Posted by jlwile on October 8, 2012
I try to keep up on all the latest research related to homeschooled students. Unfortunately, I seem to have missed a small study that was published in the summer 2008 edition of the Journal of College Admission. The study wasn’t done on homeschooled students; instead, it was done on community college admissions officers. The authors sent surveys to them, asking about their perceptions of homeschool graduates. I found several of the paper’s points rather interesting and worthy of some discussion.1
First, the paper reports on the results of another study I somehow missed. The study is a bit old (1998), but the results are worth noting. It examined the community college transcripts of 101 homeschool graduates and compared them to those of students who graduated from a traditional high school. The study found that both full-time and part-time homeschool graduates had significantly higher grade point averages (GPAs) than their peers. In addition, the study examined the results of the Texas Academic Skills Program, a test that all students who attend state-funded, post-secondary educational institutions in Texas are required to take. The test covers reading, writing, and mathematics. Once again, the homeschool graduates achieved significantly higher scores than their traditionally-schooled peers.2
Second, the paper discusses the admissions process for homeschool graduates at community colleges. It notes that only 50% of those that responded to the survey have an official policy regarding the admissions process for homeschool graduates. That surprised me. After all, you would think that community colleges would cater to nontraditional students, and homeschooled students are clearly nontraditional. Also, many homeschooling families are looking for ways to make college more affordable, since they generally have a number of children. As a result, you would think that community colleges would be a natural choice for many homeschool graduates. It seems to me, then, that it would be natural for the vast majority of community colleges to have an official policy regarding how homeschool graduates should be admitted.
Now while only 50% of the responding colleges had an official policy for the admission of homeschool graduates, 80% said that they had procedures in place that would allow for the admission of such students. Thus, even without an official policy, some community colleges still make it possible for homeschool graduates to be admitted. That’s good news, of course, but it makes me wonder why a school that allows for the admission of homeschool graduates doesn’t have an official policy regarding how that should be done!
Third, I think the most important result from the survey is best described in the authors’ own words:
All respondents either strongly agreed (45 percent) or agreed (55 percent) that they expected homeschooled graduates to be as successful academically as students who had graduated from an accredited high school.
So while many of the universities didn’t have an official policy regarding homeschool graduates, and some didn’t even have procedures in place that allowed for the admission of such students, none of the admissions officers saw homeschooling as a disadvantage when it comes to college performance. Indeed, the authors of the paper quote one admissions officer as saying:
Homeschooled students are as prepared or even better prepared for college academics as their high school graduate counterparts. Occasionally, socialization might be a concern but not very often.
Fourth, there was a very interesting result regarding the age at which these admissions officers thought homeschool graduates should attend community college. While 64% of the admissions officers thought that homeschool graduates who were at least 18 years old were well prepared for college, only 36% thought that homeschool graduates under the age of 18 were well prepared. I find that interesting. In general, college admissions officers have a really good idea of what makes for a successful college student, and they see age as a real factor when it comes to homeschool graduates.
While every student is different, I think this might give a homeschooling parent pause when deciding what to do with an academically-advanced student who has finished all his or her high school courses “early.” It might be natural to think that sending the student off to college right away would be the right thing to do, but you might want to consider how mature the student is and whether or not being younger than everyone else might be an impediment to college success. At least some community college admissions officers think it will be.
Now the sample size in this study is very small. The authors sent out surveys to 23 different community colleges, but only 12 ended up participating. Thus, it’s not clear exactly how seriously to take these conclusions. However, I do think that these kinds of surveys are valuable. College admissions officers hold a lot of sway in terms of what students are accepted at their institutions. In addition, I do think they have a lot of practical experience in determining what makes for a successful college student. As a result, their perceptions of homeschool graduates should be studied.
1. Kellie Sorey and Molly H. Duggan, “Homeschoolers Entering Community Colleges: Perceptions of Admission Officers,” Journal of College Admission, n200:22-28, Summer 2008
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2. Jenkins, Toni, “The performance of homeschooled students in community colleges,” EdD diss., Texas A & M University-Commerce, 1998
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