Going to College After Unschooling…If You
|“I found being unschooled made college easier for me in a lot of ways. Many college courses ask that one come up with one’s own opinions and thoughts on subjects. That was much easier for me than for the kids who had been stuck in the public school system where, in my experience, individuality is severely discouraged.”|
I went to AIMS Community College’s Loveland campus. The process for getting in was astoundingly simple. I had taken the ACT earlier that year and had done pretty poorly on it. I think I scored a 21 with above average scores on writing and reading, and below average scores on science and math. Due to my low ACT scores, I had to take what the college called the AccuPlacer Test. Your score didn’t matter on the test. If you scored too low, you were still accepted; you just had to take remedial (090 level) classes in the disciplines you scored low in. Now, I am dyslexic and horrible at taking tests. I am much better at practical demonstrations of my knowledge. Despite my lack of test taking skill, I scored high enough in every category except math.
I found being unschooled made college easier for me in a lot of ways. Many college courses ask that one come up with one’s own opinions and thoughts on subjects. That was much easier for me than for the kids who had been stuck in the public school system where, in my experience, individuality is severely discouraged.
After three semesters of college at AIMS, I began to look for film programs throughout the state and came upon the Colorado Film School in Denver. Since I didn’t really have enough money to move out of my folk’s place and pay for college at the same time, I began to apply for scholarships and finally won a full ride for two semesters. I transferred my credits without any trouble and studied film for a full year.
As I studied film, I realized I kind of hated it. Collaborating has never really been my strong suit and to make a good film one must collaborate a lot. So, when my scholarship was up, I moved back in with my folks and decided to pursue a love I had discovered while I was away: writing.
Now, I am studying writing by writing. I write for about four hours every day either in query letters (letters to publishers), journaling, or working on pieces for submission. I have learned more working as a freelance writer than I have during any class I have ever taken. This experience has led me to suggest that very few people need to go to college. For instance, if one is interested in anything within the arts or an applied craft (e.g. being a mechanic, writer, painter, etc.), internships are far more useful to professional development than college could ever be. The only people who absolutely need to go to college are scientists, or those who wish to become stock brokers, politicians, or members of other “boys club” types of institutions. Even to become a lawyer or a doctor one can study and take the LSAT or MCAT exams without having attended a university first, although one then must subsequently attend law or medical school, of course.
College should not be something that one should lose sleep over. Do what you love and if you find yourself pursuing a field that requires university, I suggest getting into a community college and taking all of your general education classes there, then transferring to a big university for upper level coursework and graduate school.
This last paragraph I direct toward the parents of life learners from the point of view of a (mostly) grown unschooler. First, don’t stress. Your kid is going to be more than okay. Second, be supportive, but not too supportive. You know your kid, and everybody’s different (and I’m not pretending I know how to be a parent), but figuring parts of life out on my own was good for me. Just let your children be every once and awhile. Lastly, whatever your kid is doing, they are learning. No child or young adult can be kept from learning besides putting them into a school system that forces upon them materials like a punishment and gives free time as a reward. So relax. They are going to do amazing things and, if they need to, they’ll go to college.
Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success by James Marcus Bach (Scribner, 2009)
Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree by Blake Boles (Tells Peak Press, 2012)
College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College by Blake Boles (New Society Publishers, 2009)
The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost (Three Rivers Press, 2009)
J. L. Kauffman was twenty years old when he wrote this article in 2012. He lives in Windsor, Colorado.