According to the 2020 U.S. Department of Education, around 3.4% of American students are homeschooled, and that number is rising every year. That small percentage of parents opt to teach their children at home for numerous reasons, including a more lax curriculum, to avoid bullies, or because their child is already making strides in a high-profile career.
While most parents decide to send their kids to public or private schools, various entertainers, inventors, and even government officials prove that success can happen without a stereotypical education. Don't believe us? Allow Sandra Day O'Connor, Alexander Graham Bell, and more to prove otherwise!
Tim Tebow Is The First Homeschooler To Win A Heisman
Former professional football player and now professional baseball player Tim Tebow has never been shy about the fact that he was homeschooled. Growing up, his parents wanted all of their children to have an in-home education due to their faith. And now he's honored to be the only homeschooler to ever win a Heisman Trophy.
When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Tebow said, "A lot of times people have this stereotype of homeschoolers as not very athletic – it's like, go win a spelling bee or something like that – it's an honor for me to be the first one to do that."
Sandra Day O'Connor Was Taught On Her Family's Arizona Ranch
Before she became the first woman to hold a seat as a United States Supreme Court Justice in 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was a little girl studying on her family's remote cattle ranch in Arizona. From a young age, O'Connor's mother took it upon herself to teach her daughter how to read, write, and of course, how to properly work around the ranch.
Later, she was sent to an all-girl private school in El Paso, Texas, where she was formally taught. According to her book, Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest, she would have preferred reading and riding all day at the ranch!
After The Mickey Mouse Club, Christina Aguilera Was Teased
Singer Christina Aguilera found fame early in her career, being part of the ensemble cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. While most people would think kids at school would want to be friends with a television star, Aguilera was teased by her peers to the point of begging her parents to be homeschooled.
Four years later, the pop-star flew straight to the top of the entertainment industry, releasing the hit "Reflection" and being signed by RCA. It was the first of many hit singles the singer would release throughout her successful music career.
Venus And Serena Williams Were Homeschooled By Their Father
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were homeschooled by their father from elementary school all the way through high school. Of course, their parents were more concerned about the two sisters getting the best tennis training possible, as they both showed a huge affinity for the sport from a young age.
The two went on to have hugely successful professional careers in the sport. So far, Serena has won 73 Women's Singles Titles while Venus has 49 under her belt. And both have won two gold Olympic medals.
Simone Biles Thinks Homeschooling Made Her More Flexible
To focus on her competitive gymnastic career, Simon Biles opted to take the route of homeschooling, starting at the age of 13. Biles admits that her schooling and overall childhood wasn't exactly what one would call "normal," but it is something that helped her become flexible in her daily life.
Between her studies, training, and competitions, Biles had learned the sacred art of organization thanks to her homeschooling. Something she doesn't think would have happened with a typical public school education. Now, she is currently the most decorated American gymnast, with a total of 30 combined World Championship and Olympic medals.
Thomas Edison Was A "Difficult Child"
According to his public school teachers, genius Thomas Edison was a difficult child to teach. With so many complaints coming from teachers, Edison's mother opted to pull him out of school at the age of seven; deciding homeschooling might work better for the young boy.
Considering his success as an inventor, it's safe to say Edison's mother did a fine job teaching her son! Even before he went and invented the lightbulb, as a teen, Edison produced his own newspaper, the Grand Trunk Herald. Before he turned the age of 19, it looked as though Edison had a knack for creating.
Misty Copeland Wanted To Focus On Dancing
In tenth grade, Misty Copeland decided she wanted to focus on dance. She dropped out of public school and began a homeschooling curriculum led by a friend of her drill team coach, Cynthia Bradley. That same year, in 1998, she won first place at the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards.
A few years, more awards, a promotion or two later, Copeland found herself as the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Copeland can now proudly say that after the dance company's 75-years history, she is the first African-American dancer to be promoted to the role. Not bad for a girl who didn't start formal lessons until 13!
Jamie Anderson Had A Spiritual Homeschooling Experience
Before winning gold in the inaugural Women's Slopestyle Event at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Jamie Anderson was at home in South Lake Tahoe, being taught the ways of life by her mother. And when we say "the ways of life," we mean it! Anderson and her six siblings had an unconventional homeschooling experience.
When asked, her mother said, "I didn't push my kids to read or write. They got to be free, building their bodies, protecting their spirits and minds, and not being pushed or pressured. There wasn't a big push for them to read and write and do arithmetic. Character building was more important than academics."
Mystery Writer Agatha Christie Taught Herself To Read By Four
As a young girl, mystery writer Agatha Christie taught herself how to read by the age of four, much to her mother's dismay. Although her sister attended boarding school, Christie's mother wanted her to have an at-home education.
As a result, the writer's parents and sister oversaw her studies in reading, writing, arithmetic, as well as the piano. Ironically, her mother wanted her to become an opera star. Instead, Christie decided to travel around Egypt, a place that would hold significance in some of her future books. Some of her more popular novels include Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None.
Justin Bieber Wanted To Chase His Pop-Star Dreams
Before he catapulted to international stardom, Justin Bieber went to a public school in Canada. Then, when he was only 12, he was discovered on YouTube, signed to Usher's label, and began releasing hit single after hit single. Even before his first single came out, The Biebs had to make a choice, return to public school or venture into homeschooling.
He opted for the latter, taking online courses, so he was able to tour around the world and further promote his singing career. He wound up graduating in 2012 and continues to have a very successful career despite his "unorthodox education."
Taylor Swift Studied While On The Road
When your career launches you into international pop-singer stardom, education tends to take a backseat to your career. At least, that's what happened to Taylor Swift. After the release and success of her first album, Swift no longer was able to attend regular school, deciding homeschooling was going to be her new educational avenue.
With the help of tutors, Swift made it a priority to study wherever she was, even if it so happened to be a stuffy tour bus. With her incredible focus, Swift was able to graduate from high school ahead of schedule. And, considering her ratings at all times, she's had quite a career!
Maria Sharapova's Parents Wanted Her To Focus On Tennis
Russian professional tennis player Maria Sharapova first picked up a racket when she was only four years old. By the time she was nine, her parents had enrolled her in the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida. Then, when she turned 11, Sharapova's parents thought it best to homeschool their daughter so she could focus on tennis.
The extra training definitely paid off! Sharapova won her first international competition at the age of 13. She's also a silver Olympic medal holder and the only Russian player to hold a career Grand Slam. Needless to say, she's had quite a successful professional career.
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Was Homeschooled Along With His 14 Siblings
Along with his other 13 siblings, all of whom had a variety of physical issues, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was homeschooled throughout his childhood. Taught by his mother, French governess, and his aunt, Roosevelt wound up earning his way into one of the top ivy league schools in the country, Harvard.
And his success story doesn't end there! Roosevelt eventually became the 26th President of the United States as well as the leader of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as The Rough Riders. Let's not forget that he was also the inspiration behind the "teddy bear!"
Christopher Paolini Was Able To Focus On Reading And Writing
Homeschooled for most of his education, author Christopher Paolini graduated high school at the young age of 15, after taking a set of accredited online courses from the American School of Correspondence. Instead of heading to college, Paolini began writing what would eventually become the critically-acclaimed novel Eragon.
In 2002, at the age of 19, Paolini published the novel and began traveling around to 135 various schools and libraries to promote his work. It didn't take long for kids and teenagers to be entrapped in his medieval world of magic and dragons. He went on to write three more books in the series, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.
Alexander Graham Bell Was More Of A Self-Learner
When he was young, Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his father. But it didn't take long for Bell to realize schooling wasn't for him, dropping out at the young age of 15. It took some time, but the brilliant soon-to-be inventor of the telephone eventually developed a love for learning.
Despite being a mediocre student for the majority of his life, Bell revealed his first invention at the age of 12, paving the way for him to hold more than a dozen patents throughout his extraordinary inventing career. It goes to show, not all geniuses take years of schooling to do something great!
Bethany Hamilton Was Able To Focus On Surfing
Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton first got on a surfboard when she was eight, earning her first sponsorship when she was nine. Once she began competing on a regular basis, Hamilton began taking her schooling home, enrolling in the American School of Correspondence, so she had more flexible time to be in the water.
Hamilton is now one of the most inspirational surfers in the world. After surviving a tiger shark attack, Hamilton took only a month to recover before re-teaching herself how to swim and surf with one arm. In 2011, a major motion picture was made about her life, Soul Surfer.
Miley Cyrus Graduated Ahead Of Schedule
Believe it or not, Miley Cyrus had as normal a childhood as anyone can have when their dad is country star, Billy Ray Cyrus. It wasn't until she became a household name with the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana that Cyrus had to change a few things around.
In order to stick with the show and get an education, Cyrus started homeschooling to manage her busy schedule better. With the help of multiple on-set tutors, Cyrus was actually able to graduate high school ahead of schedule. Living her dream and getting a diploma sounds like Cyrus got, wait for it, the "Best of Both Worlds."
Emma Watson Studied On The Set Of Harry Potter
Actress Emma Watson has been in the public eye since she was ten years old, having landed the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise. Like many of her fellow young Potter castmates, Watson had a tutor while on set, keeping up with her schooling just as her book smart character would have done.
While she wasn't on the job, Watson continued her studies at home before continuing on to higher education at Brown University, where she graduated with a degree in English Literature. She has since appeared in many films and was even appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador, helping found the HeForShe campaign.
Ryan Gosling Had Trouble Paying Attention In Public School
It's no secret to fans that Ryan Gosling wasn't the best in school. By the age of ten, he still couldn't read, he was being bullied, and he had little to no focus when it came to his studies. So, his mom decided it was best to homeschool her son.
Not even two years later, though, Gosling got his big break, joining the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. Now, he's one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. When asked about his homeschooling, Gosling has said that it gave him "a sense of autonomy that I've never really lost."
The Jonas Brothers Would Have Been Homeschooled No Matter What
Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas have been homeschooled their entire life. And, according to their mother, since the family is devout Christians, the boys would have been homeschooled regardless if their music careers had taken off or not.
As fans of the Jo-Bros well know, their place in the music industry was set by the time they were teenagers. First formed as a brother band and then taking things solo for a while, The Jonas Brothers have always had a loyal following no matter what ventures they pursued.