The time has come. Cate, 17, is ready to apply to college and figure out how it will be paid for. Daunting!
That is what I wrote when I first began this article, back in July. I had no idea. I am home now, and have been working unremittingly on lesson plans and college admissions. It is time to take a break and blog a bit about it all.
I am publishing our research here and will have a continuous input of information as we pursue our task this year...and next, as Duncan will be in the same boat next school year, and they are two very unique individuals.
May I say, that in our family, our children are encouraged to pursue what they believe is their true calling. Do I sometimes whistle a bit when they are listening? Sure.
First of all, then, neither my husband nor I think that a four-year college immediately following high school is the only route to go. Myself, because I left the country as soon as I legally could. I put college on hold for a super fun year of staying with host families, hanging at the beach, hunting mushrooms in the forest, skiing the Pyrenees, attending formal balls and eating fabulous food, every. single. day. I have NO regrets about postponing college. I learned much about the world and the way it works in that year, and I came home psyched and ready for serious studying. My husband, because he was caught up in a system where that idea had never been in the cards for him. He had a certain high school diploma and a certain school followed that diploma. No holds, delays or breaks allowed. His family had been hosting exchange students from all over the world for ten years when we met. He also wonders what might have happened had he not gone on to the school he attended. What if he had been encouraged to choose a trade or another profession, what if he had had time to explore and think before starting another year of school?
Our children have different ideas; the eldest says that she has had a very long time to think, dream and make plans and that they now include college, pre-med even. The next one says he wants to "get through school with a degree so that he can then do what he really wants to do." So, the merry-go-round begins.
From the top: your child's dream is an Ivy League education? Here is what Harvard has to say about homeschool college admissions:
''Harvard University uses the same requirements for homeschoolers and traditional students. Harvard requires applicants to submit the results of either the SAT I or ACT standardized test and the results of three SAT II Subject Tests, which applicants may take in different subjects to demonstrate a mixture of academic interests.
"There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow," according to their Web site, "but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English, with extensive practice in writing; four years of math; four years of science: biology, chemistry, physics, and an advanced course in one of these subjects; three years of history, including American and European history; and four years of one foreign language."
Traditional applicants can supply a letter from a teacher who knows them well and who has taught him or her in academic subjects (preferably in the final two years of secondary school.) However, McGrath Lewis says, "While we can make careful evaluations with required recommendations, we are happy to read helpful letters from people directly familiar with applicants' lives outside the classroom. Such letters are not necessary, however, and it is generally advisable to submit no more than two or three."
In addition to academic standing, Harvard is looking for well-rounded individuals who have participated in personal development outside the institution.
McGrath Lewis offers this advice: "Follow the passions you have and develop them. We are looking for non-academic criteria – maturity, social facility, and non-academic talents, which is the same range as for traditional students."
"It is not harder or easier for homeschoolers to get in. It is difficult for anyone to get in."
As a typical unschooler/homeschooler path, Cate has chosen to begin with some classes from a community college this year, while she is still completing high school. I believe, as of now, that getting her registered for a single class at the local community college will have proved itself more difficult than going to a "normal" college later. More on this option tomorrow.