Demystifying Homeschooling Series: College & University

March 2018

Demystifying Homeschooling Series: College & University

Moving to the next level – college and university


Perhaps the biggest misconception about homeschooling is that it functions in isolation and that kids who have been home-schooled are at a disadvantage when it comes time to applying for places in tertiary education. It is too often thought that once children move to the stage where they are applying for places at college or university the door will be closed, with institutions frowning on homeschoolers and refusing to offer them places. This is far from accurate – indeed, often the opposite is true – particularly if children have undertaken an internationally accredited curriculum, as is the case with iCademy Middle East students.

Indeed, when asked, many university professors openly admit that they find a greater sense of maturity and preparedness in home-schooled children once they attend university – and that the requisite self-motivation and organisation that comes with learning from home translates beautifully to university education. Time management, the ability to manage additional activities, and the resilience to deal with challenging academic environments are issues that home-schoolers are prepared for, whereas students from ‘mainstream’ schools can find the lack of structure overwhelming.

According to Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, who previously worked in the office of the Dean of Students at Stanford University, home-schoolers have many of the characteristics colleges look for – that they have “all the kinds of things that colleges are looking for – curiosity, confidence, resourcefulness, ability to deal with challenges.”

Universities are increasingly attuned to the growing number of applicants with a home-schooling background, and are well-prepared to assess students on their academic merits, rather than make judgements based on the types of school they attended.

These days, even the Ivy League is not out of reach. Home-schoolers are regularly attending Harvard University – (Click this link to read more and a brief look at the Princeton University admissions page shows that even the top universities are looking beyond the traditional: “We recognise that your experience as a home-schooled student will be somewhat different from students in traditional schools. We’ll look at your academic record and non-academic interests and commitments within the context of your particular home school curriculum and experience.”

Indeed, even professors are recognising noticing the benefits that home-schooling has on the positive quality of a student, and that they can play a key role in positive classroom dynamics and in propagating positive learning behaviours among their peers.

Dr Jay Wile, an author of academic literature for home-schoolers and a college professor himself says: “In my experience, home-schooled students are hard-working, polite, and engaged. They are not afraid to ask questions and engage with the instructor. They are the most serious about class. They always attend, ask questions, and respond when questions are asked of them. Outside class, they learn better on their own. When I ask questions that are covered in the reading but not in class, they are the ones most likely to answer correctly.

“My home-school students are some of my ‘favourites’. I hate to put it that way, but they are well-mannered, respectful, almost always have their work done, are attentive, are ready for class, and typically have a good work ethic. I find them to be ready to learn in a way that I don’t see with public school students. I don’t know if this is because they are excited to be in the college classroom, or if it is something else. I have taught at the college level for over 20 years, and I can honestly say that home-schooled students are now more prepared for college than ever before. I really enjoy having them in my classroom.”

Tips to help prepare your children for tertiary education from Dr Jay Wile:

  • Try to help the student to be as independent as possible. Let the student follow a schedule and only intervene to help when needed.
  • Read, read, read, read…encourage lots of reading. College success comes from lots of reading and independent studying.
  • Help them learn to learn time management. Prepare them to strictly follow schedules and to manage their time for study.
  • Get them up to speed on academic literacy.
  • Home-schooled students must know how to use electronic databases, have regular access to them, learn how to properly document their research, and use critical thinking

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