What do Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and Duke all have in common? In addition to being top-tier schools, they are just some of the colleges that actively recruit homeschoolers – and offer them scholarships.
What these colleges have discovered is that homeschoolers represent a very attractive talent pool: These students tend to be exceptionally bright, motivated, and mature. Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics. In addition, they tend to have impressive reading lists and letters of recommendation. Most have volunteered, participated in sports, the arts, and activities too numerous to mention. They are more than likely to have been dual-enrolled in both their homeschool and a community college and have numerous advanced placement (AP) and/or honors classes. Consequently, their GPA’s and SAT or ACT scores tend to be well above average (Note to naysayers: If a student has stellar SAT or ACT scores and a community college GPA of 3.0-4.0, this proves that the parents did not fudge the student’s transcript!).
Ivy-league colleges are not the only schools seeking homeschoolers. Public and private universities are jumping on the bandwagon, realizing what many Christian colleges have known all along: Homeschoolers not only enhance classroom discussions, they tend to get involved in campus life and student leadership, and they hold their own academically as well. Homeschooled musicians also tend to be some of the best, since they have much more time to devote to lessons, practice, and performances. Homeschoolers tend to have a strong sense of self, since they’ve had more time to develop it and aren’t influenced by negative peer pressure.
How do I know this? I am a former admissions counselor who recruited both homeschooled and public school students. I was also a homeschooling parent for 12 years and have done loads of research, guest speaking, and consulting. Both of our kids were accepted to all the schools they applied to and were offered scholarships.
Still not sold? Consider the following facts from Dr. Brian Ray, with the National Home Education Research Institute (www.nheri.org):
1) Homeschoolers typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.).
2) Homeschooled students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
3) Whether or not homeschool parents possessed a teaching certificate is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
4) Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
5) Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
Dr. Ray’s research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:
- participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
- vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
- go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
Hopefully, I have shattered some myths about homeschoolers. They’re not tied to the kitchen table all day by their parents and yes, they do come in contact with the outside world. In fact, they’re in the “real world” much more than other students. Their reasons for homeschooling are as varied as homeschoolers themselves. So before you make any assumptions about these students, take some time to discover what they’re really like and why colleges are snatching them up.
What have your experiences been? Feel free to leave a comment.
*Note: According to Dr. Ray, there are more than 2 million homeschoolers in the U.S. and the numbers grow between 2 and 8% each year. Here in NC, the Department of Non-Public Education reported nearly 84,000 homeschoolers in 2011. Of that amount, it was estimated that 36,500 were in the age range of 13-17.
Resources for homeschoolers:
A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls, Susannah Sheffer
Colleges That Change Lives, Loren Pope (Interesting colleges. Great for “unschoolers”. No SAT or ACT requirement.)
Sampling of programs for “academically talented and gifted” homeschoolers:
Pennsylvania Homeschoolers’ Online Advanced Placement (AP) classes (Note: Students must score a 3 or better on the AP exam for college credit.). You can also check to see if your course qualifies for the AP designation.
Stanford’s Educational Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY ). Online classes for K-College.
For elementary-middle school students: Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) for grades 4, 5, and 7. Identifies academically talented students. Also offers on-site and online programs and other perks.
The Lukeion Project: Live, online classical courses, archeological study tours, and more.
Dori Staehle is an educational consultant, private tutor, guest speaker, and former homeschooling parent of 2 recent college grads. She also was the Homeschool Specialist in the admissions department of a local, private college.