In the Mix: Homeschoolers and Higher Education
- Friday, April 30, 2004
Brian Ray believes students need to consider college requirements early, so they can plan to meet those requirements while in high school. "If you want to get into certain places, you need to have shown certain experiences," he told TOS. "You have to be prepared for that."
At West Point, leadership is very important, and students will not gain high consideration unless they've shown initiative. Speaking to young homeschoolers, Colonel Jones recommends, "Along with the great education that [you're] already going to get, join Boy or Girl Scouts and get involved in that. Get involved in your church ministry, become a club officer…all of these positions get you more consideration."
At the Air Force Academy, it's very important to have a past athletic record, even if it doesn't involve typical sports like football or basketball. According to Rolland Stoneman, "We recognize that most homeschoolers are not going to have the typical athletic activities available to them, but anybody can put on a pair of Nike shoes and a pair of running shorts and go run. We'll recognize that they've done that, we assume they've trained for it, and we'll count it as cross-country."
At Harvard, teacher recommendations are a must, but they can't come from the student's parent. Admissions officers suggest that homeschooled students enroll in a class or two at a local community college and gain recommendation from someone who is used to evaluating a large amount of students. Work at a community college can also be an effective way to experience the college scene without committing to an extensive program.
Wisdom from College Grads
27-year-old Shannon Gibert is the oldest of six children. Her parents began homeschooling in 1984 when the movement was still in its infancy. Shannon knew she would be a teacher from a very young age, and because of her home education, she was able to spend most of her senior year of high school as a teacher's assistant. That senior year furthered her passion for teaching, but she wanted to do something more than teach – she wanted to make a difference.
"I got into special education because I knew I wanted to do something more than just regular education, I wanted to reach a different group," Shannon told TOS. She transferred into Northeastern Illinois University after beginning her college studies at a local community college. "I chose [Northeastern] because it was local and was a school that I could work with financially," Shannon said.
"One of the biggest transitions for me was learning how to be in a group rather than alone. I had to adjust to being in a classroom of 30 people because I usually worked very independently at home. I had to adjust to the structure of a public school setting, but academically it was much easier than I expected it to be."
Shannon recommends taking some sort of a practice standardized test – whether a practice SAT or ACT or something in a public school format – just to get used to the way it works. "That was something I didn't do, and when it came to test time I had a little bit of anxiety because I wasn't used to that," she said. "I also think students should talk to people who have already been to college and gain any type of advice that they can give you; advice about professors, school life, study habits, anything."
After graduating in 2003, Shannon found a job right away. "It was really easy for me, because I did student teaching in the district that I'm teaching in now," she said. "When I was a student teacher I met people and made contacts, and when I graduated I was able to take that information and take my contacts and get a job. Because there's such a high demand for teachers, especially special education teachers, it's pretty easy to find a job." Now Shannon shares her love for learning and helps those with difficulties, working as a Special Education Teacher with a focus on learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.
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