Parents decide to homeschool for a variety of reasons. Moral or religious beliefs are commonly cited, as are concerns over school safety, overcrowded classrooms, or dissatisfaction with the instruction provided by traditional schools. While it can’t be accurately described as “incredibly popular,” the number of homeschooled children in the United States is on the rise. There are presently about 2 million homeschooled children in the United States, estimates the National Home Education Research Institute, NHERI.
A lack of social interaction is a familiar fear among parents who are considering homeschooling because children are not in a classroom with other students their age. However, social groups comprised of homeschoolers and their parents are increasingly common. Children, moms and dads meet for lunch, have play dates, and go on field trips together. Some parents even join homeschool co-ops, groups that provide parents with networking opportunities and give children the ability to play and even do academic work together.
Many kids also participate in traditional “after-school” activities like dance classes and sports teams. Older homeschoolers often choose to pursue academic topics and social activities that honestly interest them, rather than because they’re forced to by school regulations.
One study even found that out of 7,300 adults surveyed, it was the homeschool graduates who were more likely to vote and participate in community service, reports CBS News.
Some people, often those with little understanding of it, discount homeschooling as unnatural, weird, or just plain wrong. While it’s true that some children lose interest in learning at home and some parents “teach” with little direction or structure, other students thrive in the homeschool environment. A 2009 study found that more homeschooled students graduated from college than their peers and had higher GPAs in the process.
USA Today reports that researchers calculated homeschoolers scored an average of 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests.
Homeschooled students are often able to spend less time doing classwork and more time engaging with others in their community, parenting expert and author Joe Kelly told The Huffington Post.
But what happens when it’s time to go to college? Mom and Dad can’t award degrees from their living room. One ambitious homeschooled student, Jesse Orlowski, was also profiled in the The Huffington Post. The 18-year-old asked a physics professor at San Diego State University if he could sit in on one of his classes—an advanced electrodynamics class, no less. He eventually helped the prof with research projects.
Orlowski also met with an independent admissions counselor, who helped him write a transcript highlighting his unique education. His homeschooling experience wound up being an asset that worked in his favor, as he was accepted to several elite colleges and universities.
Not all students are able to work with professors or hire counselors, but it’s still possible to make a successful transition to college. Colleges may have unique application requirements for homeschooled students, but a transcript that accounts for topics studied and an understanding of each is a good idea, as is a resume that showcases extracurricular activities, talents, and volunteer work. It is generally recommended that homeschooled students take the SAT as well as SAT subject tests along with the ACT. AP Exams are another way to prove academic abilities and possibly earn college credit.
Some homeschoolers also decide to attend community college before transferring to a four-year college or university. Most have open enrollment policies, which mean that anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent can attend classes.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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