PORTAGE, Mich. — Brooke Rowland of Portage is 17 years old and entering her senior year at Western Michigan University, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette. She is one of a number of home-schooled students nationally who enter college well before the typical age, The Gazette reported.

Rowland was a full-time student at Kalamazoo Valley Community College at age 14, then transferred to WMU at 16, according to The Gazette. Two teen-age siblings also are in college.

University officials told The Gazette that home-schoolers tend to be independent learners and critical thinkers, possibly from being allowed to explore topics in a nontraditional way in a home environment. They also said that parents of home-schoolers should consider the nonacademic side of campus life as well as the academic offerings before enrolling, The Gazette said. For example, some colleges require freshmen to live on campus regardless of age.

Dual enrollment — attending high school and college at the same time — is also a way of transitioning to college, officials told The Gazette.

Studies show that home-school students tend to score above average on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT — both of which figure prominently in college admissions decisions — but they attend college at roughly the same rate as their public school peers, The Gazette reported.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Homeschooling can pave fast track to college," Aug. 12, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "At Home At Delta College," Feb. 23, 2007