It’s about time we moved past the notion that homeschool students aren’t prepared for college. They are, says the overwhelming evidence—persistent stereotypes notwithstanding. Even so, homeschool students still face some significant transition points in the move to college, ones that graduates from public or private schools might not face.
Here are three areas of adjustment that homeschool graduates often must make, followed by three areas where these students soar in college without much trouble:
1. Adapting to a traditional classroom atmosphere
Home-educated students benefit from the one-on-one attention of a parent educator. That’s a great thing. But when it comes to structure, college is an entirely different animal. At large state schools, freshman classes are composed of several hundred students. So much for one-on-one attention! Even at smaller community or private colleges, class sizes of at least several dozen is the norm.
Homeschool students must adjust to this reality. There are two ways that a homeschool student can do so while still in high school. The first is through a homeschool co-op, where a number of homeschool families team up to teach certain subjects or go on field trips. This more group-oriented structure can help prepare students for college. The second method is through dual enrollment at a local community college. This helps a student get a taste for group instruction before graduating and transitioning to post-secondary education.
2. Navigating a much larger social circle
Homeschoolers often get a bad rap for being “un-socialized.” While numerous studies have shown that homeschool students are, in fact, very well adjusted, have lots of friends, and are productive members of society, it remains true that transitioning from homeschooling to a college social setting can be a culture shock.
To ease the transition, it’s important for students to plug into college groups that fit their passions and values. This is a great place to make friends and find some sense of community. It’s also beneficial if a student is able to attend a university or college that’s local to his or her existing family and social circle. (It can also be cheaper—in state tuition mixed with the possibility of no dormitory expense by staying at home.)
3. Adjusting to traditional college structures
An enormous benefit of homeschooling is that, in most instances, it generates graduates who are self-starters, accustomed to thinking outside the box, and happy life-long learners. Many homeschooling families also have a more flexible, relaxed approach to learning, compared to the rigid, butt-in-your-seat mentality of some traditional schools.
In college, though, students must adapt to the predominant structures and bureaucracies. Class times, deadlines, and traditional grading structures can be major adjustment points. Simply navigating the admissions office can be a nightmare in and of itself. Ditto figuring out college credits and evaluating financial aid.
Of course, one of the biggest obstacles in this arena is creating a slick, professional transcript that will impress colleges. That can be a big headache, too. Did we mention that Transcript Maker is your one-stop-shop for this?
Ways that homeschool students excel
Not all is doom and gloom! To wrap up, here are three ways that homeschool graduates excel in college:
1. Being natural self-starters, it’s easier for them to adjust to the disciplined lifestyle that college requires
In college, you truly are “on your own” for the first time. You can choose whether you want to spend your Friday and Saturday nights studying or playing beer pong. Your teacher won’t baby sit you. The ball truly is in your court. Home-educated graduates excel at this because they are used to taking ownership of their education, and they are eager learners.
2. Homeschool graduates are more likely to take ownership of their education, rather than expecting teachers to do it
Counter to the idea that “If I’m not learning, you must not be teaching right,” homeschool graduates are typically good at viewing learning as their own responsibility. A college degree is a major part of their life plan, but it’s not the only thing. They will continue to learn throughout their lives and on the job.
3. Homeschool students excel in college academics
Not much need be said here. Many studies have demonstrated that home-educated students outperform their peers in standardized test scores, GPA, and graduation rates.
Attending college is a major transition point for homeschool graduates, but it’s one that millions have made—and there are numerous ways that homeschoolers excel in higher education. So take on the challenge with confidence.