As a homeschooled student or homeschooling parent, you know what it is to live outside your comfort zone. Homeschooling means going against the current tide in education. Many homeschoolers live in public school districts that are well regarded academically. And often there are highly regarded private schools in the area as well. But expense and convenience are rarely the concern for homeschooling parents and students. You want an education that is not just rigorous but also clean and honest. You are fiscally, socially, and religiously conservative, and you are tired of an educational system, whether public or private, that flouts your values and sensibilities.

But now consider this: with all the years and effort you’ve expended on homeschooling, do you really want to go to a college that reinforces the negative values that made you turn to homeschooling in the first place? Perhaps you think that your homeschooling education will inoculate you against the negative influences you’ll encounter at a conventional secular or even religious institution of higher learning. But think again. Polling data show that college destroys many a young person’s faith, replacing it with a secular vision of reality. For instance, 70 to 80 percent of church-going young people leave church and don’t come back upon entering college. Homeschoolers are not immune to the corrosive effects of secular higher education.

Below is SuperScholar’s ranking of the top ten colleges for homeschoolers. All of these are not just private schools but intensely independent private schools, refusing to conform to prevailing cultural currents. For instance, the two schools at the top of the list, Grove City and Hillsdale, refuse all federal funding. Many schools that you might expect to see on this list are not there. Take some of the better known schools belonging to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, or CCCU. Many of the CCCU schools have embraced increasingly secular ideals (such as political correctness, theological liberalism, evolutionary naturalism, etc.). Only one school on the list (Biola) belongs to the CCCU. Similarly, many Catholic schools are Catholic in name only. The Catholic schools on this list take their Catholicism seriously.

Here is our ranking of the top schools for homeschooled students:

#1 Grove City College

In first position is Grove City College. It is uniformly excellent academically, maintains its theological heritage without being dogmatic, and stresses interesting social and political distinctives, such as the Austrian approach to free-market economics. Located near Pittsburgh, its focus is on “faith and freedom.” Its humanities core curriculum is friendly to the Judeo-Christian Western tradition and to the ideals of freedom that spurred the founding fathers of the United States.

#2 Hillsdale College

If your interests are mainly cultural and political rather than religious, then Hillsdale College may be the place for you. Located in south central Michigan roughly half-way between Chicago and Detroit, its graduates and supporters have been enormously influential in shaping conservative politics in America. It is excellent in what it attempts to do, though its range is somewhat limited. For theology and the natural science, we recommend other schools on this list.

#3 Biola University

Formerly “The Bible Institute of Los Angeles,” Biola University has long since shed its narrow focus as a Bible school, though without losing its commitment to biblical truth. It is excellent in its coverage of a broad array of disciplines. Moreover, its Torrey Honors Program is second to none as honors programs go — the graduates from this program stack up against the brightest at any school in the Unites States. Located just outside Los Angeles, it offers a rich cultural and intellectual life.

#4 University of Dallas

University of Dallas campus life on Friday, November 18, 2011.

The University of Dallas is a private, Catholic university dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue as the proper and primary ends of an education. With a nationally-recognized 60-credit-hour Core curriculum rooted in the Great Books as its cornerstone, UD offers students a life-transforming opportunity to learn from the greatest thinkers and authors of Western civilization while also enabling them to pursue their areas of interest through a specific major.

#5 The King’s College

Located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan just a block from the New York Stock Exchange, The King’s College offers perhaps the richest cultural and social milieu of any school on this list. Its full-time faculty are excellent, though few in number. To make up the shortfall, it draws on outstanding adjunct faculty from the East Coast. If you are interested in political and cultural engagement, this is the school for you. At the same time, its list of majors is quite limited, so don’t go there to find yourself. Know why you’re there.

#6 Liberty University

With an on-campus student body approaching 20,000 and perhaps the fastest growing online education program in the world (with 50,000 students), Liberty University is by far the largest school on this list. Its programs and faculty are of more varied quality, but some are outstanding. Gary Habermas, for instance, is the foremost authority on the Resurrection of Jesus. And its law school, with a think-tank in Washington, D.C. and focus on natural law, offers a refreshing counterblast to much conventional legal education. Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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#7 Ave Maria University

Founded by Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, Ave Maria University attempts to faithfully inculcate the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church while providing a top-notch classical liberal arts education. Looking to Thomas Aquinas for inspiration and example, Ave Maria University strives in its courses of study to advance human culture by promoting dialogue between faith and reason. The school is located near Naples, Florida.

#8 Patrick Henry College

Founded through the Home School Legal Defense Association, for which it serves as the organization’s headquarters, Patrick Henry College epitomizes the homeschooling movement. The school is small and its offerings limited, with a focus on liberal arts and government. Located only 50 miles from Washington, D.C., this is a school to seriously consider if you want a future in politics. Unlike other schools on this list, Patrick Henry College requires students to sign a statement of faith affirming core Christian doctrines.

#9 Franciscan University of Steubenville

If you are serious about the Catholic tradition, affirming the unity of faith and knowledge and committed to papal and magisterial teachings, then Franciscan University of Steubenville is for you. The most popular majors include theology and catechetics, but the range of course offerings is wide. The curricular requirements for the baccalaureate are somewhat loose, so it’s possible to avoid taking the courses you should to become a well-educated person (plan out your course of study carefully if you attend this school). FUS is located in Steubenville, Ohio.

#10 New Saint Andrews College

Located in Moscow, Idaho, New Saint Andrews College is the higher educational arm of the classical Christian education movement. The movement and college, both founded by Douglas Wilson (interviewed here at SuperScholar), have snowballed in the last decade. The course of study at New Saint Andrews College, though narrow and well-defined (Latin, logic, and rhetoric loom large), offers disciplines for the mind that many students find helpful for equipping them to deal with the challenges of modernity and postmodernity.