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Clonlara for an always-unschooled teen?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Has anybody here used Clonlara with an always-unschooled teen?

 

I'd never given much thought to the high school diploma. Even now, I know DS13 would do just fine without one. But his interests are definitely schooly (music and chemistry are the two biggies) and I can see some advantages to his having an officially recognized transcript. Biggest advantages: access to music scholarships if he decides to study music at a local university, and access to post-secondary classes (eg: chemistry) while still being high-school-aged (we're in Canada, so the community college route isn't an option for us).

 

Yesterday I did a quick tally of the more structured activities he's doing this year (Teaching Textbook Algebra I, youth orchestra, music theory, strings camp, gymnastics, chemistry, miscellaneous computer programming projects). Without his even trying to "meet anybody's requirements", this year's activities would likely earn him 6 to 8 credits from a program like Clonlara. It's dawning on me that he could probably graduate from Clonlara by age 15 or 16 with very little lifestyle change. I mentioned the idea to him, and he seemed surprisingly keen, even when I cautioned that he'd have to earn some credits for subjects (mainly english & social studies) outside his areas of interest.

 

Does anyone have pros/cons about Clonlara for such a situation? Are there any other similar programs (I'm in Ontario) that I should look into for a bright, self-motivated unschooler with specialized interests and little desire to sit at a desk all day?

 

Also, has anybody had trouble getting their Clonlara degree recognized (especially outside the U.S.), or had trouble dealing with the Clonlara administration (I heard they were having some major response-time issues a few years ago)? 

 

Thanks for you thoughts!

 


 

post #2 of 7

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by filteragainstfolly View Post

Biggest advantages: access to music scholarships if he decides to study music at a local university, and access to post-secondary classes (eg: chemistry) while still being high-school-aged (we're in Canada, so the community college route isn't an option for us).


I have an on-line friend who raised his unschooled daughters in Ottawa and graduated them a decade or so ago through Clonlara. They were successfully accepted into post-secondary programs: one in music, one in animation (Ryerson for jazz, I believe, and the other at maybe Seneca?). Anyway, he spoke very highly of their experience with Clonlara, of their philosophical understanding of and support of unschooling, and of their professionalism. Ten or twelve years ago, for what that's worth.

 

As mom to an unschooler who just finished auditions for admission and scholarship money at McGill, I wanted to extend a cautionary note about graduating early. My dd was poised to graduate early as an unschooler and part-time high-schooler, as she's always been academically very advanced and had been accumulating credits through DL programs in BC here like crazy. DL programs in case you're not familiar with them, are like public or independent school homeschooling umbrella programs sanctioned by the Ministry here.

 

She opted not to do so, and stretched her Grade 12 credits out over two years in order not to do so. Why? Well, in part because she wanted to travel (for pleasure, but also on tour with orchestras and with her choir) and to freelance with an orchestra part-time as well as saving money through part-time work at a café. But in large part because an extra year of lessons with a high level teacher and of 4 to 6 hours a day of practicing makes one much more competitive for one's university of choice, teacher of choice and for scholarship money. For good music programs, the majority of the weight for the decision on acceptance comes from the audition: and that's doubly true if you apply as a homeschooler. At McGill I believe 50% of the decision is based on the audition if you have a high school transcript. If you have a homeschooler's portfolio / resumé, the audition is accorded 75%. And for scholarships, 100% of the decision comes from the extended audition. So an extra year of study, practice and experience is worth a lot and there is really no advantage to auditioning early. You're only less likely to win admission, scholarships and acceptance into the most highly regarded teachers' studios. 

 

It is probably different in the less competitive music programs. But if he has his sights set high, I would recommend delaying the audition until the calendar year in which he turns 18. 

 

We've found it possible to access post-secondary level courses here in BC without a high school diploma. Our local high school has an arrangement with the region's college that they will allow students to register for intro level courses while still considered high school students with the principal's recommendation. My kids can take a credit by independent (i.e. home) study through the high school, and then get the principal's recommendation to take Biology 101 or Psych 100 or whatever through the regional college, which has credits transferrable to university. Also, Athabasca U. will let you enroll as a non-degree student without meeting high school graduation admission requirements, and if you later enroll you can transfer credits to a degree program.

 

Miranda

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

She opted not to do so, and stretched her Grade 12 credits out over two years in order not to do so. Why? Well, in part because she wanted to travel (for pleasure, but also on tour with orchestras and with her choir) and to freelance with an orchestra part-time as well as saving money through part-time work at a café. But in large part because an extra year of lessons with a high level teacher and of 4 to 6 hours a day of practicing makes one much more competitive for one's university of choice, teacher of choice and for scholarship money. For good music programs, the majority of the weight for the decision on acceptance comes from the audition: and that's doubly true if you apply as a homeschooler. At McGill I believe 50% of the decision is based on the audition if you have a high school transcript. If you have a homeschooler's portfolio / resumé, the audition is accorded 75%. And for scholarships, 100% of the decision comes from the extended audition. So an extra year of study, practice and experience is worth a lot and there is really no advantage to auditioning early. You're only less likely to win admission, scholarships and acceptance into the most highly regarded teachers' studios. 

 

Thank you, Miranda, for taking the time to reply and for sharing your valuable experience! It's reassuring to hear that a local family had good experience with Clonlara.

 

Did your dd consider graduating early and then enjoying a gap year or two to pursue independent work/study before applying to university? This is the scenario I was imagining for ds, rather than full-time university entrance at 16. I figured the early graduation would get the hoop-jumping out of the way for him, and would also minimize our annual tuition with Clonlara. Or would a gap year have reduced your dd's chance of admission/scholarship?

 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by filteragainstfolly View Post

Did your dd consider graduating early and then enjoying a gap year or two to pursue independent work/study before applying to university? This is the scenario I was imagining for ds, rather than full-time university entrance at 16. I figured the early graduation would get the hoop-jumping out of the way for him, and would also minimize our annual tuition with Clonlara. Or would a gap year have reduced your dd's chance of admission/scholarship?


That's sort of what she did, though the way she did it was dictated by our particular circumstances. We live in a rural, remote area, and she had not had regular violin lessons in almost 4 years after having outgrown all teaching in the area. She'd spent 6 months without a teacher, and then 3.5 years travelling 1200 km round-trip across the Rockies once a month or so for lessons. She'd had almost no ensemble and orchestral experience. She tried to increase the trips to the city the last year (which meant up to 24 hours per round-trip on the bus every two weeks, including an overnight bus and all the recovery time that entailed), and that really reduced the time she had available for course-work during that year.

 

So the solution was to drop her coursework back a bit and move a handful of courses into the following year, then during that subsequent year to allow her to move on her own to a large city  where she could get weekly lessons and tons of orchestra and ensemble experience. And pick away at her last three or four courses in her spare time.

 

She's finishing up that transitional year now. It's had it's challenges, because she was too young to be legally considered an adult, which meant things like leases and utilities and just getting mail have been an administrative headache. The stories I could tell you about her trying to get internet service, or renew her passport so that she could travel with her orchestra to China, or pick up a parcel at the post office: weeks of headaches, trying to get institutions to feel like their legal a**es are covered when dealing with a teen whose signature is not legally binding, etc.. But musically it's been great, and the independence has been fantastic. She's gained so much confidence and maturity living as an unsupervised minor in a big city. She's handled it amazingly well. But just to forewarn you: if travel and independent living are part of what you or your ds envision as being useful during a "gap year," there are certainly significant obstacles for a legal minor. 

 

Miranda

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 But just to forewarn you: if travel and independent living are part of what you or your ds envision as being useful during a "gap year," there are certainly significant obstacles for a legal minor. 

 

Miranda



Right now he's not even interested in sleep-away camp, so it's hard to imagine him seeking that level of independence in a few years. smile.gif But I know things can change dramatically at this age, so thank you for the warning! Sounds like a very cool experience for your daughter!

 

post #6 of 7

LOL, this same dd had only twice (and reluctantly!) managed to endure a sleepover at a friend's house by her 14th birthday. At 14.5 she went on a two-city billeted music exchange program. Coped, though not without some stress. Just before her 15th birthday she went backpacking through rural SE Asia with three adult friends for 2.5 months. Since then she has never looked back. Yes, things can change dramatically in a short time!

 

Miranda

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

LOL, this same dd had only twice (and reluctantly!) managed to endure a sleepover at a friend's house by her 14th birthday. At 14.5 she went on a two-city billeted music exchange program. Coped, though not without some stress. Just before her 15th birthday she went backpacking through rural SE Asia with three adult friends for 2.5 months. Since then she has never looked back. Yes, things can change dramatically in a short time!

 

Miranda



Wow, that's an incredibly quick transition, LOL!

Thanks for the heads-up!

 

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