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J. Michael Smith, Esq.

Michael P. Farris, Esq.

New Study Shows Homeschoolers Succeeding in College

August 3, 2010

There is a growing body of research demonstrating the academic success of homeschoolers. The most recent major study is the Progress Report 2009, which surveyed over 11,000 homeschooled students, and showed homeschoolers K–12 scoring an average 37 percentile points above the national average on standardized achievement tests. However, as the homeschool movement has grown—by 7% per year for each of the past 10 years according to the National Center for Education Statistics—there has been little research on the academic performance of homeschoolers once they reach college.

It is well known, however, that for the past decade colleges have actively recruited homeschool students. This was not always the case. As recently as the late 1990s many colleges were having difficulty assessing the suitability of homeschool applicants. It was in the late 90s that HSLDA began working with colleges in earnest to help them accurately evaluate homeschooled students. We showed that using a combination of SAT and ACT scores, as well as portfolios of work, and letters of reference, a college could make an informed decision about whether a homeschooled applicant would be a good candidate for a degree program.

The main reason colleges were willing to be flexible is that homeschoolers were shown to be accustomed to self-directed and independent learning. Not only did colleges see that homeschoolers were self-motivated, but they also saw that homeschoolers were high academic achievers. Today, the overwhelming majority of colleges either have a homeschool admissions officer or a homeschooled admissions policy. Roughly a decade later, and with greater numbers of homeschoolers entering college, it was only a matter of time before research was conducted on homeschool academic performance in college.

Therefore, it was with great interest that we read the new study—Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students, by Michael F. Cogan—which shows homeschoolers succeeding in college.

The study was based on a medium sized college located in the upper Midwest. The school has 11,000 students with an average 1,320 freshmen each year. The sample size for homeschoolers was 76 which is 1 percent of the 7,776 incoming freshman for 2004–2009. The majority of the student body (54.9%) identified themselves as Catholic.

Some of the major findings include:

  • Homeschoolers scored higher on the ACT (26.5) compared with the overall student body (25).
  • Homeschoolers earned more college credit (14.7) prior to their freshman year compared to the student body (6).
  • Homeschooled students earned a higher fall semester GPA (3.37) when compared to other freshman students (3.08).
  • Homeschooled students earned a higher first-year GPA (3.41) when compared to other freshman students (3.12).
  • Homeschooled students earned a higher fourth-year GPA (3.46) when compared to other freshman students who completed their fourth year (3.16).

These results are welcome news for the homeschool community. It’s another testament to the dedication of hundreds of thousands of homeschooling parents who are silencing critics who suggested that mere parents would not be able to prepare their children for college. Furthermore, the study also found that homeschoolers graduated in higher numbers after four years at the college.

Homeschooled students achieved a higher graduation rate (66.7 percent) when compared to the overall population (57.5 percent).

It is very encouraging to see both the academic results for homeschoolers as well as the ability to stay with a four-year college program.

Homeschooled parents, especially those with middle school-aged children who demonstrate aptitude for college, should be greatly encouraged by this study.

 Other Resources

HSLDA media Release: “New Study Shows Homeschoolers Succeed in College”

Study results online: Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)