What About College?
A series on the common questions that arise when first exploring unschooling…my thoughts and the expert advice that’s helped me work through these questions.
What about attending college?
How will my kids get into college if they don’t go to high school or have grades or a GPA?
Even though my kids won’t be at that stage for quite a few years, it’s something I asked myself.
At first it seemed imperative. Then I started researching more about unschooling and how we, as people, learn and how the school setting is a poor setting for true learning…and I started to realize that maybe college isn’t the best route in the first place. There’s having a mentor, apprenticeships, on-the-job learning, and online learning options.
But still, say the time comes and my kids want to enter a field that requires a degree. Then what? Is it possible?
I’ve learned through reading the experiences of grown unschoolers that it’s very possible.
The student is the one who shows the interest in college and therefore does (or asks for assistance with) the research on the ways to go about achieving their goals. It’s not because parents want or expect them to go to college. Unschoolers tend to have a different view of what is “successful” than mainstream society anyways.
A lot of community colleges don’t require a high school diploma and classes can be taken at high school age. Then with community college credits, some universities don’t require a diploma either.
A GED or SAT/ACT prep class can be taken, tests passed, and those then used for college admissions. Some might even just study for and take college entrance/placement exams. Unschooling students are motivated to study for and pass these type tests because it’s required in order to do something that interests them, not because they have to.
Traditional transcripts can be made by the parents to “schoolize” (break into subjects) all of the life learning the unschooler has done at the high school level. Or they can help the unschooler keep a portfolio, which a lot of higher education institutions are looking for now anyway instead of just grades on a paper.
Universities are competitive. Some seek out homeschoolers/unschoolers (or have special admissions pathways) as they are more self-motivated and typically already know how to manage their time.
Colleges are looking for more than grades. They want volunteer work, special projects, or extracurricular activities. Those things can be done by schooled kids but they typically add stress to their already hectic school schedule. The unschoolers can do those things while they live life.
The one thing I kept hearing over and over as I researched is that unschooled kids were shocked at how little schooled kids cared or were motivated about their own college education. If an unschooled kid is in college, it’s because they want to be there.
So, is it possible? Yes it is.
Resources to explore:
A Survey of Grown Unschoolers by Peter Gray in Psychology Today
Kate and Molly Go to College by Ann Leadbetter in Life Learning Magazine
College Considerations for Unschoolers on Sandra Dodd’s website
Going to College episode on The Unschooling Life Podcast
July 29, 2015 / TaraMcDonough / 0