Adam Carman is a junior at Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college in western New York State. Majoring in historical studies, the 20-year-old New York native has been named once to the college Dean's List and twice to the Dean's Honor List within four successive semesters. His success in college is all the more impressive due to the nontraditional twelve years he spent in a homeschooling program with his three siblings.

When Carman began 10th grade, he had no idea he would spend his post-high school years at a relatively well-known college. In fact, he was taking distance-learning courses over the Internet when his teacher encouraged him to consider pursuing a traditional degree. At sixteen, Carman adapted his educational plans to gear toward entrance into college. With a good SAT score, detailed record keeping, and a dynamic application essay, he made a relatively easy transition into mainstream college life — just like many homeschoolers before him.

Colleges Seek Dedicated Homeschoolers

Fifteen years ago, homeschooled graduates had a tough time getting into any college or university setting. Since the homeschooling movement was relatively new, admissions directors had no idea where to begin with homeschooled applicants, and most appeared hostile due to an uncomfortable lack of experience. Today, all of that has changed. Many colleges actively recruit homeschoolers, and information for the homeschooled applicant abounds on websites and admissions brochures. True, there are still some colleges that remain somewhat silent about homeschoolers, but it's rare to find an admissions board that will actually refuse them based on their educational background alone. It's important to remember that colleges aren't necessarily looking for the perfect student, they're trying to put together a diverse student body. And although many application procedures seem designed to make entrance difficult for homeschoolers, most admissions directors will judge a homeschooler on an even par with a traditionally schooled student. If anything, a homeschooling background gives students additional visibility and causes college officers to take a second look at their application.

According to Elisha Anderson, assistant director of admissions at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, homeschoolers have an advantage because they stand out from other applicants. "In our admissions process, there's a sheer number of kids applying with really strong credentials," Anderson told TOS. "We want to see how a student can differentiate themselves from the pack, so we look for something that makes them stand out from the typical high-achieving applicant."
"Nationally, people are looking to see if homeschooling is just as good," Adam Carman told TOS. "They want to know 'Can they do this? Will they succeed?' But I found myself at least as well prepared as my public-school counterparts. I don't say college is for everyone, but if you're a motivated student, you can get yourself up and do what needs to be done."

Do You Really Need a College Education?

To attend college or not to attend college? That seems to be the real question. "College has been the default button on our child-raising menu for too long," writes Cafi Cohen, author of The Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook. "It is almost a mantra in our society…We have reached the point where most families automatically push their children to attend college regardless of their sons' and daughters' interests, talents, and occupational goals."

Is a college education really necessary? ABC-TV's Peter Jennings and famous children's illustrator Tasha Tudor didn't think so. In fact, they both dropped out of high school! Author Ernest Hemingway, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, oil-billionaire John D. Rockefeller, and actor Robert Redford all went directly into the career area of their choice after high school. And Samuel Clemens (better known as "Mark Twain") once wrote, "Never let your schooling get in the way of your education." Historical citizens ¾ including twelve U.S. presidents ¾ have proven that four years of continuing education may not be an automatic recipe to success.