National Edition

Home-school students do well first time in college

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5 2013 4:00 a.m. MST

It was Amanda Grant’s dream to go to Brigham Young University after she finished her home-education that started in kindergarten and went through 12th grade. When she heard she was accepted to the private university in Provo, Utah, this spring, she was elated — but her mom was a little concerned.

“I still worry about it,” Sandy Grant said about the reality of her daughter going to school for the first time in her life as a BYU student. “One of the worst disadvantages of home-school is that if things go wrong, there is no one else to blame. If my daughter doesn’t do well, I can only blame it on her and on me.”

The Grants’ college application was simple, as far as home-school students go. They checked a box that said home-school, then turned in Amanda Grant’s standardized test scores, some essays and a list of her civic involvement, which was long and included leadership opportunities, like serving as the mayor pro-tem on her city’s youth council. They didn’t include a grade point average or even a list of classes Amanda Grant had taken thus far.

Such a seamless process would have been unheard of 20 years ago, says Ray. Back then, universities didn’t know how to handle unconventional applicants. Now universities face a new quandary: how to respond to increasingly young home-schoolers who finish their curriculum early, at age 15 or 16, for example.

Home-school students work at their own pace, but according to the 1998 study, the students tested ahead of the grade level they were supposed to be in, so that fifth-graders were testing more than two grade levels ahead, sixth-graders were testing three grade levels ahead, and eighth-graders tested four grade levels ahead.

“Since the average home-schooled eighth-grader is already scoring as high as the average high school senior, you can see why home-schoolers are starting to take college classes while they are still in high school, or even finishing high school and starting their college degree program at 15 or 16,” says Woodruff.

Even though attending college might be drastically different for students who have spent a significant time at home, learning in a familiar and safe environment, Amanda Grant and Cade Taylor say they’re ready to move on to their next life project in learning.

Eventually, Cade plans to make his way to medical school. However his path unfolds, his mother has some wise advice for him, though, as he thinks about what kind of job he wants to pursue.

“You just want your kids to be happy, whatever they choose,” Lisa Taylor says. “I know my kids really well and if they aren’t successful at what they choose, they won’t be happy, so my advice for them is to get in there and do the best they can do and just stick with it.”

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