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!
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…
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.
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.