To know God and to make Him known.

Homeschooling and the College Question (Part 2)

  • "Describe the last excellent conversation you had. What triggered it?"
  • "What is the most important lesson you will take from high school to your next endeavor?"
  • "Who do you want to be your mentor for the next two to seven years?"
  • "Where can you find people whose message persuades you and whose personal ethic inspires you?"
  • "How can you acquire skills that will equip you for the rest of your life?"

Imagine a college application or guidance counselor session that opened with this nontraditional set of questions.

When I applied to college, I thought of it as a necessary next step—the thing you did after high school. I had been homeschooled all the way through twelfth grade, so I felt some level of anxiety about whether or not I would be “good enough” to make it into top schools. I sweated over test scores, transcripts, and the now-amusing letter my dad had to write to explain my “1/1” class rank.

When I assessed the brightly colored college brochures piled on my desk, the U.S. News & World Report ranking was far more important to me than the names of faculty who taught there. I had no idea who they were or even that it might matter. If the type of questions I have outlined appeared at all, it was on the essay at the end of the application. If your experience is anything like mine was, your student’s main concern in answering those essay questions might be, “What do they want to hear?” followed closely by, “What can I say to make the committee admit me?”

When I applied to graduate school several years later, my application process was considerably different. Four years of college and some time off to work had shown me how powerful a simple, “Well done!” and a handshake from a professor and mentor could be. I enjoyed the classes; I remembered the professors who met with me during office hours and counseled me through the ups and downs of my transition to adult life.

As a result, when I considered graduate programs, I took time to contemplate the kind of people I wanted to have as mentors and the kind of coursework that would equip me for my next steps in life. I read articles; talked to my favorite professors about the people they admired; and browsed the work of current graduate students in each English department. Campus visits were a chance to imagine myself as part of that community, not strictly a performance designed to impress.

Part of my story is about a young woman maturing naturally toward adulthood and making more conscientious decisions as a result. You cannot always rush that process nor should you try, but surely there are ways to integrate this approach to college applications as well.

If you have children approaching the end of high school, consider creating a chart like the one below. List the name of authors whose books your family admires. Listen to radio interviews with faculty members or read publications they have written. Note that this chart includes gap year programs, internships, and summer camps as well as colleges. Today’s graduates have more options than ever, as society reconsiders the value of a college degree.

Above all, do not miss the opportunity to have honest and heartfelt conversations with your teenagers about your desires for them and their dreams for themselves. Ask questions. Ask a lot of questions. And then enjoy the adventure on which those questions lead you.

What do I want to study?

What names do I know in that field?

Where do they teach?


Herman, Bruce

Four Qu4rtets (paintings)

Gordon College

Classics, Latin 

Kopff, E. Christian

The Devil Knows Latin

University of Colorado, Boulder

Creative writing 

Wilson, N.D.

100 Cupboards

New Saint Andrew’s College


Woods, Thomas E.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

The Mises Academy


Mulroy, David

The War Against Grammar

University of Wisconsin, Milw.


Crider, Scott

The Office of Assertion

University of Dallas

English, law, literature 

Fish, Stanley

How to Write a Sentence

Florida International University

Film, the arts 

Godawa, Brian

Hollywood Worldviews

Biola University


Schweikart, Larry

A Patriot's History of the United States

University of Dayton

Journalism, worldview 

Belz, Joel

Founder of WORLD Magazine

World Journalism Institute


Johnson, Philip E.

Defeating Darwinism

UC Berkeley School of Law


Veith, Gene Edward

Reading Between the Lines

Patrick Henry College

Literature, humanities 

Esolen, Anthony

How to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

Providence College

Math, classical education 

Bortins, Leigh

Classical Conversations

Mandala Fellowship


Hodges, John Mason

Toward the Quadrivium 2013

The Center for Western Studies


Smith, James K.A.

Desiring the Kingdom

Calvin College


Stokes, Mitch

Toward the Quadrivium 2012

New Saint Andrew’s College


Martin, Peter


TeenPact Leadership Schools

Politics, education 

DeMille, Oliver

A Thomas Jefferson Education

George Wythe University


Dunlop, Becky

The Heritage Foundation

Heritage Foundation Internships

Science, biochemistry 

Behe, Michael J.

Uncommon Descent

Lehigh University

Science, biology, computer science 

Bartlett, Jonathan


The Blyth Institute


DeRouchie, Jason S.

What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About

Bethlehem College and Seminary

Theology, philosophy 

Wilson, Douglas

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning

New Saint Andrew’s College

Theology, worldview 

Baldwin, Jeff

Understanding the Times curriculum

Worldview Academy



CATEGORIES: College and Post Graduation

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