ago and so began a bond that is still ongoing. Who knew that Scooby-Doo could bring a grandma and grandson together? Time spent with our grandchildren is time well spent, as they say. The bounty to that is your child and your grandchild will love you for taking the time and you’ll love that you discovered something about them you didn’t know.

5) If your grandchild has any kind of learning disability, however small, trust that it will show up and be caught by the homeschool parent. These parents are working with their children every day and will notice issues just as easily as any school would. And a homeschool parent can address many of these learning issues or other disabilities in a home environment because there are so few students. One-on-one attention goes a long way.

6) Finally, and probably what I have heard the most from family members and friends of the parents who homeschool, stop worrying about socialization of the homeschooled child! There are so many homeschool groups and classes out there where they can gather with their peers and yes, socialize! When my oldest granddaughter was a teen I had the opportunity to take her to park day many times where she gathered with her friends. As a group they would go to the coffee shop nearby or just hang out in the park and talk, sharing ideas and planning other get-togethers. And, as I have learned over the years, there is a plethora of online communities for these kids too.

This is an opportunity for you grandparents out there to buckle your seatbelt and start this adventure! Enjoy the ride whatever stage your grandchildren are at. I’m doing that now: I just got back from a trip to Europe with my daughter and her children to visit my son and his family. I may not have envisioned this adventure when my grandchildren came into the world, but it is an adventure I would have never wanted to miss

Homeschooling the Twice-Exceptional Student – There Will Be Gaps and That’s OK


This young man is incredibly creative. He makes movies, writes stories, animates, composes, records original songs, and works on other creative endeavors all day long. He is never idle, never bored. My son works from the moment he wakes up, which is usually before 7:00, and stays busy until around 10:00 at night when he finally tires out and heads to bed. Sleep usually comes an hour later when his mind finally calms down.


Most days I am in awe of all he does. It really is amazing. But it is also incredibly frustrating, and at times, overwhelming and tiring to watch. Traditional school work falls to the way side often, and when he can settle long enough to work on academics, it usually doesn’t go the way I imagine. Math is an exercise in frustration, reading hurts his head, and handwriting practice is painful. Science can be fun, history is mostly boring, but analyzing literature is a favorite. He usually has the energy to concentrate on academics for no more than 2 to 3 hours a day, a few days a week.

This is what I am working with, and I can never forget it as I homeschool him. My son is not going to school in any sort of traditional matter, and I have to remind myself of that often. He is a twice-exceptional student, and things are different for twice-exceptional kids. Their paths look different from other students. Their days look different.

Parents who are homeschooling 2E children and teens need to remind themselves of this often otherwise they may end up feeling like they are failing their children. There will be areas where their student may be behind (for my son it is math) and other areas where they have no interest at all. There will be gaps along the way and as homeschool parents we have to learn to let these gaps go because there will be other areas where they are working so enthusiastically, so passionately, that they do not have time for it all.

I have to remind myself that what my son is doing is significant (even with the gaps) and that he will find his own way. His path may be different and atypical but it is also unique and meaningful. He is creative and productive and confident and happy. And in the end isn’t that all that matters?

————————————————————————–Are you homeschooling a twice-exceptional or gifted homeschooler? Are you looking for support? If so please join our new Facebook group for 2E homeschooling parents here and follow our Facebook page here. Thank you!

An Eclectic, Academic Approach to a High School Course of Study


What does an eclectic, academic course of study look like for homeschoolers in the high school years? It can take a variety of different forms depending on the teen and their strengths and weaknesses. It can also develop differently based on their interests and the resources available to them. Regardless of these differences, a rich eclectic, academic study will be one in which the student learns at a meaningful level through a variety of resources and opportunities.

At the beginning of my son’s high school years he became very interested in astronomy, and his natural curiosity about the subject matter gave me the idea of incorporating it into his school year as a science credit. Building upon and nurturing a high school student’s interests in an educational capacity is very important at this phase, as intuitive curiosity leads a student to want to pursue an area of knowledge at a deeper level. As a concrete example, here is what I did with my son for his study of astronomy.

Astronomy first caught the attention of my son when he discovered Black Holes Explained, a short series from the Great Courses. Because of his interest I decided to order a longer title from the Great Courses titled An Introduction to Astronomy which included 96 half-hour lectures. The guidebook to this series included several reading recommendations which we purchased and he eagerly worked through. It also came with questions which he answered as he watched the lectures. In addition to this I picked up a standard astronomy college textbook and he worked through parts of it.

After going through all of these my son’s passion for the subject of astronomy had not diminished and he applied to attend an Astronomy Camp at the University of Arizona. Upon being accepted he and other camp mates spent seven sleepless nights on top of an isolated mountain in the desert of Arizona learning about astronomy hands-on. He also had the opportunity to partake in a radio broadcast talking to the crew of the International Space Station, where he posed the question of how fast could the crew evacuate in an emergency. Through these hands-on experiences his love of astronomy grew.


My son returned from camp with a truly enriched understanding of the subject and a desire to delve even deeper into his studies, so I turned to other online options and found a Coursera class on Astrobiology from the University of Edinburgh, and then he and his sister joined our local astronomy club where he attended monthly lectures by experts in the field from local universities including Cal Tech, UC Irvine, and Chapman. He also rented a telescope from the club and used it to study the stars, planets, and the moon on clear nights. Along with his sister he attended a few “star parties” or large-scale stargazing events attended by experts and enthusiasts with a wide array of telescopes.

One thing that’s important at this level is that your teenager has an output of work which at the high school level should include essays, labs, and essential assignments and projects which engage them fully and challenge them to broaden their horizons. When you homeschool not everything has to be done traditionally but there should be enough work done to earn a credit. This course of study began in the spring of what would have been his eighth grade year, went on through the summer, and ended in the winter of what was his freshman year and for it he earned one full science credit and a half lab credit.

Although this study was rich and eclectic the cost was actually quite manageable which is important to point out as I know cost is a factor for many of us. We got the Great Courses used on Ebay for a very affordable price, and all of his books were used copies that we found on Amazon. The Coursera class was free and my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship for the astronomy camp which is what made it possible for him to participate. Participation in the local astronomy club was very affordable, and they lent us a telescope for six months free of charge. My point here is that even if you are on a tight budget like I am there are resources out there for you to create a meaningful academic experience for your child.

This is just one example whereby a student-led course can lead to a gratifying pursuit in the high school years. Not every class is going to be like this; not every credit earned will be earned like this. Still, it is a wonderful thing that we have the opportunity, as homeschool parents, to craft at least a few high school courses in this way, and it is wonderful that our teens have the opportunity to learn through an engaging and memorable process.

Homeschooling the Teen Years – Be Prepared for Changes


Recently I was reflecting on my twins and their homeschooling journey, and as I was thinking about the last few years, I was somewhat surprised at how much they have changed. I thought about how at thirteen my son was the astronomy/math guy who spent hours studying these topics and spent his first big summer camp studying astronomy in the mountains of Arizona. I thought about my daughter who was in a school of the arts for classical voice and was spending hours a day practicing singing and was entering national voice competitions. I remember looking at these two and thinking about how great it was that they had already figured out their future and that they were on the right path for these futures.


And then the twins started to grow up. They started dealing with puberty, hormones, and other issues which changed them. They began exploring different areas of interest (as all teens should) and began questioning who they are and what they want out of life. The twins began that long journey from young teenhood to adulthood (a journey they are still on) and everything that I thought was planned out and in stone changed. Their interests, passions, challenges, and strengths altered. Their college plans began to look different. Their future I envisioned suddenly started to become hard to imagine, and I realized that their future was not something we could predict or see.


This hazy future, one that I cannot know, is not a bad thing. It is a joy to see the twins grow and change. It is exciting to think that their future is their own and it is an unknown. It is wonderful to know that they have been given time to explore their many interests through homeschool and that they can continue to grow and change for many years to come.

I write this post as a reminder to my future self (as I will be going through this same journey soon with my youngest son) and to other homeschooling parents. It is so easy for us to craft our child’s education to their interests and passions because we do homeschool. It is exciting to know that we are able to give our children opportunities that their peers may not have in traditional schools. The ability to be able to create their path and to be able to work on just one interest is a very attractive option but sometimes it does get in the way of a person’s growth. Remember this as you go through the teen years. Be flexible, allow your child to explore freely, and be supportive. They will get where they are going in the end even if the journey does not look the way we imagined.