Wednesday, October 13, 2010

College Without High School: A Teenager's Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College by Blake Boles

We home school our kids. There was a year or so when we sent the three oldest boys to a private school for a few hours a week and this year, Zed is enrolled in a few classes at the high school (choir; driver's ed; seminary, which doesn't count as public school in my opinion; and band, which he is kind of auditing). But they are basically home schooled. I plan to send them to college as home schooled kids, with a few extra classes from the high school under their belts. I've skimmed a couple of books on home schooling teenagers but hadn't found anything particularly inspiring until this book, which is fantastic. I loved it!

Except for a brief introduction intended for parents, Boles addresses teenagers directly and assumes they're interested in making their own decisions and following their dreams. In fact, while the information in the book is helpful to those who are already home schooled, he's openly trying to persuade high school kids to leave school and forge their own college prep paths. It's inspiring stuff, even to a 40-year-old mom whose days of formal education are mostly behind her. (Am I really 40? That just seems crazy.)

Boles attended Berkley and made it halfway through an astrophysics degree before discovering the alternative education stuff that later became his self-designed major. His book suggests lots of ways teenagers can explore their passions while at the same time preparing to go to college. There's practical information about applying to college without high school transcripts (most private colleges don't require a high school diploma and have information specific to home schooled students on their websites) and inspiring stuff about how to have adventures and turn those adventures into application fodder. He uses real-life examples of unschooled students who've done exciting things instead of going to high school and gotten into Ivy-league universities like Princeton.

My kids will definitely be reading this when they're 13 or 14. I'd like them to read it and then create their own plan for their pre-college years. As my kids get older, I'm feeling the pressure to get them ready for college. (So far they all say they want to go to college.) Our home schooling style has been different from almost everyone I've met and read about, so it has been somewhat experimental up until now—will the kids do well on standardized tests? will they be able to write well? will they learn math? will they learn to manage their time effectively? or will they end up in our basement playing video games and unable to hold a job? We're just beginning to get some of those questions answered. For example, Zed did well at Startalk this summer, and we had him take the PSAT just this morning. We'll see how he does. In the meantime, I'll have him finish this book and then I'll make Jacob read it.

Next on my To Be Read list: The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. And I'll read it during down time at work (I accompany the high school choirs) to be a little bit subversive. :)

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like something I need to read. I'm getting nervous for these teenage and college years! Thanks!

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  2. I'm kind of excited for the older years, although there's a lot at stake. I really liked this book. It puts the responsibility for education in the kid's hands, where it should be. And it's great fun to read.

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