Homeschooling Grows Up

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.
Home School Legal Defense Association

HSLDA's synopsis of a research study on adults who were homeschooled, conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray

Socialization? No problem!

Every parent who homeschools has been through the drill: “Oh, you homeschool. Aren’t you concerned about your child’s socialization?” Even TIME magazine picked up on the question: “Home schooling may turn out better students, but does it create better citizens?” (“Seceding from School,” TIME, August 2001) 

Homeschooling parents have known the answer for years: “No problem here!" But critics demand proof. Today, the first generation of homeschooled students has “grown up,” and there are enough homeschool graduates to begin to see how they are succeeding in their homes, in their work, and in their lives. 

In 2003, the Home School Legal Defense Association commissioned the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated. Conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, the study surveyed over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. Over 5,000 of these had been home educated at least seven years, and the statistics in this synopsis are based on their responses. The results confirm what homeschoolers have thought for years: “No problem here.”

Continuing education: Can they get into college?

The end of formal homeschooling is not the end of the educational road for most homeschool graduates. Over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18-24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States population (Figure 1). Note that nearly half (49%) of the respondents in this study were still full-time students and many of these had not yet received their degrees, possibly resulting in lower numbers of earned degrees actually reported by homeschoolers. Even so, homeschool graduates hold their own when compared to the general U.S. population. 

Can they get a job? Sure! 

Since the phenomenon of homeschooling is found in many settings, each reflecting the uniqueness of a particular family, it is not surprising to find homeschool graduates engaged in a wide variety of occupations (Table 1). 

Involved in their communities

Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. Seventy~one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity (eg., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a Church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of US. adults of similar ages (Table 2). Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.

Civic affairs: engaged citizens

Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults (Table 2). This may account for why homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to campaigns, and vote in much higher percentages than the general population of the United States (Figures 2 through 7). For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population (Figure 7). The numbers of homeschool graduates who vote are even greater in the older age brackets, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace. Interestingly, the three participants in the age 55-69 category were also more civically active than their peers nationwide (but the sample size was so small that this category is not included in the figures in this synopsis). 

Enjoying life

Taking all things into consideration, 59% of the subjects reported that they were “very happy” with life, with another 39% declaring that they were “pretty happy” (Figure 8). Life is exciting for most (73%, Figure 9). When compared to the general population of the United States, homeschool graduates are just more content. 

Appreciating their “alma mater” (and “pater”) 

For parents who sometimes wonder whether they are doing the right thing by homeschooling their children, it will be an encouragement to know that 95% of the homeschool graduates surveyed are glad that they were homeschooled (Table 3). In the opinion of the homeschool graduates, homeschooling has not hindered them in their careers or education. Eighty-two percent would homeschool their own children. Of the 812 study participants who had children age 5 or older, 74% were already homeschooling (Figure 13).


The results of Dr. Ray‘s cutting-edge research defuse long-held false criticisms of homeschooling and seem to indicate that homeschooling produces successful adults who are actively involved in their communities and who continue to value education for themselves and their children.