This week-end I’m at the History of Education Society Annual Meeting and don’t have time to do a post. Thankfully, a reader volunteered one. So without further ado, here’s Elaine Hirsch’s survey of some research on homeschooling in higher education:
Homeschoolers in College
Home-based education led by parents is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and materials designed for homeschooling are available for almost any type of curriculum. There are now over 2 million homeschooled students in the US. One important question for homeschool students as well as their parents is how well they’ll fare in college compared to the students who received conventional public or private education. For researchers, an important aspect of this question is whether parents who homeschool their children are just as qualified to teach subjects required for college entrance as university-trained professionals in regular schools.
Most findings show homeschooled students tend to do just as well as conventionally schooled peers, and they may even have some advantages. Even without graduating PhD programs or receiving any formal training, homeschooling parents seem to be quite able to match the education provided in conventional schools. Colleges and universities are increasingly admitting homeschooled students, as their potential for success is becoming more widely recognized and backed up by academic research.
Concerns are frequently raised about whether homeschooled children are exposed to the same social norms as children who attend school, and whether those children may experience culture shock when they enter a college environment. Studies have shown children who are educated at home develop self-concepts just as healthy as those of their peers. The experience of homeschooled students entering college in their first year was found to be quite similar to the experience of students who were educated conventionally.
Standardized testing is often considered the benchmark of academic achievement for young students, and researchers found that home-schooled students did better on these tests than their peers. One reason for this finding may be that homeschoolers can receive focused attention on their very weakest areas. A home-based education may also lead students to become more self-reliant in completing assignments on their own, which is a very necessary skill for college success.
College admissions personnel have weighed in on this question, and findings overwhelmingly show admissions offices believe homeschooled students are prepared to excel in college. A nationwide survey conducted by the National Center for Home Education found 96 percent of colleges surveyed in 1996 had at least one homeschooled student admitted to their programs.
Colleges and universities are beginning to adjust admissions policies to recognize the potential of homeschooled students. Of the colleges surveyed, 93 percent stated course descriptions or portfolios could suffice instead of a high school diploma or GED certificate for homeschooled students. However, many schools had no written policies on admissions requirements for homeschooled students.
A similar percentage of homeschooled students attend college (about half) compared to their conventionally educated peers. At colleges across the US, homeschooled students routinely receive higher grades in many different areas. Colleges and universities are increasingly providing funding for students entering the program who were homeschooled, and associations for homeschoolers may also be able to provide grants and scholarships.
While homeschooling is still considered controversial because many people believe students should develop alongside their peers, research shows most homeschooled students are often better prepared for college than other students. For some homeschoolers, lack of documentation of grades and coursework can be a hurdle in college applications. However, colleges are increasingly recognizing that homeschooled students do quite well regardless and are adjusting admissions requirements to give homeschooled students the chance they deserve to succeed.