Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High School

ARG has entered his second year of high school recently. And I have entered the craziness of figuring out how to present him to colleges when the time comes. The process is making me angry, because I have realized that college admissions counselors are just as brainwashed and prejudiced against homeschooling as most Americans.

I'm not sure why this is hitting me as a shock. I've known for years that most people believe that there is only one method of education that is valid - school. So why am I so irritated that colleges hold the same beliefs?

I realize now that I have avoided authorities, hoops, test taking, bureaucracy...etc. for so many years. And it is a harsh dose of reality that ARG and I are having to deal with now. No more escaping the testing. But even worse than that, the testing is exponentially more important for him than for school-taught students.

I've been told that homeschool grades mean nothing to colleges (nevermind full course descriptions, sample work..etc.) Even community college courses are looked upon with skepticism. They don't fit the standard recipe of a school-taught learner, so they don't understand it, don't view it as valid, and don't want to take the time to verify that the grades might just be real. So what do they do? They look at the SAT score and the SAT subject test score. THAT's what is real to them. THAT's what they can understand.

To top it off, I've been told (by someone who knows - a past Stanford assistant dean of admissions) that ARG will have an uphill battle proving that he has learned high school social skills. ACK! The old "homeschoolers aren't socialized" myth. It is especially frustrating to me because ARG is, in my opinion, better socialized than most teens. He converses easily with adults and has friends of all different ages.

The conflict between true learning and looking good on a transcript is extreme. ARG wants to go to a good college, so will have to ace umpteen SAT subject tests and the SAT itself. He must study for these tests, because they may contain material that was not included in the courses he has taken.

And let me be clear, he has not taken easy, sloucher courses! He is taking more than what is necessary (some at home with excellent curricula and some at CSM) to be eligible for the UC system. For goodness sakes, he will probably have enough computer sciences courses under his belt by the end of high school for a minor in the field.

I won't even mention how irate I got about the AP US Govt. and Politics materials (can you say propaganda?)

So I struggle with encouraging him to keep on with math, even though he is as a sophomore ahead of where I was as a senior. Four years. That's what the colleges want. Even if the fourth year is calculus 2.  And he hates math.

I struggle knowing he has learned so much about American literature and writing, is so much more well read and knowledgeable than most teens. And little or none of that will be recognized by a college unless he pwns the AP English and Literature tests.

I should mention here that I believe tests can be a reflection of learning, but are not actual learning. Tests can be helpful assessments, but are not the end all be all of education. So I am aggrieved when I realize the profound importance they have in ARG's life in the near future.

If I am honest, I must admit that part of the pain I am feeling can be attributed to protectiveness and defensiveness. I feel indignant that my son (who after all will always be my little guy) will be judged by people who don't share our values, and who can't possibly understand how awesome he is! I also feel that I, as a homeschool teacher, will be judged based on his performance - uncomfortable!

It's time for us to deal with the real world - and I'm not loving it.