Category: College

What are some strong extracurricular activities for homeschooled students?

Specifically for elite college admissions.

Written 29 May

Excellent Sheep

When you read this book (by a guy who spent time on an Ivy League admissions committee), you will learn that there are two basic types of candidates – “well-rounded”, and “pointy”.

Well-rounded candidates are the run-of-the-mill applicants who you would expect to encounter – valedictorians; 5.0 GPA; tons of extracurricular activities and volunteer activities, etc.

Pointy candidates are more interesting. They are the concert-level musicians; the national-level sports players; the coder who has developed her own application; the entrepreneur who has established a business. In short, these are the candidates who have pursued a passion … and who may not excel in any of the other candidates.

As a homeschooler, I believe that if you want your child to gain entry into an elite university, they should be pointy. But good luck with “choosing” that activity. It is probably not something you can force – it will most likely develop from your child’s passion. Therefore, look to your child to determine which to pursue.

The Middle School Years – by Rosemary Ward Labaree

This post is for the many, many homeschool families who ask me about the middle school years and how best to prepare for high school when a competitive college admission is the ultimate goal.

I’ve met many parents of middle school students who feel stranded.  They want to be prepared for the high school years that are skulking around the corner.  They want to get this right, but they’re unsure.   School administrators, grandparents, and well-meaning friends offer  “do this, do that” sound bites.  But, inertia and uncertainty prevail.

There are two distinct phases of home education, after the elementary years wind down: The Interrogatory Phase (middle school) and the Execution Phase (high school).

It is in the Interrogatory Phase that you learn what you will be doing in the Execution Phase.  The Execution Phase is a terribly busy time and as the name implies, you are putting into action all of the plans you made in the late middle school years.  If you wait until high school to ask the important questions, you will find yourself bogged down, confused, and feeling rather ineffective.

Regardless of what your long-term goals are, you should think of middle school as preparation for high school. Here are key components of middle school years:

                                                         Figure out your kid

What does my student love best and where does he/she excel?   For example:  Does she like to build things?  Is he quick with his math?  Does she read above grade level?  Can he write better than most boys his age?  Do topics in science, music, art, or history hold her attention more?

It might seem like a lot to know about your student but if you pay close attention to your days, the answers are there.  Your goal is to get an academic lock on your student and know his strengths, weaknesses, and special interests.  Pay attention to your student’s skill set and talents.  These are the headwaters from which good things can flow.


For an objective “stock-taking”, you’ll need to test. I am not a big advocate of testing, especially in elementary school, but by middle school you really need to get a fix on how your student measures up against the general population.  We are not very good scorekeepers for our own kids.

(There are many online resources for testing your student in the privacy of your home, if you prefer.  A google search will reap a harvest of them.) 

1.  You can have your older middle school student take the PSAT or the SAT.  Scores prior to 9th grade are purged – no one but you will ever see them.  You don’t have to get upset with low scores here because you will adjust down for his/her age.  For example, if your 7th grade student has an SAT math score of 500 – you should be very encouraged; that is quite good for that grade level.

2.  There is also a test called the SSAT (not administered by the College Board).  The SSAT is similar in shape to the SAT, is geared toward the middle school student, and it will give you a projected SAT score, depending on the age of your student when he takes this test.  The SSAT is a personal favorite of mine.

What does this testing accomplish?

1. You will have a reality check.

2. You will know where you need to concentrate your efforts.

3. If your student has real strength in one area, it will be revealed and you may have a ticket to gifted learning programs.

4. Since all of these achievement exams are (at minimum) 3 hours long, your student will know ahead of time what it feels like to sit through this endurance test.  Better your kid do this before it counts than do it for the first time when it really does count.


Is my student ready for high school?  Is he ready to work hard?  Does she know how to manage her time?  Does he know why he needs to do all of this work?  Are we on the same page?    

Most students do not know what they want to do with their lives.  But, they should still have goals. Without goals, how will you get them to study into the late hours of the night and on weekends when that time/need arrives.  It is very hard to push a kid who does not have a shared vision of excellence and achievement.  To instill this desire in your student, he must see the goal(s).  You should do college tours.  It might sound foolish to traipse across the campus of Columbia University with a middle school student – it is not.  Pick a beautiful day, travel without time constraint on a day when classes are in session, jump in to an organized tour or just walk the campus and hang in the nearby eateries to get a sense of the intellectual energy and excitement that you will find everywhere.   If you can get your student excited about attending ONE college, ANY college, then you are on the “go” square of the game board.  You can build goals from there.  Without this, you will find yourself parroting admonitions which will fall on deaf ears.  A student needs a tangible goal, especially if no particular career goal is present.  Invest in your student’s enthusiasm.

Does my middle school student even KNOW what hard work looks like?

This is critically important.  Your daughter might view 20 math problems per week as punitive.  Your son might think that a weekly 250 word essay is pure torture.  Most middle school students need to calibrate what they think is hard work to what hard work actually is. They need good models.  Middle school students who want to land in a competitive college need to meet other students with similar goals..  Your job is to find them. The homeschool community is filled with success stories.  Find the families who have high-achieving kids.  Ask them what they did.   If your 12 year old son or daughter sits down with a 21 year old who has a proven academic track record and they hear it straight from the source, they will never forget it.  It is golden.

To find peers, try to get your middle school student into one high-achieving program, whether online or through your local community.

                                                        From Ideas to Action Plans

During the Interrogatory Phase of the middle school years you should try out different things.  This takes time but it is worth it.   If math seems to come easy, find a math club.  If your student loves science, do science fairs.  If writing is at the top of the list, find contests and competitions to enter.  Your goal is to get some traction.  Once that happens you will see real progress. Advice for mom – get on numerous homeschool discussion loops and scour the digests from these groups nightly.  This is how you learn about cool, local opportunities.  You will  have to make a regular investment of time to do this research.  Here is a terrific website with lists and lists of competitions in science, art, history, math, computers and writing. A good place to start –

This list includes a good number of competitions for middle school students.

If a student is preparing to compete for something  – anything – he will be more focused.  Then you (mom) can reverse-engineer your school year around this event.  Big events like these actually ADD structure to your year.

                                                           Plan, Plan, Plan Some More

Once you have gathered up activities, events and competitions, you are one easy step away from creating a calendar for the year with clear goals mapped out.  Keep going with this.  Do a hypothetical 4-year high school plan.  Involve your middle school student in this.    Of course, this plan is going to morph.  But if you have no plan at all, you are bound to fall short of a high standard.

                                                                Broaden Horizons

A desire to achieve and the determination to do hard things  won’t come out of thin air.  You need to nurture it.  There are wonderful educational events run by Learning Unlimited throughout the year.  Middle school students can take exciting classes on the campuses of some of the best universities in the country for as little as $30 for a full weekend of amazing courses.  No grades are given.  University students volunteer to teach. Often a middle school student discovers an entire field of science or language they did not even know existed. Inspiration is everywhere.  Do this!  Do it as often as you can.  Get on the mailing list.  Have it on your calendar.  The MIT and Yale programs are especially good.

                                                                Your Leadership

Many years ago a homeschool family asked to meet with me.  Mom and dad could not get their kids to read books. They wanted advice.  Most home educating families know that in order to be poised for the academic world kids need to read  – a lot.  They need to read hard stuff and they need to read often.  These parents were worried.  Their kids did not have dyslexia or ADHD. They were neurotypical kids.  “Why can’t we get them to read?” they lamented.    I asked them what they (mom and dad) were currently reading, looking high and low for a sign of books.  “We don’t read, we don’t have time for it.”  Hmm.

The prescription is simple.  Kids will read more if you have a set reading time and lead by example.  Kids will also read in the absence of other forms of entertainment and if most table top surfaces hold a small stack of interesting books.

If your middle school kids are glued to glowing rectangles, have technology free hours built into the day and have good books ready to fill the gap.  It is harder now than it ever was before to encourage kids to read books.  The glowing screens hold far more appeal.  We cannot extricate ourselves from these devices entirely but we can claim back a few hours a day – this is a reasonable goal.  Lead the way on this.

                                               ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~

The middle school years are a period of intense mentorship.  It is during these years that you can establish that you and your student are on the same team.  The road to excellence is arduous, but it is made easier when the prize is clear, the goals are reasonable, and your leadership is obvious. You got this !   Godspeed !

Rosemary Laberee

Why do professors disproportionately send their children to attend liberal arts colleges?

By this I mean specifically small liberal arts colleges, usually without any graduate students, such as Pomona, Wellesley, Vassar, Claremont McKenna, or Swarthmore.

Written Oct 15, 2016

Liberal Arts

Note what Loren Pope, in his book Colleges That Change Lives, has to say about liberal arts colleges:

The colleges in this book have one primary mission: educate the undergraduate.

The little-known truth is that these colleges have been on the cutting edge of higher education for decades. Many of them have outperformed most of the rankings sweethearts in the percentages of graduates who become America’s scientists and scholars.

The reason that professors send their children to liberal arts colleges is because that’s where undergraduates get the best education.

How important is a liberal arts education?

Written Oct 11, 2016


Let’s begin by agreeing that college should change your life.”

Loren Pope begins his book, Colleges That Change Lives, with this statement. He continues to make a clear case of the value and importance of a liberal arts education. The remainder of his book profiles 40 colleges that emphasize the importance of teaching the undergraduate.

What is a liberal arts education?

It refers to an educational philosophy that embraces the value and importance of studying core academic subjects, typically comprising the humanities (literature, history, fine arts,, languages, religion, and philosophy) and the sciences (natural sciences, math, and social sciences).”

Therefore, you can get a liberal arts education at Harvard, the US Naval Academy, or your state university … or not. A liberal arts education is not comprised of vocational education or training.

So what’s all the fuss about “liberal arts colleges”?

The (liberal arts) colleges … have one primary mission: educate the undergraduate.”

Large prestigious universities earn their reputations substantially based upon the quality of research, and published works. The quality of their undergraduate education is difficult to quantify, and is therefore a minor contributor to their rankings.

The little-known truth is that that these (liberal arts) colleges have been on the cutting edge of higher education for decades. Many of them have outperformed most of the rankings sweethearts in the percentages of graduates who become America’s scientists and scholars. Their students have won Fulbrights, Rhodeses, Goldwaters, Watsons, and other prestigious postgraduate scholarships far out of proportion to their sizes and selectivity. And their graduates get accepted to medical, dental, law, and graduate schools at rates that far outpace the national averages.”

Can I leave high school (with parents consent) at 15, pursue my education at home, and still go to a good university?

I am now convinced that the education system offered in public schools is detrimental to one’s brain development. All it is, is rote memorization. I believe I could progress far faster by myself, in subjects of my interest, namely Math and Physics. Thank you to anyone who reciprocates.

Written Oct 9, 2016

Absolutely … as long as you comply with the laws of your state (in the US).


In our state, your parents (or guardian) submit a letter to the local school district. That’s it. You are now a homeschooler. Our state also requires an annual evaluation form a certified teacher (or standardized test).

So make sure you check the laws in your state, and the requirements of your local school district.

There are many options for homeschooling. Again, in our state, students can use the online school provided free of charge by the state / local school district. It is essentially the same curriculum as regular school, and even has teachers assigned. Completion of this option will provide a high school diploma.

Other options include Khan Academy, Coursera, etc. Basically, you need to do some research to figure out your best options. Subscribe to the Homeschool section of Quora – there is already a lot of advice there.

Lastly, a couple of comments and personal observations.

Homeschooling is what you make of it. It is not necessarily easier than regular school, and is not suitable for everyone (particularly people who require a lot of structure). However, if you do it well, it will provide a lot of opportunity to proceed at your own pace, dig deep into areas that interest you, and allow you to move (much) faster if you choose.

Lastly, I should point out that you do not need a high school diploma to get accepted into many universities (in fact, many universities are actively recruiting homeschoolers). Check out the websites of universities that interest you to find out about their admissions criteria.

Good luck, and have fun learning!

Is a degree in animation valuable?

The one I’m looking at is computer animation with 2D and 3D animation as well as art history and an art core


My daughter spends a lot of her time doing digital graphics and animation. I offered to get her a tutor, or to enroll her in courses at Full Sail University (which has an excellent reputation in this field, and offers a degree in animation). She turned me down on both offers – said she would rather just learn online from other animators.

I looked through a number of job descriptions on Monster for animator. Only one stated that they required formal training in animation. The vast majority had experience requirements for animation.

Therefore, you need to do more research to determine whether a degree in animation is valuable to you. It certainly does not appear to be a requirement for getting a job in animation, but it may provide you with skills in different software packages, animating techniques, etc.

If you already have experience animating, or can provide a portfolio of your work, I suggest you go ahead and apply for a position. (One way to highlight your skills would be to develop your own website, and use it to showcase your work. You can then reference this on your resume). This would allow you to gain experience while getting paid. Then, if you want to pursue a degree, you can do it while you work.

What does it feel like to be college student who was unschooled?

Written Oct 5, 2016

The following answers are excerpted from Survey of Grown Unschoolers II: Going on to College.


Age 20, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, at age 20, had already earned a BA degree and had gained what, for her, was an ideal job in theatre production. She had taken some community college courses between age 13 and 16 and then transferred to a four-year BA program at her state university, which she completed in two and one-fourth years, graduating summa cum laude. She wrote, “It was not a rough adjustment for me. I found that because I had not been in school before attending college, I was much less burnt out than my peers and had a very fresh perspective. I learned basic academic skills (essay composition, research, etc.) very quickly… I struggled some with time management, but eventually developed a means of staying organized.”

Age 21, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This young man was in his third year of a four-year BA program, majoring in philosophy at a selective Canadian university, about to declare honors status and with plans to pursue a master’s in philosophy. In explaining how he was admitted, he wrote, “I set an appointment to talk with someone in the admissions department, to find out what I would need to do to apply as an unschooler. After I talked briefly about myself, my achievements, and my style of education, and after he read a sample of my writing, he said ‘I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be here’, and proceeded to hand me the forms to become a student.”

Concerning adjustment, he wrote, “It was a bit hard to adjust to the amount of skimming-over that many introductory classes do: I can’t bear it when ideas are left unexplored. Mainly because of the depth of the material covered, I’ve found that my best grades, and some of my best work, have come from 4000-level courses. I’ve always learned in a passionate way and don’t want to stop the flow of an idea until it runs its course.”

Age 24, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, who had received a BA from a highly selective liberal arts college, wrote, “In contrast to [my classmates], I found great inspiration from my teachers. At [name of college deleted] the teachers must also be practitioners in their fields of study, so I was working with people who were actively interested and participating in their areas of expertise as a teacher and as an actor, writer, director, translator, and so on. Having someone with such a wealth of knowledge looking over my shoulder at the work I was doing was revolutionary. It was not something I wish I had earlier, not something I felt had been lacking my whole life, but it was something that inspired me for my four years at school.”

At one point in her college career this young woman was asked to lead a meeting of students in order to provide feedback to the instructor of a course. She wrote, “I discovered that people wanted the teacher to tell them what to think. ‘l wish he’d told us what to think when we read Macbeth’ someone said. ‘I wish he’d let us know what he wanted us to do in our Hearts of Darkness essays’ and on and on. It had never, ever occurred to me to ask someone else to tell me what to think when I read something.”

This respondent also wrote that the biggest drawback to college, for her, was the lack of a normal, age-mixed social life—with people who are not all students. To achieve that, she joined the local Unitarian Universalist church where she served as religious educator while still a student.

Age 24, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, who was currently a full-time student working for a master’s degree in English, wrote: “I began attending a community college when I was 16 and enjoyed every second of it. I did not feel as though I had to adjust to anything. After my first psychology class, which was the first time I had to take notes during a class, I went right home and began typing and organizing my notes. I continued going part time for two years until I was 18. The community college accepted my diploma, which I created myself and my parents signed, along with my transcript, which I also created. I turned my interests and activities into ‘courses’ for the transcript and included a list of books that I had read over the last 4 years.”

When I began looking for a four-year university to transfer to, my decision not to take the SATs had a minor effect on my choices for schools. One school refused to even open my application without SAT scores, even though I had written them a letter detailing my success at the college level for the last three years. I chose a university that allowed me to register as a part time student for my first semester and then transfer into a full-time program without having to provide SAT scores.”

Age 29, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, who had graduated with high honors from a selective private women’s college and then gone on to a master’s degree, wrote, “On top of accepting me, they put me into their freshman honors class. I definitely felt strange going into a formal school, especially being in an honors program. I spent long hours studying and doing my homework—way more work than my classmates were doing. After I got straight A’s for the first half of my first semester I started to relax a little more, and I realized I was working way too hard. So I learned how to learn like my fellow classmates were—by memorizing everything just before a test. I still kept getting straight A’s but was doing hardly any work at all. Eventually I learned how to balance it—actually delving into material I enjoyed and memorizing the stuff I wasn’t interested in. It wasn’t hard; it mostly just made me really appreciate the fact that I hadn’t been in school my whole life.”

I definitely experienced a [social] transition in college. I wasn’t into frat parties, drinking heavily and the like, so my first year/first two years I was a bit of a loner, with only a few friends. My last year in school I finally started drinking and going to house parties, so I ‘fit in’ a little better and got a wider group of ‘friends.’ I realized this was how everyone else in college was socializing and it felt off to me, not genuine or a way to really make lasting connections. Out of school I returned to how I had always functioned socially, and lo and behold, that was what everyone else was doing. I met friends through my jobs, through theatres I worked in, through other friends, and at coffee shops.”

Age 29, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, who had earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at an unnamed college, wrote, “I did have a high school diploma. There would have been greater challenges without that, but for me the transition was logistically really easy. Despite the completely unschooled nature of my upbringing, my mother had our home registered as a private school with the state of CA, so on paper I looked ‘normal’ in the system.

“I went to Community College part time between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. I transferred to a four year school, which I attended for three years before receiving my BFA with High Distinction at 22 years old. I loved college—it stands out as one of the most focused and fulfilling periods of my young life! When I began community college, I was younger than other students, and I was concerned that I would feel behind, but I wasn’t. I didn’t like taking tests, and I still feel a lot of anxiety about tests to this day, but I excelled in most ways and graduated with a high GPA.”

Growing up, I understood we were outside of the norm, and that was met by kids and adults alike with a lot of skepticism at times. Despite my mom’s great confidence, I was concerned about whether I had what it took to succeed in the ‘real world.’ College was the time in my life where I confronted the unknown and decided I was probably OK!”

Age 30, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This man took classes at a local state college beginning at age 16, and then transferred to a small, selective, progressive private college where he completed a BS in conservation biology and ecology. After that, he earned an MS at a state university and completed one year of a Ph.D. program at another state university, before taking a leave of absence from school because of a serious illness. Concerning adjustment, he reported no difficulty with the academic work, but objected to the constraints imposed by the system of evaluation. He wrote, “Even the requirement-free environment of [name of college omitted] felt stifling to me (e.g. its perverse grading incentive to avoid one’s own directions within a field in favor of the professor’s predilections, formal academic bias to the near exclusion of experiential learning, and emphasis on tangible academic products rather than learning/applying process), and grad school has been many times worse (not only in terms of more structured and formalized educational paradigms, but also of lower-level educational opportunities).” He nevertheless plans to return to the Ph.D. program when his illness is brought under control, as he is committed to a career aimed at restoring and maintaining biodiversity.

Age 32, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, now a mom on the brink of unschooling her own children, wrote: “I took a course in Emergency Medicine and worked a couple of odd jobs while I researched college options, selected my preferred school, and went about the application process. I was scholarshipped for a large chunk of my undergraduate education due to a portfolio that I assembled and my college interviews. Applying for college didn’t seem to be too difficult without an official diploma, because I had SAT scores to submit and high-school transcripts that my mom prepared from all of her years of journaling our unschooling exploits. I remember being very restless for the first one to two years of college. I didn’t feel very challenged by the core classes I was enrolled in and was itching to move on to my major and minor classes. College was fun, but I was stunned to realize that the majority of the other students didn’t work or pursue any other areas of their lives apart from their studies and partying. I supported myself throughout my four-year degree typically working at least two jobs while taking well above the minimum class/load requirements so that I could graduate on time. Two years into my degree I took a full time job in the creative department of the local newspaper, where I continued to work after graduation.”

Age 35, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling. This woman, who had earned a BA at a small progressive college and then a master’s degree, wrote, “Through my whole college experience I balked at students who didn’t do the work, even in the courses that were less than desirable or exciting for me. I think my educational background set me up for thinking ‘why are you there, if you aren’t going to participate?’ This was frustrating for me to see. For I have always chosen myself to pursue education, and even though this personal choice meant that there were some courses I had to take that I wasn’t excited about, I still knew what my motivation was for being there. Over time I have learned that these fellow students who were frustrating to be around had been exposed to a drastically different relationship with learning and education.”

Age 19, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past second grade. This young woman had been diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in second grade at school and was taken out of school because of her unhappiness there. As an unschooler, she learned to read at her own pace and in her own way. Later, she was tested and diagnosed with otherlearning disabilities, but these did not hold her back. During her last two years of unschooling, she took community college courses and then transferred to a bachelor’s degree program at a selective private liberal arts college. She wrote, “I enrolled at [name of college omitted], where I just completed my freshman year. I maintained a 3.9 GPA through the whole year, and I am returning there in the fall.

“I think that unschooling actually prepared me better for college than most of my peers, because I already had a wealth of experience with self-directed study. I knew how to motivate myself, manage my time, and complete assignments without the structure that most traditional students are accustomed to. While most of my peers were floundering and unable to meet deadlines, I remained on top of my work because I have always been an independent learner. I know how to figure things out for myself and how to get help when I need it. While I struggled to adjust in the beginning, it was purely due to the difficulties caused by my learning disabilities. By the end of the year I had overcome my struggles and excelled in school. I am currently working on my BA in English from [name of college omitted], and after that I intend to go on for a Masters in Library Science.”

Age 24, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past second grade. This man, more so than most of the others, found that he had to jump through some hoops to get into community college, as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s program at a selective state university, but had no difficulties adapting academically. He wrote, “At first I did not want to attend college. When I graduated from homeschooling/unschooling in 2005, I worked at a gym selling gym memberships for two years. Ultimately I figured out that I needed to go to college so I attended a local community college. It was difficult getting in without a high school diploma, and basically I had to go to the county school board office to obtain a ‘homeschool completion affidavit’ to prove to the college that I actually finished the 12th grade. After a bunch of red tape, they accepted it. Since I never took the SAT, ACT or other standardized test for college prior to enrolling in the community college, I had to take a placement test before I could enroll in classes. After all of this was out of the way, I was viewed as a regular student.

“I went on to graduate from [name of college omitted] with my Associate’s degree and a 4.00 GPA. Then I attended [name of university omitted] and obtained a Bachelor’s degree, also with a 4.00 GPA. Most recently I just finished my Master’s degree at [name of university omitted].”

Age 24, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past second grade. This woman, who earned a BA from a large state university, wrote, “There is an adjustment period going into ‘school’ from unschooling, but you also have the huge advantage of not being burned outand hating school already. Learning is still something you look forward to.” This respondent went on to say that she received nearly all A’s and then a full scholarship to law school, and added: “I’m not trying to brag, so much as prove that unschooling works. We took a lot of crap from friends, relatives, and strangers during the entire time we were unschooling. So now, I like having the credentials to prove that unschooling is a legitimate way to educate and indeed, in my book, the preferred way to educate.”

Age 26, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past second grade. This woman, who had graduated with honors from a highly selective liberal arts college, wrote, “The transition was a difficult one for me, not for the academics, but for the feeling of being trapped within a system. The college bubble felt tiny to me and I was in a constant state of simmering frustration at being told even simple things like which classes to take and when. As someone who had made those choices myself for years, I felt disrespected that it was assumed that I didn’t know what level of study I was ready for. It took most of the first year for me to come to a place of acceptance, remembering that this, too, was a choice that I made that I could change if I wanted to. I never loved college like many people do and never felt as free as I had before college or in the time after I graduated.” This respondent subsequently attended graduate school in a medically related field and reported that to be a better experience, because of the real-world setting of the clinical work.

Age 35, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past fourth grade. This woman, who had gained a degree from a highly selective liberal arts college, wrote, “I applied to eight colleges and was accepted at all of them [in 1995]…I interviewed at all eight colleges; for most of them I was their first ‘homeschool/unschooled’ applicant. Several colleges told me I was accepted at the conclusion of the interviews, right after they informed me that I was ‘surprisingly’ well-spoken and bright. I did take (and did very well on) both the SATs and the ACTs, which probably offset the lack of transcripts.”

The transition was fairly easy, though I was homesick. I think college is a lot like unschooling—you take classes that interest you, do most of the work on your own, and are responsible for getting it done and turned in on time. You are really responsible for your own education!”

From [name of college deleted] I received a BA in both computer science and mathematics. It proves something: I never had any formal math training beyond 5th grade, but ended up tutoring other students in Calculus 1, 2 and 3. I never had a computer of my own until my junior year of college, but majored in computer science where I wrote extensive computer programs, and programmed my own robot.” This person then went on to a BS and Masters’ in nursing, became a nurse practitioner, and, at the time of the survey, was contemplating going back to school for a doctorate.

Age 32, no K-12 schooling or homeschooling past seventh grade; mix of schooling and homeschooling before that. This woman, who had received a bachelor’s degree from an Ivy League university, was a mother unschooling her own children, a yoga instructor, and a student training to do yoga therapy when she filled out the survey. Concerning college admission and adjustment to college, she wrote, “When I was 15, I wanted to take community college courses. At that time, dual enrollment of homeschooled students wasn’t really accepted, so I was told I needed to get a GED to be allowed to enroll. Although I think it disappointed my parents for me to get my GED, it has helped to have that paper that shows I completed some sort of high school education. That said, I refuse to take standardized tests now (because I believe they aren’t a measure of intelligence or even what a student has learned), so I did complete my associate’s degree before I attempted to transfer to a four-year university (some schools will accept a two-year degree in place of SAT/ACT scores.) I graduated from [the Ivy League University] with my BA in psychology in 2003. I think unschooling helped me adjust to college; I was so used to being able to study whatever I wanted that it seemed natural to take classes that interested me. And unschooling also follows the premise that if a child has a goal, they’ll learn whatever they need to in order to meet it. For instance, I don’t like math, but I knew I would need to learn it in order to graduate. So that’s what I did.”