Do home-schoolers do better in college than traditional students?
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Written by Haley Potter and published on Feb. 18, 2012
Despite the popularity of prominent alum such as Tim Tebow, children who are home-schooled often face classic stereotypes of being strange or different than children educated in traditional schools when they enter college.
Many believe that home-schooled children specialize in intellectual achievement at the expense of social development or that they come exclusively from families with extreme religious views.
Amidst these common stereotypes, a recent USA Today article reported that the demographics of homeschooling are changing.
While the most common reason for homeschooling remains to be religious or moral beliefs, the number of secular homeschooling groups in the United States is growing, as is the overall number of home-schooled children.
Parents are increasingly citing different reasons for homeschooling their children, such as dissatisfaction with their local schools.
While the popularity of home-schooling continues to increase, the practice lacks an exact definition. Broad use of the term includes the most common notion of home-schooling -- parents educating their children at home -- as well as co-ops or groups and "unschooling," in which children direct their own education.
Homeschooling has only been legal in all 50 states since 1993, but since then has increased greatly in popularity and acceptance. According to a 2007 survey, more than 1.5 million children in the United States are home-schooled, which represents about 2.9% of school-aged children.
Despite this growth, questions still remain about the transition from homeschooling to college life, both in terms of students’ academic capability and social acclimation.
As of 2004, 83% of American colleges had formal admissions policies for evaluating home-schooled applicants, who are about as likely to go to college as their public-schooled peers.
In lieu of school transcripts, home-schooled students are often asked to submit letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, portfolios of written work and GED accreditation.
Research shows that home-schooled students are certainly capable of adjusting to the college curriculum academically –
home-schooled students generally score slightly above the national average on both the SAT and the ACT and often enter college with more college credits.
Studies have also shown that on average home-schooled students have higher grade point averages in their freshman years and have higher graduation rates than their peers.
In addition to academic competence, research also asserts that home-schooled students are able to cope well with the emotional transition to college.
A Texas A&M study found that home-schooled students face the same degree of communication apprehension as do their peers, while another study from the Journal of College Student Development discovered that the transitional experiences of college students are comparable, regardless of whether the students were educated at home or in traditional schools.
Common to all students were “transitional issues such as loneliness, meeting others with different values, and dealing with greater independence.”
Other studies have begun chipping away at the conception of home-schooling as socially stunting students – research shows that on average home-schooled students routinely participate in eight social activities outside of the home, and typically consume considerably less television than do traditionally-educated students.
They are also more likely to have higher self-esteem and be less susceptible to peer pressure.
Haley Potter is a Spring 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent.
This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.
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