One of the most common concerns that I’m met with when talking to people about my lifestyle is the question of my higher education. “But how will you ever get into college?” This question eventually goes on to dominate every conversation about my education. Most people can’t fathom how homeschoolers (or anybody alternatively educated) get accepted into colleges and universities, and even more so, they immediately assume that each person’s path is one that leads them through college.
In this article, I’d like to discuss two common misconceptions that surround the conversation of ‘homeschooling and college’: The idea that homeschoolers can’t even get in, and the idea that college is a necessity for every single person. These misconceptions are so widespread that they encompass a good portion of the discussion on homeschooling, and most self-directed learners have likely grappled with them too many times to count. But first, before we delve into their refutation, we should first look into the reason that these beliefs are so common. I am, of course, an American by birth, so my perspective will be most relevant to the American system, though I’m sure parallels can be found elsewhere as well.
In the 19th century, many of the renowned schools of America (including schools like Harvard and Yale) started to become more and more exclusive, focusing on and serving the children of the regions wealthiest children. By doing so, they had access to not only a greater pool of resources, but also to much of the local power. In turn, the degrees produced by such establishments gained a unique sheen, dripping with elitism, one that resembled gold. It was the key to higher positions, to better pay and quality of life.
High-achievers needed a degree; that was certain, but now that’s no longer the case. Many of the old guarantees of a degree no longer ring true and prices have consistently risen for decades. It’s been two hundred years, and though the value of a degree has dropped since then, they are still seen by many as an absolute necessity in most parts of the world, largely thanks to the trends in the United States.
With all of this being said, I still think that choosing to pursue higher education is a beautiful thing, and that learners of all backgrounds should be encouraged and empowered to do so.
Getting Into College as a Homeschooler
Dartmouth College. Photo credit: Josue Mendivil
In the US, many universities and colleges (including the previously mentioned Ivy League schools) allow applicants to prove their knowledge and aptitude by testing in. They also accept the various standardized tests, from SAT’s to ACT’s, which can be taken at most local high schools.
In a recent trend, many colleges and elite universities are also actively seeking self-directed learners. Being a self-directed learner looks good on your application for 3 reasons: most colleges have experienced better results with intrinsically motivated learners, experience is more appealing than flat test scores, and it stands out from the hundreds of other competitive applications.
Many homeschoolers have even enjoyed partial or sometimes full scholarships as a result of their unique, educational upbringing. Getting into college as an alternatively educated young adult has never been easier.
There are plenty of resources online that autodidacts can utilize to make the transition to college that much easier.
Most colleges also offer credit for passing CLEP tests, and Study.com is a great resource for homeschoolers and unschoolers alike to gain some extra credit and improve their grades. I highly recommend Study.com’s CLEP prep products, or Study.com’s DSST prep products instead if you are part of a military family. Study.com’s resources are always updated and offer a wide range of courses that cover the spectrum of learning styles, from videos to flash cards and courses to study guides. The resources are available from anywhere, which make them an ideal fit for alternatively educated students! Readers of Raising Miro can use the coupon code ” RaisingMiro19″ for 20% off the first 3 months.
Study.com provides an assortment of tools to help you review for exams, improve your GPA or just learn a whole new topic. Their easy to use interface allows you to track your progress through a course, set goals for when you want to finish a module and set up reminders through email or text. Before starting a course it has you take a practice exam to determine your knowledge of the material and highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Then, it suggests lessons for that course designed specifically for you, the student.
Instead of having to sift through course materials and find the topics you’re struggling in, Study.com goes above and beyond to provide an easy to navigate studying experience for students at a variety of grade levels. Study.com also allows you to create custom courses, which is something a lot of other online study resources don’t have. By creating a custom course you have the ability to expand on their pre-planned courses and customize it to what you need to succeed.
Overall, this specific program can be helpful for students and teachers. It offers a lot of supplemental material, between video lectures as well as text summaries of the lesson, practice tests, worksheets and quizzes at the end of every lesson, and can prove to be a valuable asset to any alternatively educated person trying to get into (and through) college.
It is also important however to discuss the matter of the learner’s choice. Most people have this notion that college is necessary in order to live a ‘successful’ life. As a result, many people end up receiving higher education not because they are passionate or sure about what they want to learn, but because they simply feel they have to learn something.
Now more than ever, people are going to college, not because they want to, but because they feel like they have to. This, in combination with the mounting pressures from society, friends and family, result in a staggering number of dropouts and failures, as well as wasted time and money on the learner’s part. If anything, this is something that self-directed learners suffer from less, because their reasons for seeking out higher education would be inherently intrinsic and less motivated by the extrinsic factors.
All paths are valid and honored, and as self-directed learners it’s our job to direct each of our own unique paths as well. Not all of us will go on to lead the same lives or achieve the same things, so why should we all receive the same education?