In Dec. 2023, the University of Dallas announced a new scholarship for incoming homeschool students. The scholarship is open to both accredited and unaccredited homeschools and provides the winner with a $5,000 annual award for the duration of their four years of undergraduate study.
Carey Christenberry, director of Admissions, noticed an increasing number of homeschooler applications and the potential to incentivize them to choose UD as their final choice.
“I like the idea of growing our homeschool population even though it’s huge already,” Christenberry said. “Homeschoolers account for almost a fifth to a fourth of every one of our freshman classes.”
Homeschoolers are increasing in numbers not only among the students at UD but in education in general. Recent statistics estimate that this form of nontraditional schooling has increased by at least 12% since 2019. Additionally, approximately 66.7% of homeschooled students graduate from college, a higher percentage than students of either public or private high schools. More homeschoolers are flooding into the college scene than ever before.
Christenberry noted that UD is following a course that other schools will hopefully follow in support of these individuals.
“Because homeschools are becoming more popular,” Christenberry said. “Every school in the United States has to start taking homeschool populations more seriously because they represent more potential students for them.”
Natalie Williams, a UD alumna of the class of 2022 and a former homeschooler, is now an admissions counselor who specializes in helping students from nontraditional educations enter UD. She advocates for supporting homeschoolers due to their unique needs and diversity.
“It is difficult for homeschoolers to apply for scholarships, specifically scholarships that are geared towards students enrolled in Catholic schools,” she said. “High school programs have their ways of researching scholarships and advertising scholarships. Homeschools don’t have that as much.”
She added that there was a need for a more generalized scholarship due to a plethora of strong, but non-accredited, education programs.
“You can homeschool in your pajamas, in your bedroom, go to co-op, internships at your local ophthalmologist or veterinary studies, travel the country twice on a giant road trip — there are so many different ways that you can homeschool,” Williams said. “We wanted to honor that and make sure that homeschoolers knew that there was a space for them.”
The official listing for the scholarship describes it thus: “The Homeschool Scholarship is a $5,000 annual scholarship awarded to one exemplary high school senior. Applicants may attend an accredited or non-accredited homeschool program.”
Some homeschoolers now have two options they could apply for this spring. The Regional Catholic Scholarships (another set of scholarships available to incoming students) are the same amount and award six winners rather than one.
“The applicants [for the Regional Catholic Scholarships] need to be students at an accredited institution that is specifically a private, Catholic institution. Homeschoolers who take classes at an accredited institution also count towards that as well,” Williams said. “Students who are not enrolled in any accredited program can apply for the Homeschool Scholarship. Those in accredited homeschool programs are not allowed to apply for the Regional Catholic High School Scholarship and the Homeschool Scholarship [because they are too similar].”
With such large percentages of incoming homeschoolers, Christenberry is optimistic about the future of the scholarship, noting the possibility of expansions to provide for more winning applicants and further support the growing demographic.
“If we have a disparity between homeschool applicants and other regional areas, then we’ll share the wealth as best we can and we will try to expand it so that we can reward more of those kids,” Christenberry said.
For all high school seniors interested in applying, the Homeschool Scholarship application is due March 1, 2024.