Unschoolers in College
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More accounts regarding college, many about unschoolers still in their teens
In June, 2012 someone had written:

I have soooo many doubts as to doing the right thing for them. I don't want to be the reason my children dont go to college if that is what they aspire (by not providing them with the "right" tools). I know that I need to do some work on myself, and I have for the past few years and come a long way, but I still have this "thought" that college is this graaaaaand place that will safe your life, when I know it isn't, but it creeps up so much, and then I push my daughter to read a page a day, or 2 pages if she skipped a day,

On June 16, 2012, Pam Sorooshian responded:

I have three unschooled kids now in their 20's. Today is my middle daughter's college graduation ceremony. She graduates with highest honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa (the most prestigious honor society). She has a double major—history and drama. She's going on to graduate school in the fall and plans to get a PhD. My oldest daughter just got her masters degree in counseling and works as a family therapist. My youngest daughter has an AA degree and a certificate in Interpreting for the Deaf and is a junior in college working on her BA degree.

Unschooling seemed to have given them HUGE advantages in college. They were, frankly, shocked at the poor preparation and attitudes of most other students. Other students seemed to them to be "going through the motions," but were not really interested in learning. It is hard to explain, but all three of my kids and all of their unschooled friends who have gone to college have repeatedly tried to articulate that there seemed to be "something wrong" with so many of the other students and that they seemed actually resistant to learning. The unschooled kids were there because they wanted to be there, first of all. They knew they had a choice and that makes a big difference. A sense of coercion leads to either outright rebellion, passive resistance, or apathy and my kids saw all of those playing out among the majority of their fellow students.

I have been a college professor for 36 years and have taught at community colleges and prestigious universities. VERY few students are there to learn - they are there to jump through the required hoops to get the degree. The unschooled kids (I've had a few in my classes) far outshine most of the other students. Even unschooled kids I didn't think of as academic-leaning kids have done extremely well in college if they decided to go for their own reasons.

I don't think everybody should go to college. I don't think it should be held up as the only legitimate goal or as THE way to measure success. I think that there are other fantastic alternatives and unschooled kids are well prepared to do all KINDS of things, college being just one of them. My kids love college—they've really really enjoyed it. They've taken advantage of the huge pool of human and physical resources it offers. They've used the labs and studios—ceramics, photography, astronomy, computers, automotive technology, music studios, technical theater shop, and on and on. They've gone to events, festivals, speakers, trips, shows. Roxana recently saw Rainn Wilson (Dwight on The Office) speak about the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran). Roya just got back from a week-long camping trip with 20 college students on an island in the Pacific Ocean - it is part of a college course that she took as a student and now she is hired as a staff person. Yesterday was Rosie's advising appointment at the university she'll be attending in the fall. She's a Deaf Studies major and it was awesome for her to be in a place (Deaf Studies Department) where everyone was using ASL—her entire advising appointment where they went over all the course offerings and her interests and background was all held in ASL. (She's hearing, by the way, but is an interpreter and loves ASL.) The National Center of Deafness is on her campus - a building filled to overflowing with DVD's - all in ASL. Most of Rosie's professors will be Deaf. Rosie is going to be living in a special on-campus community that is focused on exploring Los Angeles together—going to museums and interesting sites. She's planning on joining a sorority and an a capella singing group.

IF college is what they want, unschooled kids can do way more than just "get in" or just "go"—they can revel in it and take advantage of the amazing pool of resources and opportunities that colleges can offer.

AND, if they are interested in going a different direction, they can do that with the same gusto! Blake Boles' new book, "Better than College," is full of all kinds of ideas for alternatives. Even though all three of my kids ended up choosing college for very specific reasons, and have totally loved it, I think the alternatives are also really amazing and I would have been happy to have supported my kids in other endeavors!

If you push your daughter to read or do other schoolish things, she will learn things - among those, she will learn to resist, rebel, or become as apathetic as most college students. IF she does go to college, she probably won't get the most out of it. She'll very likely be one of the vast majority of students who does the bare minimum, doesn't make connections on her own, focuses on grades instead of learning, and just puts in her time to get the degree. It is a sad waste.

There are only a handful of college degrees that guarantee jobs and income. Engineering usually does. Nursing. I teach mostly business majors—the majority of those are not going to find any better job after graduation than they would have had if they'd spent those four years working. Many college students should be rethinking what they're doing there.

My kids chose college because: 1) Roya wants to be a licensed family therapist and a masters degree is required for that; 2) Roxana LOVES academic research and wants to do it as a career; and 3) Rosie wants to be a RID certified ASL interpreter and, as of July 1, 2012, that will require a bachelor's degree.

Pushing school on kids is not going to make them better prepared for college. Quite the opposite.

PHOTO NOTES: Lifted from Facebook, every one. I don't know who took them. The top photo is Roya, Roxana and Rosie. In the green cap and gown is Rosie (with her boyfriend, Daniel) and Roya is at the bottom left. —Sandra

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