Homeschool Graduates Rock Baylor University

I was recently made aware of a 2010 analysis that was done by Baylor University’s Office of Institutional Research and Testing. It compared first-time Baylor freshman who were homeschool graduates to the rest of Baylor’s first-time freshman population over a period of four years. I think the results will be helpful to those who are wondering whether or not home education adequately prepares a student for the academic rigors of university.

The first thing the analysis noted was that homeschool graduates had significantly higher SAT and ACT scores than the rest of the population. The homeschool graduates, for example, averaged 115 points higher on the SAT than the rest of the student population. While that is interesting, the really important result is how the homeschool graduates performed in their freshman year at Baylor. In the end, the average homeschool graduate had a freshman grade point average (GPA) of 3.364, while the average for the rest of the freshman class was 3.038. Here is a bar graph that illustrates this result:

Average freshman GPA's for homeschool graduates and non-homeschool graduates at Baylor University from 2005 to 2009

The black bars on the graph are called error bars, and they demonstrate the possible error that exists in such a measurement. When you study a group of people, it is always possible that the people you have studied are not quite representative of the population you are trying to understand. As a result, whatever you measure might not be an accurate measurement of the population in general. Using statistics, it is helpful to estimate how much your measurement might be in error. The crudest way to do that is to use the size of the sample you are studying as a guide. The more people you study, the more accurate your representation of the population should be. In this analysis, they had a huge population of non-homeschool graduates (14,078) but a small population of homeschool graduates (151). As a result, the error associated with the homeschool graduates is large, while the error associated with the non-homeschool graduates is small.*

In general, the way you treat error bars is to assume that the measurement can actually be anywhere within the range of the error bar. For the homeschool graduates, then, the measured average was 3.364. However, based on the error bar, it could actually be anywhere from 3.090 to 3.638. For the non-homeschool graduates, the measured average was 3.038, but it could actually be anywhere from 3.012 to 3.064. The important thing to note is that even if you take the lowest value for the homeschool graduates and the highest value for the non-homeschool graduates, the average for the homeschool graduates is still higher. This means the analysis provides strong evidence that the average homeschool graduate does better than the rest of the population during his or her freshman year at Baylor. While I find that interesting, I think a more detailed look at the data is even more interesting.

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Homeschool Graduates and Community College

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!

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Advice on How To Succeed In College from a Homeschool Graduate

A colleague of mine passed on an E-MAIL she received from a homeschool graduate who is now in college. As is typical for homeschooled students, this young man did very well in his first year, receiving a grade point average (GPA) of 3.95 out of a possible 4.00. My first-year GPA was quite a bit lower than that! What I found really fascinating about the E-MAIL, however, was that he gave a list of 14 “tips” on how a person should approach college life. The tips are insightful and full of an enormous amount of wisdom.

For example, his first tip compared home education to college:

College is very similar to homeschooling, in that they expect you to put in a significant amount of effort and will not spoon-feed you material…

This is one of the many reasons homeschoolers are so successful at the college level. They have been forced to develop the ability to learn on their own.

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Homeschool Graduates Are Amazingly Well-Rounded

I got an E-MAIL from a parent asking if I could recommend any physics books to her. It seems that her son, who is currently majoring in physics and piano performance at a state university, asked for physics books for Christmas. In the E-MAIL she noted:

[My son] has said that your [books] have more than prepared him for his science courses at college, and he has done extremely well in the chemistry and physics classes. He has said many times how thankful he was to have used your programs.

While I am always happy to know how well my books have prepared students for studying science at the university level, what struck me about the E-MAIL was how I wasn’t at all surprised by the fact that her son was majoring in physics and piano performance. I would think most people would do a double-take at that duo of majors. However, it didn’t surprise me at all, since homeschool graduates are amazingly well-rounded.

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Homeschool Graduates and College: Real Success

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When people ask me why I am such a staunch advocate of homeschooling, I tell them it’s because I have seen the products of home education, and they are very impressive. While I was on the faculty at Ball State University, for example, I had students who graduated from public schools, students who graduated from private schools, and students who graduated from homeschools. In my experience, the homeschool graduates were truly head and shoulders above the others. This led me to look at academic studies that evaluated the efficacy of home education, and those studies echoed my experiences – When it comes to academics, homeschooled students are simply a cut above the rest. That’s why I am such an advocate of homeschooling.

Of course, a lot of universities recognize this fact. IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana makes it very clear on their website. They say:

Over 150 students have enrolled at IUPUI with home school backgrounds and as a group these students have academically excelled and out-performed the general student population.

Stanford University (like most serious universities) actively recruits homeschoolers, and they accept a higher percentage of their homeschooled applicants than the rest of their applicant pool. Jonathan Reider, an admissions officer at Stanford university explains why:

The distinguishing factor is intellectual vitality. [Homeschooled] kids have it, and everything they do is responding to it.”

Boston University agrees. They followed their homeschool graduates for several years and found their average GPA was 3.3 out of 4.1 That’s a sold “B.”

It’s not surprising, then, that when other universities examine their homeschooled population, they find real success.

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