20 Successful Homeschool Alums

In this era when mandatory education has long become a requirement for the creation of productive citizens for the good of society, the idea of homeschooling and education away from established academic institutions is still quite misunderstood and misplaced.

Most of the time, people think it’s for rich kids with social and attitude problems who can’t perform and thrive in the classroom, but this couldn’t be more wrong.

Homeschooling is more than just a glorified term for tutoring and letting children slack off early in their lives, but a viable way for turning the young and naive into mature adults with intelligence and understanding of the working of the real world.

There are many great people who were homeschooled and went on to become successful and productive in their own right. Here are 20 of them who are certainly no slackers:

Benjamin Franklin

The renowned statesman and polymath who became one of the most brilliant minds during America’s early history as an independent nation had attended grammar school from ages 8 to 10, but then continued education on his own through voracious reading. His parents wanted him to become a clergyman, but he had other ideas.

Condoleezza Rice

No matter what you think of her politics, Condoleezza Rice is a remarkable woman who was homeschooled and later went on to get a Ph.D. in political science.

She would then become the 66th United States Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009.

C. S. Lewis

The famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia was a polymath who was into literature, theology, medieval history, and broadcasting, among other things.

He was homeschooled before being sent to the Wynyard School in 1908 at the age of 10.

Erwin Schrodinger

The man who came up with Schrodinger equation that has become a fundamental equation in quantum mechanics and the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment that made it easier for laymen to understand the weird but enlightening nature of quantum mechanics was also homeschooled earlier in his life.

Tim Tebow

Known for his unorthodox play, the star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner was one of the famous examples of homeschooled athletes who faced the challenge of seeking the same opportunities as regular students in the athletic field.

Frank Lloyd Wright


He was a prolific American architect who designed more than 1,000 structures and the pioneer of what would become the philosophy of organic architecture.

He was also a leader of the Prairie School of architecture and developed the the Usonian home concept which had an influence in urban planning in the US.

Margaret Atwood

She is a poet, novelist, and environmental activist who has won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.

She also invented the LongPen, a remote signing device that allowed people to write in ink anywhere in the world through the Internet.

Thomas Alva Edison

Despite the facts that have recently popped up regarding him and his inventions, he is still an inspiration for anyone who has ever been called “dull” by their teachers.

He was homeschooled by his mother after spending only three months in school as his teacher thought of him as “addled”.

Julian Assange

Perhaps it explains his rather unique personality, but it also most likely paved the way for his career as a hacker and later the figurehead of WikiLeaks, the controversial online publisher of secret information that has been changing the world as we speak.

Abraham Lincoln

One of the greatest American presidents in history was privately tutored as a young man. Neighbors and family members thought of him as lazy due to his interest in reading and writing since they lived in the frontier, where males were expected to do hard labor.

Despite that, he was also physically strong and is one of the best historical examples of the successful coupling of brains and brawn.

The Polgar Sisters

They are three successful chess players from Budapest, Hungary who were homeschooled by their father, Laszlo Polgar. A Hungarian Jewish chess teacher and educational psychologist, Laszlo wanted to prove to the world that it’s possible to deliberately develop world-class chess players, believing that “geniuses are made, not born.”

Judit and Susan Polgar would go on to become the strongest and second strongest women chess players in the world respectively, while Sofia Polgar was herself a strong chess player who went on to become a chess teacher and an artist.

Virginia Woolf

She is a famous writer who was homeschooled and extensively read the literary classics contained in her father’s library, which most likely led her to becoming a writer herself. She would go on to become one of the foremost figures in modernist literature during the 20th century.

Augusta Ada Lovelace

At a time when women were still marginalized, Countess Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and one of the foremost mathematical minds in her time.

She would later pioneer what would become computer programming due to her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, an immensely complicated machine that became known as the world’s first ever computer.

Agatha Christie

Another female writer on this list, Agatha Christie is known for her crime novels that were influential to the genre that we know now as the murder mystery.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists her as the best-selling novelist of all time with around 2 billion copies sold, just behind Shakespeare’s works and the Bible (which are not novels).

Benoit Mandelbrot

The pioneer of fractal geometry didn’t do well in school as a child and was homeschooled by his uncle from the age of 12.

His great contributions include understanding the states of randomness in financial markets, the theory of roughness in geometry, coining the term “fractal” to create a whole new field of geometry, and the Mandelbrot set that has been widely recognized as one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mathematics.

Beatrix Potter

As you may have noticed by now, a lot of famous writers were homeschooled. In the case of Beatrix Potter, the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she never received a formal education at all.

Despite that, she went on to become an illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and the writer of a famous series of children’s books featuring a mischievous anthropomorphic rabbit living in the British countryside.

Joseph Priestley

He was the founder of the first Unitarian church in America, but he also discovered oxygen and became the father of modern chemistry.

Having been ill in his youth with tuberculosis while preparing to enter the ministry, he taught himself mathematics and several languages during his recovery.

Ansel Adams

Arguably the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, Ansel got fed up with the monotony of the classroom at the age of 12 and started rebelling against teachers.

Seeing that he had no respect for formal education, his father decided to end it and homeschooled him in Greek, algebra, and the English classics, as well as the natural wonders of the ocean and the beaches near their San Francisco home.

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