5 Surprising Qualities of Homeschool Graduates

As a homeschool graduate, it’s always funny to me when I’m talking to someone and then (when they find out about my homeschooling past) they say something like: “Oh wow! You don’t seem like you were homeschooled.” 

I mean, how do you respond to that, exactly? I’m still not sure.  I usually just smile and laugh awkwardly, to be honest.

 But here’s what this kind of statement makes me think: a lot of people don’t really know what the average homeschooling graduate looks like. 

This probably has something to do with the fact that- shocker– we’re blending in pretty well once we’re released into the wild!

 And here everyone was all worried that we wouldn’t be able to socialize properly or adapt to “the real world.”

However, I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t some ways that homeschooled graduates definitely stand out. Concerned? Don’t worry. I’m about to tell you 5 of them. 

5 Surprising Qualities of Homeschool Graduates

1. Yes, Homeschool Graduates Go to College. 

Some parents who are considering homeschooling may be concerned about what happens after high school. The belief that homeschoolers have a hard time getting into college scares a lot of parents off of homeschooling. 

However, the truth is that homeschoolers can and do get into college!

 Years ago, it may have been more difficult to get into college with a homeschool background. Many colleges used to require homeschooled students to take the GED to show that yes, they actually had been learning things for all those years at home. However, today, this is rarely (if ever) required.  As homeschooling has become more popular over the years, and people have begun to see what amazing educational results it can yield, most colleges have become quite welcoming to homeschooled students. 

In fact, according to this article in Business Insider, prestigious universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Duke actively recruit homeschoolers! 

Maybe this has something to do with the fact that homeschoolers consistently score higher-than-average on standardized testing. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that homeschoolers are often involved in numerous extracurricular (and volunteer) activities that make their college applications more diverse and interesting. Maybe it’s because many homeschoolers prove their muster early on by dual-enrolling in community college courses while they are still in high school. I mean, there are a lot of reasons that homeschoolers are appealing to colleges and universities. Take your pick.

The point is this: too many admissions representatives, homeschooling is no longer a negative thing. It can actually make a student stand out so that their essays, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities have a chance to shine.

2. And How They Do in College is Noteworthy, Too.

Following up on the last topic, how do homeschoolers actually do in college? 

Today, college is viewed as much as a stepping stone into “the real world” as it is into any particular career path. Since a lot of people seem worried about how homeschoolers do in “the real world,” it’s only right for us to talk a little bit about how homeschooled graduates do in college, once they get there. 

Academically, the short answer is at least as well as their peers  (often better). 

This  2009 study from the University of St. Thomas found that students from a homeschooling background have a higher retention rate, as well as higher average GPA, than their peers. 

While 57.5 % of their public school peers completed their college degree, 66.7% of the homeschooled college students completed their four-year degrees. 

In terms of GPA, the surveyed group of homeschooled college freshman students had, on average a 3.37 GPA compared to their peers’ average of 3.07. 

In terms of emotional/social adjustment to college, homeschoolers also don’t seem to have any problems. 

Speaking from personal experience (as a former homeschooler and college graduate), I loved my college experience. I felt like my upbringing had already given me a firm foundation in terms of knowing who I was and in terms of being able to study. College felt like a natural extension of that, a fun and exciting challenge. I’ve known many other homeschooled college graduates who had a similar experience. 

If you’re more into research than anecdotal experiences,  a 2012 peer-reviewed research article from International Social Science Journal (read it here at The Free Library) supports the idea that homeschoolers are emotionally well-equipped for college.  

Researchers, Drenovsky and Cohen, conducted numerous surveys which indicated that: 

“Students with a history of homeschooling did have significantly lower depression scores than those who had never been homeschooled. It also reveals that homeschooled students report that they have achieved greater academic success and that they rate their entire college educational experience more positively than students who were never homeschooled.” 

Socially, it seems that homeschool graduates have a socially and emotionally – as well as academically- positive college experience. If you’re interested in reading more about homeschoolers and socialization, you should check out the full post on this topic on the Sparketh blog: Are Homeschoolers Really Unsocialized? The Rumors Versus the Realities.

3. Homeschool Graduates are Readers. 

I love reading…so much so that it kind of breaks my heart when I talk to someone who says that they haven’t read a book for fun in years. To readers everywhere, picking up a book is the best way to learn about the world, its history, and the people who inhabit it. 

Reading is also one of the simplest ways to maintain a mindset of learning, well into adulthood. However, did you know that almost 30% of Americans haven’t read a book in the last year (27% according to this 2015 survey)? Ouch. 

However, this statistic just doesn’t seem to stick to homeschoolers. According to Dr. Brian D Ray’s large scale study, Homeschooling Grows Up, 98.5% of adults who were homeschooled had read a book in the last six months. This compares with just 69% percent of adults in general (according to the same study’s survey results). 

Talk about a huge difference! 

On average, adults from a homeschooling background also used the public library way more than average adults (90 percent versus 50 percent, respectively.) These homeschool graduates aren’t just readers; they are thrifty readers! 

To me, it makes sense that homeschoolers develop a lifelong love of reading. Homeschooling families often make reading part of the family culture: something to enjoy, not to be afraid of. 

Even for children who struggle with reading, homeschooling allows personalized instruction to overcome that difficulty, without the embarrassment that can tend to go along with a reading disability in other schooling situations.

Reading can shape a person’s life in any number of vibrant ways and can help us improve ourselves, learn amazing things, and feel more connected to the world in which we live. I think it’s pretty awesome that homeschooling seems to shape individuals who love to read! 

4. They Are Community Oriented 

Homeschoolers learn in a family community, or “culture” setting, but they also learn via the numerous other communities which add unique dimension and enrichment to their lives and learning.  Church communities, extracurricular teams, clubs, and groups… all of these types of involvements add depth to homeschool learning. 

Perhaps being able to “plug-in” to such a wide variety of communities helps homeschoolers find their place in their local community in a different way than their public-schooled peers do. 

Compounded with this is the fact that many homeschooling parents choose to homeschool so that they teach morality and values in synthesis with academics. 

I think that both of these things have something to do with the fact that homeschoolers seem to grow up to be very community-oriented adults.  

The  Homeschooling Grows Up study showed several outcomes which indicated that adults from a homeschooling background were more civically-minded than other U.S. adults surveyed. Here’s a summary of some of that data: 

  • 71% of homeschool graduates were engaged in a regular community service activity (compared to 32% of other adults). 
  • Only 4.3 percent considered politics “too complicated to understand” (compared to 32% of other adults.) 
  • 88% of adults who had been homeschooled were involved in a community organization (compared to 50% of other adults.) 

Overall, it seems that homeschool graduates are extra involved with their communities and very plugged into the “real world” as adults! 

5. They’d Do it Again.

If you’re a homeschooling parent who is reading this article, it might not surprise you that homeschool graduates do well in college, or that they possess a strong love of reading as adults. However, it might surprise (and relieve you) to learn this last point. 

An overwhelming amount of homeschoolers wouldn’t trade their homeschool experience for any other type of education.

 In fact, in the Homeschooling Grows Up research study, an overwhelming 95% (yes almost every person out of the 5000+ who were surveyed) reported that they were glad that they’d homeschooled. 75.8% of these didn’t just “agree” with this statement, they “strongly agreed!” 

As a former homeschooler myself, I’d also have to strongly agree that I’m happy to have been homeschooled. Here are a few reasons that I think many of us homeschool graduates feel privileged to have this kind of learning experience: 

  • More quality time and memories made with, family. 
  • More opportunities to travel. 
  • The ability to actively integrate the arts into education
  • The ability to discover more about the things you love through study… and the subsequent discovery of a love for learning, itself! 

If you are a homeschool graduate, which of these qualities are true for you? Which of these qualities surprised you the most?

Written by Kathryn Gustafson