Home schooling has firmly positioned itself as a legitimate educational option. There are an estimated 1.5 million home schooled students in the U.S. Given the travel time required to obtain a high USTA national or ITF ranking, it is no surprise that many junior tennis players and their families make the decision to follow this route.
Travel translates to school days missed. Independent study, flexible scheduling, and online classes - the hallmarks of home schooling - can make tennis travel more manageable.
However, when it comes time for college recruiting, I frequently see home-schooled junior tennis players who are both surprised and disappointed to discover that their academic records are insufficient or incomplete.
Home-schooled student-athletes typically don't have access to the traditional sources of college guidance available at public and private schools, and that lack of guidance can lead to future eligibility issues. This unpleasant scenario can and should be avoided by exercising careful advance planning, obtaining accurate information about academic requirements and NCAA rules, and consulting with a college counseling professional or a college athletic consultant.
Start with the NCAA Eligibility Center - the NCAA department that certifies student-athletes who want to participate in Division I and II athletics. The Eligibility Center has specific guidelines for home-schooled students. Anyone interested in home schooling or other nontraditional high school programs (e.g., online, correspondence, private tutoring, etc.) should familiarize themselves with this information very early on in the process.
And, if you're aiming for the top academic schools like the Ivies, keep in mind that the minimum NCAA academic requirements will not be sufficient. Premier institutions will expect your academic credentials to be very close to those of the regular applicants. Home-schooled applicants without a conventional high school transcript may find that their standardized test scores (SAT I, SAT II, and AP exams) take on more meaning than they might be for other applicants.
Home schooling and other forms of independent study are attractive options for junior tennis players. But if you're interested in playing college tennis, make sure to plan ahead and understand the academic guidelines!
Last edited by gouci; Dec 29th, 2009 at 12:44 AM.