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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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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.

 

But even that is only a small slice of the students' education.

We may see on video for example the physics lecture in the big lecture hall. We do not see the recitation and discussion sections, tutorials, labs etc that constitute the other part of the course, and which is where most of the actual learning takes place.

 

Generally, I don't think students learn much from lectures. Lectures are passive. Students learn by doing something actively. This we do not see in the online course videos.

 

ETA: This is a general issue with distance learning via lectures. I will very likely have to arrange my lectures to be video recorded and used for distance learning. This means that I will have to change the structure of my classes and remove all interactive content that can not be adequately mimicked by the distance viewer and bundle it into non-recorded sessions. The student viewing my lectures will then only see me actually lecture; the active problem solving exercises that happen in class won't be broadcast because there is not much to see while people are working, discussing in small groups, asking individual questions, thinking. The video will not give an adequate impression of  my in-seat class.

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Well, this topic has devolved into the equivalent of a conversation saying Teaching Textbooks and AoPS both teach math, so they are no different from each other and all students completing math end up in the same spot.

 

While I absolutely in no way believe that all educations are equal (heck, I wouldn't have spent the past 2 decades homeschooling if I did), nor do I believe that all kids are best served by equivalent educations. May I just say that I am incredibly thankful for the freedom to homeschool independently and under my own guidelines for my individual kids and am thankful that we are blessed to be able to guide them toward fulfilling their goals according to our own standards for their objectives.

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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

 

I would love to read some of what you did. I remember reading some of your posts in the past and always enjoyed reading how you homeschooled.

 

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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.

 

On the surface I want to agree with you that there are a lot of quality educational opportunities at a lot of places.  Experientially though, I've had things over the years that raised my eyebrows.  I came out of high school with 2 years of russian under my belt, tested into 3rd year at Indiana University's summer program, and was very happy to be studying what I wanted.  In the class was a girl who was a rising SENIOR at a shall we (less than elegantly) say podunk university in Indiana.  She had paid thousands of dollars a year to go to a university, thought herself to be doing well, and tested into 3rd year in a quality program when she actually had to be compared to a standard.  Admittedly, you can have differences in students, etc., but I took that as very cautionary that all colleges are NOT equal.  I'm with you though that there are curious things where for some stuff the end result doesn't matter.  The prestigious choice had more fancy offerings, the smaller place had more core offerings with more focus on character or volunteer work or this or that.  So even if they weren't exactly *equivalent* they were at least good trade-offs that a person could make and still know they got a quality experience.  Not the same as going to a school and not testing out of the basics after years in their program.  :(

 

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.

 

Ok, there's a little point to me in this that keeps getting glossed over, which is that I think most of the people who are espousing more of a bohemian, student-driven approach to things (with a classical bent, classical manger of intellectual food offerings, etc.) are talking about the HUMANITIES.  I think ANYONE and everyone here could cede your point that it's pretty much more is better when it comes to math and science if the person is really going math and science.  People can quibble over that, but yeah in general you expect to see it.  So the question really starts to tighten up and be more about whether that more general student, the person who might go lots of different ways, none of which are likely to include science or math, could go astonishingly wide and be fine.  We can even acknowledge that some people have no interest in research and are wanting to go more applied with their math/science (say an engineering degree) and that those kills will, so long as they have reasonable preparation, be fine too.  

 

I don't know.  I just don't think I have to confuse my future chef/homemaker with someone else's future cancer cure child, kwim?  I can let my kid study the Holocaust for 2 years, and that other kid can't.

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On the surface I want to agree with you that there are a lot of quality educational opportunities at a lot of places.  Experientially though, I've had things over the years that raised my eyebrows.  I came out of high school with 2 years of russian under my belt, tested into 3rd year at Indiana University's summer program, and was very happy to be studying what I wanted.  In the class was a girl who was a rising SENIOR at a shall we (less than elegantly) say podunk university in Indiana.  She had paid thousands of dollars a year to go to a university, thought herself to be doing well, and tested into 3rd year in a quality program when she actually had to be compared to a standard.  Admittedly, you can have differences in students, etc., but I took that as very cautionary that all colleges are NOT equal.  I'm with you though that there are curious things where for some stuff the end result doesn't matter.  The prestigious choice had more fancy offerings, the smaller place had more core offerings with more focus on character or volunteer work or this or that.  So even if they weren't exactly *equivalent* they were at least good trade-offs that a person could make and still know they got a quality experience.  Not the same as going to a school and not testing out of the basics after years in their program.   :(

 

Ok, there's a little point to me in this that keeps getting glossed over, which is that I think most of the people who are espousing more of a bohemian, student-driven approach to things (with a classical bent, classical manger of intellectual food offerings, etc.) are talking about the HUMANITIES.  I think ANYONE and everyone here could cede your point that it's pretty much more is better when it comes to math and science if the person is really going math and science.  People can quibble over that, but yeah in general you expect to see it.  So the question really starts to tighten up and be more about whether that more general student, the person who might go lots of different ways, none of which are likely to include science or math, could go astonishingly wide and be fine.  We can even acknowledge that some people have no interest in research and are wanting to go more applied with their math/science (say an engineering degree) and that those kills will, so long as they have reasonable preparation, be fine too.  

 

I don't know.  I just don't think I have to confuse my future chef/homemaker with someone else's future cancer cure child, kwim?  I can let my kid study the Holocaust for 2 years, and that other kid can't.

 

I think my point got lost by the focus on my middle son as an example.

 

My point is that there are oodles of different paths and oodles of different students.  One needs to match the correct path to the correct student rather than making the blanket statement that "THIS" way works for all.  Neither my oldest nor my youngest are on middle son's path.  Oldest and youngest aren't even on the same path themselves.  I've worked hard to try to find the best path for each of my guys my goal being to see that each of them has their best chance to be successful at what they want to do (whether they are or not is up to them).

 

Where I get hung up (and where my examples were meant to be used) is when folks try to say all colleges or all paths are the same.  They most definitely are not.  I suspect that even in the Humanities they are not, but what colleges are the "best" colleges most certainly can change based upon the major.  Youngest is going to what we feel is the best college for his major, esp for what he wants to do in that major.  It doesn't make any general "Top Whatever" lists, but it sure shows up at the top when looking for his major.  So what if middle son's school is higher ranked in general?  It's not youngest's path.

 

At school, where I see hundreds of students graduate each year, I celebrate with ALL of them when they have picked a path that seems right to them.  For some, it's the military (enlisted).  For others it's 4 year schools - many different schools pending many different situations.  For some it's cc.  For some it's tech school.  For some, it's heading into the work force. 

 

ANY path can produce success for the student (success being defined as being able to support themselves in a job that they like).  But the paths are NOT the same - nor should they be ranked.  What is #1 for one student could be last on the list for another.  I'm just as happy for my nephew who is a diesel mechanic as I am for my potential future accountant, doctor, and tropical marine biologist.  Trying to switch paths/careers for any of them would be a sad situation.  Saying that any of the latter three could switch colleges among themselves and still have the same path to getting to their future is also a fallacy.  They could, potentially, get there, but the path to the end is NOT the same.

 

 

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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.

 

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.

 

For the sake of brevity, I have snipped your post but have kept several comments that used the word "prestigious". I suspect that this word means something completely different to many people.  Some people have a hard time seeing beyond the Ivies so those schools alone (with perhaps Cal Tech and MIT thrown in) are prestigious.  Other people seem to lump every college other than the one in driving distance from their home as "prestigious". Where I live, a lot of people think that all colleges and universities are equal whether it is the local CC or the regional state uni with limited offerings.

 

I have been a TA--and I am a pretty darn good teacher although it took a while to hone my craft.  Our family came to the conclusion that the best college for my son would be a smaller LAC where professors are hired both to teach and are allowed to be active in research.  There are schools that focus on a balance.  The advantage for our son would be the ability to do research as an undergrad--something that undergrads at many large universities with graduate student populations cannot always do.

 

Now obviously this is not what every undergrad wants to do.  This was the path that appeared to be the best for our son.  He is at one of Loren Pope's Colleges that Change Lives, not a prestigious school by most definitions, I suppose.  The faculty at my son's college are engaged with the student population.  It is not uncommon for students at my son's college to present at professional society meetings--as my son will be doing this spring.  It was a faculty member who recommended him for a field school in Britain after his sophomore year.  When he returned to the site after his junior year as a low level staff member, the chair of the department suggested that he apply for a college grant to pay for his airfare to Britain.  The chair walked him through the process and my son received the grant.

 

Now I know that these kinds of things can happen at other colleges.  But few undergrads whom I knew when I was a grad student or later an instructor at various State Us had these sorts of opportunities.  This is where I believe colleges are different.

 

My son began college with a burning passion.  I will admit that most seventeen or eighteen year olds are not necessarily focused on a field or a career.  Gap years might make a difference for some.  When my nephew played juniors hockey in Canada after high school, he had a part time agricultural position one fall.  It was back breaking work, enough to encourage him to attend university after his juniors hockey playing was over.  He is now an assistant principal at an elementary school.

 

Paths are different. Let's recognize that.

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Our family came to the conclusion that the best college for my son would be a smaller LAC where professors are hired both to teach and are allowed to be active in research.  There are schools that focus on a balance.  The advantage for our son would be the ability to do research as an undergrad--something that undergrads at many large universities with graduate student populations cannot always do.

 

...

 

Paths are different. Let's recognize that.

Different major and different school, but this is the general path youngest is taking and I think he will do well with it. We visited schools with his major that also offer graduate studies, but he was put off by the fact that graduate students get to do the majority of the "fun" stuff at those schools. His selected school has no graduate students.

 

It's the right path for him and his major.

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Where I get hung up (and where my examples were meant to be used) is when folks try to say all colleges or all paths are the same.  They most definitely are not.  I suspect that even in the Humanities they are not, but what colleges are the "best" colleges most certainly can change based upon the major.  Youngest is going to what we feel is the best college for his major, esp for what he wants to do in that major.  It doesn't make any general "Top Whatever" lists, but it sure shows up at the top when looking for his major.  ...Saying that any of the latter three could switch colleges among themselves and still have the same path to getting to their future is also a fallacy.  They could, potentially, get there, but the path to the end is NOT the same.

You've put words to something interesting for me.  See when I chose my college years ago, it was totally a spiritual decision.  My family was breaking up, I had attended state universities for high school and the "best" high school in the state.  I decided to go to a particular christian college that fit my beliefs, KNOWING I wasn't going into a field with my intellectual peers or even the courses I wanted.  That was a trade-off I made, and it made a good life for me.  

 

My dd, however, doesn't seem so interested in making that trade-off.  SOMETIMES you CAN find a christian university or college doing a really bang-up job at a particular major.  For instance I know someone who went to Cedarville for pre-med who got a ton of personal attention by the profs, did medical mission trips, research and writing on medical ethics, etc. etc., and got into top med schools.  To me that fits into that category of what you're saying, with a school that is doing a great job at a particular major when they have an especially capable student.  

 

So I definitely cede your point that programs aren't all the same.  Pre-med from hither isn't the same as pre-med at yon.  In the humanities, seems like sometimes it's a matter of finding someone you want to study under for your interest point (medieval history professor, whatever).  The thing I haven't sorted out is what I commented on earlier, the idea that some of the ivies might offer a lot of niche classes (all fascinating obviously) where the smaller schools don't have the course offerings and staff to do so much and end up going more core.  My dd looks at that and wishes she would have access to the more nuanced stuff, to which I reply that's what grad school is for.  Further, it runs in my mind I've seen arguments that it's possible to do niched classes your whole way and sort of MISS the core.  I really don't know.  (I repeat, I don't know what to make of all that.)  I do know that it's possible to graduate from one of those more core approach schools and end up with good character and a good job and a good life.  

 

So I don't know.  I just think you've put words to what dd is wanting.  Whether what she wants is realistic or advisable or affordable, lol, I don't know.  It seems perfectly reasonable, when you explain your boys, to picture them being very confident of themselves and their future and making a decision to go to some school that might not have any other major they'd really want that does a terrific job on their one interest and they go in there and are fine.  It's equally possible to have a girl (or whatever gender) and have them be a little less certain of themselves.  Put another way, my dd for years has loved history.  She still loves history.  However we're not sure a history major is advisable for her, given her own bent toward being a doer.  That's not a gender bias or money issue or anything else, just a statement that 14 yo's don't always know themselves very well.  I didn't; at 14 I was still letting myself be shoved around by the idiot system that valued math and science and not the humanities.  

 

Maybe that means the real question is how you help your kids know themselves well enough that they could make REALISTIC choices to go to that top in one thing, not going there for anything else, kind of decision?

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I don't have time to answer your entire post/question just yet as I'm about "out the door," but have you looked in my sig to see the school my oldest chose? ;)

 

There isn't (usually) "one" school. There are generally several at a similar level, then one assesses which level and type is best for the student.

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Just in case this helps someone -

 

When choosing a college, one of the things people look at is if there are required classes, how many, and in what subjects.  This was something covered in every college tour we took.  At one college, there were NO required general education classes.  This was a major selling point.  One of the students on the tour checked and double checked this point because she just wanted to take classes related to her major and did not ever want to take another math class.  At another school, an alternativy one, there were quite a lot of guidelines about what one had to take - there was a core of general education courses (of a sort lol) and there were a number of required writing classes, since that is what the output of most of the student-designed classes was.  At another school, there was a large core of general education classes.  The school prided themselves on that core.  Some schools require a thesis paper of their undergraduate seniors and some don't.  Others have various project requirements in addition to the core requirements.  This is one of the ways that colleges differ from each other.

 

Nan

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When choosing a college, one of the things people look at is if there are required classes, how many, and in what subjects.  This was something covered in every college tour we took.  At one college, there were NO required classes. 

 

I do not understand the bolded statement.  How can there be NO required classes? Or are you talking only about "general ed" classes? because, every department must require a certain canon of class work - you can't get a physics degree for taking Renaissance Art.

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I do not understand the bolded statement.  How can there be NO required classes? Or are you talking only about "general ed" classes? because, every department must require a certain canon of class work - you can't get a physics degree for taking Renaissance Art.

 

I've heard of places like that.  Here is one example that I know of:

 

http://www.charteroak.edu/

 

Basically you can get credit a wide variety of ways and there are no exact requirements.  You have to take some courses in a chosen concentration, but there are no specific course requirements.

I assume she means something like that.

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Sorry - it was general-ed that I meant.  I will edit to fix the mistake.  I thik the requirements for one's major were fairly flexible, but they DID exist.  The college didn't appeal to my son so we didn't investigate further.

 

Nan

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I've heard of places like that.  Here is one example that I know of:

 

http://www.charteroak.edu/

 

Basically you can get credit a wide variety of ways and there are no exact requirements.  You have to take some courses in a chosen concentration, but there are no specific course requirements.

I assume she means something like that.

 

A friend described a college that looks at what a student wants to accomplish and then works with that student to find a way to accomplish those goals.  This was in connection with severe learning differences.  I can't remember the name now, but the program was within a "normal", fairly well known college.  And as I said, we toured a college where students design their own majors with the help of advisors.  In that college, there were general education requirements and writing class requirements and various requirements for a "major".  In order to go to the college, you have to show that you are fairly well grounded in academic skills in the first place.  It isn't actually as loosy-goosy as it sounds, and we have known people who graduated from the college.  It didn't appeal to us very much because it sounded like an extremely expensive continuation of homeschooling, but then, we weren't looking at it from the point of view having access to resources unavailable to us at home.

 

Some things to look at if you are interested in this sort of thing are Clonlara high school's walkabout program (think I got that right), Hampshire College, Bennington College, and Marlborough College.  (Not sure about the spelling of Marlborough).  These are all alternative ways of structuring an education and might give you (helena) ideas for structuring four years of education along different lines than the normal 4x5.

 

Nan

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There is an alternative view on how prestige is earned at the top schools.

Watch the last 30 min. of "Inside job" documentary.

It argues that corruption in prestigious universities is deeply entrenched.

 

First I was reluctant to watch that film. Nothing new it could offer I thought. Yet it did.

Now, a neighbourhood college with humble teachers looks not bad at all.

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You've put words to something interesting for me.  See when I chose my college years ago, it was totally a spiritual decision.  My family was breaking up, I had attended state universities for high school and the "best" high school in the state.  I decided to go to a particular christian college that fit my beliefs, KNOWING I wasn't going into a field with my intellectual peers or even the courses I wanted.  That was a trade-off I made, and it made a good life for me.  

 

My dd, however, doesn't seem so interested in making that trade-off.  SOMETIMES you CAN find a christian university or college doing a really bang-up job at a particular major.  For instance I know someone who went to Cedarville for pre-med who got a ton of personal attention by the profs, did medical mission trips, research and writing on medical ethics, etc. etc., and got into top med schools.  To me that fits into that category of what you're saying, with a school that is doing a great job at a particular major when they have an especially capable student.  

 

So I definitely cede your point that programs aren't all the same.  Pre-med from hither isn't the same as pre-med at yon.  In the humanities, seems like sometimes it's a matter of finding someone you want to study under for your interest point (medieval history professor, whatever).  The thing I haven't sorted out is what I commented on earlier, the idea that some of the ivies might offer a lot of niche classes (all fascinating obviously) where the smaller schools don't have the course offerings and staff to do so much and end up going more core.  My dd looks at that and wishes she would have access to the more nuanced stuff, to which I reply that's what grad school is for.  Further, it runs in my mind I've seen arguments that it's possible to do niched classes your whole way and sort of MISS the core.  I really don't know.  (I repeat, I don't know what to make of all that.)  I do know that it's possible to graduate from one of those more core approach schools and end up with good character and a good job and a good life.  

 

So I don't know.  I just think you've put words to what dd is wanting.  Whether what she wants is realistic or advisable or affordable, lol, I don't know.  It seems perfectly reasonable, when you explain your boys, to picture them being very confident of themselves and their future and making a decision to go to some school that might not have any other major they'd really want that does a terrific job on their one interest and they go in there and are fine.  It's equally possible to have a girl (or whatever gender) and have them be a little less certain of themselves.  Put another way, my dd for years has loved history.  She still loves history.  However we're not sure a history major is advisable for her, given her own bent toward being a doer.  That's not a gender bias or money issue or anything else, just a statement that 14 yo's don't always know themselves very well.  I didn't; at 14 I was still letting myself be shoved around by the idiot system that valued math and science and not the humanities.  

 

Maybe that means the real question is how you help your kids know themselves well enough that they could make REALISTIC choices to go to that top in one thing, not going there for anything else, kind of decision?

 

Ok, I got to re-read this again (with time) this morning and I think I misunderstood the post yesterday (sorry!).

 

With oldest and youngest, I definitely had/have a concern based on "what if they change their mind?" as their schools are fairly small and don't offer nearly the same number or depth of options as a larger school.  Middle son could change majors and not have a problem.  In general, there comes a time when one just has to make a decision.  If the student later changes their mind, there's always the option to transfer schools if the original one didn't work out.

 

For my guys specifically:

 

Oldest really wanted a small Christian college.  "Small" has never been my preference as my Alma mater is large and I loved all the opportunities that came with a large school.  I also had absolutely no experience with a Christian school of any sort, but had heard rumors of places that were way too conservative for us (like Pensacola Christian), so was leery.  With our college visits we insisted on visiting many types.  I learned that "Christian" schools come in many "flavors" themselves, so one needs to do extra research to find a workable match - it doesn't need to be "exact," but one should feel comfortable there. After a visit to my Alma mater, my oldest came to us (parents) and politely said, "It's a nice school and I see many opportunities here, but it just isn't what I want," and then went on to detail what he liked about Covenant.  The lightbulb went off for me at that time that this was HIS life.  I had gotten to make my choice.  I needed to let him make his.  (We had already "vetted" Covenant for academic quality, etc, for his desired field/major.)  We let him choose what he wanted.

 

Middle son was easy.  His stats were such that he was in the top 25% for pretty much any school and he wanted pre-med (can get there from pretty much any 4 year school), so it was a matter of seeing what he wanted to try for.  He wasn't sure either and applied to state schools, research Us, and one LAC.  He did not want super small, so never had an interest in oldest's choice.  He looked at his options and decided research looked interesting, so he then mainly focused on schools where he felt pretty certain he could get into research as an undergrad (close to 80% of undergrads at UR do research - it's a "culture" there) and then looked at exactly what was being researched to be certain he liked the options.  He had a wide choice of schools to narrow down his choices from.

 

Youngest is such a niche that I'll admit to being concerned again about "what if he changes his mind."  He is the type to do well at a small school and Eckerd is in the Colleges that Change Lives book, so I feel more confident that he will do ok.  His stats will not get him in to a higher ranked school, so Eckerd is the right level for him.  I just feel really lucky that it's also a (maybe the) top rated school for what he does want to do.  At this point, it seems like a "win-win."  Time will tell.

 

How did we help them know themselves?  From a young age we've seen what has turned them on - even if they didn't know it. 

 

Oldest has always liked facts/figures, routine, set rules, etc.  Having him look at various careers and decide on accounting/business/microfinance was not a surprise at all and he has, indeed, loved it at college.  It's a field with ample job opportunities, so we had no worries with that major and just made sure the college fit his academic level.

 

Middle has wanted to be a doctor since 3rd grade and hasn't wavered.  He's helped me with vet stuff with the ponies without so much as a flinch.  Since getting the MD comes after undergrad, he's able to pursue anything during undergrad.  He's always loved the brain and how it works.  He picked a school that offers all aspects of brain study (neuro, cognitive, and psych) so he could decide there which aspect interests him the most.  He's chosen cognitive.  Should med school not work out, this major could be problematic as it's not a high demand field.  I've been relieved when his stats have come back looking superb for med school apps... AND one of the researchers he's been working with has told him that he thinks he could, indeed, be one who succeeds at research if he opts to go that route.  Being a mom, I'll always remain in the hopeful camp even if those didn't happen... but I'll freely say I'm breathing easier now that he has 1 1/2 years of GPA, etc.

 

Youngest may have more issues. Again, since his youth he's been a naturalist - always loving flora and fauna - so we knew he had to go in that direction somehow.  It's a competitive field and a low-paying field.  We are committed to doing what we can to see that he has opportunities and have told him to follow what he likes more than something that pays better, but he's not as gifted at.  He'll be happy in the field somewhere (tent and port-o-potty are just fine) - a park ranger - a tour guide - a researcher, perhaps a teacher.  He'd never be happy as an accountant or doctor.  There are many on here and IRL who would argue that his degree is not worth paying for as there is a high likelihood of being a poor ROI (return on investment).  I recognize that, but we feel everyone belongs in their niche... so we are encouraging him and hoping he will be successful.  Time will tell.  If need be, he'll have a degree (assuming he graduates) and can always check that box for some other job.  It happens.  It's been more important to us (and him) that we seek out "a" or "the" top school for his major (and specifics within it) as the more competitive a field is, the more "name" can matter.  Eckerd appears to do a good job of placing graduates with his major into jobs he would enjoy (or grad school).  I was glad to see his stats matching them well - apparently many in that major aren't necessarily tops with the SAT.  Phew!

 

My advice is to see what kids are good at, have them shadow folks in fields they might enjoy to be certain they are ok with the "behind the scenes" of the job, then guide them in that direction.  When it's something they enjoy, they tend to stick with it.  Then look at what they want to do and see how others have gotten there.

 

They may change... I was headed toward a career in space sciences, then met hubby, and disappointed many when I opted to not continue in the field (still graduated).  I have no regrets.  I'm happy I went to college. I do get wistful occasionally when I think about the career I gave up, but then I look at all the magnets we have on our fridge, all the family pics we have on our computer plus those in my mind, and I know I chose the right path for me.

 

I keep that in mind when I send my boys out.  Follow your heart guys.

 

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Thanks Creekland, that's helpful and indeed what I meant!  :)  Good point on it being THEIR life to sort out.  Think I'll be chewing on that a bit for the next few years.  :)

 

So this is really practical, but how did you determine what the "best" school was for the major?  I did some googling last night, and I found Rugg's guides and mysteriously appearing lists and grad lists and this and that.  Any particular advice on that?  For humanities stuff, one thing I've been told was to find the person you want to study under (based on their writing or whatever) and go there.  Any tips?  :)

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So this is really practical, but how did you determine what the "best" school was for the major?  I did some googling last night, and I found Rugg's guides and mysteriously appearing lists and grad lists and this and that.  Any particular advice on that?  For humanities stuff, one thing I've been told was to find the person you want to study under (based on their writing or whatever) and go there.  Any tips?   :)

 

Well, first of all I don't really believe there is one "top" college for any particular major.  I think several can fit in that category and "best" is only determined when adding in fit for the student.  In general, we looked for colleges where recent grads went on to do things my guys wanted to do at the level they wanted.  For oldest, this did include finding the school where a professor who "wrote the book" on microfinance was teaching, but it wasn't limited to that.  We checked with potential employers and ran college names past them.  I posted inquiries on here and on college confidential - this latter site is filled with super competitive types and their parents, but nonetheless, it did provide names of colleges to check out, including those middle and youngest are or will be attending and others they considered.  Middle also found some of his research schools by merely looking at some ongoing research and seeing where it came from.

 

For youngest, I also got lucky when looking for Marine Science/Bio schools...  Since 2005 NOAA has offered Hollings Scholarships for those interested in research in fields they deal with (ocean/weather, etc).  Take a look at the numbers from schools since 2005:

 

http://www.stpete.com/news/122460/

 

 

 

Hollings Scholarships at the Top Five Schools

1. Eckerd College (53)

2. University of Miami (36)

3. Penn State University (33)

4. University of Oklahoma (31)

5. Cornell University (26)

 

And then consider that some of these probably go more with the weather aspect than the ocean aspect.  U Miami does both weather and marine.

 

There are other marine science schools out there - quite a few - but Eckerd sure seems to be doing quite well comparatively IMO.  Then, fit-wise, it works for stats, location (he wants to specialize in tropical marine), and with what we saw recent grads in the major had done or where they had gone.

 

For youngest, we really do think it is likely "the" top school and with Marine "anything" being such a competitive field we let him take the position of "Eckerd or bust" that I would have never allowed with my other two since there were plenty of other options they could have gone to that would have been equally as good for them.  We do feel he has the flora/fauna science ability to keep up with anyone and it seems this school has the track record of providing the education IF he holds up his end with the work.

 

With the "or bust" part we still have to see how the end finances turn out.  He may have to do a gap year to work and save.  Only time will tell.  But we decided an undergrad degree in Marine Science from Eckerd was better (for him and his desires/goals) than going to any "2nd choice" school, so why waste time and money applying to other places?

 

I have no idea at this point if we're right in our thinking or not - but it's the path we've chosen.  In a few more years I'll be able to update.

 

As I mentioned before, at some point you just have to "decide."  If he changes his mind and ends up not liking the school, he can always transfer.  If he remains as set on it as he is now - he should have worlds of opportunity - and that's what we are looking for for ALL of our boys - just along their own paths.

 

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So this is really practical, but how did you determine what the "best" school was for the major?  I did some googling last night, and I found Rugg's guides and mysteriously appearing lists and grad lists and this and that.  Any particular advice on that?

 

We went by the US News ranking lists and some other source of physics department rankings (which DH can not recall right now) when DD selected her colleges.

We went through the lists of best colleges and best departments in the field from the top, finding the best combinations. This is important, because sometimes a college which does not have a very high overall ranking has an outstanding department.

DD then eliminated schools that were too big for her liking, in a location she would not want to consider, that had unreasonable hoops for homeschoolers .

She also made sure that her stats were sufficient to fit the school's profile; it makes no sense to apply to a highly selective school if the student's stats don't make the cut.

 

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I agree.  Having grown in a college town, I went to a high school with pretty high standards.  

But when I got to the college I'd chose, in a rural part of a rural state, I was very disappointed to discover that they really do let in anyone with a pulse.  

 

 

Freshman comp is the perfect example.  Most of my class had a very difficult time with proper sentence structure, and that was even before we got into actual composition.  Many couldn't even identify subject/predicate.  When the prof. did some sentence diagramming to work on this concept, there were a total of about 3 of us who had done it before.  

That semester was basically devoted to remediation work.  It was really disappointing.  I like to write so I had high hopes for comp. class.  

Needless to say, after seeing what type of writing most of my peers were capable of, I wasn't surprised when the school paper came calling... 

 

It does matter what happens in the high school years.

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I think high school years are critical for intelligence.

Until 13-14 you can unschool: paint sunset, collect butterflies, read Jules Verne, wake up early morning and walk to the river.

You could party or coast in college after 18.

In between I believe it is time to work hard.

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