What do self-directed learners go on to do after their 'high school' years?

Are they limited in their options?

These are common questions for families considering self-directed learning. While there is no singular source for this information, we can look at data from a few self-directed learning centers and surveys of self-directed learners for the answers.

1. A survey of grown unschoolers found that 83% of the participants had gone on to pursue higher education including bachelors and graduate programs, community college, and vocational training. 44% had completed or were full-time students in a bachelors degree program. Colleges included Ivy League and State Universities and Liberal Arts colleges.

2. Another great article, sourcing data from alumni of North Star, a self-directed learning centers for teens with more than 20 years of history, found that "72% of North Star alumni move on to Community College, Four-Year College, or a formal Certificate or Training Program" directly after moving on from the program in their late teen years, and 81% attended such a program overall (as their first activity or at a later time).

3. A K-12 self-directed school called The Circle School that has been around since 1984 did an analysis of all graduates in 2015, offering 31 years of data. They broke down data by family income and compared their averages to national averages in the US. They found that "Circle School graduates attend college at rates greater than national averages," at every income level, and that "Overall, 53 to 62% of Circle School graduates 25 years and over hold at least one degree, compared with 42% of Americans 25 years and over." Additionally, "Circle School graduates 25 years and over hold more Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees than Americans 25 years and over."

4. A state educational inspection report of the Summerhill School, another self-directed school in England, found in the most recent years at the time of the inspection (2013-2015), "Results at GCSE (State test at the end of high school, likened to SAT/ACT) have been similar to the national average. . . those at IGSCEs have been similar to worldwide norms," and that "pupils of all ages develop exceptional attitudes to their learning," and "pupils display strong self-discipline and effort," among other benefits.

5. This article includes information from studies of the Sudbury Valley School, the original democratic free school in the US. "The results of their study show that a large majority (87%) of the graduates continue on to some form of further education; 4-year college, community college, performing arts school, culinary institute, etc."

In terms of work, Sudbury Valley found that "42% of the students who responded to the survey are either self employed or involved in entrepreneurial situations."

Overall, we can see that self-directed learners easily get into colleges and universities at rates higher than average (regardless of family financial background).

Rather than being limited in their options, self-directed learners do very well in both post-secondary education!

See our Career Outcomes article for data on careers for SDE students!

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