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What Colleges Really Want: How Homeschooling Measures Up




By Dr. Lisa Dunne


American education, as you may have heard, is broken beyond repair. After 20 years in the college classroom, I wanted to be a change agent, an industry disruptor. I had already stood with a foot in two camps: homeschooling my own kids while teaching university students who had come through the traditional system. 


This experience gave me a vantage point of seeing the ineffectiveness of the traditional model and the many unique and powerful ways that the homeschooling method prepares students for school, for leadership, and for life in general.  


I grew up in a traditional scholastic environment (detailed in my latest book Outsourced) where I was trained to care more about what the teacher wanted me to say than what I really thought. I was trained to perform for her gold stars rather than sound the depths of my own individual interests and academic curiosities. 


This is the opposite of true learning. And it’s the opposite of homeschooling. 


Traditional education is designed to create drones, cogs in a machine, slaves to a system. But our kids need a system that is designed to create thinkers, movers and shakers, industry-disruptors, world-changers. And I believe it is these underlying factors of belief and hope and love that are the true foundational elements that are setting homeschoolers apart today. 


If you’ve heard the lie that colleges aren’t interested in homeschoolers, let me tell you as a college professor for 20 years—and now a university president—colleges will be actively recruiting your homeschooled students because they see their maturity, their intelligence, their determination, their civic engagement, and their ability to connect with people of all ages.


Colleges have been actively recruiting homeschoolers for over 15 years now for a number of reasons. I saw them clearly evidenced in my college classroom—homeschoolers stood out from their public schooled peers in their maturity, their civic engagement, their communication skills, their drive, their perseverance. When they would come up to my desk to ask me a question, they would look at me in the eye, without the interference of a cell phone. They would exhibit the lost skills of politeness. Of conversational exchange. 


Why? Because they were raised by parents, not peers. They were educated by humans, not screens. 


Think about that list for a moment and notice that the vast majority of the skills colleges look for in students are actually forged in the fires of relationship. They have less to do with academic acumen and more to do with relational maturity. 


Maybe you’re a parent considering homeschooling (or homeschooling high school) for the first time, and maybe you’ve had some of these familiar questions swirling around in your mind: 


What if I didn’t teach enough 16th Century literature?

What if I don’t understand calculus? 

Will homeschooling ruin my child? 


What skills are important in college? The same skills that are important in life. I say with humility that I have five college degrees, and I firmly believe that the most effective educational methodology is homeschooling. Period. 


The myth of the expert culture has been broken by the stats of success for home-educated students.


It’s no exaggeration for me to say that homeschooling is THE solution to our nation’s education crises. Homeschooling sets our students up not just for school but for life! 


If you haven’t heard, the modern college student is facing a host of socio-emotional disorders and dysfunctions. So when a homeschooler walks in with confidence, strong verbal skills, the ability to look a professor in the eye, those are immediate standouts. 


It’s well known that colleges and universities around the country are actively recruiting homeschool students. As Dr. Bryan Ray notes in his Homeschool Report Card, home-educated students consistently outperform public school students on national tests. Home-educated students rank high in academics, in volunteerism, and in maturity. In short, they bear good fruit in the culture and are powerful social innovators in local and global missions, true leaders in the home, church, and marketplace.


As parents, we are the bridge builders from childhood to adulthood; we help our students navigate the twists and turns. What is the desired “fruit that remains” for education, and how do we teach to that ultimate test? 


Consider some of the characteristics that set homeschoolers apart:


They are well read. They have experience in volunteering. They are more civically engaged, more driven, more socially mature.They have a stronger sense of personal and familial identity. They are lifelong learners. 


So, how do we produce and keep that fruit? 


Keep reading great literature. Keep discussing literature and current events, allowing for discourse. Keep modeling emotional maturity. Keep modeling and expecting civic engagement. Keep stoking the fires of curiosity. Keep them engaged in the family, the church, and the marketplace. 


In other words, homeschooler, keep doing what you’re doing. 


I believed in homeschooling so much that I founded a four-year university on the homeschool model. I took the highly effective format of homeschooling, coupled it with a tutorial-driven graduate school methodology, and Chula Vista Christian University was born.


CVCU offers mentor-driven, faith-based, debt-free BA and BS degrees in fields like political science, nursing, psychology, pre-med, computer science, business, mechanical engineering, and entrepreneurship. Our professors are well-known industry leaders who are speaking life and hope and purpose into the next generation. Meet them at CVCU.us


So if you’re a parent wondering if this homeschool thing is all it’s cracked up to be, let me assure you, it is. And if you’re a parent who’s already homeschooling and wondering if you’ve made the right choice, be encouraged by the families that have gone before you and are seeing an incredible harvest. Keep plowing the fields, having those deep conversations, planting those seeds, and watering them daily with prayer. One day, you’ll see a powerful oak sprouting up before your eyes. 


Until then, keep up the great work. You’ve got this. 

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