Home-schooling advocate Karl Bunday used to get a lot of blank looks when he visited college fairs in his native Minne-sota and pitched the virtues of students educated around the kitchen table.
Nearly a decade later, things have changed.
''It seems like this time, everybody has heard of home schooling,'' said Bunday, who operates the Web site learninfreedom.org about ''taking responsibility for your own learning.''
Until recently, educators say, home-schooled students mostly gravitated to small, primarily religious colleges. Now, as the movement keeps gaining in popularity, they can be found on many even most campuses nationwide.
''As the numbers (of home schooled) have increased, and there have also been more admitted to college, they've actually performed quite well,'' said Barmak Nassirian, a policy analyst with the American Associ-ation of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
While exact figures are not available, the number of middle and high school students educated at home is estimated at between 1 million and 2 million.
Such young people have grown up academically with a greater emphasis on learning rather than testing compared with conventionally educated students, said Laura Derrick of the Home Education Network.
Derrick thinks colleges are starting to recognize that.
Schools are ''looking at kids as human beings and as people who bring a specific experience to their school rather than just a grade or a grade point average,'' she said from her home in Austin, Texas.
Educated at home from kin-dergarten through high school, Holly Porter said the flexibility of home schooling made the transition to university life easy.
''It prepared me better than going to a regular high school would have because I was independently motivated,'' said Porter, now a graduate student at the University of Denver.
Asher Albertson was home schooled until age 16, when he started attending classes at a community college.
Now a junior at the Univer-sity of Wyoming, Albertson said finding his way to classrooms was the most difficult adjustment to college life.
''Before, it was the dining room table,'' he joked.
Academically, Albertson added, the move to campus was nearly seamless.
''In college, you go to class, but you spend most of your time studying outside of class getting ready for tests, so it wasn't much different from what I was doing before,'' he said.
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