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SD universities study policy for home-school students who want early admission

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By Bob Mercer

Capitol Correspondent

SPEARFISH — Admissions officers at South Dakota’s state universities are wondering what to do when high school students who have completed home schooling want to enter state universities before their class graduates.

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The state Board of Regents, whose members govern the six public universities, gave their assent Thursday to creation of a working group from the campuses. The group will research what’s done in other states and deliver recommendations for consideration in South Dakota.

The regents committee on academic and student affairs discussed the matter Wednesday evening and gave its blessing to proceed.

Several home-schooled students ages 15 and 16 applied for admission as degree-seeking students who would commute from home and wouldn’t live on campus. They were denied admission because they weren’t yet 18 years old and their high school class hadn’t graduated yet.

The students’ transcripts showed they had graduated.

But they hadn’t fulfilled the state board’s requirements that they complete four years of English, three years of advanced mathematics, three years of laboratory science, three years of social studies and one year of fine arts for admission to a bachelor-degree program.

The working group will review the types of documentation required at other institutions for admission.

“This is a national phenomenon. It’s also gaining traction in South Dakota,” Sam Gingerich, the regents’ vice president for academic affairs, told the academic committee. “The question is, ‘What are we as a system going to do with the students?’ ”

The goal is to clarify what the state universities expect from home-schooled students for admission.

Gingerich said he hopes the recommendations will be ready for the regents’ consideration at their April meeting.

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