Homeschooled students are making a smooth transition to higher education, thanks to a marked increase of available resources and a friendlier public perception. Data shows that more homeschooled students than ever are going into college life with better skills and preparation, and in many cases better than their non-home-schooled peers.
Parents choose to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons, including the freedom of setting their own schedule and having a flexible curriculum, writes Amy Choate-Nielsen of Deseret News. However, before homeschooling, also consider the potential disadvantages of homeschooling students.
A study published in 2009 by the National Home Education Research Institute found that families that homeschool their children generally have more formal education than the population as a whole. The study, Homeschooling Across America: Academic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics, was commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit group that promotes home-schooling across the country.
According to the study, 66.3% of fathers and 62.5% of mothers had a bachelor's degree or higher.
Some home-school families have parents with teaching credentials, and some have a higher income than others, but on average, neither factor seems to affect students' scores, the study said. Home-school students with families of all incomes scored in the 85-89th percentile in CORE testing, compared to public school students who scored in the 50th percentile on average, the study said.
A 2009 study by the University of St. Thomas' Associate Vice President for Records and Institutional Effectiveness Michael Cogan showed that home-school students score as well as or better than public school students almost across the board, except when it comes to ACT math scores.
According to Cogan's 2009 study, called "Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students," homeschooled students scored an average of 26.5 on their composite ACT scores compared to an average of 25 for students who attended public school.
For math scores, homeschooled students scored 24.6 on average compared to students at public schools who scored 24.7, and students at private schools who scored 25. Once at college, 66.7% of home-schooled students graduated within four years compared to 57.5% of other students, according to Cogan.
With home-school students having positive testing results, more parents have opted to keep their children at home. There is less cultural resistance than was experienced by home-school parents 15 years ago, said Brian Ray, a former university professor and learning expert who founded the National Home Education Research Institute to study the phenomenon.
Ray said that currently only about 4% of children are homeschooled in America. That number has grown substantially in the last 10 years from about 850,000 students in 1999 to about 1.5 million students in 2007, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
"There are hundreds (of resources)," Ray said from his office in Oregon. "There isn't a question anymore — it's endless. It's overwhelming to new home-schoolers there are so many materials, and those are mostly hands-on, concrete tangible things, books and science kits and things. Add to that all of the electronic and online resources and it is amazing."