Sue’s Notes – Teens & College Admissions

April 1, 2016 – No Joke! 

Happy Friday!

April Fool’s Day is always weird for me. I am the world’s worst joke teller and I always end up feeling bad for the person getting pranked. I’ve already seen early jokes about Trader Joe’s closing – yes, I gasped! Who knows what the rest of the day will bring! 

This week I want to talk about teens and college. For several decades now, our society has considered getting a college degree as synonymous with success. Times are changing and with higher costs and no guarantees, parents and teens are exploring other options – noticing that college is only ONE way to succeed.  

But when families opt for homeschooling/unschooling, those old fears can resurface. Parents get concerned about their child having trouble getting into college or they’re nervous about how to provide “the right” information. Even though, I can tell you now, there’s no one right way! 

The thing about fear is that sometimes it comes from an irrational place in our minds. But sprinkling in a little good information can help to dispel those worries. Steer clear of people who are fearful about this age or your choices. Find support in other families who have been there and know first-hand how fabulous homeschooling through the teen years can be. 

So this week, I want to address these issues, give you some links you can use if you have worried relatives that need to be calmed, and make sure you have access to some awesome resources to help you through the teen years.

Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think would enjoy it. Let me know if there’s any way I can help you.

Have fun reading, following the links, and have a great weekend!  

You Can Read More About Teens at My Blog

What About College?

A lot of articles are circulating about teens getting into college. What I think is really interesting for the homeschooling/unschooling community is that many of these articles are discussing how the path to college is changing considerably. That’s good news for everyone! 

The competition-induced stress that teens experience from all of this hyper-focus on grades, class ranking, test scores – it’s astounding. Colleges are noticing that the students are all coming to them like cookie cutter images. And from their standpoint, it’s harder to determine who will sink and who will swim. 

Peter Gray’s study of grown unschoolers and my survey in Homeschooled Teens both report that more than 80% of those surveyed (75 young people in each study), attended some form of higher education after what would have been considered their “high school years.” This includes universities, community colleges, vocational programs and graduate school. 

Chris Weller’s article describes how very non-traditional approaches to academics and learning were celebrated and even seen as the reason some homeschoolers were accepted there. 

There’s a New Path to Harvard – and it’s not in the classroom!
Chris Weller | Tech Insider

With the changing job market, young people have to be able to adapt as technology changes the playing field at lightening speed. Having the time to play with various platforms and systems puts homeschooled teens at an advantage over those who take one computer science class per semester. Valerie Strauss describes how exceptional-looking academic backgrounds and stellar resumes were not indicative of success in the business world. Instead, innovation, determination, resourcefulness – these are skills that are most needed. 

A Venture Capitalist Searches for the Purpose of School
Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post

Home educated teens have so many options that can appeal to them and to colleges too.

  • Teens have the chance to explore a variety of interests diving in deeply or dabbling in a several. In either case, this discovery and exploration is so valuable! Kids that are stuck in a prepared curriculum, have very little opportunity to set and achieve their own goals. These are skills that young people need whether they’re in college or not – but admissions officers see these as attributes as well.

  • Teens have the time to explore internships in their fields of interest. This enables them to get the hands-on experience that helps them confirm that they do, in fact, enjoy this career AND it allows colleges to see that they have proven themselves.

  • Teens have time to travel and see more of the world. Widening their lens of what’s “out there” makes their lives fuller and richer. Colleges appreciate this in their applicants. 

  • The learning that comes from part-time jobs and developing hobbies shouldn’t be overlooked. Like travel, these experiences lead to happier brighter young adults.

  • The Turning the Tide link below shows how the importance of community service is on the rise. Homeschooled teens have the time available to actually participate in a project (or several projects over the years) that interests them and see that they can have an impact on their world. 

Added bonuses come when focusing on these aspects of their teen lives. Instead of cramming more AP-type classes or signing up for extra-curriculars that have no appeal to the teen (but supposedly look good on an application), our teens are truly preparing themselves for their adult life whether it includes college or not. They’re learning to be self-directed, their creative sides are flourishing, and they’re avoiding so many of the negative impacts that come when education is seen as drudgery or stressful. 

Instead of trying to mimic school, homeschooling parents have an opportunity provide such a richer environment filled with learning, discovery and growth. It takes some more imaginative thinking – but the outcomes are so much better!

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Links about Teens, Colleges, and Admissions

Advice College Admissions Officers Give Their Own Kids
Jennifer Wallace & Lisa Heffernan | New York Times: Well 
Wes Beach | Homeschooler Post

A Podcast Interview: 

More Resources for You!

Homeschooled Teens: 
75 Young People Speak about their Lives without School.
For real life examples and descriptions of how homeschooled/unschooled teens got into college, how they coped, and what they’re doing now, you can purchase my book Homeschooled Teens. The book also includes chapters devoted to how they learned, their social life, their family life as well as their hobbies, sports, travel, jobs then and careers now. This may be just the reassurance you need!

Unschooling Mom2Mom: Teenagers
This is curated page with lots of links to articles, interviews, podcasts, and inspiration.

Unschooling/Homeschooling Your Teens
A facebook page created to share links and resources on a weekly basis that are useful for parents of teens.  

My Unschooler is Interested In…
If you’re looking for resources on a particular topic that’s interesting to your teen (or any aged child really), you’ll want to join this Facebook group. With over 10K members, you’ll get so many awesome suggestions to explore.

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