Are you a homeschool student interested in playing college sports? There are specific actions you need to start taking now in order to qualify.
The NCAA has a detailed set of guidelines for homeschooled athletes who want to qualify to play sports in college. You’ll need to work together with your parent to make sure you’ve met all the NCAA’s eligibility requirements before you begin applying to your colleges of choice.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics to help you get started on the right foot so that you’ll be ready to take your sport to the next level in college.
What is the NCAA’s definition of “homeschool”?
One important distinction to note is that the NCAA draws a clear line between students who are considered homeschooled versus non-traditional students.
Generally speaking, a homeschooled student is a student whose parent, tutor, and/or “state-recognized homeschool entity“ has developed a curriculum to follow. The curriculum, instruction, and grading must come from the parent, tutor, or state-sanctioned homeschool organization.
Non-traditional students, on the other hand, are students who attend virtual public schools and simply learn at home. Those students are not considered homeschooled by NCAA standards.
What should homeschool athletes feature on their high school transcripts?
The NCAA requires homeschool transcript information beginning in ninth grade. Your parent may work with you to create and submit your transcript.
In order to be accepted, your transcript must include:
- The month, day, and year you started ninth grade
- Titles of each course and the grades you earned for each
- Credit units for each course
- The grading scale your parent used (if numeric); the A-F letter equivalent is required (the NCAA requires a 100-point grading range)
- Homeschool administrator’s handwritten signature
- The academic year you took the course (like 2019-20)
- The month, day, and year you’ll graduate
- Your full name and home address
You may include dual enrollment courses on your transcript. A detailed example of an NCAA-eligible homeschool transcript is available here, along with further information regarding weighted grading scales and dual enrollment. You will also need to include your SAT or ACT scores.
The NCAA also requires a list of college preparatory textbooks used in your curriculum. The details should include the textbook’s title, author, and publisher information. It’s important to work with your parent to ensure all your course materials are considered college-preparatory for NCAA eligibility.
The full NCAA eligibility toolkit is available here, complete with worksheets to fill out that will help you and your parent ensure you’re taking care of all the details.
You’ll need to register with the NCAA, providing all required materials, during your junior year. Learn more at the NCAA Eligibility Center and download their checklist here.
Can a homeschooled athlete get an athletic scholarship?
Yes, you can be awarded an athletic scholarship to the college of your choice. But it’s important that you get familiar with the requirements as early as possible so that you can adequately prepare. The earlier you can learn your chosen college’s requirements, the better.
Being the best you can be in your sport of choice is only part of the equation in this situation. You also need to make sure you’re keeping up with (and making good grades in) your academic courses, taking courses that meet NCAA eligibility requirements, and taking core classes required by your colleges of choice.
When it comes to sports scholarships, your transcript can make or break your chances—so be sure you’re well aware of the requirements you’ll need to meet. Don’t be afraid to ask your parent for help in this process to make sure you’re covering all your bases.
It can also be helpful to get in touch with your colleges of choice in order to get crystal clear on their individual requirements for students who want to enter their athletic programs and compete for scholarships. Find out whether the school is a member of the NCAA or NAIA, then get in touch with the financial aid department. Financial aid personnel will be able to walk you through the steps to apply for scholarship eligibility.
Curriculum tips for homeschooled athletes
Every course you take must meet NCAA requirements, so do your homework before you select your courses for each semester. Ask your parent to help ensure you’re choosing eligible courses.
As mentioned above, the NCAA doesn’t consider non-traditional courses to be part of a homeschool curriculum. Review the NCAA’s guidelines for non-traditional vs. homeschool courses before you choose.
Online courses can also be a big question mark, so be prepared to investigate before you enroll to ensure each class can be counted toward your goal to play college sports.
Refer to the NCAA guidelines early and often to make sure you’re on track. The organization’s policies are strict, so if it’s important to you to play college sports, you’ll need to be extra vigilant.
The bottom line: prepare for a well-rounded career
As you prepare to play college sports, remember to also prepare for a well-rounded career beyond your athletic endeavors. While many young athletes play sports in college, only a small percentage go on to play professional sports. It’s important to weigh your academic pursuits (like your major of choice) as carefully as your athletic goals. Good luck!