I have never felt I “needed” an umbrella school for our homeschool. We don’t have any problem registering with the county or being evaluated. We participate in school athletics, so registering with the county is required.
However, as my kids entered high school, I started weighing the options. There are school sports, college admissions, NCAA registration, and scholarships to be considered. An umbrella school suddenly looked like the best option to stay organized, have fewer people questioning what we are doing, have access to all scholarships my kids qualify for, and less paperwork for me.
There are a number of “umbrella” schools out there. After comparing a number of them I decided HomeLife Academy was what we needed. First, they are affordable. $60 annual family registration free, plus $20 per K-8th grader and $40 per high schooler, make registering a bargain. If you are starting in the middle of high school and need to transfer credit from another school there is a $50 transfer fee.They also give discounts for registering early in the spring.
Then I noticed their grading system.They use a system called “Applecore.” It has not only a place to list classes taken and grades received, but curriculum used, notes, and whether the class is honors or AP.
There is a portfolio section to list activities, honors received, and anything else you want to add for college admissions.
You can print out report cards, too. We needed a report card for Pop Warner football. They don’t award scholarships to homeschoolers. With the report card from HomeLifeAcademy my son was recognized for his grades.There is also a place to enter attendance records if you like/need to keep that information.
Next, their counseling services really got my attention. I tested them out and shot them a few questions. I wasn’t even a member. The counselors got back to me with great answers within 24 hours.
My oldest, who graduated last year, didn’t register with them until her senior year. It was an easy transfer. Throughout the year the counselors helped her with sending transcripts to colleges and applying for scholarships. Here in Florida, Homeschoolers have to take a different application path for the state “Bright Futures” scholarship.
By using HomeLifeAcademy.com we weren’t considered homeschoolers. So I didn’t have much to do. We just registered online and HomeLifeAcademy handled all the paperwork and verification of grades and service hours. We didn’t have to show portfolios or interview.
When Florida State required us as a homeschooler to provide proof of curriculum used, books read, attendance, etc, HomeLifeAcademy.com went to bat for us. The got our status changed to “private school” and the process went much smoother and she was accepted.
An added bonus I discovered later was that the NCAA recognizes HomeLifeAcademy as a valid school and accepts all work from them. Very few umbrella schools are recognized with the NCAA. If you use an umbrella school not recognized, you will have to prove coursework was rigorous enough.
Good luck in your Homeschooling journey!