Higher education, theoretically, will also enable individuals to expand their knowledge and skills, express their thoughts clearly in speech and in writing, grasp abstract concepts and theories, and increase their understanding of the world and their community.

According to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, "We must ensure that our whole population receives an education that will allow full and continuing participation in this dynamic period of American economic history." What Mr. Greenspan is saying, basically, is that without a college education you may be left out. As time goes on, the relationship between a college education and success will become more and more significant in our information-driven global economy.

What do the statistics show?
Given the reasons for higher education, what do the statistics show? Focusing now on homeschoolers, I'm just going to attempt to hit the highlights of some of the data out there. I have to preface this discussion, though, with the caveat that we don't know the true numbers of homeschoolers applying to and attending institutions of higher education, and much of the data out there is several years old. However, I believe that the general trends in the data provide a good feel for how homeschoolers are doing.

First, homeschoolers are more likely to attend college. A survey of more than 7,300 adults who were homeschooled, conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) showed that of homeschool graduates aged 18 to 24, 74% had taken college courses, compared with 46% among the general population in that same age group. Further, about 12% of those surveyed homeschoolers had received bachelor's degrees, compared with 8% of the general population. And 50% of homeschoolers had some college but no degree, compared with 34% of the general population. Almost 9% of homeschoolers had two-year associate degrees, compared with 4% of the general population.

The results of the SAT and ACT, our nation's major college-entrance tests, also credit those students who identified themselves as homeschoolers with outperforming non-homeschooled students. In 2002, homeschooled SAT-takers averaged 1092 (out of a possible 1600), compared with 1020 for the national average of all SAT-takers, or 72 points higher. Similarly, in 2004, homeschooled ACT-takers averaged a score of 22.6, compared with the national average of 20.9 for all ACT-takers.

How does this translate into college admission? Well, just a few years ago, only a handful of colleges and universities were prepared to admit homeschooled students. Today, homeschoolers have been and are being admitted to more than a thousand colleges in at least five countries. Further, many of these students are being admitted with scholarships. Search on the web for colleges that admit homeschoolers and you'll be surprised at the lists that have been compiled to help you sort through the many possibilities.

How should you, as a homeschooler, begin approaching higher education?
As a homeschooler beginning to approach higher education, be sure to start early. Think about your interests and goals, and identify what level of education you'll need to pursue those interests and goals. If higher education is required, read web sites, books, and periodicals to learn about colleges and universities. Find which schools will meet your specific needs and then find out about their policies concerning homeschooled students. Start mapping out your strategies for how to best target the schools selected.

Second, keep organized, keep records, and determine the best format (e.g., transcript or portfolio) for those records. Keep this information complete and updated. Don't rely on memory. Write down, with dates, anything and everything that you feel might be useful during the application process. Keep track of specific demonstrations of leadership qualities. Start compiling a list of individuals who might be appropriate for writing letters of recommendation.