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Stanford's positive view of homeschoolers

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I noticed at the end of the article:


Despite that confidence, homeschooling families sense that their successes and failures will be watched. "Whatever we do, we are sort of pioneers," explains Esther Baruch. "This is the first good-sized wave, and you feel as though the movement sinks or swims with you. You don't want to let down the side."


Which plays into a recurring discussion we have here about standards in the home school community and the impact each of us has on the rest.

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Just a note that this article is ten years old! The director of admissions at Stanford has changed at least once since that piece was written, and many more homeschoolers have joined that initial wave on the Farm.


That said, Stanford admissions are still homeschool-friendly, in the sense that homeschooled applicants will be treated with the same respect as anyone else. Their applications are "flagged" upon receipt (as the article says) only to ensure that the correct adcom reads them. Unlike many comparable schools, Stanford has one admissions officer who reads all the homeschoolers' files. Other applications are read geographically.


My daughter is one of this year's freshmen there - we heard that 0.4 percent of this year's class was homeschooled, so about seven kids out of 1660. She's met four others so far. Her impression is that they are quite the diverse group. Three of them took almost all their high school coursework outside the home in co-ops, cottage schools, or local colleges. She probably did the largest share of her work at home of the bunch (a few online classes). She hasn't yet met an unschooler at Stanford.


My daughter actually had a chance to chat with her adcom over lunch with this year's group of homeschooled admits. He was enthusiastic about the "very interesting" applications that he sees from home schooled kids. I found it encouraging that he thinks as do I that the main advantage of homeschooling is the gift of time our kids have to expand on their passions. Instead of sitting at their desks all day long taking extra classes, he'd rather see them use their extra time to pursue a project, a cause, research, volunteer work, or whatever moves them.


One other thing - we found the actual application process at Stanford to be on the impersonal side. We had trouble with some of dd's application materials being received on their end, and they were a bit difficult to deal with during the December application rush (they get 30,000 plus applications a year now). But boy did they pour on the love once she was accepted.



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Thanks for the note, Kathy.


And to anyone who is reading this, but doesn't know Kathy or her daughter, don't get the impression that Kathy's daughter who only did a "few classes" online had anything other than a totally OVER-the-TOP college application. :001_smile: Incredibly impressive with amazing test scores to validate the work she and her mom did at home. And the list of "work" done is long, long, long and very impressive.


That's the biggest thing I'm discovering during this college application process. Colleges want SOLID assurance that the applicant is going to succeed once they walk through the doors. They are playing a numbers game too. They want the kids to come, do well, contribute much and often while on campus, graduate in a reasonable amount of time, succeed in their careers, and tell the world where they graduated from (Oh - and send money to the alumni association.) :001_smile: Really. That's all. :D


When you get 30,000+ applications for 1,660 slots you can't view each child as a wildly interesting person in the first rounds. You HAVE to let the computer do the first chop-chop for you. Then I suspect they start digging a bit more deeply to see what they are looking at - with maybe 3 or 4 or 5 times as many applicants as they have slots to fill.


So I'm finding out that in the beginning it really boils down to a numbers game. Oh - and then your kid has to have a personality. Yup, they need that too. Great scores. Impressive coursework. And deep passion about something. So yes, I'm finding out that hsing is a great playing field for accomplishing that. Yes, that is much easier to do when you and your child have spent so much time together. It's easy to try things until you hit that thing that the child loves. Then you give them room and RESOURCES to do it. But it does take time and effort to make sure that you are challenging them within the areas of their passions. Yes, kids pursue on their own. BUT they don't know what they don't know. And they don't know WHO they don't know. It does take some level of attention on the parent's part to connect them with people and circumstances that they wouldn't have been able to locate on their own. Certainly the child runs with the ball, but sometimes they need a bit of a nudge or some HELP in finding the right ball.


I guess what I'm saying is this. I have been wildly encouraged and motivated to share this place in the land of 0's and 1's with someone like Kathy. I have been personally helped and encouraged by her and her family more times that I can count. (She may not even know of the occasions, but I do! That's the nature of the net, sometimes we speak, but more often we just read and think. :001_smile:) Her daughter is an amazing scholar. Incredibly intense coursework, excellent test scores, and a gifted student. And her mother seems to me like an extremely bright, practical, motivated woman. (I've not seen her test scores *giggle*, but I have seen the tracks that she hammered down for her daughter to run on. Smart gal, that momma!) But there is a reason that Stanford skims the top 5%. The rest of the kids won't fit there. No matter WHAT history curriculum I choose, no matter which literature books we read, no matter what math program we use, there is no way on God's green earth I am going to turn my oldest on to mathematics so that he is even slightly interested in digging deeply into any theorem at any time in any environment ever. Period. The math department at Stanford is filled with people like Kathy's daughter because we as a society NEED her to be there WITHOUT my kid to slow things down for her (and for us!). She is there for a reason, and my kid will not be there for an equally valid reason.


Back to what I was trying to say.... Home schooled kids DO get into the tippy-top-tier schools. They do. But so do lots of other kids. And LOTS of other kids - many, many more don't get in. And many more don't even reach for it. The home schooled kids belong there because they are "those" kind of scholars. They are scholars. They get there because they are scholars, not because they are home schooled. Surely home schooling contributed to who they have become as people. But by its nature home schooling doesn't create scholars. You don't just dump kids into the home school hopper and they all crank out like Kathy's daughter. (Really - how many of us here have taken our children through diff. equations in high school. :001_smile:) I think that has been one of the biggest things I have discovered during this high school/college application process. It's VERY important to stay grounded in good reasons to homeschool through high school. And those reasons really shouldn't be too directly tied to hopes of full-ride scholarships to over-the-top institutions if your kid doesn't even care if he gets a 85 or a 95 on his 8th grade math test. If he really doesn't care - "Sheesh, Mom. Why look at it? I already took the test. Who cares what I got wrong. A "B" is still a good grade." - if he doesn't care about the nature of it. If he doesn't feel something when he goes back and erases and erases and erases UNTIL he gets it right, then he will NOT be that kid. Period. No amount of "tailored extra-curriculuar" activities or "time to pursue his passions" are going to drag his hind end into a competitive ring with Kathy's daughter for a slot in the Stanford Freshman Class. (Let's face it - given free reign to pursue his passions, my kid would be rust-proofing his pick up truck or watching Top Gear on Hulu! Sure - he's going to be a great person. A productive adult. But he doesn't belong in a math class with K's daughter! She would be annoyed with him every time he raised his hand! And he would be EQUALLY annoyed with her. "Oh, my goodness, Mom. WHO CARES????" ;))


So yes, home schooled kids make it into the tippy-top schools. Woo-Hoo! Those barriers have been broken down a LONG time ago. Thank goodness. But I think it is important to remember that not very many homeschooled kids actually belong there. Just like their public and private schooled counterparts, the child seizes and capitalizes on their opportunities in order to clamor their way into the freshman class. Few, few, few kids are qualified - homeschooled or otherwise. And that's as it should be. Few kids will be happy there. Few kids will thrive there. And thank goodness! That's as it should be too. Kathy's daughter is going to do interesting and exciting things with her life. She deserves an environment that will truly challenge her - an environment WITHOUT my kid who thinks math theorems are the most boring things in the book; he would prefer to skip every single "this is how this thing works for all cases" and instead jump right to the examples. Who cares about ALL cases?!? How does it work for one case and so therefore, how does this work for THIS case so I can build something that DOES something. No interest in theory - unless it leads to a specific application. That's my kid! No ivy league schools on his list. Nada. No full-ride scholarship expectations either. None. We are hoping for some help, some merit aid. But we get it. Our son is a good bet. But he's not a sure bet. :001_smile: WE as his parents know that he is going to do well in life. He is a rock-solid guy. But he's not the "perfect" scholar. He will be challenged in college. He will be. We suspect that he will rise to the challenge; we know he has it in him. But I know that we can't CONVINCE an admissions counselor of that. They are going to see him as a good bet; we get that. And that seems reasonable to us.


My kid and Kathy's daughter share only ONE thing in common. They were both home schooled. And the multiple thousand of kids who didn't make it into Stanford and the rest of the Freshman class who did, share one thing: They weren't home schooled.


There really isn't much more of a correlation than that. :001_smile: And that's as it should be. AND it helps me to remember that. I can focus on homeschooling for what it can do. Not for what it can't (and shouldn't even be trying to do).


Thanks for being here on this board, Kathy. Your wise words mean much to this momma! Much!


PEACE to you and yours!



Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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You have no idea how true your words are for me and our family!!


When I read about the accomplishments of children like Kathy's dd, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they have accomplished. I try to imagine how in our crazy, over-scheduled, whilrwind life how I can expose my children to a fraction of what her children have experienced. It is definitely NOT something that just happens. Kathy and dd are amazing. There are a lot of people that will never even manage to reach the mathematical levels her dd achieved in high school, let alone where she is heading at Stanford.


What I appreciate from what she shares is the insight into the possibilities. Most of my kids are "mere mortals" :lol: and admission to a lower tier school is the only objective (my rising 11th grader is definitely in this category.) With my 14 yos, however, he is now being exposed to ideas, people, etc that live in a mental sphere and realm of experiences where his father and I have never been. Knowledge of opportunities that are out there (like math camps, astronomy camps, etc) or classes like AoPS/JHU's online courses, etc are enabling him to experience a far different education than we were able to provide for our oldest ds simply b/c I was uninformed about their existance. Our oldest ds's education was limited by that lack of knowledge on my part.


All that said.......I have no idea if my ds will be Stanford type material by the time he is a senior (he actually wants to go to JHU to major in astrophysics :tongue_smilie:). The difference is that I am now deliberately structuring his education in an attempt to achieve those types of goals. And.......his education in NO WAY resembles my oldest 3. I can also tell you that # 5 has absolutely no desire to pursue an education that resembles anything like what ds is currently doing. ;)


Yes.....thanks Kathy for enriching our lives. :grouphug:

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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At the risk of really getting sidetracked from the original thread…(apologies to merylvdm!)

You might be surprised at how Stanford is going for my homeschooler. She's so challenged and working harder than ever. Sweating out a B in honors math!! And that's good. Just where she needs to be. She loves being in the middle of the pack. The social life is great, even if the roommate isn't. Lots of interesting kids to hang out with. And she was put in the end-of-the-hall room on her floor. At Stanford those rooms are assigned to the freshmen they think will be the most social, so they'll talk to all the other kids on their way to and from the center-of-the-hall bathrooms. So much for homeschoolers being labeled as socially challenged :glare:.


And that's what every kids needs. I wanted her to have what I didn't have; a chance to be around kids who love learning and not to feel weird because of it. Lots of friends who understand her. I wanted something better for her than public school gave her back in K and 1st grade, when she was labeled because of her poor articulation and other moms 'felt sorry for her'. And she's a non-sequential visual kid who was a late reader and also was freaking out at the timed math tests there and deciding she was no good at math. Or my son, who was spacing out in school. Reading books under his desk and doodling on his worksheets. Definitely not a people-pleaser. His last teacher advised me to take him out of the gifted program because she couldn't see him benefiting from it. So I did -- all the way home.


It wasn't as hard on me as you might think. Or maybe I just enjoyed what I was doing tons more than my years of dealing with the schools. My own enthusiasm for math for example probably did rub off on them. But I enjoy a day spent doing math problems more that almost anything else. Definitely more than shopping or cleaning, ;). For subjects I didn’t know as well, I learned alongside the kids. I bought the original WTM book when Susan Wise Bauer came to speak at our local homeschool parents' night at Barnes and Noble that first summer. She and her mom were so inspiring! That book guided me greatly through history and literature and grammar studies - areas where I was decidedly weak.


We didn't have a lot of money, so we budgeted and made do and as a result spent a lot of time together at home instead of shuttling the kids to tons of outside classes. Even community college would have been too expensive most years (we did AP classes because the local school district used to offer the tests for free to us). They did take some classes online. Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and Write at Home and AoPS were godsends to us, and they did stuff like Boy Scouts and piano and dance lessons. We did sacrifice big time for summer camp fees (and so did their grandmas & they sometimes received scholarships). Very much worth every penny, though :). But what I'm trying to say is it wasn't a horrendous amount of work, at least not the unpleasant kind. We grew together and put up with each other's faults. And the kids became close to each other, an even greater positive than any amount of book-learning. They're both living in the same area now. Dd is on her way to visit her big brother this afternoon as I type.


About all those opportunities 8filltheheart mentioned. I learned about the first few almost accidentally, like the time I found out that homeschoolers were newly eligible for MathCounts only a few days before the registration deadline . Then I would talk to other parents at those events and learn of more opportunities out there. I just learned from those who went before me, like everyone else. One step at a time. And I like to share what I've learned with the group following me :)


And maybe the outcome would have been different if I'd had more than two kids. I would have liked more, but it wasn 't meant to be. Maybe God knew my limits. Things probably wouldn't have been so great because I tend to stress out when things come at me too fast. And I'm a huge introvert who recharges by being alone, so I was already doing my limit outside the house with my two. We were done with school most evenings by dinner time. Our evenings were filled with walks and games and watching movies together.


My extremely extraverted daughter took care of a lot of stuff on her own, too. She was the driving force behind our out-of-the-house schedule during the past few years after her brother went to college, because she would have simply died hanging out in our quiet home with just mom and dad all the time. She recruited kids every way she knew how to form teams to travel to math competitions, or when she couldn't travel, to talk and work with them online.


And Janice, those hands-on engineers are incredibly needed in the world, too!! I am married to one. He could not care any less about math theorems. Believe me, 'cause I met him in a math class I taught at Georgia Tech. He got a D from me :D. I still love him greatly, and I respect him for what he can do. I could never take an engine out of a car and rebuild it. I'd injure myself before the first step was done, and then I'd break the engine. It's all good. We're all here for a reason and we need to honor that. I believe that God has a plan for all of us…


Hope it's still OK to post here even though my homeschooling days are over. I finally have the time, LOL.



Edited by Kathy in Richmond
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[/size] Hope it's still OK to post here even though my homeschooling days are over. I finally have the time, LOL.




Kathy, :grouphug: Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, and please do keep on sharing.


I guess I'm going to further derail this thread. Sorry to the original poster. I started homeschooling my youngest two because of similar reasons you expressed, Kathy. My youngest just did not fit in well at school and it was a daily struggle. Shortly after my mother died, I decided not to send them back that fall. At the time, I was incredibly aware of how fragile life can be, and I felt much more willing to do something that I might have otherwise regarded as radical. I wanted my youngest to have a happy childhood, and she wasn't happy in school. In fact, it was torture for her. My 8th grader at the time had finished third grade and loved school, but after having read WTM, I thought she would benefit, too. So, thank you, SWB.:001_smile: The thought of having my children home with me seemed like a dream. My oldest was entering her Senior year so pulling her out wasn't an option. But with my younger two, I discovered that there was something I could do differently with them. We could take this exciting adventure where we'd be able to spend lots of time together, enjoying one another and the world around us. We are in our 5th year now, and it has been an amazing journey so far. I am so thankful we went this route.


For us, it's not all about academics. I approach homeschooling as something that will help each of my children grow and thrive and be happy. I want to create an experience for them that is memorable and enjoyable. I want them to have the free time that I think is so important. We don't homeschool with the intent of admission to a top tier school. I think that what options work for each child after high school will just depend on the child. It is more important to me that my children have a happy childhood filled with happy family memories than that they get into a top tier school. If they end up in a position where that kind of school is possibly within reach, that's fine, but if not, that's fine, too. Like Kathy said, God has a plan for all of us.


As for who will get into those top tier schools and what it takes, I don't think you can or should try to force it if that makes sense. If you have a child that naturally can aspire to Stanford, Harvard or whatever, that's great. I don't necessarily think it has to be a grueling road to get there if your kid is just naturally the sort of kid that would thrive there (and it seems to me that's kind of what Kathy is saying in her post). That she and her children enjoyed their homeschooling journey.


I also agree that it's better to let a child explore interests as opposed to adding on more and more book work. This is what I loved about Cal Newport's book. He suggests freeing up lots of time (including reducing heavy course loads) so that a child can explore their interests and see where it leads. So refreshing.

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As the original poster, I just want to say I am quite happy for the direction this thread has gone in. I am glad it sparked so much discussion and great advice. My son has applied to lots of hard to get into schools (including Stanford!) and he is just encouraged to know many of those places will have a positive view of homeschoolers - though as I think Kathy said, few homeschoolers - or any other students get into those top colleges!


I have also focused on trying to show the depth of the work my kids have done at home. My kids take as many APs as are relevant to the courses they are doing and we do loads of contests. Their results in those will hopefully show admissions counselors the quality of work done. And then we have also focused on community service and leadership and the arts (photography, computer graphics and film making). And they all run their own businesses. My oldest dd got into 4 colleges with acceptance rates of less than 25% (and then chose Biola!) so I do have first hand experience to know homeschoolers need not worry they can't get into good colleges. And from our local homeschool support group we have students currently at MIT and University of Chicago.


So for those of you with highschoolers - pursue excellence - in whatever form fits with your family and your children's interests and abilities. Homeschooling is an advantage if done well!

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