dh attended an alumni event of his university yesterday - a large state (public) university. When I was in high school, this particular university was regarded as a fall-back option because anyone with a 3.0 could get in and with a 3.5 you would probably get a full scholarship.
This was 25 years ago. Forward to today, and I hear that the average GPA of the new class is 3.9 overall the university and 4.25 in the Engineering Dept.
I was not aware (till now) that GPA is now calculated out of 5 -- due to AP courses. (Actually when I was in high school I took the AP tests but the college I attended did not accept the credits.)
So apparently all the other people there were stressing over college admission and how to boost the GPA via extra courses. Well before high school age they were moving in this direction.
I did not attend this event but dh came back and told me about all this.
If this large state university is getting so competitive and focussed on GPA , then that means any decent university would be as difficult to enter, and the good ones even more so.
Something makes me wonder if the stories of homeschoolers getting into Harvard (a la Colfax) or other colleges based on portfolios are a thing of the past. Can meaningful evidence of self-motivated investigation, out-of-box thinking trump standardized tests and GPA?
I have a friend whose homeschooled son just went to college, but he took standardized tests and got the equivalent of a GPA. I am talking about homeschoolers who are more concerned about following the child's interests and encouraging a solid foundation of independent thinking, self-directed exploration and critical inquiry, with ample time to make mistakes, not learn anything for a while, try out things that prove useless, etc.
I would not want to do anything that would compromise my dd's ability to go to college if she chose. I personally believe that all the free exploration is better for her learning, thinking etc than studying from a fixed curriculum. Every now and then I doubt this and try out something more traditionally structured, and very soon, almost immediately realize that it was better without.
Even yesterday (even before dh returned from the event) I pulled out a science textbook that happened to be lying around (belonged to a friend) just to see if she "knew" the material and it turned out that her answer to my first question (what makes something a living thing?) was incompatible with what was in the book. (She included metal as a living thing, based on something she had read earlier on the work of Jagadish Chandra Bose). Maybe I am biased, and maybe I am hopeless, but I can't see asking her to conform to already-discovered and laid-out definitions without having the chance to work through her own ideas first. The pre-set definitions will always be there, is it really necessary to "learn" them now? Or even advisable?
Well, clearly this way of thinking is not the kind that is going to prepare for all the advanced placement that seems to be expected for college admission.
I am confused.
The people I know who have taken a less conventional path in high school have gone on to private colleges. Public universities seem to have much more rigid requirements based on what kids do in a traditional high school.
Regarding the rest of what you wrote, I see that Jagadish Chandra Bose is a scientist. It's very hard to read and understand scientific papers or books if you don't understand the vocabulary-- the scientific meaning of words can be very specific and aren't always what you'd expect from non-scientific reading. it sounds like she misunderstood something, and if it were me, I would rather be corrected gently by my mother than continue on with my misunderstanding and eventually learn I'm wrong later, perhaps in a much more public way. Exactly what it means to be alive is apparently debated in the scientific community (I thought it was cut and dried, but wikipedia set me straight http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life) but it's not a wide open debate, they're mainly debating semantics.
I think it's good to let her come up with her own ideas, but I don't see the harm in letting her also know that there are definitions out there, and that when you read ___ in a scientific document it means ____. Whether or not it's important for her to learn it now depends some on how old she is, but also if she's trying to learn about science on her own. Trying to learn about science without access to quality background information would be pretty miserable.
I was mostly unschooled and the rest of the time 'eclectic' homeschooled, depending on the year. I got into a very highly rated public university by going to community college at 16, taking all my core credits there, and earning good grades. By the time I started university at 19, I already had 2 AA degrees and a profile of work, and was better prepared to take the SATs and write the admissions essay.
She could try going to CC first, or if she needs a diploma/GED to do that, the GED is very easy. I used a study book I got from B&N, studied for about 2 weeks, and passed it quite easily except on the math portion, which I narrowly passed. She can go to any CC with a GED. Or if she likes taking tests, the SATs and ACTs are often highly considered by colleges, and many these days are accepting CLEP for transfer credit.
Regarding her academic readiness...
If you're worried about her not knowing certain facts and things in the textbooks, I honestly would say, don't. The holes in my academics were the easiest thing to fix when I went to college. I was resourceful and motivated, as most unschooled kids are, and it sounds like your daughter is. I made use of the CC's tutoring center, my good professors' office hours, study workshops and the library a lot to fill that in, but it really was not my academic catch-up that was hard. It was learning how to play and work within the system, and manipulate it to my advantage. That's the only advantage schooled children have over homeschoolers and unschoolers, once they're all in college together. Schooled kids 'know the drill.' They're veterans of the system and understand how to work within it. And in certain ways, my lack of 'knowing the drill' was an advantage, and their knowing it was to their detriment. Two sides of every coin.
Granted, this was all a bit over decade ago, but I don't think it's changed that much. My younger siblings have had a great deal of success with this method too in more recent years. Two have graduated from UW, one from Gonzaga (a private university), and one is at Evergreen. My second youngest sister is 16 and will start courses at the community college soon (passed her GED) and also wants to transfer into Evergreen. Some of my siblings didn't go to college, but all have found a niche in life doing what they love. Where there's a will, there's a way.
I'm very interested in this topic-- just a little of my own background:
I went to a public HS in a very well-off community. My B gpa (in the 90s) had me in the lower 50% of my class. I couldn't get into any public school I had wanted-- because they all had GPA/SAT levels. (The lower your GPA= the higher your SAT must be.) Again, I had decent SATs, but they were totally average.
I took the community college route my freshman year and got good grades in community college. I then applied to a variety of state and private schools (good ones at that) and got in. So, even if your child doesn't have the GPAs etc, there is a way to get in. It just isn't the traditional one.
I would definitely read some books on this subject-- you will have to plan in advance and definitely aim for a lot of private schools, but it can be done!
I didn't really go to High School and moved along with a beautiful job with my own apt at 16. I moved states during the time and found myself much healthier and happier on my own. It all happened by the divine anyway. I was in NY at the time and after I met my DH, found it easy to have a part time job and attend CC. I took a placement exam before I had to take the GED because I was 19 years old, and I passed. I got into this CC, had a 4.0, moved to Hawaii, had a 4.0 at another CC because the out-of-state tuition was simply too much. After the year passed, was accepted into the honors program at University of Hawaii. I left in 2004 to build a home and hurry along with family building. I agree with my whole heart college is an amazing place and I hope everyone gets a chance to go. I have very trying conversations with people I respect and even my husband about the looming High School path to University. I get a little religious about the subject of "the path" because.. well.. I feel so deeply about it but I can't talk about it clearly. It feels like everyone "should at least" and "needs to know"... but really those books are within reach at a University bookstore and re-writing them with colored pencils and a lab book or journal in your own words is just as nice as lecture. Also, less public schools, more home schools, less churches, more home churches, less fast food, more making food at home, less grocery store/truck hauling, more gardens at home, less offices, more work at home, less university life, more masters of beauty and art. What would our world become? Would we have so many eco issues?
I know it sounds insane, but everyone seems to point at everyone else and say "why aren't they taking the train/bus!" in traffic. It seems like a revolution needs to happen and more people without college degrees should be more respected for being masters of their life. In short; don't let this own you. If there is a clear and certain job that one is trying to reach - say Vet, then okay, start the process and get so much passion together you get to Cornell, maybe at 27, but hey, it will be more interesting to know you if you came all that way! For some reason, I am not concerned. But! My DH and I have sooo much freedom and we often consider states that have a greater chance of admission, plus have a High School/college/homeschool connection (some really do!) and putting it in gear to move there if that is what we are looking at in our child.
(I really wish that I could - build my own house, sew, knit, paint real art, be a master gardener, make more raw vegan food, know more yoga, know more about herbs, mushrooms, and wild food, understand nature more, and make my own cheese. Seriously, If I was the master of these things I would be much happier in my life at 31. Seriously though!!!! I feel really cheated in life that these are hobbies and not a means of seriously living anymore! I can read astronomy books for 20 years, but would live better ($$$) if I knew the above more.)
People really put me down when I say my pride and joy would be to have children that are artists or farmers not doctors. They get it, but they really think it is much more of a disservice to hold them back from "getting paid through the nose." So you see how it is more HS for religious reasons? Like "our creator" and "our earth." Truth is, I am very interested in giving them a life that is sustainably lived and thrifty, so maybe they can have many income level doors open for their happiness. Also, life is balanced on so many levels! I wish they dreamed of finding a commune like I do and belonging to community that they build, not get a job so you move there and now you are stuck there until you retire, unless you love it, but if you don't, you'd rather be that other place. YKWIM?
College is great! No worries though! I would define the path that you are aiming for and just start calling people, and then maybe call other states.
Leslie, organic semi-unschooling mama teaching my children 5 and 2.75, that love & happiness is most important. Letting their light shine, finding out they are teaching me. Love being in the moment & nature.