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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reconciling a College Education after Unschooling

William just completed the second module in 6th grade Language Arts and Science (which means he is half way through with his first semester in both classes). He is doing very well in his on-line classes. Being on-line has also given him the opportunity to take the advanced track in both classes. Remember I have unschooled him and at 11 years old this is the first curriculum we have followed. I am certain he would not have had the advanced option if he entered school this year (or been enrolled all along). Following my instincts to let him learn at his own pace all these years has paid off. He is interested and curious. He is not burned out and we can also continue at his pace.

Besides being proud of him, practically speaking I am also relieved to see that he can continue on with these classes in our homeschool agenda and get a transcript. (Until now, every organized group that provides transcripts requires a statement of a faith that excludes me and I wasn't sure if there were any other transcript options left in the homeschool world.)

By homeschooling does not mean that I am not academic. It does not mean that I am not interested in a higher education. Quite the opposite, I am very interested in my boys preparing themselves to go to college.

How do "unschooled" homeschoolers make a transition to college? I have often thought if the school system is so bad what makes college suddenly so important? We are very lucky to live biking distance to a community college that shares a campus with a state university. The campus is very open to homeschoolers in duel enrollment. So for one, I plan to take advantage of this opportunity when the boys are older. Two, the college offers on-line classes. It seems a natural progression from what William is doing now to those on-line classes. And he can come home at night! We go to the campus often as the library serves as a county library branch, also.

I went to a four year university. I lived in a dorm a year and a sorority house for the next three. I enjoyed it, I don't regret it and much of it was fun, but I can say that that is not necessarily the environment I want my sons in. (For the record, I was a totally straight, pre-med, non-dating, Science nerd, holding my own at a big party campus.) The first semester was a huge transition to dorm life, resisting all night party life, eating dorm food, dealing with homesickness and passing college classes. On weekends I worked in a hospital while attending college (paying my bills, probably kept me out of trouble).

That is not a transition I ever want my boys to make. I already talk to them how lucky we are to have a University so close to us and they can live at home. I would hope in college they could be enrolled in classes where the other students want to be there or are at least students are mature enough to know why they are there. If they want a degree that is not locally offered, well then they know why they are going (and it doesn't have to be the first semester).

With three boys, it is likely that they may not all want to go to college. They might find something different and that's ok. But for now I plan on keeping them on an academic course through unschooling and age appropriate on-line learning so they have all their options open. Good academics in the high school years goes a long way in a teens life to open the door to all other opportunities whether it be college or other. Your education is something you will always have and it can not be taken away.

1 comment:

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. We also live very close to the community college, so we are thinking much of the same for our kids.

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