College Considerations for Unschoolers
I know a lot of unschooled kids who have gone to college - each has done it in their own way. Some took college entrance exams and did so well that they were accepted and even given scholarships based on test scores. Some created portfolios or narrative transcripts and were able to get interviews and were accepted on that basis. Some applied to schools that are looking particularly for nontraditional students. Some went to community colleges to get a college transcript and used that in their transfer application. Some took extension courses at the college and then applied with that as their transcript.
Response by April Morris, on the Unschooling Basics list in 2012, to a mom who was worried about college admission:
As with most things in life....there isn't any one right answer. One things is for sure though...no on can undo the past. So really, wondering if you did the "right" thing or not doesn't matter. What matters is how to go from where you are now. And the reality is, lots of kids at 17 feel what your son is feeling, regardless of how they were schooled. Lots of kids get to his age going through public schools, private schools, homeschooled...and feel overwhelmed at how to get from 'here' to 'there'. So on that count, take a deep breath, relax and realize the feelings and fears are not uncommon. As far as where to go...there are a lot of options...and I'm sure you will hear them, so I will just share what has worked in our family.
Accepted to School of Art, but...
Daughter got accepted last February at age 16 into The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in spite of poor SAT math scores. It was the strength of her portfolio, other SAT scores, and an essay that she didn't even let me read. So, take that, all ye who bug us unschoolers about gaps in our child's education and wonder how our kids will ever get into a good college. And also, take that, you economic machine of "Pay us money and we'll help get your child into a good college." The same kind of people who tell kids they can't learn without a trained teacher also tell parents their children can't get into college without buying the books, guides, coaching, countless extracurricular activities, and stellar grades in every subjuect to round out their application. My daughter had/did none of that. She just took the SAT, and sent in her portfolio, and wrote an essay. She has no extra-curricular activities, fancy or otherwise. She a quiet artist/thinker.
But she has declined SAIC because she feels Chicago and the school are too big. She can't get in the school of her choice this fall, Pacific Northwest College of Art (in Portland), because their dorms require you to be 18 to sign a contract. She interviewed at Reed in Portland last fall and plans to apply there as well for next fall. She is not really interested in driving, and Portland has wonderful, efficient mass transit.
We do tell people we're unschoolers, because it has worked like "you" said it would (you, Sandra, in addition to the rest of the unschooling universe). And a happy, confident, capable, intelligent, curious, "socialized" young adult is the proof standing right before them. What's to argue?
About community college: She took a class at age 13.5 in a subject she knew very well and loved. Apparently, a paragraph in the syllabus is now necessary a some schools to instruct students on how to address the professor, with unacceptable examples given - street lingo, dude language like "Yo, Prof" and "Hey, Dude-man". The syllabus also promised class discussion, but the only things the students ever said were variations on "Will this be on the test? Do I have to write this down?". She refuses to ever go back to a community college. The students acted like they were in grade 13 and had to be there. There was no passion or love of learning, just a "what do I have to do to get a passing grade" mentality.
When others ask how unschoolers will get along in the real world, I want to turn it around and wonder why unschoolers would even WANT to be IN the real world. Of course, that is silly and unrealistic. That real world often seems full of schooled kids who hate learning, act immature, and won't willingly speak to adults or others not their age. And the adults don't respect children or teens, use them as the butt of jokes, order them around like servants and trivialize their problems and very existence. It's hard to feel comfortable around those kinds of behaviors when you know what nice lives unschoolers enjoy. We try to model behaviors that, hopefully, others will notice, and stick up for kids who are getting verbally slammed.
WUE (Western States Undergraduate Exchange) ProgramHi all,
We just got back from a trip to Colorado. Amanda wants to attend the Community College in Lamar which provides an Associates of Applied Science in Equine Management.
During our visit with the school admissions staff we discussed the WUE(Western States Undergraduate Exchange) Program and I thought that I would post a little about it as until we started the research we weren't aware of it. The Wooee(WUE) as it is known is an understanding between several western states to give students a lower tuition so that they will not be paying the outrageous Out-of-State tuition. And there is also a Reciprocity program where some of the Western states provide In-State Tuition for Out-of-State students.
This particular school maybe able to offer the reciprocity and a discount on dorm costs.
So....if your older teens don't want to hang out in NM for some reason or there's a program they are interested in in a Western State check it out.
I may be the only one who didn't know this but I thought I'd throw it out!
Sheila (posted on NewMexicoHomeschooling, June 2003, a yahoogroups e-mail list)
TranscriptsLinks to books you might want to read are below
Kelly Lovejoy's response to this comment:
As I said earlier, I will be putting a transcript together (probably along with a narrative) for her and just wondering what I'll put on it, if she doesn't complete more "traditional" classes. I know, not very unschooly of me, but I just think that a more traditional route might be easier for school people to understand if she does decide to pursue college at some point.So....your goal is have her unique learning experience look like every other traditional high school student's in the US?
Responses to a question on Unschooling Discussion about transcripts:
I have three teenage daughters, 13, 16, and 19. The older two have extensive college credits from the local community college and plan to go on to transfer to universities as juniors.
I talked to the admissions officer at Stanford University. He told me that if an unschooled kid made up a transcript that made it look like they'd taken classes and gotten grades, and if he found out later that it was all made up, that they'd consider the kid had gotten in fraudulently and they'd evict him from the school. He said he wanted the truth about what the kid had been busy doing during those years, not something made up. He said that courses listed and graded by a homeschooling parent didn't mean much to him anyway because ALL homeschooling parents pretty much give their kids all "A's."
AND he said he'd be FAR more likely to take a close look at a kid without a traditional transcript, too.
When we chose to unschool, we chose to NOT school and that meant we don't get the trappings of school. So - to later make up something that implies that we DID school, that is clearly dishonest. I'd far rather have my kid never go to college then to go based on a complete fabrication like that.
But it really is not a choice of "lie or miss out" - to create a transcript that describes what the child REALLY did, that is honest and can be pretty wonderful, is very possible. It doesn't have to list courses he didn't take with grades he didn't earn and it doesn't have to be done under the pretense that he "did school."
If you ask them, colleges will say, "Yes, he must have a transcript." But the transcript can very often be a narrative, not a course/grade listing. Even when they want it in a more traditional format, it can be without grades, just a list of subjects that the kid has spent time learning something about during the previous few years. It certainly does not have to be a course list divided into semesters with credits and grades EVEN if the college says that is what they want, when they actually get the application, they'll review it. IF the student has high SAT or ACT scores, they will barely look at it.
There ARE universities that will not take homeschoolers based on coursework at all - unschoolers or otherwise. University of California is one of those. They have coursework that is required and it has to be pre-certified that it meets their requirements. This means they have to have, in advance, approved the textbooks and subject matter for the courses. Most public schools have had their courses approved and some private schools. But there is no way an unschooler is going to qualify based on "coursework". Still, unschoolers get into UCLA and Berkeley and other UC's all the time. They often do it based on high SAT scores and they also do it based on community college coursework. And all schools have a "special admissions" category.
When you step outside the mainstream, it is not honest to suddenly jump into the middle of the river and pretend you've been swimming along with everybody else all those years. And, it is the nonmainstream activities that will get a child noticed anyway - pretending to have done coursework just like everybody else makes the kid look just like everybody else. Not an advantage for getting into a prestigious university and not necessary.
More on teens or parenting unschoolers.
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