College Prep: The Questions that Matter Most

How Do Unschoolers Prepare for College?

First question: does your teen want to go to college? If so, why? What does he or she want to accomplish by going?

As unschoolers, we want to be careful not to limit our kids by promoting the value of one path over another. The value of college has changed with cost inflation, marketplace evolution, economics, the digital age, and many other factors that may be regional or quality-of-life based.

Second, have they researched the field they are going into (what classes are required for the major)?

Knowing the answer to this will help determine what may be useful in a portfolio or transcript.

Third, have they researched schools and looked at entrance requirements?

Working with the specific requirements of specific institutions is the only realistic “college prep” there is. High schools differ by region, so the way in to a particular institution will differ based on how they handle high school qualifications from outside their immediate region. Many times, those are the paths used to admit homeschoolers because they have a non-standard transcript compared to their region.

Fourth, will they have the maturity necessary to start and finish school or do they need some time to explore options?

While many young people feel the desire (or even pressure) to acquiesce to their parents’ agendas, many also don’t have a clear picture of the next five years of their lives. It can be easier for them to give in to others’ ideas than to claim the space to formulate their own. But we can hold space for them to develop their dreams in their own way, no strings attached.

How Do Unschoolers Prepare for College


How Do Unschoolers Prepare for College Writing and Math?

Writing well is often more related to how much they read. My 11-year-old hates writing, but is a very good reader and a good speller. As a result, he can write appropriately compared to peers. Writing well in college can be easily learned nowadays because of all the resources available.

Algebra is best learned when mature enough. I struggled with math in high school. In college it became so much easier.

Yes, your teen may have to start off in some “remedial” classes the first semester. So do many public schoolers who change streams. But because he or she has chosen that path, self motivation and having not been in the classroom for 13+ years will work to his/her advantage. Maturity will keep them committed, because they have learned through unschooling how to seek out their own interests and achieve their own goals.

How Do Unschoolers Prepare for College Through Life and Work?

If I had it to do again, I would have worked to save money and then traveled or joined the peace corp. I was raised to believe college was way more important than it actually was.

A final note: after going to school and getting an MA I swore I would never go back to school. Until 11 years later, when I decided to become a nurse… in my 40s. School can come any time in life. The rush for it to come right after high school causes a lot of people to drop out or finish with a degree that has no real purpose for them… and often times with debt.


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