Friday, December 2, 2011

15 Key Facts about Homeschool Kids in College

In recent years, homeschooling has seen a rise in popularity, with more and more parents deciding to educate their children outside of school. Some parents (and their friends/family) who choose this path are concerned about their child's ability to move on to college should they choose that path. Things are easier for homeschooled college students today than they were in the past as more and more colleges have seen great success with students from non-traditional education backgrounds.  Today, homeschool students often enjoy easier admission, better college performance, and even the opportunity to enter college with several credits already earned. Read on, and you'll find out more about what the homeschool college student experience is like today.
  1. Homeschoolers often enter college with more credit
    Homeschooled students are able to work at their own pace, and as a result, students have the freedom to move significantly faster than those in a traditional classroom. Michael Cogan, a researcher at the University of St. Thomas, discovered that homeschool students typically earn more college credits before their freshman year than traditional students, with 14.7 credits for homeschoolers, and 6.0 for traditional students. Earning college credit before freshman year can save thousands of dollars and shave time off of a degree. The 14.7 average credits for homeschoolers represent a full semester of freshman year, which is typically 12-15 credit hours.

  2. Homeschool students do better on the SAT and ACT
    Perhaps benefiting from personalized test prep, homeschool students typically score higher on standardized college admissions tests. The homeschool average for the ACT was 22.5 in 2003, compared with the national average of 20.8. The SAT was no different, with a homeschool average of 1092 in 2002, and a national average of 1020. ACT and SAT scores are very important for college admissions and even financial aid, so doing well on these tests is vital to a great college experience.

  3. Homeschool GPAs are consistently higher
    As a homeschooled student, you work on a flexible schedule. Young children may rely greatly on their parents for scheduling and instruction, but high schoolers typically become more autonomous in their studies, learning key skills for success as independent students in college. Research indicates that this time spent learning how to study independently pays off, as homeschoolers typically have higher GPAs than the rest of their class. Homeschool freshmen have higher GPAs in their first semester at college, with 3.37 GPAs for homeschoolers, and 3.08 for the rest. This trend continues with an overall freshman GPA of 3.41 vs. 3.12, and senior GPAs of 3.46 vs. 3.16, indicating that homeschoolers are better prepared for college.

  4. Homeschooled students are more likely to attend college
    Homeschooled students seem to be more likely to participate in college-level education. As reported by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, more than 74% of home educated adults between 18-24 have taken college level courses. This rate is much higher than the general US population, which comes in at 46% for the same age range.

  5. Homeschoolers are everywhere
    Patrick Henry College is one college that specifically caters to the homeschool population, but homeschoolers are increasingly accepted in a wide variety of colleges and universities. In fact, homeschoolers are now in over 900 different colleges and universities, many of them with rigorous admissions. Some of these colleges include Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and Rice University.

  6. Homeschooled students are more likely to graduate
    Making it to college is one thing, but actually sticking around and graduating is another. Students who have homeschooled will typically do better than other students, with a slightly higher retention rate, at 88.6% vs 87.6% for traditional students. Graduation rates show a higher disparity between homeschoolers and the national average, with 66.7% of homeschooled students graduating, compared to 57.5%.

  7. Some colleges actively recruit homeschool students
    Homeschool students have proven themselves to be so outstanding that several colleges have begun to actively recruit them. Boston University, Nyack College, and Dartmouth are among them, with a Dartmouth College admissions officer recognizing, "The applications [from homeschoolers] I've come across are outstanding. Homeschoolers have a distinct advantage because of the individualized instruction they have received."

  8. Homeschooled students are very likely to succeed in college
    Research and probability indicates that homeschooled students typically do very well in college, not just academically, but socially as well. Skills learned in homeschooling translate very well to the college campus, with strong self-discipline and motivation. Colleges recognize this advantage, including Brown University representative Joyce Reed, who shares, "These kids are the epitome of Brown students." She believes they make a good fit with the university because "they've learned to be self-directed, they take risks, they face challenges with total fervor, and they don't back off."

  9. High school transcripts are often not required for college admissions
    Although traditional students will typically be expected to submit their high school transcript, homeschooled students usually do not need one, submitting other information instead. Sixty-eight percent of US universities will accept parent-prepared transcripts. Others will take portfolios, with letters of recommendation, ACT or SAT test scores, essays, and more, allowing homeschooled applicants flexibility in admissions.

  10. Homeschoolers can play college sports
    As long as they meet standardized guidelines, homeschooled athletes can be awarded freshman eligibility to participate in college level sports. The number of homeschooled students participating in sports is growing as well, with up to 10 each year in 1988-1993, and as many as 75 students in the late 90s. Homeschool waiver applicants are typically approved, and in the 1998-1999 school year all applicants in Divisions I and II were approved, indicating not only an increased interest in college sports from homeschoolers, but an excellent openness in participation.

  11. Many homeschoolers are National Merit Scholars
    The National Merit Scholar program is an academic competition offering prestige and cold hard scholarship cash for high achieving students. The number of homeschool National Merit Scholars is increasing at a high rate: in 1995, there were 21 homeschool finalists, compared with 129 in 2003, a 500% increase. Homeschoolers are clearly doing well in their studies, and as a result, are reaping the rewards in scholarship money to use in school.

  12. Homeschooled students may have higher college acceptance rates
    Colleges and universities often recognize that homeschooled students tend to be exceptional in their academic performance, and combined with advanced studies and extracurricular activities, make great candidates for admission. In addition to actively seeking out homeschooled applicants, colleges may also be accepting more of them. In the fall of 1999, Stanford University accepted 27% of homeschooled applicants. This doesn't sound like a lot, but it's an incredible number when you consider that this rate is twice the acceptance rate experienced by public and private school students admitted in the same semester.

  13. Homeschool students are often in honors programs
    High achieving homeschool students can benefit from advanced curriculum in college, which is why so many of them end up in honors programs once they go on to study at universities. At Ball State University, most homeschooled freshmen were admitted at a higher level than regular students. Eighty percent of homeschool students were admitted to "upper levels of admission," and 67% were in the Honors College.

  14. Homeschooled students may receive federal financial aid
    Due to some confusion in the past, homeschooled students may have had to obtain a GED in order to qualify for financial aid. But the Homeschool Legal Defense Association indicates that laws have changed, and as long as students have completed their education "in a homeschool setting that is treated as a homeschool or a private school under state law," they are eligible for federal financial aid without a GED.

  15. Many scholarships are available to homeschooled students
    Traditional scholarships are often open to homeschooled students, but there are also some created specifically for the homeschool crowd. In an effort to attract stellar homeschooled students for admission, colleges are developing homeschool scholarships. Belhaven offers $1,000 per year, College of the Southwest awards up to $3,150 each year, and Nyack College will give up to $12,000. With the high cost of a college education, these scholarships can really pay off for homeschoolers.

This is a guest post brought to you via Online College


  1. You know how you don't like when people mischaracterize homeschool? Maybe you could lay off the negative characterizations of public school. There are benefits as well as problems. Homeschool is a good choice for some families, but not all families.

  2. @John Golden,
    I never said homeschool was a good choice for all families. There are many great learning options available for families which I write about often. Unfortunately, the government refuses to provide public funding for many of those options, which I believe is criminal. Parents, not the government, should be able to decide how their child is educated and shouldn't be forced to only be able to select the government's way...which does not work for many children.

    Regarding your general comment about laying off negative characterizations of public school, could you please be specific?

  3. Wow, @John Golden, is that chip on your shoulder giving you scoliosis? You might want to get that looked at. I didn't see a single negative thing on government schools in this article, only facts.

    This is a GREAT article. I've handed it along to two different, large homeschooling groups. I didn't know that homeschooled kids tend to graduate earlier with higher GPAs through all years than kids educated in different ways. I recommended to the groups that I handed it along to to print it out and take it to holiday gatherings, because along with the pop quizzes our kids tend to get on subjects and in areas where they haven't studied yet or aren't grade/age appropriate, we parents tend to get quizzed as well. Especially if our kids are older. Now that my oldest is high school age, I'm getting weird questions like I've never got before, like "Are you going to homeschool college, too? Won't employers ignore that?" because the questioner didn't think homeschoolers could even get into college simply because of being homeschooled. I plan on taking this to my family's Christmas gatherings myself.

  4. Sources? A lot of claims made and stats are easy to manipulate.

  5. Very true. Home school kids are national merit scholars. Only takes 2 and doesn't tell us much lol The biggest impact for these children is their parents role in their lives, if you put everyone at home all the sudden its not so outstanding any more.

  6. Comparing public school kids to homeschool kids is like comparing apples to Buicks. Homeschool kids are a very small subset of the population, while public schools are filled with kids from all abilities and walks of life. Of course homeschooled kids are more likely to go to college. By definition, their parents take a much higher interest in their schooling, including after high school.

  7. And furthermore, why trump the college entrance rates and other triumphs of college-bound homeschoolers when you also talk about why people shouldn't go to college? I mean, I like cake as much as the next person but even I know I have to either eat it or have it.

  8. As the parent of a homeschooled teenager, I'd really like to see sources for more of these research findings, particularly in #3 and #6. And where did you find a list of colleges that accept homeschool transcripts?

  9. Actually, John Golden's point re: negativity with regard to public schools is borne out by the cartoon that accompanies the article. It's quite negative to public schools.

    You might want to change the sentence that reads: "Things are easier for homeschooled college students today, then they were in the past as more and more colleges have seen great success with students from non-traditional education backgrounds."
    to be:
    "Things are easier for homeschooled college students today than they were in the past as more and more colleges have seen great success with students from non-traditional education backgrounds."

  10. If there is not enough structure in the homeschooling than they have a very hard time in college. The key is providing a lot of it and independence. It is hard for some of them because they are spoon feed and have had there hands held throughout the teaching process. Colleges do not hold your hand and this is where they have a hard time adapting. Many do succeed but many have to re-adjust to public education teaching again. It all depends on the parents teaching. An education is still an education so either way is a plus!!!!

  11. @Anonymous,
    To put things in perspective, note that most public schooled kids aren't ready for college (

    Additionally, from what I've heard, seen, and read from home educators, hand-holding has little place. Unlike school where you are told what to do and when, the students are often empowered to lead and following their learning interests.

  12. In response to those who asked for sources, you can follow the links in each of the headings for source information, then feel free to do your own additional research and share.

  13. Tom said...
    ==Why trump the college entrance rates and other triumphs of college-bound homeschoolers when you also talk about why people shouldn't go to college?

    I share that college isn't for everyone and that for many there are better alternatives. However, for home educated students who are interested in this option, it is well within their reach. Since this is sometimes a concern for those considering home education, I felt it would be helpful to shed light on this.

  14. Regarding @anonymous's comment that the cartoon is negative to public schools...

    The cartoon represents the way that I, and many other educators, parents, and students feel/felt about school. We're all grouped together by date of manufacture, forced down the same stream, so that we can be shoved into the same box, er...can. There is one type of test for all, one curriculum for all, one set of standards for all. Public school students are not treated like individuals, they are just forced down a stream required to accomplish what someone else has deemed important.

    So, yes. I agree. The cartoon negatively portrays how many of us feel about public schools and the piece about home ed conveys how many home educated learners feel about their experience as well.

  15. Thank you for this article! Please do not get discouraged, if you were, by the naysayers--people get emotional about things.

  16. This is my 12th year teaching, and over those years I have had many experiences of students entering the public school after having been home schooled. In my experience, the vast majority of them are behind both academically and socially. I teach middle school mathematics and I always get the same story from the parents at the beginning of the year: "My student is very good at math and should be advanced. They were at so-and-so level of the home school curriculum". In 12 years we have had exactly 1 home school student pass the placement test for the advanced math class. Usually we find that they are lacking many prerequisite skills and are behind in class until we can catch them up.

    I also have friends from my bible study that choose to home school. It is funny to listen to them about what they are doing in “school”. I know their children, (have even had 1 in class when she wanted to go to public school) and it is frankly a joke. My 6year old Kindergartener (public school) is reading circles around our friend’s 9 year old.

    I know that this is a small sample. I am sure there are many who do home school and it works great. Just like many public school kids. I just wish that there were some requirements that have to be met in order to home school. Like maybe require the parent to show some level of competency to home school in the first place.

    I know I sound jaded but I am sick of hearing all of the home school praises when I have been exposed to the other side of it for many years. Just my $.02

    1. Hi there Anonymous.

      Sadly I think your experience with regards to homeschooling is woefully inaccurate and does not paint a real picture at all. I have three children that we plan on homeschooling till Matric(grade 12) my eldest is 2 years ahead in both maths and english, my middle and last child/ren are both 6 months ahead. This is not my opinion, but that of an independent, international based testing board.

      So I agree with everything that has been said with regards to the pro's of homeschooling. If done properly, the benefits far outweigh any so called negatives or perceived problems.

    2. Hi Anonymous

      A small percentage of homeschoolers do "drop out" and go back into mainstream schooling and so I believe you are seeing the worst side of homeschooling. However, I believe there are many more drop-outs from the school system...and I'll bet they are also behind socially and academically.

      While many homeschoolers are reading well ahead of their school-going peers, there are also many, who like the children in your Bible Study who follow a 'Better Late than Early' approach to formal learning. Multi-disciplinary research by the late Dr Raymond and Dorothy Moore and others showed that children who start formal lessons later soon catch up with their peers but enjoy many other benefits of not being confined to formal learning activities. As a teacher you would find their book by that title fascinating.

  17. @Anonymous,
    If your experience tells you home schooled kids are far behind, why do you think they have more success than publicly schooled kids when it comes to getting into college? Why are they scoring better on the SATs?

    As far as being behind socially, that hasn't been what I have noticed. Rather in many cases they haven't been socialized to conform to the unnatural requirements demanded by them in a school setting. In the real world, they seem to do just fine.

    Regarding the math tests, I don't give them much credence as is indicated in the two links below that point to the fact that what is on these tests is often out of context or disconnected from the real world needs or experiences.

    My guess is you would have had much different results if assessing the children on their ability to succeed with authentic, real-world tasks.

    Considering that home educated students are more successful than public school students when looking at many standardized measures, why does someone else need to impose their requirements on these families. After all, in many cases they left the system because of the irrelevant, misguided and inane requirements forced upon them.

    1. A question about statistics: for the public school population the majority of the kids will take the SAT or similar exams, and be rated. For the home school population only those kids even remotely interested in going to college will take this text. Does this not skew the distribution automatically towards the homeschoolers since they are a preselected group from the whole homeschool population?

  18. To Anonymous, the teacher in his/her 12th year of teaching:

    There are so many different families homeschooling these days, using different "methods," following different philosophies, and impelled by different motivations; I cannot possibly speak for homeschoolers and only speak for myself.

    That said, I homeschooled my three daughters, who are very different in their personalities, native talents, and interests. I was motivated by the desire to help my kids try a wide variety of activities and to develop their own passions, critical thinking skills, and creativity. I knew that they would learn to read, write, speak about their ideas, and function with money and other number-related concepts; but I didn't focus on these skills, per se. Instead, we focused on the interests that were sparked by our reading (I read aloud to them for many years), our travels, our friends and family, and our lives. We used reading, writing, and math in order to learn about the topics that interested us, and in order to achieve our goals.

    Because of this interest-based learning--note that we did not use a skills-based curriculum or, for that matter, any curriculum--my kids lagged behind most school kids in skills. As my brother-in-law pointed out, my kids seemed to have a lot more knowledge than their age-mates, but their skills were less developed than their age-mates.

    Sounds dreadful, right? But it's not; here's why: As kids get older, they naturally on their own wish to be more independent. They don't want to rely on others to read something to them - they want to do it themselves. They don't want to have to sit around wondering how much more money they need - and hoping mom will come back from running errands soon so that she can help them figure it out - they want to be able to use calculators and compute things on their own. Whenever inspiration hits for independence in some skill area, the kid is likely to be ready and can easily and quickly learn that skill. It doesn't take years of practice.


    One of my kids never wrote much, for years. I would ask her to write an occasional thank you note, but I would take her dictation and clean it up for her, if asked. But when she was around 15, she decided to write a play for our homeschool group to perform. She worked on it for several months and was surprisingly funny (surprising to me because writing humorous stuff is HARD!). At age 16 she decided to do formal homeschooling through a school program rather than unschooling, at home, and she wrote a fair bit and got compliments on her writing. At 18 she went away to college... And her college profs complimented her and said what a really good job I had done, as her homeschool "teacher," teaching her to write... Well--I hardly taught her anything! I read to her for years, she read on her own for years, and she wrote when she was ready and self-motivated.

    I would argue against your example of kids testing low in middle-school math by asking what makes some activities so very important to middle-school kids. I question the assumption that you don't even see -- that particular skills are important for everybody, that there is a timeline in which they should be acquired, and so forth. However, I would also point out that many homeschoolers might come to school, for the first time, unable to do "school math" at first -- but they might be able to do "real world math" very well indeed, and they might catch up to their schooled counterparts very quickly. My kids never went to school until college, but when they needed to learn or better a skill, they were able to do so very quickly...

  19. I think the poster's comment relating to being behind in "school math" as you call it means that students don't have the building blocks for progressing within the curriculum from one stage to another. That colleges who admist student's from inquiry based high schools find that their students don't have a firm basis in mathematical function and theory because the inquiry based methods might be more "fun" but mean student's aren't prepared.

    Schools have to teach students as part of a larger group, that's whow they work, they aren't tutors and aren't funded well enough to give teacher's small enough groups to be able to target their instruction in the way someone at home can. A school cannot be all things.

  20. I was hired by a private college's Admissions Dept. to be their "Homeschool Specialist". I was the counselor for homeschooling families. I also was responsible for 18 local public high schools.
    The majority of homeschooled applicants were very impressive: High GPA's, extremely high SAT and ACT's, and usually loads of dual-enrollment credits from the local community college. They tended to qualify for our highest scholarships and 2 won free tuition in the 2 yrs. I was there. They adjusted extremely well to college life and were very active.
    Sure, there were some exceptions to the rule, but not many. I used to joke that I could always tell the homeschoolers' files, since they were so thick! Letters of recommendation, lists of activities and awards, etc. The professors at the college loved them and asked me to find more. But alas, now I'm not there...

  21. I am a retired university dean who has worked with numerous homeschooling families.

    Home-schooled students are not a monolithic group. Some are taught by well educated and/or open minded parents, others by family members who live in fear that their children will be exposed to folks whose beliefs and values are different than their own. Yes, the top schools often recruit the most accomplished of the first group...the students likely to be successful in nearly any educational setting.

    Those in the second group tend to be sought most often by institutions with a strong fundamentalist bent and/or those struggling to fill their classrooms and their residence halls.

    There are a number of things that skew the ACT/SAT comparisons, including the fact that some schools require virtually everyone, college-bound or not, to take ACT's or SAT's and the reality that parents in low income families...parents of students whose standardized test scores tend to be lower, are too busy trying to make ends meet to home-school their children.

    To suggest, as the article does, that home-schooled children are more apt to be successful than their public school peers, is to make an argument that won't hold up to thoughtful inquiry.

  22. I am curious of the college statistics. Do you know what percentage of these homeschoolers were home educated through grade 12 and which ones were only home educated for a few years? Thank you!