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How Homeschooling Works

Homeschooling and College

Homeschooler Turned Best-selling Author
At 15, Christopher Paolini was finished with high school and ready to start college. Thousands of readers are happy his plans didn't exactly work out that way. Instead of writing term papers, Paolini decided to write his first novel. Now, a few years later, with a three-book deal with Knopf under his belt and movie rights sold to FOX 2000, Paolini's future couldn't be brighter. To what does the young author attribute his success? Homeschooling!

According to, Paolini said:

    Everything I did was only possible because my parents were dedicated and loving enough to homeschool my sister and me. My mother, a former Montessori teacher and author of several children's books, took the time to instruct us every day. Aside from textbook lessons, she had us perform many exercises designed to stimulate our creativity.

Photo courtesy
by Christopher Paolini

­One of the largest concerns for any parent considering the homeschool route is college. In fact, this question almost always makes the "most frequently aske­d questions" list on most homeschool-related Web sites: "Will my homeschooled student get into college?" The answer to this question seems to be a resounding "Yes!"

You'll find success stories in books and on Web sites about homeschooled students attending the college or university of their dreams, and sometimes these are Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Just like with a traditionally educated student, the homeschool student should start to think about college choices sometime during his ninth grade year (or its equivalent). Additionally, homeschool students can and should take the ACT and SAT. Close attention should be paid to maintaining the student's transcripts and acquiring letters of recommendation from mentors, tutors, instructors and bosses. Many of today's homeschool students take advantage of their accommodating schedules by participating in apprenticeships. Not only does this provide valuable hands-on experience, it also enhances any college application.

Although learning, especially life-long learning, seems to be a focus of many homeschool methods, college isn't necessarily the ultimate goal for every homeschooler. Unfettered by the rigid schedules of traditional school, homeschoolers may begin to think about learning in a broader way. Because they've already taken an unconventional approach, they may be less hesitant to do it again. For these open-minded life-students, the "uncollege approach" might be just the ticket.

Author Danielle Wood presents a plethora of "uncollege" opportunities in her book, "The Uncollege Alternative: Your Guide to Incredible Careers and Amazing Adventures Outside College." In this well-organized reference, you'll find pointers for taking time off before college, for those who aren't ready to write off the college experience for good. There is also an abundant amount of information regarding alternative schooling programs and apprenticeships.

­For more information on homeschooling and related topics, check out the links on the following page.

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