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I've gotten my kids from K to middle & high school without joining, and I consider myself to be a fairly well-informed homeschooling parent (largely thanks to these boards).  But I do have the occasional freak out about college admissions.  

 

I've heard some good things about their college counseling, but their price is steep:  $120 annual membership fee.  

 

What do I need to know about HSLDA?  Has anyone taken advantage of their services: college counseling, legal, or anything else.  Was it worth the price?  

 

Thanks!  

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Member here who had them write a letter once when someone from my district tried to do something illegal. Other than that, I have had no need for HSLDA in my 16+ years of homeschooling.

 

I have graduated one and did not use any of HSLDA's services. Lee Binz's materials and our very own Kareni (who kept me out of a mental institution!) got me through the college app, counselor letter, and course description processes.

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I joined when I first started homeschooling. Ds had multiple disabilities and I was afraid the school we withdrew from was going to give me a hard time. They didn't, but it made me feel better knowing HSLDA was there. I only remained a member for a couple of years. I made it through getting both of my kids into college without their help. Honestly, all the help you need is available here on TWTM. If you have questions post here or on the College Board. 

 

If you join the HSLDA, make sure you are aware of the agenda you are supporting. I wasn't. No regrets, it was a small price to pay for my piece of mind at the time, but I hope others are more informed. :)

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I may be biased b/c I am an attorney, so homeschool laws do not freak me out.   I don't really see HSLDA as providing much personal protection; I think they are more like a blanket lobbying and advocacy group, and that's alright and has its place. They may help individual homeschoolers w/ legal issues, but they are not obligated to do so. I have a friend who needed their services but after years of paying them, she was declined b/c she was divorced, and they cited a conflict of interest (since her husband used to also be a member/pay the dues as a family with her).  HSLDA is not incorrect in their analysis of that situation, to my way of thinking, but it was a disappointment to this lady.  

 

I guess I'd just figure out why you'd want to join, and go from there.  I know nothing about their college counseling services, so perhaps that would be useful!

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I've known several people that they've been very helpful to. This is usually the phone calls because the school district is asking something of us as homeschoolers that is not required by state law. They've been helpful in dealing with the bureaucracy and making it smoother in my district.

 

Theoretically they are helpful if you need legal council based on homeschool issues, but I've not known anyone to need this. They are very clear that they don't touch issues that look like custody/family battles that involve homeschooling.

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I got 2 kids into college without HSLDA (and large merit scholarships to boot.)  You have a plethora of free resources right here ... lots of experienced parents who have been there/done that and are willing to share their experience.  Plus, there are other places as well ... a couple of yahoo groups that were tremendously helpful for me were hs2coll and homeschool2college. 

 

I concur with regentrude about the political agenda ... I don't support their agenda, their misleading marketing, nor their tactics.  I've seen the way they set themselves up as THE mouthpiece for homeschoolers and push local grass roots organizations out of the way, thus removing the very people who have to live with the laws out of the process of having any influence.

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Because it sounds like you are most concerned about college admissions...

 

Quite honestly, you are FAR more likely to run into potential legal snags regarding schooling your children at home when they are under 16 years old, than any legal issues regarding college admissions. HSLDA has provided some legal support in some specific cases (mostly in cases involving primary/secondary aged students, not college admissions), but they are primarily an advocacy/lobbying group with a focus on keeping homeschooling regulations reasonable.

 

HSLDA has only a small amount of general information about college admissions, and does NOT offer college counseling services (to my knowledge).

 

For specific help with counseling or information on college admissions, I recommend seeking out resources that specialize in homeschoolers and college:

 

consultants

- Barbara Hettle (WTM boardie!) Homeschool Success -- free website articles, individualized consulting for a fee

- Lee Binz, Home Scholar -- free website articles and video tutorials, books, individualized consulting for a fee

 

books (pub. 2010 or more recently)

- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens (Bell) -- info on high school through college admissions

- HomeScholar Guide to College Admissions and Scholarships (Binz)

- Setting the Records Straight (Binz) -- high school record keeping for college admissions

 

books (pub. before 2010)

- Homeschoolers College Admission Handbook (Cohen) - 2000

- And What About College: How Homeschooling Leads to Admissions to the Best Colleges and Universities (Cohen) - 2000

- College Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide to Homeschooling Through High School (Beyer) -- 2008

- Home School, High School, and Beyond (Adams-Gordon) - 2008

- Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admissions (Gowen) - 2004

 

Past WTM threads are a wealth of actual experiences and advise from moms who have taken their students all the way through high school and gone through the college admissions process, and cover all kinds of topics. I have collected and linked many of these threads into 2 pinned threads at the top of the high school board:

 

Starting High School, Outsourcing, Online Classes, Tutors, Dual Enrollment, AP, PSAT, SAT/ACT, SATII, CLEP, GED -- links to past threads here!

post #1 topics = getting started, books & resources, making a high school plan, outsourcing, tutors, dual enrollment

post #2 topics = pros and cons, and info on all the tests: AP, PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject, ACT, CLEP, GED

 

Transcripts, Credits, GPA, Accreditation, NCAA, College Applications, Scholarships/Financial Aid, Career Exploration -- past threads linked here!

post #1 topics = planning/scheduling, transcripts, credits, grading/GPA, course descriptions, record keeping, diplomas, 

post #5 topics = prep/planning, NCAA, choosing a college, admissions/Common App, freshman orientation, first time at college, financial aid, FAFSA/EFC, scholarships, alternatives to college, career exploration

 

local resources

It looks like you are in CA -- I'd seek out local homeschoolers who have taken their students through the college admissions process and talk to them, or post a thread here asking for help from WTMers in CA for help in whatever areas you are unsure about -- they are going to have a lot more specific information for you on college admissions than a general homeschooling advocacy group based in Washington DC. JMO.  ;)

 

Local homeschoolers will also have specific info about CA colleges you may be interested in, info on specific requirements and processes -- maybe even the specific college admission officers to speak to, and will be able to point you towards helpful local resources available to you. 

 

 

As far as whether or not to pay for a membership with HSLDA… Only your family can decide whether or not you want to support an organization. Here are a few questions to help you think through whether to join HSLDA -- or other organization:

 

- Is this an organization I want to support financially, whether or not I receive any specific help from it?

- Do I agree with their mission, goals, past/present actions?

- Do I want to support the specific people in their organization?

- What specific information or services would I receive for joining, and would I use/need what they offer?

- What specific areas of homeschool high school and college admissions do I need help in?

- Is their information specific/individualized to me, or more general?

- Can I receive more specific/individualized information or services elsewhere?

- Do I live in a highly-regulated homeschooling state, so that I need special helps in hoop-jumping?

- Do I have an unusual situation/student so that I might have need of college counseling? Or legal advice?

 

 

BEST of luck as you sort through your options! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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I haven't heard of anything the HSLDA does to assist with college admissions. They may have some scholarship available to members, and they offer some online classes, but those don't necessarily help with admissions.

 

However..... I just noticed a "Mentor Mom" support option on WTMA's site!  Has anyone tried that? Maybe it's new. I haven't seen any other information about it, who exactly will be providing the support, etc.,  I'm not sure one could find better support in planning or curriculum choice than we have from all the experienced moms on these boards. However, the idea of personal, individualized help with college admissions paperwork (transcript, counselor letter, student essays,...) from someone who has BTDT is appealing.

 

"Whether you are new to home schooling or a veteran, our Mentor Mom is here to help. With planning or problem solving, kindergarten concerns or high school transcripts, we would love to provide the support you need!"   $50/hour

 

 

Edited by yvonne
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Frankly I'd save your $120 and hang out a lot here. That will at least pay for college math book (cough, cough).

 

I did borrow a friend's copy of Debra Bell's Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens and a local library has Lee Binz's books. I found these helpful, but everything else came from here!

 

Even being a conservative, I have issues with HSLDA's fear-mongering. The publications and emails have caused a lot of damage by making people think that there evil people wanting to take away their children whenever they leave home. They've also jumped into some legal issues and caused problems without understanding the local situation. 

 

The reality is that homeschooling is completely legal and the vast majority of government officials that we relate to are very respectful and reasonable.

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I think it's interesting that some of you associated HSLDA with fear-mongering.  While I understand why, I've also seen HSLDA be the calm, rational voice representing homeschoolers in a state legislation issue here where our large, secular, state-based group was, IMHO, borderline hysterical.  The HSLDA position won, none of the awful things the state group claimed would happen have occurred, and all is well. 

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I think it's interesting that some of you associated HSLDA with fear-mongering.  While I understand why, I've also seen HSLDA be the calm, rational voice representing homeschoolers in a state legislation issue here where our large, secular, state-based group was, IMHO, borderline hysterical.  The HSLDA position won, none of the awful things the state group claimed would happen have occurred, and all is well. 

 

Their e-mails, particularly around membership drive time, tend to be quite alarmist.  They often exaggerate things in those e-mails.  When I lived in VA they got a great piece of legislation that both VA Homeschoolers and HEAV supported completely killed because HSLDA was insisting on adding something that actual homeschoolers and those organization definitely did not want.  I've honestly never seen them be calm, rational, or helpful in a way that they were actually needed (i.e. the issue could have been cleared up without their help).

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I have not bothered with HSLDA because 1) they spend the money you pay on agendas other than home schooling and 2) when they send their emails about the close calls with schools, it feels like they are making small things out to be huge.  I am sure they have had huge things. But I am in a state with few legal issues. And it feels like they pick and chose what they want to tackle.

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I've heard some good things about their college counseling, but their price is steep:  $120 annual membership fee.  

 

 

We were members at one point.  I have never called on them for help in the university admissions process, and we got through it successfully.  The biggest help for me was FREE, through this board.

 

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We have been members since we began homeschooling 9 years ago.  I have not had to call on them but I know many folks who have.  I also know many folks who use their consultants regularly through out their homeschooling careers.  I have one friend whose child is a senior and is applying to some difficult schools.  She has worked with the HSLDA high school consultant to help prepare and tailor the student's transcript and recommendations to this particular school.  They had lots of hoops to jump through.  I also know in our state there has been a push back from some of the Community Colleges in accepting homeschoolers as matriculated students and also financial aid.  HSLDA has been on top of it.   I know some folks do not agree with them and that is ok too.  I just know I am happy to have them there if I ever do need them. 

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Well, I've known members who didn't get any help when they did have a legal problem because the organization is more of a lobbyist group than a legal group. So I do not consider them a "hedge" of ay kind. As for legal help, my local attorney can handle anything that might come up, and would not charge me any more for a letter of the nature that HSLDA has been known to produce than the membership fee. Maybe that's just because I have a really, really decent attorney.

 

As for many of the things they lobby about, I am not usually on the same page politically as they are so I am not inclined to put my money into their efforts. I have found that many grassroots groups do a pretty good job of keeping a watch on the legal status of homeschoolers, and actively end running dangerous pieces of legislation the rare times these come up in our state.

 

At any rate, living in Michigan, it's pretty darn rare to have a problem at all so I usually recommend that people spend their $120 on curriculum and not HSLDA.

 

To be honest, you will be better, more up to date, in depth advice on getting into college here on the high school and college board than you will from HSLDA, and our service is free!

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We joined HSLDA off-and-on when we could, and I always felt it was good to have a national group of lawyers to keep an eye out for homeschooling ups and downs.  But I'm one who has never had my own lawyer and would have no idea whether the guys in the phone book were any good, especially on homeschooling topics.

 

 

What is their political agenda?  

I'm sure each person would interpret that differently, but folks could be referring to their support of conservative Christian programs for teens/young adults, or possibly their stance on parental rights with as little state involvement as possible?

 

 

Because it sounds like you are most concerned about college admissions...

 

Quite honestly, you are FAR more likely to run into potential legal snags regarding schooling your children at home when they are under 16 years old, than any legal issues regarding college admissions. HSLDA has provided some legal support in some specific cases (mostly in cases involving primary/secondary aged students, not college admissions), but they are primarily an advocacy/lobbying group with a focus on keeping homeschooling regulations reasonable.

 

HSLDA has only a small amount of general information about college admissions, and does NOT offer college counseling services (to my knowledge).

 


 

BEST of luck as you sort through your options! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

HSLDA does have two high school consultants, here  https://www.hslda.org/highschool/coordinators.asp

I have called them about several things, from a dd who flunked public school 9th grade to an uncooperative ds who needed credits.  Of course, I also consulted local friends and online places, but I was very happy with the HSLD consultants, as well.

 

 

Over the years, it seems like I've used HSLDA for various things:

 

* their alternative homeschool forms for MN, which help us provide only the info required by law, rather than the extra info our local school districts tend to want (these things are kept current, updating them as our laws changed)

 

* HSLDA also got involved when our local school districts wanted us to fill out "surveys"

 

* their list of homeschooling laws by state when friends and family from other states have asked about homeschooling

 

* forms for state income tax credits on education materials, which can get expensive in high school (I know, MN is a rarity)

 

* their curriculum buying/selling market


 

 

And specifically for high school, which is where I began (first year homeschooler was a 10th grader) and where I ended (youngest is now a college freshman):

 

* free sample filled-out transcripts & blank transcripts

 

* detailed instructions on calculating high school credits in various situations

 

* lists/links of various curriculum providers on random topics my kids wanted to pursue in high school

 

 

Well, things like that.  I really found they had a lot of info, and it was fairly specific and current compared to some of the homeschooling books I had, but YMMV.

Julie

 

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I've gotten my kids from K to middle & high school without joining, and I consider myself to be a fairly well-informed homeschooling parent (largely thanks to these boards).  But I do have the occasional freak out about college admissions.  

 

I've heard some good things about their college counseling, but their price is steep:  $120 annual membership fee.  

 

What do I need to know about HSLDA?  Has anyone taken advantage of their services: college counseling, legal, or anything else.  Was it worth the price?  

 

Thanks!  

 

I have this to say about HSLDA, and it's all I will say. The first Board War I ever participated in was over HSLDA. I had no idea that people were hostile. I still don't understand it, and I won't engage.

 

Anyway, IMHO, anyone who is homeschooling, in any state, should be a member. It is more than just counseling (and I wouldn't recommend membership just for that reason). Although most people will not have any problems with school officials or whatnot while they are homeschooling, the ones who did are thankful for their HSLDA membership. It's $120 a year that covers everything up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. HSLDA has a staff of attorneys who are constitutional experts, and who are themselves homeschoolers. They have amassed more hours of representing and counseling homeschoolers than any other organization. I trust them implicitly.

 

Over the years, they have diversified, offering more services to their members, because it is hoped that some day there won't be a need for homeschoolers to have legal council. HSLDA has helped homeschool grads get into colleges, into the military, and into some jobs when they had been discriminated against.

 

HSLDA doesn't have an "agenda," other than to protect the rights of parents/guardians to teach their children at home, with as little government intervention as possible. Sometimes that protection involves things that don't look like homeschooling issues at first glance, but parental rights include the right to choose the educational methods for their children. HSLDA does not require its members to sign any sort of statement of faith and accepts as members people of all sorts. :-)

 

They notify members of things that happen to other members, because (1) members always want to know how their money is being spent, and (2) we should all know what's happening in other states. And I'm pretty sure that there are members who live in the same state who did not know that there were any problems going on. This is especially true in the "good" homeschool states such as NC, Texas, or Illinois, or Michigan. You have only to look at HSLDA's states page to see how busy they are.

 

We do know know if the $120 a year membership fees are being used for, well, whatever it is that offends people. The most important thing is that HSLDA is ready and able to defend all members when necessary.

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...

 I had no idea that people were hostile. I still don't understand it, and I won't engage.

...

HSLDA doesn't have an "agenda," other than to protect the rights of parents/guardians to teach their children at home, with as little government intervention as possible. Sometimes that protection involves things that don't look like homeschooling issues at first glance, but parental rights include the right to choose the educational methods for their children. HSLDA does not require its members to sign any sort of statement of faith and accepts as members people of all sorts. :-)

...

 

I am surprised that you don't understand why some people might feel HSLDA has an agenda that goes beyond simple advocacy for homeschooling/homeschoolers  There are many reasons that PP's have articulated in this thread.  One reason in particular is that HSLDA has interpreted "advocating for parental rights" to include things like advocacy against same-sex marriage.  People don't like this because:

 

1) Regardless of one's position on the issue, "mixing causes" can harm homeschooling rights by making politicians, school administrators, and the general public perceive homeschooling to be a part of one particular party's political position, rather than something that is undertaken by a wide range of families with a wide range of religious and political beliefs.  If homeschooling is a "party A" issue, then someone who identifies as "party B" may reflexively take an anti-homeschooling stance, which is problematic when party B is in power.  If homeschooling is promoted and perceived as something that crosses party lines, then both parties A and B are more likely to be pro-homeschooling. 

 

2) Families with children who experience same-sex attraction (or friends or relations who do) may feel that advocating against same-sex marriage makes life harder for their children/friends/relations in any number of ways that directly affect family life, and thus is an anti-family, anti-parental-rights position, and one that they do not wish to support with HSLDA membership fees.

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Justasque, thank you.

 

I am for homeschooling rights for parents. I am not for homeschooling rights being limited to only opposite gender couples, or protestants, or evangelicals, and I've known a number of parents rejected for membership in HSLDA due to not being the "right kind of Christian" or being same gender, different religion, atheist and being honest about it on their applications.

 

 

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