What About Post-Secondary Admissions? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 11)

Students who have been educated at home come in two main “formats.” There are those who have, in some fashion, simply brought school home and have generally followed public programming, ending up with government issued credits, transcripts and possibly diplomas. These “home-schooled” students do not usually pose challenges for admissions as they are usually assessed using the standard admission criteria expected of all students.

I should, however, warn you that to have a few credits can be more damaging than no credits at all, as a few credits may generate a transcript without a diploma which can come with the stigma of being a “dropout.” Completing the GED creates much the same problem.

The “home educated” or “unschooled” students, on the other hand, have followed alternate, individualized programming and as a consequence, lack the standard credits, transcripts and diplomas.

Now, although the home educated are generally as well or better prepared for post-secondary studies than their public schooled counterparts, lacking standard admission credentials does require admissions personnel to use some form of alternate criteria when assessing these students for admissions.

If you have not followed this clearly, let me say it a different way. If you do what everyone else does, you get to be measured like everyone else is. If you are different, you must be measured differently. The standard way is measured with standard admission criteria and the different way with alternate admission criteria.

Either way, post-secondary institutions are looking for the best students and every student must demonstrate that they are the best candidates for success in the institution. After all, one must understand that institutions of higher learning are businesses that don’t make their best money on failures. It is in their best interest to find those students who will succeed and earn them money.

This is why every program comes with prerequisites or a list of “have-to haves” that must be met before a student is considered for admission.

Prerequisites cannot be argued away. If an institution says you need English, Math and particular sciences, you must show that you have what it takes. Now, under normal circumstances they will refer to government programming like level 30, but understand that this is because most people applying for admission have come from the school system.

What the institutions are asking for is not necessarily an English 30 course, but an ability to do work in English equivalent to that level. This is called proficiency. They are looking for a level of proficiency in certain subjects that you will need to prove. There are a number of ways that this can be done.

To this end, I have summarized alternate admission practices generally in use by post-secondary institutions when considering unaccredited home educated applicants in my article entitled “Summary of Post-Secondary Admissions Practices”.

We have been helping post-secondary institutions and unaccredited home educated students to understand each other, and the unique challenges that need to be addressed when seeking admission, for a long time. Please go the web site, www.educationunlimited.ca under Resources and click on Post-Secondary Admissions to see how post-secondary institutions from across Canada are willing and able to deal with the unaccredited home educated student.

We have found that our post-secondary students admitted without government issued accreditation are often outstanding students. I believe that this is due to two main things.

First of all, home educated students are usually sure of themselves, are not confused as to who they are and therefore have no need to go to college to find themselves. They know what they want, what is required to get there, and what it takes to succeed.

Secondly, home educated students have had to practice self-motivation and personal responsibility and have learned how to do what has to be done to get where they want to go. In short, home educated students demonstrate a level of maturity not often found within their “schooled” peers.

When questioned, most institutions who have admitted unaccredited home educated students have discovered that if there is one characteristic that can generally be attributed to these kinds of students, it is that they tend to be overachievers. Wow! Good news!

That’s it! Once students have transitioned from the secondary to the post-secondary level, parents have worked themselves out of a job. There will always be a need to support, encourage and mentor your now-grown-up, son or daughter, but the education part of it is done, and likely well done, at that.

The fears and concerns regarding home education that likely bothered you in the past, have now gone away. You likely discovered that you could have saved yourself a lot of grief if you would have trusted in God rather than having put confidence in man and that all the false information you were fed about the need to look like everyone else was simply scare mongering and not factual.

However, there is one more opportunity for fear to grip you in this journey. I like to call this one “Fears and Concerns Level 5” and I will talk about this one next time.

Letting Them Go: Fears and Concerns Series (Part 12)

We have now arrived at the place we intended to arrive at all along. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise, yet somehow parents have often forgotten to prepare for it. In everything and every way, we ultimately have to come to THE END.

Home education is no different. Neither is child rearing. Neither is life, for that matter. Still, for loving parents, letting the children go is hard. I don’t need to talk about those parents who can hardly wait to put their children in school or to grow up so they can carry on with “their” lives. When I see this happening, I tend to question why they had children in the first place!

Earlier, I mentioned the need for sacrifice when children are added to the equation of, mother plus father equals children. I explained that there were only two possibilities: parents sacrificing themselves for the sake of the children; or parents sacrificing their children for the sake of themselves.

Parents who have sacrificially dedicated themselves to their children by keeping the family intact, at home, where they were provided with the unconditional love required to grow and learn in keeping with who they were, are especially prone to these final fears and concerns. This level or stage usually involves parental tears, especially the first time around.

No other fears or concerns are more illegitimate than those associated with letting the children go. You heard me right! Thinking that your children have been handicapped by your choice of where and how they would be trained, taught and prepared for life is absolutely wrong for those who determined to do the job themselves, at great personal cost, regardless of what others, including the children, may think or say.

Nevertheless, parents often have their second thoughts and doubts. Therefore, I will present you with a few facts to establish and verify the superiority of a home education and to encourage you with the fact that you made the best decision when you determined to keep your children home.

Let’s begin.

This final stage of a child’s growth is the most painful, especially for mom, who has developed a deep relationship with her children not only by being a part of them since conception, but by pouring herself into them from birth. This not to say that dad is not going to suffer through the transitioning from child to adult, but usually they are slightly more able to “hide their feelings”.

However, both mom and dad are susceptible to the following:

The major fear that creeps in at this point is that of having failed to properly prepare the children for their lives. How is that possible? You kept the children home, loved them unconditionally, walked through all their trials, hurts and failures with them, and saw them through to responsible adulthood. There is no better preparation for life, especially if you included and focused on introducing them to their Creator.

Feelings of failure are standard for loving parents as we ponder our own inadequacies. However, parents giving of themselves for their children will soon discover that even though it may have seemed like sacrifice at the time, it was actually an investment! Indeed, the best investment possible in life. Not one that pays in interest which is actually a fraction of one, but one that pays in multiples. The Bible tells us to expect returns in thirty, sixty, even one hundred times.

This may not be evident right away, but who knows what impact we will have in the generations to come after us. Not only in terms of extending the family through grandchildren and more, but also in terms of the influence we have through our children.

Personally, I have made some pretty dumb investments in my time, but I most certainly got fantastic returns when I invested in (or sacrificed for) my children.

Being different comes with its own set of concerns. Yes, it is true that you did things differently than most others when determining to train and teach your children at home, but isn’t that what we all desire in the end? Our hearts naturally cry out to be uniquely recognized and appreciated. Home educating children get just that.

Besides, if we desire to leave the world in a better place, that is, to make a difference in this world, we have to be “different” in the first place. Home education “normalizes” the idea of being different, which is why the home educated are generally outstanding wherever they go. All we need is to take a look at God’s creation to see that to be different should not be a concern, but seen as a blessing.

What is it that we ultimately desire to do for our children? We want to best prepare them for their futures, for their lives. I want to tell you a story about a former student I bumped into a few years ago. Without knowing it, this student paid me the highest compliment a teacher can possibly receive, which I will share with you in a moment.

But, first I need to explain what I had been doing while teaching in a big city high school in Edmonton. For some reason, our school had six periods for each class in a week. This would make sense, of course, if there were six school days in a week, but in a five day week we were forced to have one day when we would have two periods of one class.

I felt that two periods of Biology 20 or 30 with me in one day was a bit too much to ask, so I would allow students to ask any question about anything in the second period. We called it “Question Period”. The students loved it and often begged or bargained away the Biology so we could have more time for this exercise.

When I met this former student, my father happened to be with me and asked the student what kind of teacher I was. The student answered that I was his all-time favourite teacher, which I always like to hear, of course, but what he said next was incredible. He defined what education is supposed to be all about.

He said that I was an “awesome” Biology teacher but had to admit he had pretty well forgotten all of his Biology. He then went on to say, “but the things you taught me about life during question period, Mr. Gaumont, I want you to know I hear your voice every day”! Wow! It does not get better than that for a dedicated teacher!

Think about this. What is it that parents ultimately teach their children? Everything that prepares them for life. If all your children want, is to be taught about and prepared for the realities of life, there is absolutely no better opportunity for doing so than when loving parents keep and teach their children at home.

You have done a tremendous job and you will see this many times as you and your children grow older, together. Go ahead, let them go in confidence.