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helena

Is anyone else struggling to find their place in high school homeschooling? Is it so wrong that we want to paint and listen to Velvet Underground?

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This is a terrific thread, and I am learning a lot.

 

I'll admit, since we started high school with our son this year, I have found myself not visiting this particular board too often.  It's too depressing, and it causes me to be judgmental of myself and our homeschooling, which will absolutely never look like that often talked about in this forum.

 

We are far from a traditional family, and while not Bohemian by any stretch, we are working with challenges others are not.  We started homeschooling later (5th grade for eldest)...heck, we didn't even start PARENTING until much later with 3 of our kids, who were all non-English speaking upon adoption at ages 8, 10 and 11.  We have learning disabilities up the wazoo, we have giftedness with two, we homeschool eclectically because we have an eclectic family! Hahaha!

 

When I read the word "rigor", when I read all the incredibly difficult work many of the high schoolers on this list are tackling, it leaves me doubting every single thing we do.  It feels like it is never enough, and I don't want to head to our kitchen table each day living in doubt.

 

So I stopped comparing, it worked miracles.

 

We are doing a GREAT job with what we have to work with!  We tailor things as best we can, we stretch our kids' minds, we focus on gifts, we present challenges, we have high expectations for character and work ethic which is paying off in huge, huge ways...even at 11 years old our youngest displays more adult responsibility than many adults I know.  

 

I have an 11 year old 5th grader starting TT Pre-Algebra in a week, but I have a 14 year old 6th grader who just completed TT5 and still needs remedial work due to math disabilities.

 

I have a 14 year old 9th grader reading at a college level, but a 15 year old 7th grader who is barely reading at 6th grade.

 

I have all five reading an ELL high school American History textbook which is lower reading level, but watching and discussing in depth the college level Great Courses in American History.

 

And you know what?  It works for us.  The whole idea of homeschooling is to meet our kids where they are at, and help them get as far as they can.  Some of our kids might prove to be college material, some won't.  My job is to focus on getting them ready for life as #1 priority, to make sure they grow into terrific adults who are responsible, capable, sincere, loyal, loving, compassionate human beings.  My job has nothing to do with crafting PhD students.

 

We have taken a different route, we are paying less attention to college, and more attention to fundamentals.  We are making sure that by the time they graduate, they can write very well, read at a college level (except for one who will likely not reach that...although he keeps surprising me!), and do math through at least geometry and Algebra 2.  Science will be far less rigorous because there are not enough hours in a day when half a childhood has been lost, and I needed to let go of rigor in one area so I could concentrate on the most used skills in life...reading, writing, math.  History will be strong, because it has built language skills more easily than science can with its uncommon vocabulary.  Overall, though, if they can read and write well, they can attend college and do fine, should they decide to do so.  Would it be Harvard?  Haha!  Nope, but then, that wouldn't be happening for other reasons anyway.  But we will be keeping doors open by keeping a laserlike focus on those fundamental skills.

 

We will have no AP's, we will have no SAT's, we will do community college, trade/tech, or entrepreneurship.  We will use the time we have left to explore life and careers/avocations because we never got to explore as younger children who were institutionalized.

 

And you know what surprised the heck out of me?  Even with this less rigorous approach (which is still actually far more rigorous than public school, in my opinion), even with not fitting in on this board, even with being years behind in some subjects, when our kids took the Stanford 10 online this fall they rocked it in ways I never would have imagined...not in a million years. It gave me confidence to see how they tested well above the norm in many areas...even if they would look like they were lacking against the norm here in this forum.  We are providing a far better education than they would have in our local schools, and that was one of our goals.  We have caught up in some areas, finally found explanations and answers for learning disabilities in others, and we are soaring...by our own standards, if not by others.

 

"Rigor" is subjective, it is also different from child to child. Our kids will function well in the world by the time we are done, they will be capable and confident.  Will they go to college?  Who knows?  I am not homeschooling for college, I am homeschooling for life...that may or may not include college.

 

And I decided not to beat myself up for not teaching a standard high school biology course, and instead going for a strong Life Science course.  I decided to stop feeling like a loser because we are not going to have Statistics under our belts, or foreign languages.  Heck, we are working on a foreign language every single day already!!  Let's get English solid, shall we? And no, we will not force it upon our children to retain a language left behind just so they can test out of it when it would be detrimental emotionally and they have begged not to keep it.  I have decided to not teach to a test, be it SAT, ACT or CLEP,which is one strong reason we left public ed.  We will instead learn, grow, and enjoy.  From what I am seeing in other ways, should we decide to eventually take a Big Test, I'll have little to fear anyway, with or without obsessing over it.

 

 I guess what I am saying is that I have decided to enjoy our homeschooling adventure with our kids, I have decided to celebrate our many, many victories, to laugh our way through our days, to loosely keep an eye on grade levels and performance but to work super hard every day on what is before us.  I have decided to let them explore who they are, pursue activities and classes that intrigue them alongside the fundamentals we will pound fairly hard.  

 

And at the end, when every textbook is closed and the last paper is written a few years from now, I'll still be able to look back on our homeschooling journey with great joy and pride in what we accomplished together, my kids and I.  We will have beaten the odds, whether there was an AP class taught or not.  We will have increased the great abiding love we have for one another, we will know each other intimately, we will rely on each other, encourage each other, and watch as their adult life becomes whatever it is meant to become.  Knowing us, we will stand often with arms around each other's shoulders, grinning, probably starting new businesses where Mom will help teach again how to keep books, pay taxes, hire staff.  

 

I will be grateful, and so will they.  The rest is all gravy.

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We both hate history.  We did very strong history through middle school, and for 9th American History we did "A History of US" which MANY do not consider highschool level.  You know, it was the only American History that looked even remotely like "not torture" for DD.  I felt guilty for awhile.  Now I embrace it! :)

 

I have seriously backed off on the high school schedule here.  She will graduate with the minimums for college (barely - probably not one credit more).  But she has always planned on going to CC.  So why were we killing ourselves?  She loves writing, she loves science, and she never had enough time for those things.  Now she does. 

 

I worry about kids that do nothing.  Not kids that do plenty but just not the "right" or "rigorous" thing.  Kids that are busy living and learning something will do fine in the adult world.  And kids that are happy and learning are good for both the adult world and the family unit!

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This is a terrific thread, and I am learning a lot.

 

I'll admit, since we started high school with our son this year, I have found myself not visiting this particular board too often.  It's too depressing, and it causes me to be judgmental of myself and our homeschooling, which will absolutely never look like that often talked about in this forum.

 

We are far from a traditional family, and while not Bohemian by any stretch, we are working with challenges others are not.  We started homeschooling later (5th grade for eldest)...heck, we didn't even start PARENTING until much later with 3 of our kids, who were all non-English speaking upon adoption at ages 8, 10 and 11.  We have learning disabilities up the wazoo, we have giftedness with two, we homeschool eclectically because we have an eclectic family! Hahaha!

 

When I read the word "rigor", when I read all the incredibly difficult work many of the high schoolers on this list are tackling, it leaves me doubting every single thing we do.  It feels like it is never enough, and I don't want to head to our kitchen table each day living in doubt.

 

So I stopped comparing, it worked miracles.

 

We are doing a GREAT job with what we have to work with!  We tailor things as best we can, we stretch our kids' minds, we focus on gifts, we present challenges, we have high expectations for character and work ethic which is paying off in huge, huge ways...even at 11 years old our youngest displays more adult responsibility than many adults I know.  

 

I have an 11 year old 5th grader starting TT Pre-Algebra in a week, but I have a 14 year old 6th grader who just completed TT5 and still needs remedial work due to math disabilities.

 

I have a 14 year old 9th grader reading at a college level, but a 15 year old 7th grader who is barely reading at 6th grade.

 

I have all five reading an ELL high school American History textbook which is lower reading level, but watching and discussing in depth the college level Great Courses in American History.

 

And you know what?  It works for us.  The whole idea of homeschooling is to meet our kids where they are at, and help them get as far as they can.  Some of our kids might prove to be college material, some won't.  My job is to focus on getting them ready for life as #1 priority, to make sure they grow into terrific adults who are responsible, capable, sincere, loyal, loving, compassionate human beings.  My job has nothing to do with crafting PhD students.

 

We have taken a different route, we are paying less attention to college, and more attention to fundamentals.  We are making sure that by the time they graduate, they can write very well, read at a college level (except for one who will likely not reach that...although he keeps surprising me!), and do math through at least geometry and Algebra 2.  Science will be far less rigorous because there are not enough hours in a day when half a childhood has been lost, and I needed to let go of rigor in one area so I could concentrate on the most used skills in life...reading, writing, math.  History will be strong, because it has built language skills more easily than science can with its uncommon vocabulary.  Overall, though, if they can read and write well, they can attend college and do fine, should they decide to do so.  Would it be Harvard?  Haha!  Nope, but then, that wouldn't be happening for other reasons anyway.  But we will be keeping doors open by keeping a laserlike focus on those fundamental skills.

 

We will have no AP's, we will have no SAT's, we will do community college, trade/tech, or entrepreneurship.  We will use the time we have left to explore life and careers/avocations because we never got to explore as younger children who were institutionalized.

 

And you know what surprised the heck out of me?  Even with this less rigorous approach (which is still actually far more rigorous than public school, in my opinion), even with not fitting in on this board, even with being years behind in some subjects, when our kids took the Stanford 10 online this fall they rocked it in ways I never would have imagined...not in a million years. It gave me confidence to see how they tested well above the norm in many areas...even if they would look like they were lacking against the norm here in this forum.  We are providing a far better education than they would have in our local schools, and that was one of our goals.  We have caught up in some areas, finally found explanations and answers for learning disabilities in others, and we are soaring...by our own standards, if not by others.

 

"Rigor" is subjective, it is also different from child to child. Our kids will function well in the world by the time we are done, they will be capable and confident.  Will they go to college?  Who knows?  I am not homeschooling for college, I am homeschooling for life...that may or may not include college.

 

And I decided not to beat myself up for not teaching a standard high school biology course, and instead going for a strong Life Science course.  I decided to stop feeling like a loser because we are not going to have Statistics under our belts, or foreign languages.  Heck, we are working on a foreign language every single day already!!  Let's get English solid, shall we? And no, we will not force it upon our children to retain a language left behind just so they can test out of it when it would be detrimental emotionally and they have begged not to keep it.  I have decided to not teach to a test, be it SAT, ACT or CLEP,which is one strong reason we left public ed.  We will instead learn, grow, and enjoy.  From what I am seeing in other ways, should we decide to eventually take a Big Test, I'll have little to fear anyway, with or without obsessing over it.

 

 I guess what I am saying is that I have decided to enjoy our homeschooling adventure with our kids, I have decided to celebrate our many, many victories, to laugh our way through our days, to loosely keep an eye on grade levels and performance but to work super hard every day on what is before us.  I have decided to let them explore who they are, pursue activities and classes that intrigue them alongside the fundamentals we will pound fairly hard.  

 

And at the end, when every textbook is closed and the last paper is written a few years from now, I'll still be able to look back on our homeschooling journey with great joy and pride in what we accomplished together, my kids and I.  We will have beaten the odds, whether there was an AP class taught or not.  We will have increased the great abiding love we have for one another, we will know each other intimately, we will rely on each other, encourage each other, and watch as their adult life becomes whatever it is meant to become.  Knowing us, we will stand often with arms around each other's shoulders, grinning, probably starting new businesses where Mom will help teach again how to keep books, pay taxes, hire staff.  

 

I will be grateful, and so will they.  The rest is all gravy.

 

:hurray:  :hurray:

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I worry about kids that do nothing.  Not kids that do plenty but just not the "right" or "rigorous" thing.  Kids that are busy living and learning something will do fine in the adult world.  And kids that are happy and learning are good for both the adult world and the family unit!

 

What a great way to put this!

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This is a point that LoriD brought up inadvertently when she tacked "rigorous" onto WTM. 

 

Ug. I SOO did not mean to derail this thread into a "rigor" discussion. :(  Sorry! Very careless/thoughtless wording on my part.

 

 

 

What I meant to express were the ideas of:

 

1. "many paths to reach the many diverse goals"

(the beauty of homeschooling, to tailor the education and home life to best prepare your student for their future adult life)

 

2. not having to accomplish goals in a traditional, formal, structured fashion

 

3. working to leave as many "future doors open" as possible

 

 

Totally JMO:

 

I think part of what throws us all off and makes us panic are the current college and economic trends, which make us panic and feel like we have to rush with the herd and do what everyone else is doing, rather than doing what is most helpful for the individual student to achieve their future goals. We forget #1 and #2 above, in fear that we will shortchange our student because it may not look like what everyone else in the herd is doing. Here's how I see that happening:

 

Back in the late'80s and through the'90s, college was cheap, and most of us homeschooling parents got a degree (or several). And because we did so, we think that's the route for our students, too. But, we forget to take into account how things have changed.

 

In the late '90s and early '00s, more and more, going to college and getting a became the expected path for getting a job -- any job. every job. At that time, because degrees were so plentiful in job applicants, a degree became a sort of  lazy way for employers (in fields that didn't necessarily really need a degree) to narrow the field of applicants... Which then fueled the idea that everyone NEEDS a degree to get a job. Which fueled the college bubble... Which in turn made getting into college very competitive (a "seller's market" -- lots of people wanting to go, limited spaces), so everyone then NEEDED the "edge" of AP scores, oodles of leadership activities, etc., in order to land one of those limited college classroom seats.

 

Then came the economic downturn of the past 5-6 years, and the skyrocketing costs of college have thrown us all into a new kind of tizzy:

 

- we still are hanging onto the old mindset (a degree will get you job -- which is no longer true; ask all those young people with BAs who are out of work, or can only find part time work as barristas...)

 

- we still fear that getting into college is highly competitive and might not happen if we don't have those APs and high SATs (though, with the recent high costs of college, the college bubble is bursting, and it's becoming less competitive, and so more of a "buyer's market")

 

- and now it costs a fortune to get a degree, with less "free money" out there to help defray the cost -- which further fuels the frenzy of "must get APs and high SATs" to compete for the fewer scholarships; high college costs are also causing many people to find ways to cut costs -- dual enrollment, CLEP tests, distance learning, transfer credits, etc.

 

 

 

As a response to the original first post, I see the key as balance -- making #3 above happen. Do enough of the "standard" or "traditional" things to keep future options open for your student, but without compromising what will really best help prepare them for THEIR unique future adult life.

 

- So, take the SAT or ACT once.

(It's only $50 and one morning of your student's time; you can prepare/practice as much or as little or not at all, as you like; and it will be "in your back pocket" in case later on you need something to support your "mommy transcript", or unexpectedly it turns out to help with admission into a program or opportunity or school that pops up later.)

 

- Don't worry about AP or CLEP or dual enrollment, unless it advances YOUR student's goals.

 

- Shoot for accomplishing the basic list of high school credits that would allow for college admission (should that unexpectedly become the goal later on) -- BUT, fulfill them in the way that works for YOUR student. (previous posters have given great examples of this)

 

- At the end of each semester, take time to reassess what you're doing and why.

(Does it still best help your student prepare for the future? Is it allowing your student to explore and grow? Is it challenging enough in your student's areas of interests and strengths? Are the "just get 'er done" credits taking too much time, or are they too light, or can they be tweaked in such a way as to bring in more of your student's interests? etc.)

 

 

BEST of luck, and enjoy your homeschooling journey all the way through high school! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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helena -

 

I'm pretty sure I know what is worrying you.  Although we aren't a very bohemian-life-style family, we accidentally wound up doing some rather extreme alternative-y stuff for high school, combined with some community college classes and some just-get-it-done stuff for the subjects that didn't interest us.  I used TWTM as a half-way point between unschooling and conventional schooling.  For me, it was a way to divide the bits of a conventional education that didn't suit our family goals and lifestyle from the bits that were necessary to become that life-long learner and not wind up accidentally handicapping my children.  As long as you are willing to use community college as a bridge to university, you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak.  You can continue to do more or less what you are doing but add in a few things along the lines of what Muttichen suggested and wind up with children who are capable of learning something in an academic way if they choose to do so.  Personally, I think it is a huge handicap not to teach your children how to do this, provided they are capable of it.  I strongly suspect that this is exactly what is worrying you.  There is nothing wrong with leading a bohemian life-style or raising your children to prefer that, but if you are like I am, you probably know "bohemian" people who lack the self discipline to accomplish their creative goals or who lack the academic skills to accomplish their career goals - would-be musicians or writers who can't make themselves put in the necessary time to become proficient at an instrument or  finish that novel, or would-be architects or vets or engineers who never received the academic grounding necessary to make it through the necessary classes.  I don't think it really is a matter of whether your children know when women were allowed to vote or what mitosis is.  One can learn those things.  It is more a matter of whether  they can write a research paper, read a difficult passage of text, understand a complex explanation, solve problems, pick out the main point, figure out which bits need connecting and which need memorizing, etc.  I think homeschoolers who have never learned to write clearly, are not well-grounded in math, have not read lots of high-level material in a wide range of subjects, and have not learned how to study (academically) are probably going to be at a disadvantage when they start college classes, but community colleges are pretty good at filling in the rest of a standard education.  Their students come from all over the world (at least where I live) and the introductory classes assume basic academic skills but do not assume that everyone has received the same previous educations.

 

We all make decisions for our children.  One of the major decisions is what sort of lifestyle they will lead while they are living with us.  It is ok, I think, to raise your children to fit into your own world.  I think you have to expose them to other worlds and make sure that they are educated in such a way that they are able to live other ways if they need to, but I think you are under no obligation to make them WANT to live any other way unless you think your way will not work for them.  Will they be able to make a living in your world?  If not, then perhaps you should reassess.  Otherwise, I would not worry about that part.

 

As much as we try to keep all doors open to our children for as long as possible, at some point (like the beginning of high school), some of those doors will begin to close.  If you choose to aim your children for an ivy league school, they will need to give up some things.  If you choose to let your children study music seriously in high school, they will need to give up some things.  If you choose to let them compete heavily in a sport, then they will need to give up some things.  Some children and families seem to be able to get away with giving up very little, but in the eastern US, at this point in time, for the average family and child, I think high school is when you begin to have to make some choices and give up some things.  That just is the way things are.  It is ok.  You just don't want to close too many doors.  For example, for my family, not studying math through pre-calculus in high school would close too many doors.  It is worth thinking about this and deciding at the beginning of high school exactly where that line stands for your family.  I think it is very important that you tell your children about all these decisions that you are making for them and get their agreement about any doors you choose to close.  Some are closed at birth.  Not everyone is intelligent enough to be a good doctor, for example.  It is good to discuss those doors, too.

 

The thought that the education you are giving your children at home now might be the only academic education they receive is indeed a scary thought.  Very scary.  It is an awsome responsibilty.  That does not mean that their education with you has to look like a conventional education, I think, but only that you need to make sure they are not handicapped by the education you give them and that they understand exactly what sort of trade-offs you are making by educating them unconventionally.  Homeschooling allows a wonderful flexibility and freedom.  It also has some rather large disadvantages.  Personally, I think that it is a good idea to make up for those disadvantages by taking full advantage of that flexibility and freedom to do some unconventional things.  For example, your children may not have the advantage of a fluent foreign language teacher, but they CAN make up for that disadvantage by taking a few months in the middle of the school year and going to live in a foreign country.  They may not have the advantage of taking formal lab sciences, but they CAN spend lots of time designing and doing their own experiments.  They may not have the advantage of being able to choose amongst a wide range of elective classes, but they CAN do a large, year-long independent research project.  They may not have the advantage of being able to take AP classes, but they CAN take community college classes (provided you live near one, have the money, and the rules allow it).  They may not have the advantage of lots of inspiring, great teachers, but they CAN have great mentors.  Etc.  You might feel better if you think about what exactly your are giving up and what exactly your are gaining with each decision you make.

 

If you want, I will describe (or find past posts describing) the alternative-y things we did and how we tried to make sure they still covered the basic academic skills.  They were along the lines of what Muttichen described, with a few additions specific to my particular families goals (like learning to design and document an experiment).

 

Hope this helps...

Nan

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We both hate history.  We did very strong history through middle school, and for 9th American History we did "A History of US" which MANY do not consider highschool level.  You know, it was the only American History that looked even remotely like "not torture" for DD.  I felt guilty for awhile.  Now I embrace it! :)

Yeah, that's all I managed with my 2nd. She's got a real aversion to US history. We're doing world/European/other stuff instead.

 

My oldest did the AP US History test. I'm not sure which of them has actually retained more US history.

 

I'm not saying the AP test was a bad idea -- she learned how to get an essay down on a page quickly. I'm just not sure whether she actually learned a lot more history than she would have otherwise. And it did her no good in getting college credits out of the way. (Nor, I think, did it do much for admissions.)

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Hmm... I've worded that wrong then. I don't mean to make them opposite. I can totally see that creativity is everywhere and that there are times where creativity isn't the point. I absolutely don't believe that being serious is boring or uncreative. 

 

I don't think that creativity is slacking either. But for me, I've been working through what it means to be a relaxed creative homeschooler. The stakes suddenly  seem higher in high school because it's the final act of the whole experience. Will they be able to go on to university or the work force with little or no issues? Did I use creativity as a crutch to not push harder on difficult subjects? Being super creative at home has it's risks and pit falls. It's easy to fall out of productivity or get stuck in ruts. 

 

I haven't had my coffee yet. So...  :tongue_smilie: Even if it doesn't seem like it, I hear ya.

 

Just remember- beginning college isn;t only for people who graduated 3 months ago!  COmmunity colleges are full (Well, ours is half-full!) of adults of various ages.

 

DIamond never took SATS or ACT or Psat. All community college wanted was a placement test and a check. She ended up in a developmental math class, along with several high school grads who PASSED AP CALC WITH As & Bs!  W

 

e always knew Diamond wasn't going to pursue a STEM degree...  so her high school years touched on the basics of science, but allowed time for the pursuit of her passions- dance & writing...  and volunteer work, and a part-time job, and school musicals. But if she has a major change of interest and decides to pursue a scientific path, she can always start over at community college... so she'll be a few years "behind" but who cares?  If she takes 2 years to start over she'll be 21...  if she doesn;t start over she'll still be 21. I'm just saying- to the OP especially, that while it;s good to prepare for college during high school, if it isn't what seems right for your students *now* but later there is a change- it;'s never too late!

 

I look at what will I regret more: Pushing an artsy/Bohemian child into a rigorous ultra-academic program at the expense of subjects they love, or following the relaxed path and later finding out they changed their mind and want to be a rocket scientist? I figure it;s easier to pursue the rigorous path later than it is to re-ignite the creativity that was stifled for so long.

 

Now, check back with me in 5-10 years and I'll let you know how that worked out! :leaving:

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We both hate history.  We did very strong history through middle school, and for 9th American History we did "A History of US" which MANY do not consider highschool level.  You know, it was the only American History that looked even remotely like "not torture" for DD.  I felt guilty for awhile.  Now I embrace it! :)

 

I have seriously backed off on the high school schedule here.  She will graduate with the minimums for college (barely - probably not one credit more).  But she has always planned on going to CC.  So why were we killing ourselves?  She loves writing, she loves science, and she never had enough time for those things.  Now she does. 

 

I worry about kids that do nothing.  Not kids that do plenty but just not the "right" or "rigorous" thing.  Kids that are busy living and learning something will do fine in the adult world.  And kids that are happy and learning are good for both the adult world and the family unit!

 

:iagree:  We have done similar things here, especially for History.

 

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Flyiguana, that's interesting, because that's the kind of thing I'm hearing from other people (a variety of sources) where there was a heavy push in high school.  The kids arrive in college burnt out already.

 

You know, with what you describe, I have to differentiate lackadaisical (which neither of us want and which you said you don't have going on) with APPROPRIATE.  It's appropriate for someone with SN to have a, well, an appropriate schedule.  It sounds like she really enjoys the things she's doing, and she's engaged and managing.  It all sounds fabulous to me.  It wouldn't make excuses for that at all!!  And the movie you're thinking of might be Auntie Mame, which I agree is totally, totally inspiring.  And now you've just eaten up hours of my life as I'm clearly going to have to watch it again.   :D

 

PS.  Maybe Auntie Mame was kinda technically a classical homeschooler?  Just having a bit more fun at it?   :lol: 

 

 

That's not it, but it looks great! I put both movies on hold at the library. 

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That's not it, but it looks great! I put both movies on hold at the library. 

Oh my, if you haven't seen Auntie Mame, you're in for a treat!!!  That and a good trip to somewhere in the boondocks for a week or two will help you reset your philosophy button when it gets jostled.  I suppose some 3rd world travel would too, but anyways.

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I'm so glad that I posted this thread. I was nervous to do it and have felt a little overwhelmed reading it over the weekend. 

You've all been so helpful in my getting over this hump. My family feels a little more on track already and I feel like something is being lifted off of me. I don't want high school to feel heavy. I want it to be a joy just like all the other years have been. Different, but still joyful. :)

 

I understand that this is a classical board and at the high school level that can look drastically different from what we do. I don't want to pretend to not know that. I am in absolute awe of what I read here (HS board specifically) and I respect that this a rigorous academic philosophy and that is reflected in most of the posts here. I'm not complaining about that or making any judgments. I hope nobody interprets it that way. 

 

I don't belong to any other forums and have no interest in looking. I couldn't imagine what our schooling would look like had I never found the WTM. I'm glad to learn that there's room for me here on the HS board too.

You guys are awesome! Thanks again. 

 

Okay, off to teach! One semester down! Woo Hoo!!

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Thanks for this post.  I've really been agonizing over my oldest starting high school next year.  This perspective is helpful and refreshing. 

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I am homeschooling mainly because I just want to be free to read, make stuff, explore nature, and play with my kids. I don't homeschool to give my kids an academic advantage. I'm with you on not liking workbooks, seeking to avoid APs, wanting to read poetry and listen to punk rock all day, and gravitating toward the weird classes like underwater basket weaving.

 

But I admit it raises some alarms for me that everything that your child is doing, except one thing, is listed by the publisher as sixth to eighth grade material. Looking solely at your list of core curricula -- WWS 1, GWG 8, TT Alg, HO 2 -- I'd feel like I was lying if I represented that as high school. In the four core subject areas you are using all middle school texts (except TT Alg, which is appropriate for 7th - 9th grades). I know that accredited high schools like Sycamore Tree, Clonlara and (when it was accredited) NARHS would not accept those courses as high school level.

 

I don't know if you have to report to anyone or plan to ever provide a transcript of your child's work. If you don't, maybe it doesn't matter. But if your daughter is academically a year behind across the board, and it sounds like she is, then I would just call this year eighth grade and make sure next year to use materials that publishers state are appropriate for high schoolers. (And I would happily continue NOT making those high school level materials the center of my kid's life. Adolescence is too full of magic to waste it on getting lots of good SAT II scores.)

 

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I am homeschooling mainly because I just want to be free to read, make stuff, explore nature, and play with my kids. I don't homeschool to give my kids an academic advantage. I'm with you on not liking workbooks, seeking to avoid APs, wanting to read poetry and listen to punk rock all day, and gravitating toward the weird classes like underwater basket weaving.

 

But I admit it raises some alarms for me that everything that your child is doing, except one thing, is listed by the publisher as sixth to eighth grade material. Looking solely at your list of core curricula -- WWS 1, GWG 8, TT Alg, HO 2 -- I'd feel like I was lying if I represented that as high school. In the four core subject areas you are using all middle school texts (except TT Alg, which is appropriate for 7th - 9th grades). I know that accredited high schools like Sycamore Tree, Clonlara and (when it was accredited) NARHS would not accept those courses as high school level.

 

I don't know if you have to report to anyone or plan to ever provide a transcript of your child's work. If you don't, maybe it doesn't matter. But if your daughter is academically a year behind across the board, and it sounds like she is, then I would just call this year eighth grade and make sure next year to use materials that publishers state are appropriate for high schoolers. (And I would happily continue NOT making those high school level materials the center of my kid's life. Adolescence is too full of magic to waste it on getting lots of good SAT II scores.)

Yeah, I'm agreeing with a lot of this. It's had me worried. I look at her schedule and I'm like "Oh, crud, how did this happen?!" That hasn't happened to us before and she's been homeschooling for 8 years.

 

Some of it makes perfect sense, like History Odyssey doesn't have a level 3 Modern. Neither of us were happy about it, but we figured next year she'd start Ancients level 3. We use the schedule as the bulk of what we do, change/add some books, and supplement here and there. It works for this year. 

 

Some of it, what can I do?? She discovered diagramming and says she wants to keep doing GWG. She thinks it's fun. I think she's in love with grammar and will alway want to do something with it. :)

 

Some of it... is just painful. She says she loves to write, she doesn't want to try anything else (she's tried other things), she does it, but she's slooooow in this work. I've given up. It's a good solid curriculum. Who knows about the future, but for now that's moving forward.  :banghead:  

 

There's no way I'd hold her back. I don't report to anyone so that's not an issue either. Most important, I see some of this easily remedied by next year. It was kind of a funky start. 

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She says she loves to write, she doesn't want to try anything else (she's tried other things), she does it, but she's slooooow in this work. I've given up. It's a good solid curriculum. Who knows about the future, but for now that's moving forward. :banghead:

I am positive that I once read (or heard) SWB say that if a student came to her in college having completed WWS, they would be better prepared than many students she instructs. So I wouldn't fret too much about WWS. It is solid instruction.

 

I have appreciated this thread so much! Thanks for starting it! We are eclectic and having fun, and I sometimes get nervous about high school because I do not want the essence of "us" to change too much. There is much reassurance here.

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I am positive that I once read (or heard) SWB say that if a student came to her in college having completed WWS, they would be better prepared than many students she instructs. So I wouldn't fret too much about WWS. It is solid instruction.

 

I have appreciated this thread so much! Thanks for starting it! We are eclectic and having fun, and I sometimes get nervous about high school because I do not want the essence of "us" to change too much. There is much reassurance here.

I think I've heard that too. I'm not really worried about it anymore because we're far enough into the school year where I can see what's not quite right (finally!) and how a lot of it will be corrected.

It's all new to me.   :) I'm going to be so prepare with my second kid!! 

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Helena, thank you so much for posting this thread. The high school board can be daunting, leaving you unsure if you are doing right by your child's education. It can also be uplifting and inspirational and give your school days a much-needed breath of fresh air and a new perspective.

 

I think because many of us feel the weight of the importance of the high school years, we sometimes feel that we have to sacrifice creativity and flexibility at the altar of academic success. While I know in my mind this isn't true, I feel like anxiety over academic performance has dried up much of the educational creativity that I seemed to be able to pull out of nowhere during the middle school years. 

 

Would anyone else be game for starting an "out-of-the box" high school thread?

 

JennW?  Nan?  8FilltheHeart? Anyone else that wanders off the beaten path?

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I'd love an out of the box thread.

 

Fwiw out of the box can be relative. I seem to be bucking a trend to use few curriculum from major homeschool providers or to be tackling high school courses without using local al a carte fee based homeschool support centers.

 

There are plenty of areas in which I wonder if I'm doing it wrong or making poor choices just because what we're doing is different. Some areas are more laid back and home grown and others aren't.

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I'd love an out of the box thread.

 

Fwiw out of the box can be relative. 

 

 

:iagree: (just as a lurker on the high school board...)

 

I love out of the box threads...until they devolve into arguments about defining the box, attempts to stuff people into boxes or throw them out of boxes, etc. I like the idea of a thread in which people are allowed to define the term for themselves  (but don't necessarily feel they have to lay out that definition explicitly) and to post with a safe feeling that others are not going to challenge their notion of what is or is not boxy, because one homeschooler's box may be another homeschooler's meadow. Or prison. Or whatever. :lol: I love threads in which people post details of how they are following the beat of their own drum, but I hate when they get picked on for that, especially since I think that many times it stems from rigidity or insecurity on the part of the person doing the picking. 

 

(I spent a good part of last week looking up old out-of-the-box threads, feeling frustrated and saddened at the turns some of them took.)

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:iagree: (just as a lurker on the high school board...)

 

I love out of the box threads...until they devolve into arguments about defining the box, attempts to stuff people into boxes or throw them out of boxes, etc. I like the idea of a thread in which people are allowed to define the term for themselves (but don't necessarily feel they have to lay out that definition explicitly) and to post with a safe feeling that others are not going to challenge their notion of what is or is not boxy, because one homeschooler's box may be another homeschooler's meadow. Or prison. Or whatever. :lol: I love threads in which people post details of how they are following the beat of their own drum, but I hate when they get picked on for that, especially since I think that many times it stems from rigidity or insecurity on the part of the person doing the picking.

 

(I spent a good part of last week looking up old out-of-the-box threads, feeling frustrated and saddened at the turns some of them took.)

AVA,

 

I think where those threads derail is when it comes to what do those high school decisions do to future options in the college application process. How far we roam outside of the the box does have implications. Where you see a lot of frustration is when the suggestion is made that there is no difference where educational decisions lead. That is simply not reality. While there is absolutely no given formula for how we absolutely must educate our kids during high school, the various options we choose absolutely do lead to different future options.

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AVA,

 

I think where those threads derail is when it comes to what do those high school decisions do to future options in the college application process. How far we roam outside of the the box does have implications. Where you see a lot of frustration is when the suggestion is made that there is no difference where educational decisions lead. That is simply not reality. While there is absolutely no given formula for how we absolutely must educate our kids during high school, the various options we choose absolutely do lead to different future options.

 

Yes, I've seen what you are describing too, more here on the High School board though. I spend most of my time on the General Education, K-8, and Logic boards. (I can still kind of live in lala-land! :tongue_smilie: ) Obviously high school brings its own challenges to out-of-the-box homeschoolers because of transcripts/credits and college requirements. Most of the old threads I looked through last week were not on the High School board, so the disagreements were less about implications for college/careers and more about being in the right club, doing things the right way.

 

I certainly don't mind a good strong dose of reality to offset my pie-in-the-sky homeschool dreams. I do best when I balance right smack between dreamy and pragmatic. However, I don't like when things get contentious because some posters go all know-it-all on other posters, because just as we have seen on this thread, people have very different goals and kids. I have seen threads derail because, in my opinion, it seems like people want others to wake up to reality when those others do not necessarily even share the same reality because of those different goals and kids. Gosh, even where you live matters. 

 

(I am feeling very incoherent after inhaling too many wood stain fumes today, so if no one can make any sense out of what I'm saying, it's apparently because I've inadvertently incapacitated myself. Never mind me. :lol: ) 

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. While there is absolutely no given formula for how we absolutely must educate our kids during high school, the various options we choose absolutely do lead to different future options.

 

Well, yes and no --  the fact is that a lot of kids from ps get into college with fairly minimal rigor in their academic load in high school.  And many of those kids go on in careers that no one really expected them to be able to do, based on their high school experience.

 

Many also aren't able to go on.  But I suspect what we're seeing is the differences in internal drive and (dare I say it) innate intelligence.

 

And I don't think we have the statistics to back up arguments about whether taking a different path in high school will close off options in the future - most kids tend to follow a traditional path (that's my impression) and those who don't, tend to be those kids who either had no interest in things like college, or no aptitude for it.  So are kids who spent their high school years doing "something else"

really closing off options, or just making their decision early?  If they then choose to skip college, or if they can't get in, is this because they spent high school doing something other than rigorous academics?  Or because they weren't really interested in that path to begin with?

 

What we need as data points is some kids who spent the high school years doing the non-traditional, who then went down the traditional paths following high school.  (Even better if we assign kids to the non-traditional path randomly.)

 

I'm just not sure we can draw much in the way of conclusions based on our small sample sizes and our lack of random assignment to treatments.

 

We can anecdote all we want, but the truth is, we can't know for sure.

 

My anecdote is one child who did a fair amount of rigorous stuff and scored high on the ACT -- college in high school and all that.  Although I'll be the first to admit that her courses in biology, chem, and writing were pretty woeful.  Although they were probably on about par with the offerings at the local high school.  (I was afraid she'd crash in college chem, based on the little prep she had.  She ended up with one of the top scores in the class.)   She got into every college she applied to, with plenty of scholarship money.

 

Now my second has been applying to colleges.  No college classes in high school.  Not much in the way of documentable extracurriculars.  ACT scores not so spectacular (good, but not that 1 percent deal).  She also got into every college she applied to (the exact same ones as her older sister, in fact) ALSO with plenty of scholarship money.  In fact, just about the same, adjusted for inflation.  I made up a transcript for her that looked like she'd been doing something, but it was mostly based on whether she knew stuff or not, not formal hours spent in course work.  I didn't really keep much in the way of records on her, and there were no outside grades at all except that ACT score (which maybe could have been higher if she'd actually studied, or even take the test seriously and not been out until the wee hours the night before)

 

My conclusions from this:

A lot of our obsessing just doesn't matter. 

And ACT score that proves you can read ok is plenty.  The math score may not even matter.

True, neither of my kids tried to get into an Ivy League so we don't know the results there, but my sub-suspicions about those schools are

       a) those are a crap shoot anyway

       b) they're not all they're cracked up to be education-wise (based on the education we saw our friends' kids getting who actually went there -- and on watching the moocs coming out of those schools)

     

A high school college counselor told me once: everybody gets in somewhere.  It's mostly true, if kids have appropriate safety schools in the line up, and if they're willing to accept community college as an option either as an end-degree or to get into a 4 year school. 

 

 

 

However, as I said up at the top, I think the kids who can come out of poor high school environments and still succeed in college is an indicator of... something.

 

That said, if you want your kid to go to college, they do need to have some reading skills.  And some writing.  If it were my kid, I'd also prefer them to have math skills, but I've seen plenty of kids get through college without that.  I'm not saying it's ideal, only that it seems to be possible, if you choose your major right.

 

But no matter HOW lax your high school years are, I'm guessing that most parents here would see being able to read and write and do basic arithmetic as requirements for just graduating out of elementary school.  So most of us (for most of our kids -- recognizing that there are some exceptions for various reasons) have already fulfilled the bare minimum for college before our kids are even into the high school years.

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Well, yes and no --  the fact is that a lot of kids from ps get into college with fairly minimal rigor in their academic load in high school.  And many of those kids go on in careers that no one really expected them to be able to do, based on their high school experience.

 

Many also aren't able to go on.  But I suspect what we're seeing is the differences in internal drive and (dare I say it) innate intelligence.

 

And I don't think we have the statistics to back up arguments about whether taking a different path in high school will close off options in the future - most kids tend to follow a traditional path (that's my impression) and those who don't, tend to be those kids who either had no interest in things like college, or no aptitude for it.  So are kids who spent their high school years doing "something else"

really closing off options, or just making their decision early?  If they then choose to skip college, or if they can't get in, is this because they spent high school doing something other than rigorous academics?  Or because they weren't really interested in that path to begin with?

 

What we need as data points is some kids who spent the high school years doing the non-traditional, who then went down the traditional paths following high school.  (Even better if we assign kids to the non-traditional path randomly.)

 

I'm just not sure we can draw much in the way of conclusions based on our small sample sizes and our lack of random assignment to treatments.

 

We can anecdote all we want, but the truth is, we can't know for sure.

 

My anecdote is one child who did a fair amount of rigorous stuff and scored high on the ACT -- college in high school and all that.  Although I'll be the first to admit that her courses in biology, chem, and writing were pretty woeful.  Although they were probably on about par with the offerings at the local high school.  (I was afraid she'd crash in college chem, based on the little prep she had.  She ended up with one of the top scores in the class.)   She got into every college she applied to, with plenty of scholarship money.

 

Now my second has been applying to colleges.  No college classes in high school.  Not much in the way of documentable extracurriculars.  ACT scores not so spectacular (good, but not that 1 percent deal).  She also got into every college she applied to (the exact same ones as her older sister, in fact) ALSO with plenty of scholarship money.  In fact, just about the same, adjusted for inflation.  I made up a transcript for her that looked like she'd been doing something, but it was mostly based on whether she knew stuff or not, not formal hours spent in course work.  I didn't really keep much in the way of records on her, and there were no outside grades at all except that ACT score (which maybe could have been higher if she'd actually studied, or even take the test seriously and not been out until the wee hours the night before)

 

My conclusions from this:

A lot of our obsessing just doesn't matter. 

And ACT score that proves you can read ok is plenty.  The math score may not even matter.

True, neither of my kids tried to get into an Ivy League so we don't know the results there, but my sub-suspicions about those schools are

       a) those are a crap shoot anyway

       B) they're not all they're cracked up to be education-wise (based on the education we saw our friends' kids getting who actually went there -- and on watching the moocs coming out of those schools)

     

A high school college counselor told me once: everybody gets in somewhere.  It's mostly true, if kids have appropriate safety schools in the line up, and if they're willing to accept community college as an option either as an end-degree or to get into a 4 year school. 

 

 

 

However, as I said up at the top, I think the kids who can come out of poor high school environments and still succeed in college is an indicator of... something.

 

That said, if you want your kid to go to college, they do need to have some reading skills.  And some writing.  If it were my kid, I'd also prefer them to have math skills, but I've seen plenty of kids get through college without that.  I'm not saying it's ideal, only that it seems to be possible, if you choose your major right.

 

But no matter HOW lax your high school years are, I'm guessing that most parents here would see being able to read and write and do basic arithmetic as requirements for just graduating out of elementary school.  So most of us (for most of our kids -- recognizing that there are some exceptions for various reasons) have already fulfilled the bare minimum for college before our kids are even into the high school years.

 

Nothing that you said changes the fact that different high school educations lead to different paths.  Starting at a CC and transferring to a 4 yr college.... attending an Ivy......starting off a typical 4 university.......earning a vocational degree......entering directly into the workforce----every single one of those is a different choice.   It is absolutely untrue that any high school education can take a student down all of those paths equally.      The rest is based on opinion.   Whether or not all education is equivalent is a completely different conversation than if all students have an equal chance of being accepted in the first place (b/c they don't.   It might be a crap shoot, but there are students that just wouldn't be accepted, period.)

 

 

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I can say that both hubby and I went to public high schools in our respective states.  My high school was superb - and I was near the top of my class.  His high school was probably "average" and he was near the top of his class.  We met in college, so same college (and some of the same freshmen classes, though mine were at a higher level than his as I was "Honors").  I got in easily.  He got in off the waitlist.  I had a FAR easier time adjusting to the academics than he did.  He even failed a couple of classes before finding his groove.  Fortunately, he found it as he's done great as an engineer since then.  Others in his situation did not make it.   They probably could have with a better foundation.

 

He has ended up doing more in "life" than I chose to do as he's a first rate engineer with his own company for the past 15 years.  I opted to mostly stay home once we had kids (after working corporate for a year or so) and have been merely subbing in our local high school part time for the past 15 years.

 

Both of us are FIRMLY in agreement that being more prepared for college is far better than being underprepared.  And neither of us regret our education.

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I don't know if this post belongs here in this thread or in the "out of the box" thread.  I said that for the most part our actual course choices are not out of the box - unless you consider that following a TWTM style 4 year cycle of history all the way through high school is really out of the typical public school box.  But. . . I am out of the box with my chronic illness issues and lately acute illness issues.  It has meant taking "by the seat of your pants" planning to new levels.  Just this morning I sat down with ds and said "We're ready for Milton's Paradise Lost.  I've ordered some TC lectures but they haven't come in yet.  So. . . do some research on Milton."  Now this is basically following SWB's order of study in TWTM - a study of the author and his times before reading the actual work but if I wasn't on my 3rd year of this method at the high school level, I wouldn't be able to communicate it as well to ds and if it weren't his 3rd year of doing this method,  he wouldn't know automatically what I want him to do!  

 

Sometimes I'm not sure if his little side jaunts in computer science or robotics are helpful or just a waste of time.  Certainly if I were a master in those subjects (and I'm not) and were orchestrating his study in those areas (which again, I'm not) then his study would be more efficient.  But, he is pursuing those subjects to the best of his ability.  He was taking a Python course on Coursera and was keeping up just fine until the end.  But then the lack of a teacher to discuss his roadblocks made it impossible for him to finish the last project.  He did his best, though and he certainly learned a lot through the process.  

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Sometimes I'm not sure if his little side jaunts in computer science or robotics are helpful or just a waste of time.  Certainly if I were a master in those subjects (and I'm not) and were orchestrating his study in those areas (which again, I'm not) then his study would be more efficient.  But, he is pursuing those subjects to the best of his ability.  He was taking a Python course on Coursera and was keeping up just fine until the end.  But then the lack of a teacher to discuss his roadblocks made it impossible for him to finish the last project.  He did his best, though and he certainly learned a lot through the process.  

 

This is one of the instances where I think: not everything the student studies needs to end up on the transcript.

I find that we are often trying to look at our students' learning too much through the lens of transcript-worthiness.

No learning is a  waste of time. Exploring rabbit trails is great, even in high school!

 

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This is one of the instances where I think: not everything the student studies needs to end up on the transcript.

I find that we are often trying to look at our students' learning too much through the lens of transcript-worthiness.

No learning is a  waste of time. Exploring rabbit trails is great, even in high school!

 

 

The bolded is something I have to tell myself often.

 

I also am working through the areas that we will cut back into check the box good enough style or even drop over the next few months, in order to make room for areas of greater passion.

 

This is daunting for me, in part because I wish they could have it all and in part because it will probably mean splitting out the work of my two oldest kids.  They have been together in school pretty much since they could both read.  But they are growing into different people with different passions and I need to figure out how to work with those passions (while still doing what I think is the minimum of college preparedness*)

 

*does that make me some weird subset of prepper?  (OK, bear with me folks.  I'm weeks away from moving across the country and I'm getting a little punchy.)

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Sometimes I'm not sure if his little side jaunts in computer science or robotics are helpful or just a waste of time.  

 

Just to repeat a pp, NO learning is a waste of time.  Every little bit helps develop different areas of the brain and helps make someone a more educated person.  It doesn't matter if it's academic or outside of it.  Cooking, piano, cars, trivia, math, literature, dogs, ______ ALL are helpful.  Some things may be foundational for all to learn and others aren't so much, but anything a person learns (excepting illegal stuff maybe) is truly a plus to having an education.  One doesn't have to be an "expert" in everything.

 

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Nothing that you said changes the fact that different high school educations lead to different paths.  Starting at a CC and transferring to a 4 yr college.... attending an Ivy......starting off a typical 4 university.......earning a vocational degree......entering directly into the workforce----every single one of those is a different choice.   It is absolutely untrue that any high school education can take a student down all of those paths equally.      The rest is based on opinion.   Whether or not all education is equivalent is a completely different conversation than if all students have an equal chance of being accepted in the first place (b/c they don't.   It might be a crap shoot, but there are students that just wouldn't be accepted, period.)

 

 

 

But what would a student miss out on if they spent their high school years trying to get into an Ivy League school?  What if their info on HOW to get into an Ivy League is wrong?  What if their info on how great and Ivy League would be is also wrong?

 

The thing is -- a high school student is first and foremost a person -- with desires and interests.  They don't suddenly become a real person when they enter college.  Or after.  If those desires and interests are put aside to spend all their time on the goal of getting into a fancy school, is that serving that person best?  What will they lose in pursuit of that goal?  Whose goal really is it?  Does the student actually know they'd be happy at an Ivy League?  That they'd end up where they want to be as a result of that college?  That they couldn't end up in the same place without that college? 

 

No, they don't know that.  None of us could know that.  But what does that do to a high school student if they feel they have to do all they can to impress the Ivy League while they're in high school? 

 

What I've been trying to point out is a couple of things:  First, spending a bunch of time on activities that don't thrill the student just to get into a higher tier college is a waste of time.  If it actually works, the student will likely end up at a place where they don't want to be -- a place filled up with students who either just jump through hoops for the prestige, or students who actually enjoy the things it took to get to that college. 

 

Second, the high prestige colleges are likely not significantly different in any measure from the lower tier colleges that also provide an equivalent education.  Except prestige.  So why would anyone waste time trying to impress those colleges to get into them?  Time that could be spent on pursuing interests -- on actually learning something, rather than just going through the paces and getting a check mark on the transcript or whatever. 

 

The stuff a student wants to learn usually sticks.  The stuff they only feel they should learn generally doesn't

 

The different paths you list CAN all end up in the same place IF THE PERSON CHOOSES.  That's an important point.  Lock step education at the "right" college is not essential.  That means that the high school years can be spent doing something other than trying to get into that "right" college.  I've known plenty of people who blew off this or that just when the adults in the lives were telling them they'd be ruined.  They went on and succeeded at something anyway.  This includes people who went to cc after high school because their grades in high school stunk, or who just went out and got a job because they couldn't think of anything else to do -- people who later went on to get PhDs and internationally known in their field -- people who now are respected professionals and making plenty of money.

 

What determines the path is not what they did directly out of high school.  It's not how they did IN high school.  Or even what their test scores are.  (I know one very successful woman who actually passed out during the SAT because she'd had too much to drink the night before.)  What determines what they eventually do is their own internal drive.  There are plenty of resources out there to recover from teenage indiscretions. 

 

This is not to say that just laying around on the couch watching Loony Tunes is really the best choice for those years.  Although if a kid chooses to do that, I'd challenge any parent to really be able to stop that behavior -- I know I couldn't.  My kids do things because THEY see the utility.  Because THEY have an interest.  I may advise.  I may tell them they need to get to letter a if they want letter b, because that's the way the world works, but I'm not really the one making their decisions.

 

But what the OP was bringing up was this -- do I force my kids to do all those high-falutin things that MIGHT result in an Ivy League berth?  Or do I let them follow their hearts in high school -- perhaps finding their true passion, or maybe just wasting a couple years having fun (and learning how to learn, I might add) before they go to college?

 

Read my last post, where I pointed out that a lot of kids could probably handle college based purely on their grammar school skills, if those were solid.  The only exception might be the math/science track, where having a base of higher math skills would speed up the degree.  (But I'm kind of against early college, because there's more that goes into college than academic skills.  Kids need to have also matured to a certain level.  That's why most kids do better if they at least wait until 18)

 

Some kids really have a passion for academics.  They should do that.

 

But the real question is whether we try to force our kids to follow some other kids' path.  Why would anyone want to do that?  The only reason I can think of is the worry that our own kid won't get into college if they have to compete with AP tests and college courses and lots of awards.  My answer to that is -- you don't.  There are plenty of colleges that accept kids who don't have that stuff.  Who offer aid.  Who graduate kids who go on to grad and professional school or just go out and get good jobs where they're fulfilled and making plenty of money (as well as kids who go down less traditional paths).

 

It looks to me like there are 3 choices in high school --

1) do the traditional, pack in every academic you can think of to POSSIBLY make your kid look attractive to an Ivy League school (cause no other school is really going to care all that much - they just want solid kids who have basic skills and are willing to learn)

2) do drugs or lay around watching TV

3) spend a lot of time on a kids' current passion and figure a bit of solid academics will go a long way

 

I'd choose number 3, myself.  I always suspected choice number 1 was a waste of time -- EXCEPT for those kids who have a passion for that, but then they're just doing number 3, so what are we arguing about?

 

And based on what I've seen in the high schoolers graduating around here, I'm now firmly convinced number 1 is a waste of time (unless the student is enjoying it).  Even if the goal is to get to an Ivy League, it's a waste of time.  Based on the kids I've seen applying to those schools, solid academics that would be provided in most ps high schools, along with some passions about a few things is what seems to get kids into Ivy Leagues (if I discount the probable legacies).  It's possible very high test scores may be very helpful, but one can't choose those.  They just happen.  Even a lot of test prep is only likely to raise the score a certain amount.  (Some people's minds just work that way -- or they read really fast.)

 

But let me say that I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who went through high school doing number 1 -- convinced that was the way to happiness.  And I HAD everything I should have had to get into those fancy schools.  I even had the way-high test score (probably through no real action on my part.  I just read really fast). 

 

And I did get into those fancy schools.

 

But I didn't go -- because there was no way my parents could afford it.  And knowing what I know now, I have absolutely no regrets about not going to those fancy schools.  I've seen the graduates.  I've seen the kids who get in and do go.  I see NO difference between those graduates and the graduates of any other place.  (No real difference in the admittees either)

 

The ONE thing I DO regret is wasting my time in high school on academics.  Yeah, I was a little more prepared in college.  But I'd have been just fine with a little less preparation.  High school doesn't do all that much to prepare one for college, beyond the basics.

 

I would have much preferred to have someone guiding me in another direction in high school.  To help me figure out what the heck my passions were.  I had no idea -- I was pursuing the academics, cause that was all I knew, and all anyone could think to steer me into, based on that test score.

 

I wish someone had said, oh, here's something else you're interested in -- look you could do THIS to further that.  No one ever did.  They were all also focused on that academic track.

 

But I could have spent the time,well, doing a lot of things I'm doing NOW.  I had to wait until I was an adult to get the time and money allocated towards that -- everyone else told me I was wasting my time.  Academics were my strength.  That's what I should focus on.  Maybe I wouldn't have gotten that good at them when I was in high school.  But I think I would have been a happier person.  At the least, I would have been a lot more interesting.  (And I do see a lot of parents pushing their kids into academics, whether they know it or not.  They believe the kid is mostly interested in academics, and only discover later that they weren't -- because the kids were trying to please their parents, or had never been shown it was ok to be interested in anything else.  The parents don't even know they're doing this until later.)

 

And the extra academics I did in high school above and beyond the minimum to get into a college?  The college classes I took while in high school?  They didn't do me any good at all.  I ended up going to a state university that would have let me in without all that.  The courses I took pre-college counted for nothing.  (This is true for a lot of kids.)

 

So if a kid is saying I've done the basics, let me do something else, why shouldn't they?  If it looks like they know enough to get them into college and to succeed in their classes (which isn't nearly as much as many believe -- barring that math hurdle for science that I've mentioned), then WHY go pile on more and more academics?  Because someone told you it would close off a path if you didn't?  It won't -- paths mostly get closed off by people's innate abilities and by their lack of initiative (or by taking out too many student loans).  The path immediately beyond college might be different, but things have a habit of converging IF the student/adult wants to get there. 

 

Even the advanced math can be covered later if the student decides later they want to go down that path.  I've seen plenty of kids do it -- a lot of them go on to grad school etc in their chosen fields.  I happen to work at a college, so I've seen it happen time and time again.  I've also seen kids who were totally wasted in high school eventually graduate from college and go on to careers, grad school, med school etc (I'm in a unique position with this because our college has a program to cater to those kids.)  How is spending the high school years exploring a passion that isn't entirely academic WORSE than spending it in a drugged haze?  If kids can come out of a drugged haze, from living homeless on the street with their illegitimate children, from a life of crime selling drugs,  but STILL get through college just fine once they set their mind to it, why can't a kid do it from a springboard of spending those years learning something that happened not  to be geared to a test?

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Flyingiguana (and Helena too), I've related to much of what you've said because while my son is bright, he is also intense and easily stressed.  For him, pushing the 'be all you can be' attitude in school would lead to him just shutting down in frustration and nerves.  So I have to find a balance.  Part of that balance is finding those passions and feeding them because those things he is passionate about lets him intensely study and learn without the accompanying stress (sometimes!  Right now he's at a deadend on one of his electronics projects and he's tearing his hair out!).  And part of that balance is filling in those other things that he isn't passionate about but needs in order to have the skills and the foundation he needs in life.  We do those things but I don't push them because if I push too much he will push back.  Sometimes I feel like a failure because I tend to be a perfectionist and this sort of an approach doesn't mesh well with that!  But then I realize that one of the key components of homeschooling is that it allows you to teach the person himself.  And this approach is all about that.  

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The thing is -- a high school student is first and foremost a person -- with desires and interests.  They don't suddenly become a real person when they enter college.  Or after.  If those desires and interests are put aside to spend all their time on the goal of getting into a fancy school, is that serving that person best?

This all depends upon what they want and where their academic talent lies.

 

What will they lose in pursuit of that goal?  Whose goal really is it?  Does the student actually know they'd be happy at an Ivy League?  That they'd end up where they want to be as a result of that college?  That they couldn't end up in the same place without that college?

Do they know that they wouldn't? Does anyone know the future? We all make our best guess based upon info we have.

  

 

What I've been trying to point out is a couple of things:  First, spending a bunch of time on activities that don't thrill the student just to get into a higher tier college is a waste of time.  If it actually works, the student will likely end up at a place where they don't want to be -- a place filled up with students who either just jump through hoops for the prestige, or students who actually enjoy the things it took to get to that college.

Agreed. I don't think anyone I've read posts from on here disagrees with this point. There should be enough things that DO thrill a student that they can spend their time on. Those things often can assist them with their college apps too.

 

 

 

Second, the high prestige colleges are likely not significantly different in any measure from the lower tier colleges that also provide an equivalent education.  Except prestige.

And this is where you are incredibly wrong which is what is causing me to post. There ARE significant differences in college academically. There simply are. A Bio 101 class at a lower level school is nowhere near the Bio 101 class at middle son's Top 30 school. I've compared tests. Youngest has sat in on each for a class or two. He can instantly spot the difference and calls the lower tier class "Bio-lite."

 

Interestingly enough, the cc Bio prof here used to spout the same misinformation to his students saying "a cell is a cell no matter where you learn about it." It took him less than a minute to change his mind when I showed him one of middle son's tests...

 

One difference? In "Bio-lite" they learn "there is an enzyme here that speeds up the process." In Top 30 research U they learn about the "multiple enzymes that speed up the process - by name - and function."

 

At Top 30 the info learned in AP Bio is considered standard for coming in to the course. At lower tier AP Bio is essentially the same as the course.

 

SUCCESS can come from either school, but the schools are NOT the same aside from prestige. The research options (available to undergrads) are not the same either.

 

And what schools fill in the Top for any particular major also change. They need not be Ivy. One should do some research into School A vs School B (checking to see what profs are doing) before selecting a school IF wanting to use their degree. If one is merely getting a degree to check a box for something else, than any school will usually do.

 

 

 

So why would anyone waste time trying to impress those colleges to get into them?  Time that could be spent on pursuing interests -- on actually learning something, rather than just going through the paces and getting a check mark on the transcript or whatever.

Because one wants to be part of what these places are doing? Because middle son has enjoyed working with the prof who discovered an aspect of g-proteins? Because he's enjoyed working in labs doing super meaningful research? And why do you think he didn't learn anything along the way?

 

 

The different paths you list CAN all end up in the same place IF THE PERSON CHOOSES.

No, they do not. If one doesn't have the stats to get into middle son's Top 30 school they will miss a significant portion of things. Perhaps they'll get in as a transfer later if they did well in another school, but at that point, they've missed the opportunity to start research earlier. They've also missed the camaraderie of the first two years - the fun the kids had in study groups and life. It's not 100% the same.

 

 

 

Lock step education at the "right" college is not essential.  That means that the high school years can be spent doing something other than trying to get into that "right" college.  I've known plenty of people who blew off this or that just when the adults in the lives were telling them they'd be ruined.  They went on and succeeded at something anyway.  This includes people who went to cc after high school because their grades in high school stunk, or who just went out and got a job because they couldn't think of anything else to do -- people who later went on to get PhDs and internationally known in their field -- people who now are respected professionals and making plenty of money.

Sure, one can succeed in life from many different paths - that's what this thread is all about. But the paths, themselves, differ significantly and one should try to tailor a path to their student.

  

 

 

Read my last post, where I pointed out that a lot of kids could probably handle college based purely on their grammar school skills, if those were solid.  The only exception might be the math/science track, where having a base of higher math skills would speed up the degree.

Again, this all depends upon WHICH college one is interested in. It wouldn't have worked at middle son's school.

 

 

 

(But I'm kind of against early college, because there's more that goes into college than academic skills.  Kids need to have also matured to a certain level.  That's why most kids do better if they at least wait until 18)

Agreed. Middle son could have easily done college earlier - and did do cc classes earlier, but there is more to college than just the academics. Having another couple of years home to mature in other ways is something I wouldn't change.

 

 

Some kids really have a passion for academics.  They should do that.

 

But the real question is whether we try to force our kids to follow some other kids' path.  Why would anyone want to do that?  The only reason I can think of is the worry that our own kid won't get into college if they have to compete with AP tests and college courses and lots of awards.  My answer to that is -- you don't.  There are plenty of colleges that accept kids who don't have that stuff.  Who offer aid.  Who graduate kids who go on to grad and professional school or just go out and get good jobs where they're fulfilled and making plenty of money (as well as kids who go down less traditional paths).

100% in agreement here too.

 

It might help to remember that your experience isn't everyones. ;)

 

I've seen kids who have regretted not being able to get into higher level schools. Middle son just met with one a week ago when both were home from college. Middle son has oodles of research opportunities at his school and has his choice of what he wants to get interested in. His friend - an academic peer, but one who went to our public high school and DID NOT GET sufficient prep to get in to a top school - had to settle for a much lower tier school. He's involved, but he's involved in the only thing they have there - something he's not terribly interested in by his own admission. He's rather jealous... and wishes he has spent more time studying for the SAT. He wishes someone had shown him the differences in colleges and opportunities and how they tended to be based upon scores for a minimum bar (he had everything else he would have needed for admission).

 

Both will be successful in life - both will get into med school (IMO - at least they have the stats for it), but the paths to get there are definitely different AND dependent upon their high school education + choices they made at that time.

 

And that's just one student. I can list others if you'd like. We get plenty who come back to our high school to share experiences both good and bad. There definitely ARE some who have regrets at not doing enough in high school. There are MANY who have regrets to be honest as getting a college education later often interferes with other aspects of life. It can be done. It's just not as ideal timing wise for many. The best motivator for my youngest was hearing from a previous student who was trying to get an education via cc about 4 years after graduation - when he was married, with a baby.

 

The key again is each kid to their own path, but make sure their eyes are wide open as to where those paths may lead.

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FlyingIguana,

 

I want to address your point that solid academic prep can be found at most high schools.  I so completely disagree...  Graduates from our high school are having a VERY hard time at our state schools.  I can't find any going to IVY.  They couldn't get in.  Our school only offers 3 AP classes and last I checked out of the 30 or so that actually took the AP exam, only 7 of them got a 3 or higher.  Many that head off to a state school or college are back at the community college because they haven't been able to handle it. 

 

I think many of the other districts in our area are the same: rural schools with 60 to 75 percent economically disadvantaged.  Now if you are talking the suburban schools in the bigger areas with hardly any economically disadvantaged then you are correct.

 

 

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I agree with much of what your wrote. I would never want a student to spend four years of his life just tailoring everything towards the elusive possibility of being admitted to an Ivy.

But I do strongly disagree with the following:

 


Second, the high prestige colleges are likely not significantly different in any measure from the lower tier colleges that also provide an equivalent education.  Except prestige.

 

No, not all colleges are created equal. The student population at a college affects the quality of the instruction both through innate ability and preparation, and the education would not be "equivalent".

I teach at a public university. My introductory physics class has to be of such a level that the 30% of students who never had any prior physics in high school have a chance of succeeding. I could teach a completely different course if I knew that all students had physics in high school, or if I knew the majority had taken an AP course - which would be the case at a top tier school. The course of the same title could cover more complex material, go into more depth, go further and deeper.

Average ability is also a factor, even if it may not be politically correct to state that some students are simply smarter than others.

At a university where a 14 year old performs at the top of her class in hard STEM weed-out courses she will be lacking academic peers as a college student; the likelihood of being surrounded by students of similar abilities is higher at a selective school.

Aside from that, undergraduate research opportunities differ greatly between schools. In some colleges, faculty do not research at all, so the students will not be involved in research either.

 

None of this is to say that one can not have a happy, successful life if one is educated at a non-selective college.

But I do not find it true that all colleges provide an "equivalent" education. They do not.

I do not believe that "prestige" exists independent of actual quality differences. There is a reason some schools have prestige and others don't, and of course it differs between fields which schools are considered prestigious and which are not. An overall mediocre school can have a very highly regarded department in a specific field. The people working in the field usually agree pretty well about where the top departments are; the prestige is earned.

 

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FlyingIguana,

 

I want to address your point that solid academic prep can be found at most high schools.  I so completely disagree...  Graduates from our high school are having a VERY hard time at our state schools.  I can't find any going to IVY.  They couldn't get in.  Our school only offers 3 AP classes and last I checked out of the 30 or so that actually took the AP exam, only 7 of them got a 3 or higher.  Many that head off to a state school or college are back at the community college because they haven't been able to handle it. 

 

I think many of the other districts in our area are the same: rural schools with 60 to 75 percent economically disadvantaged.  Now if you are talking the suburban schools in the bigger areas with hardly any economically disadvantaged then you are correct.

 

A couple of years ago at a family reunion, I had a conversation with my nephew that was seared into my brain. We were talking about literature courses (he was in college at the time), when he began talking about his high school English classes. He said that over the course of four years, they read very little and he had almost no experience with the classics. He and his future wife, who had gone to the same high school, felt woefully under-prepared for college literature courses and for handling the reading load in other subjects. It really shook him to find out how far behind he was.

 

He now holds his doctorate and teaches literature courses at a university, so on the surface this could be one of FlyingIguana's success stories about it not mattering about your school background if you had a level of drive or whatever it is that makes people overcome personal obstacles.

 

I think my nephew would disagree with the idea that "all's well, ends well" because he is now in a good place. The lack of preparation cost him numerous credit hours that could have been spent on more meaningful to him work. And this was just for literature.The greatest cost is his relationship with his parents. He holds them responsible for knowing the high school was a very poor quality one and just assuming he would make the most of it. He did make the most of it, but that was nowhere near the level he needed it to be.

 

It does matter what happens in the high school years.

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None of this is to say that one can not have a happy, successful life if one is educated at a non-selective college.

But I do not find it true that all colleges provide an "equivalent" education. 

 

I am finding this in my college classes. I'm in my second semester and I am vastly underwhelmed. It's a state university that is more known for their career training that academic training, yet it's still a state university. 

 

For one class this week, our first week, my only assignment was to read the syllabus and take an open book test on the syllabus. Seriously. 

 

I look at the course listings for other schools and cringe knowing there are about 1/3 to 1/4 or the class/major offerings at my school. I hope I find more difficulty as I move up to higher level classes. The school is one of the cheapest state options, it's popular regionally, but not a place most people choose from outside the region. 

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FlyingIguana, I want to say I loved your post and much of it resonated with me.

 

Addressing the idea of equivalent educations, clearly some universities are better than other, like some high schools are better than others. But the actual end result, the education of the students, depends greatly on the students themselves. I went to a state school and worked my tail off. When I showed up at grad school, I was extremely well prepared. In fact, you could not tell the difference between the people who went to a prestige undergrad and the ones from a state school. 

 

I have no doubt that the kids from this board who go to excellent universities are making the most of their education there. They wouldn't have gotten in if they didn't want to do the work to get there. But there are some kids there (like at the state schools) who did the work because other people wanted it, who will not take advantage of all that their school offers, and will graduate anyway. Did those students received the same education? I doubt it.

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Not everyone has to be a Harvard (or any other prestige school) grad. in order to be a good (fit your career title in here).  I do think that a college degree is helpful in life and opens a lot of doors.  And I think that depending on what your goals are in life you need to find a college that matches that goal.  But a college degree does not equal an education.  Part of the whole "autodidact" thing that many homeschoolers embrace should teach us that.  

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Flying Iguana, I don't have the time or the patience to respond pt by pt to your post.  Since I cannot even imagine approaching education with the mentality you have argued, I am not even sure how to answer.   FWIW, I have never had a student that wanted to attend an Ivy League school.  Top academics are not limited to those 8 schools.  There are excellent schools across the country ranked near the top of the world in their respective fields.   Many of the top physics universities, the ones we have been thinking about this yr, are public universities.   That somehow stringent admission standards only exist amg the Ivies is not even close to being accurate. 

 

FWIW, the entire premise that students contort their high school lives around a future college admission is completely polar opposite to how I approach education with my kids.   My kids have huge control over what they study and which we create to match their personal goals.   We progress academically through material at their pace/level.   Nothing is "groomed" to make them fit some obscure profile predetermined by some hopeful college admission.   Their transcript is authentic them.   I cannot stress that enough.   The search for where to go to college begins from that end point.   We don't even really start thinking about colleges until 11th grade.   We absolutely don't start high school with the end point of a given school driving their high school academics forward.

 

 I absolutely am not a believer in all educations are equal.   I know from my  own kids experiences that our community college classes are most definitely not on par with 4 yr universities.   I know that the academic camps my ds has attended are full of very top performing students and the content of the classes with talented students are vastly different than the ones at the 4 yr universities he has attended.   Teachers teach to a target group.   If the target group are less academically prepared students, that is who they teach to.   If they are extremely strong students, that is who they teach to. 

 

Statistics also do not back up your assertion that how students do in high school does not affect their future successes in higher ed.   Statistically, students that require remedial courses in college are far less likely to graduate.  (I am too lazy to seek out the actual numbers, but it statistically significant)

 

 FWIW, I do believe that most kids could succeed at community colleges with solid grammar school level skills.  But, those same students would not only not be admitted, but would not be able to function successfully at top schools.   The academic skills necessary for success at top institutions--writing, analysis, research, math-- are vastly different from those required by the local CC. 

 

 BTW, NO ONE suggested to anyone that anyone should force someone to follow some other kids' path.   Wasn't that the pt of the entire thread?   I know that my dd would be crushed under the academic pressure that my ds completely thrives in.  

 

I also think that your list of 3 choices in high school are representative of your POV and your experiences and are far from a universal truth or reality.  It is very possible that kids can be completely #3 which simply happens to make them more than eligible for admissions to competitive schools (which, again, is not limited to the Ivies) who absolutely DO care about the academic achievements and abilities of the students they admit.     Your post makes it sound like all kids with great levels of academic success are somehow being forced to perform like some puppet.   There are students, my ds being one of them, that high levels of academic achievement is simply their norm.   My ds having taken 200/300 level college classes in 11th is no different than my oldest dd having taken pre-calculus in 11th b/c that is simply his academic level.   He didn't "do" anything abnormal for him.   It simply is him.

 

FWIW, I am absolutely glad that different level of academic institutions exist.  I am glad my ds will be graduating from high school this yr and moving on better academic challenges than he faces at the 4 yr university here.  My ds is a strong student, and he is not challenged in his classes here.  He knows what it is like to be really challenged academically b/c of academic experiences like The Summer Science Program.   He knows first-hand the different level of discussion, assignment, lectures, etc given in different academic level atmospheres.   He is a kid that thrives on intellectual stimulation and I have no qualms saying that you don't find that equally in institutions.

 

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Flying Iguana, I don't have the time or the patience to respond pt by pt to your post.  Since I cannot even imagine approaching education with the mentality you have argued, I am not even sure how to answer.   FWIW, I have never had a student that wanted to attend an Ivy League school.  Top academics are not limited to those 8 schools.  There are excellent schools across the country ranked near the top of the world in their respective fields.   Many of the top physics universities, the ones we have been thinking about this yr, are public universities.   That somehow stringent admission standards only exist amg the Ivies is not even close to being accurate.  [/size]

 

FWIW, the entire premise that students contort their high school lives around a future college admission is completely polar opposite to how I approach education with my kids.   My kids have huge control over what they study and which we create to match their personal goals.   We progress academically through material at their pace/level.   Nothing is "groomed" to make them fit some obscure profile predetermined by some hopeful college admission.  [/size][/size] Their transcript is authentic them. [/size]  I cannot stress that enough.   The search for where to go to college begins from that end point.   We don't even really start thinking about colleges until 11th grade.   We absolutely don't start high school with the end point of a given school driving their high school academics forward.[/size]

 

 [/size]I absolutely am not a believer in all educations are equal.   I know from my  own kids experiences that our community college classes are most definitely not on par with 4 yr universities.   I know that the academic camps my ds has attended are full of very top performing students and the content of the classes with talented students are vastly different than the ones at the 4 yr universities he has attended.   Teachers teach to a target group.   If the target group are less academically prepared students, that is who they teach to.   If they are extremely strong students, that is who they teach to. [/size]

 

Statistics also do not back up your assertion that how students do in high school does not affect their future successes in higher ed.   Statistically, students that require remedial courses in college are far less likely to graduate.  (I am too lazy to seek out the actual numbers, but it statistically significant)[/size]

 

 [/size]FWIW, I do believe that most kids could succeed at community colleges with solid grammar school level skills.  But, those same students would not only not be admitted, but would not be able to function successfully at top schools.   The academic skills necessary for success at top institutions--writing, analysis, research, math-- are vastly different from those required by the local CC. [/size]

 

 [/size]BTW, NO ONE suggested to anyone that anyone should force someone to follow some other kids' path.   Wasn't that the pt of the entire thread?   I know that my dd would be crushed under the academic pressure that my ds completely thrives in.  [/size]

 

I also think that your list of 3 choices in high school are representative of your POV and your experiences and are far from a universal truth or reality.  It is very possible that kids can be completely #3 which simply happens to make them more than eligible for admissions to competitive schools (which, again, is not limited to the Ivies) who absolutely DO care about the academic achievements and abilities of the students they admit.     Your post makes it sound like all kids with great levels of academic success are somehow being forced to perform like some puppet.   There are students, my ds being one of them, that high levels of academic achievement is simply their norm.   My ds having taken 200/300 level college classes in 11th is no different than my oldest dd having taken pre-calculus in 11th b/c that is simply his academic level.   He didn't "do" anything abnormal for him.   It simply is him.[/size]

 

FWIW, I am absolutely glad that different level of academic institutions exist.  I am glad my ds will be graduating from high school this yr and moving on better academic challenges than he faces at the 4 yr university here.  My ds is a strong student, and he is not challenged in his classes here.  He knows what it is like to be really challenged academically b/c of academic experiences like The Summer Science Program.   He knows first-hand the different level of discussion, assignment, lectures, etc given in different academic level atmospheres.   He is a kid that thrives on intellectual stimulation and I have no qualms saying that you don't find that equally in institutions.[/size]

Quoting this because a mere "like" was not anywhere near enough.

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Addressing the idea of equivalent educations, clearly some universities are better than other, like some high schools are better than others. But the actual end result, the education of the students, depends greatly on the students themselves. I went to a state school and worked my tail off. When I showed up at grad school, I was extremely well prepared. In fact, you could not tell the difference between the people who went to a prestige undergrad and the ones from a state school.

Agreed -- this is why the college generally doesn't matter all that much unless it's a completely incompetent place. But most colleges are not like that.

 

It may LOOK like a prestigious college does a better job at education, but one has to factor in that many of those kids are at the college because they come from prestigious families -- who tend to place their kids in prestigious positions.

 

Large, prestigious universities also tend to use a lot of TAs for teaching. This means that there's constant turnover. Once the TAs actually get better at teaching, they graduate. If you want experienced teaching, you'd be better off at lower tier school where the professors stick around long enough to learn HOW to teach.

 

You can also tell a lot about a prestigious college's teaching by watching the lectures that get put up on moocs. A lot of it is singularly unimpressive. Much is from the "top" colleges. I've seen better instruction in lower tier colleges. I don't know that many people have enough broad experience with a lot of different types of colleges to make this comparison. (I keep trying mooc lectures. Still haven't found a good set. And this includes all the ones that people on this forum have recommended. I'm concluding from this that most people wouldn't know good teaching if it hit them in the face.)

 

Most prestige colleges are also research institutions. Research tends to drive name familiarity, so it bumps those colleges up a lot in the college rankings. But there are a plethora of very decent colleges who don't do a lot of research (least, not the really big name sort) that actually do a better job of teaching.

 

I also keep hearing that it's better to be at a college with a well prepared student body. I'm not sure how you even measure that. Test scores? I know plenty of students with rotten test scores -- couldn't get any place "prestigious" -- but who are driving up the level of the class. I also know kids with impressive scores and grades who seem not to know anything, and are unable to learn anything - but who of course got into those prestigious schools. Not the best advertisement for going to one of those schools. (Still waiting to meet someone smart and engaged who is at or graduated from a prestige school.)

 

And there's a huge difference between decent high school preparation and an intensive, almost-college experience (possibly even "more" than college) that seems to often be labelled "good". You can do too much in high school. If it doesn't do anything to help the student in college (unless it's just an interest the student has), then it's too much.

 

My point about the local high schools here providing a decent education still holds. It's good enough for most of the kids graduating out of there to get through college. These are high schools that rank really bad. Although I'd like to believe that those schools are so bad they couldn't graduate a kid who would get through college, that's really not the case.

 

I'm actually kind of left wondering what the purpose of high school is. There is that period of time when most students aren't really ready for the rigor of college. But many of the kids who have the ability and desire to go to college may have already learned all they need to do well in college (except the math). At that point, it's just a matter of them waiting to mature. Packing extra learning into them doesn't actually do all that much. Learning higher math is one thing they can focus on. And for kids who intend to go on in math/science, that's a good use of that time. It may even be worth cramming that into a number of kids who claim they will never be interested in math/science (because a number of them will eventually change their minds and need that math).

 

And there are kids could benefit from a catch up period -- learning the skills they'd need that they didn't, for some reason, learn earlier.

 

 

 

So they can't just launch into college after 8th grade. But what do they do in that time period? High school kind of fits into our public mythology of "preparing" for college. So we all dutifully send our kids there and think it's doing something. But I'm not completely sure that it is. Outside of getting kids through higher math and maybe reading a couple books what's the point? They already did history. What passes for science in many high schools is mostly just memorizing terms. Language arts -- ok, I can see reading more books, but a lot of what passes for writing instruction has to be completely unlearned in college (that could be a whole other post -- writing instructor rants on high school writing instruction).

 

The one thing many kids lack in high school is that maturity to do well in college. So what should they do while waiting for that maturity? Sit in a chair and have the same old stuff thrown at them? That was my high school experience. I just tuned out. Write another paper? Sure, if they insist. But what was the point? No one ever had any helpful comments. I already knew how to write.

 

So what does one do with kids who have the skills to go to college already, but lack the maturity? It doesn't really make sense to leave them in high school -- not as it's currently constructed. If they could be doing things in high school that made developmental sense, sure -- but continuing to teach reading and writing to kids who already know how to do it, um, why? And why not let the kid get skills in some other area -- music recording or auto repair or woodworking?

 

One last anecdote -- my husband (now a college professor) spent a good chunk of his high school years taking woodworking classes (and some metal shop). His teachers in the academic fields were absolutely appalled that he would waste his time. Eh, he still got into college and managed fine. And now that he's a professor, guess which high school classes are of most value to him? The shop classes. Having that extra skill has been invaluable to him. Would he have had time to learn that skill while in college or grad school or while trying to get tenure? Nope. So it's a good thing he learned it when he could.

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I'm not going to respond to a lot of the other points people have made because I'd just be reiterating what I've already said.

 

But I do think people are misreading some of what I'm saying. I'm not sure if it's in an attempt to defend what they or their kids have done. Do they think I'm attacking those choices? All I was ever pointing out is that one-size-fits-all is never going to fit everyone.

 

However, I do think there is a lot of educational mythology floating around that's being quoted here. For example, the myth that some colleges are WAY better than others. Yeah, there are likely a few horrible places out there, but the VAST majority of colleges are perfectly competent at educating students. And there's little way to gauge student "quality" anyway In fact, I suspect that student "quality" varies more year to year than it does between colleges. My anecdotal evidence based on having taught at various schools supports this. A class on the same topic from one year to the next can be made up of vastly different abilities. But over the course of time, all the classes tend to average out to about the same point, regardless of the college and its standards and admissions policies. The one exception to this might be some cc's. But even there, there tends to be a binormal distribution -- the lower half of the class basically failing because they just don't care, while the top half behaves rather like students at a higher tier 4 year college. Do teachers dumb down the classes at ccs? Some do -- but there are teachers/professors doing the same thing at 4 year colleges, even pricey, prestigious ones (I'm not just talking Ivies here).

 

One particular anecdote here: I just love how many of the online lectures at Berkeley and Princeton and MIT and places of that ilk start out the class with "you're in the top 1 percent. you're really smart. so this class is going to go fast." And then ...they teach a class that's NO DIFFERENT from what I have seen at the non-prestige schools I have been at. Including ccs. I have no other explanation for that except that most colleges teach about the same thing. There are, of course, always a few awful classes, no matter the university, where the professor never gets around to teaching anything. But overall, it's likely not much different. (One caveat -- I have always lived in a city or university town, so I can't really speak to cc's that might not have the advantage of lots of unemployed PhDs looking for a job.)

 

But think about the lesson students in these classes are learning -- they're being told their the 1 percent, that they're smarter than everyone else. Is this not just marketing to make them believe they made the right choice in picking this particular university? Is that not just another myth working toward marketing that university?

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You can also tell a lot about a prestigious college's teaching by watching the lectures that get put up on moocs. A lot of it is singularly unimpressive. 

 

Just wanted to note that MOOCs are probably NOT the best representation of a college's true teaching quality and offerings.

 

MOOCs have quickly become a new form of advertising for a university, and a way to grab some of those dollars people are spending on college via channeling them towards distance learning classes that do have a tuition fee. Because MOOCs are designed to be widely accessible, and, just as you mentioned, designed to "make people feel smart", the courses offered in that format have very little connection with the actual quality/rigor of the school's on-campus courses and programs. 

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Just wanted to note that MOOCs are probably NOT the best representation of a college's true teaching quality and offerings.

 

MOOCs have quickly become a new form of advertising for a university, and a way to grab some of those dollars people are spending on college via channeling them towards distance learning classes that do have a tuition fee. Because MOOCs are designed to be widely accessible, and, just as you mentioned, designed to "make people feel smart", the courses offered in that format have very little connection with the actual quality/rigor of the school's on-campus courses and programs. 

 

This, precisely!

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Just wanted to note that MOOCs are probably NOT the best representation of a college's true teaching quality and offerings.

 

Let's not say moocs then, because I think that brings up the wrong impression.  At one time, all the online courses that these colleges had up were actual videos of actual classrooms.  THAT'S what I'm talking about.

 

At that time, some of the best courses I ran across were the ones being taught by adjuncts, by the way.  Who then left.

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However, I do think there is a lot of educational mythology floating around that's being quoted here. For example, the myth that some colleges are WAY better than others.

 

I guess all I'm going to add at this point is that your experience and mine (and that of literally thousands of students I've come into contact with via the public school I work at) is vastly different.

 

Success in life can come from many different paths.  On that we agree.  However, my experience has shown that the different level of colleges (for any particular major - not just going off US NEWS rankings) are vastly different.  This is seem by the content of their classes and what sort of research they are doing (if applicable).  Teaching styles can vary, but that doesn't change the content of the classes.  You are the one IMO who is perpetuating an inaccurate myth.

 

Some top colleges do use TAs for intro classes (buyer beware).  The school middle son goes to only uses them for recitations. All classes he's had have been taught by profs (who are also researchers).  It's their research (and opportunities associated with it) that drew him where he opted to go.  The content of his classes is certainly not equal to that of lower level schools - at least for math/science.  If he hadn't learned what he learned in his high school years for a foundation, life would have been much harder for him IF he had even gotten accepted to the place (doubtful).  Granted, he could have still made it into med school from a lower level school that would have accepted him with his 8th grade education, but the path to get there is definitely not the same nor would he have been as satisfied on a personal level.

 

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Let's not say moocs then, because I think that brings up the wrong impression.  At one time, all the online courses that these colleges had up were actual videos of actual classrooms.  THAT'S what I'm talking about.

 

At that time, some of the best courses I ran across were the ones being taught by adjuncts, by the way.  Who then left.

 

Perhaps since your idea of education is different than what many of us believe, perhaps your view of a "best course" is also different?  ;)

 

(NOTE:  I have not seen any of these classes - my experience in the differences comes from content as per tests, etc, from real students in the classes.)

 

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