Friday, January 6, 2012

Concerned about Your Child’s College and Career Success? Leave School.

When parents frustrated with school consider homeschooling, one of their first concerns is often this:

Will homeschooling limit my child’s opportunities when it comes to college, career, and pursuing passions such as music and sports?

The answer in a word is:


Despite the fact that much of society has been conditioned to believe that learning and success happen as a result of teachers in school buildings, those who are living life without school know the opportunities for those who don’t follow the traditional school path are unlimited.  

First, it is important to understand that you don’t need to go to school to get into a great college should that be of interest. In fact many colleges actively recruit homeschoolers.  For example Harvard specifically mentions that they have never required a high school diploma for admission. Stanford University makes clear to home learning applicants that a high school diploma is not necessary for admission. Furthermore, when it comes to college, homschoolers generally fare better than their schooled peers and many of the top colleges seek out homeschooled students.  

Here are examples.

  • MIT
    MIT has a long history of admitting homeschooled students, and these students are successful and vibrant members of our community. Please note that we do not require a high school diploma or GED from our applicants.
  • Princeton
    Princeton welcomes applications from home schooled students. Among the home schooled students admitted in recent years was a student who graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 2002.
  • Harvard
    Homeschooling is an educational asset that Harvard considers favorably when making its admissions decisions. One often sees a self-reliance and independence, as well as intellectual curiosity in people with unusual educational experiences. Homeschooled students do just as well as most all students who come here do. -Dean of Admissions William J. Fitzsimmons
When it comes to career, we all know folks like Michael Dell, Bill Gates (who has done homeschooling with his own kids), Steve Jobs, Marc Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson achieved great financial success without the benefit of a college degree.  However, there are many people who achieved this success without pursuing the traditional school path in K - 12 as well.

Below is a sampling of the types of careers non-traditionally educated individuals (i.e. they have homeschooled, unschooled, opted out, etc.) have held. Following this sampling are resources where you’ll find thousands more.  

Careers of Successful Individuals Who Did Not Follow a Traditional School Path


  1. George Washington
  2. Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  4. Thomas Jefferson
  5. Abraham Lincoln There are many others!
  1. Erik Demaine - Born 1981. Popular Science Mag: One of the Most Brilliant Scientists in America
  2. Dr. Williard S. Boyle - Physicist who won the Nobel prize in 2009
  3. Benjamin Franklin
  4. George Washington Carver
  5. Albert Einstein
Medical practitioners
  1. Clara Barton - started the Red Cross
  2. John Locke - Medical researcher and physician
  3. Florence Nightingale - Nurse
  4. Susan La Flesche Picotte - first American Indian woman physician
  5. Francis Collins - American physician-geneticist, noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP)
Business Leaders / CEOs / Entrepreneurs
  1. Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist, and one of the first mega-billionaires in the US.
  2. Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America.
  3. Joseph Pulitzer - newspaper publisher; established Pulitzer Prize
  4. Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
  5. Barbara Lynch, chef, owner of a group of restaurants, worth over $10 million.
  1. Michelle Kwan - Olympic medalist figureskater
  2. Bode Miller - American alpine skier
  3. Timothy "Tim" Tebow - football player, Heisman Trophy winner
  4. Venus and Serena Williams - tennis star sisters
  5. Jason Taylor - Miami Dolphin football star
  1. Louis Armstrong - king of jazz
  2. Michael Bolton - singer, french horn
  3. Lennon Aldort - pianist
  4. Hilary Hahn - classical violin virtuoso
  5. Oliver Aldort - cellist, pianist
Resources used to compile this list
Interesting stories of homeschooler success
  • Winner of 2009 Nobel Prize Dr. Willard S. Boyle homeschooled by mother
  • 15-Year Old Homeschooler is a Hedge Fund CEO in His Spare Time
  • Learn how James Marcus Bach found success in a highly technical field without the benefit or burden of a conventional education.
  • Wondering what life of those who homeschool / unschool is like? Eli Gerson has compiled this collection and I have compiled this one.  
    • Note: You’ll find a lot of these unschoolers pursue fields like writing, travel tours, photography, film making, as well work that deeply considers the environment like Sean Ritchey who designs and builds energy efficient and environmentally friend buildings and homes.  
  • Read about The 
    Unschooled Colfaxes (summary from Rebecca Smith taken from this site) - 
    Grant the oldest, and the original news-making graduate of Harvard, is an M.D. working as the Director of AIDS Research for the city of San Francisco with an Adjunct Professorship at the University of California at San Francisco. He is currently testing vaccines for AIDS.Drew, the second oldest Colfax son, is a death-row appeals attorney in Montgomery, AL. As part of his work, he reviewcols cases of “railroaded” convictions. These are inmates on death row who have been unjustly convicted – and often proven innocent! If this weren’t enough to keep him busy, Drew is also a full-time student at Harvard Medical School!The third-oldest Colfax son, Reed, is a housing-discrimination attorney in Washington, D.C. He is the lead attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. His wife is an environmental attorney in D.C. They have 2 children, a daughter, Bailey, 4 and a boy Justice, 1-1/2.Garth Colfax, the youngest, is working with the developmentally-disabled in Sacramento. He is also an all-around computer expert, being able to repair the computers themselves and also design websites. Garth has been married 7 years and has a little boy, Jared, who is 7 months old."
    Read more about the Colfaxes in this article: Homeschoolers are Home at Harvard

Insights from homeschooling parents in response to alleviating parents concerns about homeschooling and children’s opportunities for success.

  • Melody Templeton - A lot of us would like to know that we are not ELIMINATING options by homeschooling. I think it is a legitimate concern.
  • Sandra Dodd - Ask how many people in prison went to school, or how many impoverished failures went to school. School creates certified failures. Without some people failing, the "successes" won't seem so glorious. It's not a design flaw of school, that a consistent percentage of people fail; it's a design feature. It is planned and maintained.
  • Teri Reed Davis  - It's important to remember that there is going to be a gap of homeschoolers. During MY childhood, it was a fringe thing and was illegal if not just unaddressed by the law. It's a lot more common now and colleges are very open to homeschoolers. Also, many athletes and performers are home educated because schools will not work with them.
  • Cathy Earle - In my little homeschool group of maybe 20-25 kids who have already grown up enough to have graduated from college, there is one lawyer, one student who is med-school bound this fall (passed MCATs and has been admitted to several med schools), one physical therapist with her doctorate, one college professor, one graduate of Princeton (BA) and Cambridge (MA) who is successfully living and working in England in something like computer programming, one scientist who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one CEO of his own (small) company of video or computer games, one guy who works for Lego and has appeared on Mythbusters and attended Obama's inauguration as Lego's rep.
  • Linda Dobson - Your query inspired this Parent at the Helm post. (Wrote this book because what really matters is how life turns out for the grown child.) 

Want to keep the conversation going? 
Join my group where we discuss non traditional learning options at


  1. Excellent post! I love that you actually put facts in favor of homeschooling. I am sharing it with my group of blissful stay-at-home moms and dads.

  2. great! you must favorable of homeschooling. Not all knowledge gain inside the school but in your own strategy you gain much knowledge.
    Bicol Computer Schools hopefully I must graduate here with more knowledge.

  3. great! you must favorable of homeschooling. Not all knowledge gain inside the school but in your own strategy you gain much knowledge.
    Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc. is Bicol Computer Schools in Legazpi, Albay. Hopefully I must graduate here with more knowledge.

  4. Great lists and info about home education! We have been homeschooling for 4 years now, my children have never been to school! I have to say it has been a success! They are very smart and have big dreams and goals! We are free to teach our children how to really get along in the real world..