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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Homeschool Graduates and Community College

Posted by jlwile on October 8, 2012

Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY (click for credit)


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.

REFERENCES

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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Comments

12 Responses to “Homeschool Graduates and Community College”
  1. J.S. says:

    “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!”

    I don’t know about other places, but here in Florida, the community college admission process is different from four year institutions, maybe because many community college students don’t even have high school diplomas. What the community colleges do is administer skills tests in math, English and writing, and if you get a passing score, you can enroll. They don’t even look at your high school transcript.

    Six of my eight kids have taken dual enrollment courses at the local community college, and the first two even graduated high school with AA degrees. (Dual enrollment registration is a little more involved, because in Florida, dual enrollment courses are free for high schoolers, so the college needs to ensure that you are a registered homeschooler in the school district)

    All my kids uniformly agree that the quality of teaching they received was as good or better than that of the four year institutions they later attended. We surmise that a large part of the reason for that is the lack of pressure to publish, so that the mission of the school is the success of the students.

    I highly recommend dual enrollment classes at local community colleges for high school aged homeschoolers. My kids had no problem transitioning to college level courses because of their dual enrollment experience, and were often able to shorten their oollege time because of their earned credits, which makes for a significant cost savings.

  2. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your comment, J.S. I appreciate your first-hand analysis of the issue!

  3. Vivielle says:

    “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 this quite interesting- I was under 18 when I started college full time (and began taking dual-enrollment classes 3 years before that). One of my sisters also started younger than 18, and I know more than one homeschool grad who’s at college with me now who started younger than 18 and all of us were well-prepared. I wonder if there would be a difference between students who were ahead because of their own motivation, or because their parents either started them early or pushed them to accelerate… (This comes to mind because in my family and with the fellow students that I know at my school, it was self- motivated to accelerate, not parent motivated. Yet, I know of a situation where the parents are pushing a young student to be close to two years ahead, and I wonder if this student will be as prepared upon high school graduation.)

    Interesting study though, and it’s nice to know that homeschoolers are well-regarded in some admissions offices!

    Off to go back to the salt mines of P-chem since there’s a midterm tomorrow- I may have Kirchoff’s Law and all 15000 (+/- a few) ways to calculate all 12,000 (+/- another few) thermodynamic values permanently engraved in my brain now. (P-Chem is not my favorite chemistry for sure, although I don’t dislike it. It’s just not as well loved as the other types of chem are!)
    -Vivielle

  4. jlwile says:

    Vivielle, I think all students are different, so whether or not a younger student will do well at college depends on the individual. Also, you have to remember that these are just the opinions of admissions officers. I think their opinions are worth noting, but they are certainly not 100% reliable.

  5. Vicki says:

    Interesting study, thanks for sharing it. The population was very small but the information is worth sharing.

  6. jlwile says:

    I am glad you found it interesting, Vicki!

  7. Tammy says:

    I know of many homeschooled students who attend community college before age 18 – and all of them have done exceptionally well! I think the response of students doing better over the age of 18 is a “flow chart” or canned response that is encouraged to support the public school agenda of keeping kids in schools so that the public schools receive more funding. The reason it’s applied to homeschoolers is that if they admit how well they do when attending college before age 18, more students will abandon public schools for homeschooling with early college admittance.

    Looking at our son, for example: he started attending community college at age 12; got his AA at 15 (before our state would even allow him to sit for a GED); got his BS at 18; and is working on his MS in computer science while gainfully employed and owning his own home. He has a large group of friends and socializes easily with people of all ages. However, he was denied any possibility of scholarship before the age of 16 because the public school system was available for his use! I believe the “powers that be” just do NOT want to admit that community colleges do offer advantages over the public schools for the academically able…it would be too scandalous!

  8. jlwile says:

    Thanks for your observations, Tammy. It’s good to get firsthand reports on the matter.

  9. EJDolce says:

    This is great info and encouragement for parents considering homeschooling for their kids… like me! Thanks so much.

  10. jlwile says:

    I am glad you found it helpful, EJDolce!

  11. gracekalman says:

    I am 17 and currently enrolled in PSEO at my local community college. Our oldest student is 84 and our youngest is 14. As far as students my age go, I have an average of eight students under 18 in both my classes.
    As far as how well homeschoolers do, I got a 98.5 on my first Spanish exam (best in all his classes), and a 100 and a 98 in my first two college algebra exams. When a friend of mine took that class, they started with the maximum 30, 10 took the final exam and only 8 passed. I think homeschoolers do pretty well.

  12. jlwile says:

    Thanks for letting us know your experience, Grace.

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