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UCR Finds A Rich Vein of Talent

UC Riverside Taps Into Rich Vein of Homeschool Students

An “Information Day” is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 on campus to answer questions about a homeschool admissions program based on the review of a student portfolio.

(September 13, 2006)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Robert Wilkinson of Chino Hills was homeschooled all his life, and will be among the freshmen who start at UC Riverside this month.

Robert, 17, submitted a portfolio of his work that earned him a spot on campus and a scholarship offer. He was one of 16 people who applied through a year-old admissions program that uses a faculty committee to review the work of homeschooled and other nontraditionally educated students. His homeschooled sister, Stephanie, earned a place on campus the year before in the traditional way, with a combination of high test scores and grades.

“Different paths are geared to different students,” said 19-year-old Stephanie.
UCR has scheduled an Information Day for 9 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Oct. 7 on campus, outlining the admissions guidelines for homeschool and nontraditionally educated students.

"The new homeschool admissions program seems to have attracted outstanding students, as we'd hoped," said Frank Vahid, a professor in the Department of Computer Science who helped establish the program. "Some applicants showed exceptional accomplishment in certain areas of study or very novel life experiences, while many also had high grades in community college courses and strong SAT scores. It looks like we've tapped into a pipeline of great students."

All together, 16 students submitted portfolios and 12 of those earned admission to UCR. Six of the 12 were judged worthy of Regents or Chancellor’s scholarships, a higher percentage than in the regular admission population. Six students have accepted the admission offer and now enrolled. Four of them have accepted scholarships which will cover at least 75 percent of their fees.

“We are excited about the positive response from homeschooled and nontraditionally educated students and their parents,” said Interim Director of Admissions Merlyn Campos. “As we begin our recruitment for next year, we look forward to seeing an even bigger response.” The application season for the University of California begins Nov. 1.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that 1.1 million, or 2.2 percent of all students, are homeschooled in the nation. While some private colleges have recruited homeschooling families, UCR is among the first public research universities to do so. More are expected to follow.

UC Riverside is known for providing opportunities for undergraduate research, personal contact with professors, public service internships and international study. In fact, UC Riverside ranked 22nd in the nation in the 2006 Washington Monthly rankings of U.S. colleges and universities, a ranking based on what kind of service universities provide for the public investment in them. The high ranking was based on a combination of community service, research and social mobility, or a university’s ability to help low-income students get through to graduation and employment.

Admissions Q & A

Q: How has this changed UCR policy?

A: For decades, homeschooled students have been able to come to UCR if they have met a "by examination alone" standard. For this coming application season, the change will be the option for a "portfolio review" by a faculty committee. Homeschoolers will have the opportunity to show their curriculum, their projects, and other documentation of their education. The committee of faculty members will be able to decide whether the student has been well-prepared for the University of California.

Q: Can you guess how many homeschooled students will be admitted as a result of this recruitment effort?

A: For this season, a good outcome would be to have about 10 students admitted through the homeschool application process. Of course the more qualified students we find, the more successful the program will be.

Q: How will the recruitment process work?

A: We are holding an information session at UCR from 9 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Oct. 7, on campus that is open to anyone wanting more information about the process. Also, we have been making a concerted effort to reach homeschool families through Web sites and Web logs. UCR’s Web site is here:

Q: Is this a pilot program for the whole UC system?

This is an independent project, based on a request from UCR faculty members. Homeschool students deserve a chance to be considered for the UC system and accepted if they are qualified. Since other high school students have their transcripts to show that they took the required courses, homeschool students should have a chance to show what kind of work they did during their high school years.

Q: What is the best way to describe who is eligible for the portfolio process?

A: UCR is looking for students who have had rigorous preparation in English, math, science, history, foreign language and the arts, something approaching the requirements you see in the A-G listing here:
a. History — 2 years required
b. English — 4 years required
c. Mathematics — 3 years required, 4 years recommended
d. Laboratory Science — 2 years required, 3 years recommended
e. Language Other Than English — 2 years required, 3 years
f. Visual and Performing Arts — 1 year required
g. College Preparatory Electives — 1 year required

Professor Frank Vahid notes that even if a homeschooled student has not studied all the subjects listed, they should still apply. It is the portfolio review that will help the committee determine the breadth and depth of the education. So for instance, if a homeschooled student did not study a foreign language, but studied particularly deeply in another subject area, the faculty committee will look at the whole picture to decide if this student can be successful at UCR.

Q: How does UCR define "Other Nontraditionally Educated Students"?

A: Students who did not complete a traditional high school curriculum and do not have a way to show their completion of the "A through G" subject requirements for admission to the UC. One example might be a student who studied online through a charter school. But there are probably many other specific examples.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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