Tag Archives: homeschool

Biology and God – Confused!

I’ve been using a biology curriculum this semester that was written by a very devout Christian. I think my family picked it because the textbook’s normal and available online and free and divided into manageable bits unlike that densely packed one I had last semester. The thing is…the curriculum has a “have I mentioned I’m Christian today” insert like every couple of days (it’s divided into days) and it’s getting kind of confusing to me.

There’s this implication that if you don’t believe the world was created in 7 days and that the Old Testament is a perfectly accurate representation of everything, you’re just not a believer at all.

Sorry but…what?

I’ll admit I’m not Christian so I’m biased, but isn’t it kind of obvious that God did not actually write the Bible? There were lots of writers, and they were all human beings. I’m not telling people what they should believe in terms of whether or not God inspired that writing. I could get into that if I wanted to, but I’m not going to. For now, I just want to know why people seem to think you have to believe the entirety of it word-for-word to be “truly” Christian when:

a.) The whole Bible has been re-translated dozens of times, and there are some passages that Biblical scholars are more historically confident in than others. I’m pretty sure there is even a part in the NT where it appears like some pages may be missing due to a sort of “time jump.” Given that, there was definitely some human influence on what you can buy at Barnes and Noble in the religious section.

b.) Humans wrote the Bible, and even if humans were inspired, they likely had their own biases going into the work. Specifically, humans back then had no way of knowing about the dinosaurs or the Big Bang. Even if God inspired the Bible, it’s possible that God figured people would be more interested in how man appeared on Earth than about the “big history” of the universe, since ultimately the Bible was written to be read by humans. If God inspired a Bible intended for camels or plankton or sea algae or turtles, the history might look quite different.

c.) Some people say God was like…whispering the words to the people as they wrote them. Even if he was, simple things can happen when you do that. Have you ever tried giving somebody a grocery list and had them come back with wrong stuff? I haven’t, but I saw it enough as a kid that I know it’s a thing. For example, God could have said “your world (the world of humans) is 10,000 years old,” and people could have written down “the world (as in the whole universe) is 10,000 years old.” Slight variations can make a huge difference.

d.) Maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t the point of Christianity to live the way Jesus suggests and to have faith in the power of his sacrifice? I guess…I don’t see how dinosaur bones and evolution are a threat to how Jesus asked people to live their lives or to the value of Jesus’s sacrifice. A natural history museum won’t prevent you from loving your neighbor.

e.) I guess I wonder how evolution even really invalidates Genesis at all. I’m not a Christian myself but…couldn’t Adam and Eve be the first modern humans? I know the Bible doesn’t talk about existence prior to them, but people who wrote it likely did not know about life before then and possibly didn’t need that knowledge to understand their own history/the history of mankind at that point.

f.) Don’t Hebrew words all have a lot of meanings beyond just what the word itself means that factor into how you might interpret the Bible? I remember hearing that “Adam” means “man” and “Eve” means “life.” Given that, it could open up a lot of contemplation I’d think.

—-

I’m not trying to offend anybody but…I don’t get why people seem to think that God wrote the Bible or that God had to be the author for it to have any spiritual importance.

If you do want to answer, I’d prefer no conversion attempts or “because the Bible says so!” type answers or “well I’m sorry if you think this is a ‘the Bible says so’ answer, but the Bible says so!” type answers.

Do people actually believe that God authored the Bible and it is therefore all-or-nothing, or is there another reason why believing the Earth is more than 10,000 years old is incompatible with belief for many people?

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Stuff that’s different in home schooling.

I was just working on biology late at night (yeah, I know) and thinking about how this experience differs from science class at a regular school. When most people think about the differences between homeschooling and regular schooling, all they can think of is “oh no, socialization!” That said, I came home from seeing a movie with a friend who’s my age and regular-schooled, and then I got inspired to work on biology. Amazing, right?

One of the things I noticed about homeschooling today is that I’m moving through biology curriculum very fast even though I was one of the slowest students in my old science classes. There are a few reasons for this.

1. There is no homework versus schoolwork divide. My curriculum occasionally assigns videos, but mostly just lets me read the materials on my own. That means that instead of spending 45-90 minutes listening to someone lecture or having those rich “discussions” teachers are so fond of where students awkwardly pretend to have read, I just read the stuff and that’s it. Homework time is class time.

2. I can complete one class worth of work in uninterrupted blocks. If I’m on a roll with Biology, I don’t have to pause to go to Algebra. I can keep working on biology until I finish a unit if I want to, so long as I plan it out right.

3. A lot of the random, pointless stuff that takes up class time doesn’t happen for home school students. Imagine how much faster school would go if the teacher didn’t have to beg David to sit down or ask religious Joshua to stop yelling “IN THEORY!!!!” every time she mentioned evolution (in spite of her best efforts to be balanced and offer religious perspectives to appease some of these people). Imagine if lunch didn’t cut into your class period, meaning you had to deal with 10 minutes of everyone anxiously staring at the clock, followed by another five minutes (at least) of “I dismiss you, not the bell,” and then another 5-10 minutes of “settling down” once the class resumes.

4. Going at your own pace is always faster in a way. If you get behind in school, you will not understand the lectures AT ALL and then you’ll have to catch up and THEN re-learn the current material since you were too behind to understand it when it was taught in class. Obviously that’s awful, and it’s nice to avoid it.

Honestly, the part where I’d end up behind and then get NOTHING from the lectures AND have to struggle to catch up was the biggest time-waster in school. Not having to do that saves me an awful lot of time now. I need all the time I can get.

Curriculum: WTF?

Does anyone actually just buy a curriculum or download one and actually stick to it all year?

My friend’s college-aged older brother (who is somehow better at lesson planning than her parents) was the one who introduced my family to the idea of homeschooling. He went to all this painstaking effort to pick and choose random stuff from across the internet. Part of that was because of income – they couldn’t afford to just buy the BYU package or whatever. A bigger part of it was just because he thought that he could give her a better “genuine high school experience” than most of those publishers.

My family didn’t think too hard about that. Back when I stopped going to regular school, my family’s expectation was “oh, okay, we’ll find some complete all-in-one set of curriculum-ish things and then we’ll just work through them.”

Here’s about how that went.

Day 1: Oh, here’s something. Wait, it’s $500 for one class? Screw that.

Day 2: Oh, here’s something. Wait, it’s $50 a month and I don’t even get to preview it to make sure it’s good? Screw that!

Day 3: Okay, let’s just mix and match. That’ll work.

Day 4: EVERYTHING I PICKED IS TERRIBLE.

All the syllabuses we tried writing have been scrapped. Nothing has stuck for more than a few weeks. If I had to clump English so far into “units,” here’s what I’d have:

Unit 1: A “Lore” class from Grey School of Wizardry. I know GSW doesn’t really want to be seen as a “curriculum provider” and it isn’t, but the “lore” assignments actually took me through some common core requirements. The first assignment had me studying general themes and literary archetypes. The second one had me comparing myths and legends to each other while learning to apply themes and archetypes to literary analysis. The third assignment involved reading and writing about a myth local to my geographic region. The fourth assignment (which I’m still working on periodically) involved choosing a book that relates somehow to an ancient myth and explaining how they’re similar. I read a young-adult book called Janie: Face to Face for that. I go back to this curriculum every now and then – namely for the short story I’m working on.

Unit 2: Some John Milton from Saylor.org. Mostly all I read about was his life. I didn’t get to read much of his writing before that site started bugging out on me.

Unit 3: A TON of grammar study using a grammar book from Barnes and Noble, plus some review on Purdue Owl about proper citation style. I ended up helping other people revise their essays to familiarize myself with structure. When I was done with that, I took a giant test over grammar and usage.

Unit 4: I read The Giver for free online. Then, I watched the movie. My big “assignment” on the subject was basically a blog response.

Unit 5: A Separate Peace. I’m using a free curriculum from Curriki for that, which contains study guides and such.

Does anyone else actually just make a plan and stick to it 100%?

English curriculum.

Me: *Looks up curriculum for English.*

Curriculum: ANTIGONE!!!!

Me: Read it in 8th grade.

Curriculum: JULIUS CAESAR!!!!

Me: Read it at some point.

Curriculum: ROMEO AND JULIET!!!!

Me; Read it, saw it performed, saw the movie, wrote a paper on it, etc.

Curriculum: RED BADGE OF COURAGE!!!!

Me: I read that in freaking elementary school.

Curriculum: Where the Red Fern Grows????

Me: Seventh grade.

Curriculum: Uh…geez…kid…what do you want? To Kill a Mockingbird? Surely you haven’t read that one!!!!

Me: Summer before 9th grade.

Curriculum: Screw you, Lilly.

Winter Allergies

Khan Academy is great for biology and math. YouTube has some great history lessons, and there’s this other site I don’t remember the name of that’s great for geography. What’s great for health?

WebMD. This is a general summary of the research I did there today.

I’ve been wondering why my “cold” symptoms have lasted for more than 3 weeks. The family bought some of that fancy Claritin with pseudoephedrine that young people aren’t allowed to buy because supposedly people under 18 are MORE LIKELY to use it to produce meth labs than adults are (explain this to me, please) but it hasn’t helped quite enough for me. It has really confused me why I seem to have ALLERGIES in the dead of winter. Rather than wasting my time in some “alcohol is bad” module today, I decided to research winter allergies on WebMD and Prevention.com.

Causes

Air vents are gross and full of dust, mold, dead pieces of bugs, and other sickening things. During the winter time, the furnaces blow hot air into your house or apartment but don’t bother filtering out all the dust, mold, and dead pieces of bugs to keep them from flying into your house and shooting up your nostrils, causing an eruption of mucous and suffering.

Solutions

1. If you aren’t traumatized from bad experiences with needles as a child, get an allergy shot.

2. Otherwise, you can shell out $200 on an air purifier that gets some of the bug bits and dust out of the air.

3. You can also get a dehumidifier which gets the air less damp, preventing mold growth.

4. Supposedly, washing your sheets in HOT HOT HOT HOT water is helpful. Only problem with that is, I like washing things on cold to protect the environment.

5. Showering at night supposedly helps get dust and pollen from outside off of you.

6. Taking allergy pills before bed is important, even if the box says just once every 24 hours.

TL:DR;

Allergies aren’t just something people get in the spring. I’m most likely not dying from a wasting disease. Thank you, self-directed health class.

The Giver: Book Versus Movie

This is my awesome reading/viewing response.

I read The Giver a few days ago, mostly because I’m one of the only 9th graders ever who hasn’t read it. Basically, this book is your typical totalitarian government story that gets assigned to you in school. The best dystopian literature, in my opinion, exaggerates things that are wrong with our society in order to hi-light injustice and call for change. The Hunger Games deals with the unequal distribution of wealth and the exploitation of lower-class people. Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy deals with beauty standards, involuntary psychiatry (think about the lesions), and the way that emotional numbing leads to self-harm.

The Giver falls into a different category of dystopian novels – a category wherein the writer creates a society that could never happen to illustrate how great our present society is. Much like the society in Ayn Rand’s Anthem, the society in The Giver watches peoples’ every move and chooses peoples’ lifetime occupations for them. In both novels, love is forbidden and sex is no longer a thing. In both novels, the reader is expected to suspend disbelief and accept that the inquisitive, brooding young male hero is literally the first person to ever forget his Don’t Have Sex drug or to question why we don’t have love anymore. Both novels end in a similar way, with the hero running off into the sunset and hoping that someday his friends will join him.

If you think that’s tiresome, wait until you see the movie version of The Giver. Because no good dystopian film would be complete without a forced, horribly forbidden heterosexual teen romance, the movie-verse gives people their career assignments at sixteen instead of twelve. Instead of just having a wet dream about Fiona getting naked in an old person’s bathtub, Jonas actually kisses her (much to the shock of all the people who are like “what are they doing? We don’t understand!!!!”) and eventually convinces her to fall in love with him, despite her initial discomfort with the idea (more on that later).

The world is also changed so that instead of living in an Abnegation-style world (think Divergent), they have this bizarre, out of place futuristic technology like hologram computers and injection buttons in their homes. There is also a Big Bad village elder who has the same hair and general demeanor as the District 13 president in The Hunger Games. By the end of the film, Jonas actually manages to save everybody and we even see the world regain its color like it did in those Skittles commercials they played when I was little.

Fighter drones, blatant rip-offs of Hunger Games peacekeepers, and generic futuristic technology aside, the movie version of The Giver frustrated me for similar reasons that the book did.

1. It’s another example of “society hates your heterosexual love.” There are actually people in relationships that society sees as an illness and wants to “cure,” but it’s apparently more box-office-worthy if the people are straight.

2. The random baby-killing thing is such an obvious pro-life reference, oh my god.

3. The biological determinism. It seems like because the “family unit” is not biologically related to Jonas, we are supposed to see it as a totally “fake” family, whereas the baby who probably has the same birth mother as Jonas is supposed to be his “real” brother.

4. The whole “the government wants to euthanize your grandmother” thing that miraculously predates the Obama Care debate.

5. The fact that all the horrible memories are of war. Ugh. It bothers me so much that none of them are of things like rape, genocide, racism, human trafficking, etc. I know that can’t be in a book for children supposedly, but if you want a reason why sexual desire would be suppressed – look no farther than the out-of-control problem that is sexual violence (and face it, it’s totally out of control, police don’t care half the time and can be convinced to drop the whole case despite multiple eyewitness accounts if your mom vouches for the abusers, trust me I know). None of Jonas’s experiences make it really obvious why emotion itself is feared, but the writer could have made a stronger case for that.

6. The fact that ultimately the big moral is “just do the Christian conservative family and monogamy thing or else society will descend into loveless chaos.”

I guess I’m not quite sure why this book (and possibly movie) is so popular.

Health, Unit 1; Nutrition

For health class, I was going to go down a list of unit studies I found online. It was all the basic stuff – fitness, nutrition, alcohol being bad, drugs being bad, sex being mostly bad, etc. Health is one of those subjects that a lot of states require homeschoolers demonstrate they’ve learned about. Unfortunately, it’s boring. I’m only about a couple weeks into the semester and I’m already bored. What I’ve decided is that every unit should relate to my life in some way. I have many health issues myself that I’m working through, and most of them require me to watch videos/get educated about lifestyle and what’s healthy versus what my parents did. That takes up a lot of my time, because to get better I can’t just take a pill, I need to actually do the work. I decided I want to work my own health struggles into my health curriculum. In particular, I am going to start with a list of questions that I want answered rather than a list of assignments and then searching for material that will give me an answer.

The first unit I am supposed to cover is nutrition. Nutrition is oversimplified in high school health textbooks. As a vegan, the “four food groups” thing gets complicated. For the nutrition unit, I have compiled a list of questions.

  1. What are signs of B-12 deficiency? How can I know if I’m deficient?
  2. Which nutrients might I be missing and how can I get them?
  3. What are some cost-efficient ways to pack more nutrients into each meal?
  4. What foods are best for someone with depression?
  5. Can nutritional supplements replace traditional antidepressants?
  6. What foods can I eat if I don’t feel full?

To track my progress, I will use a stopwatch to time how long I spend on the nutrition unit and compile a “portfolio” of work done for my health class. This will make sure I get to 75 hours for the half-credit this course offers.

      

This is my sad story of why I’m in home school.

A few people have given me grief online about how I’m not getting a “real” education, and how I should go back to “real” school. In their opinions, the only acceptable way to home school is by paying $XXX a month to do some kind of “e-learning” which will lead to an “accredited diploma” saying you’re an awesome child who completed “e-learning” or whatever the hell. Yes I cuss, deal with it. My sister’s a big “never uses swear words” type but I haven’t picked that up yet.

“Real” school feels like it was forever ago, so I want to talk a little about what my experience was like there…hopefully to work myself out of this self-doubt I’m having mid-semester as I review high school curriculum options with my family.

As far as the “why do I home school” question goes, I’m sort of a weird case because I don’t actually live with the family I lived with when I was going to “normal” school. That’s a good thing, trust me, but it wasn’t so much a “family realized how much I was suffering and cared” thing. No, I asked my original family multiple times if I could unschool and their answer was always “no.” My experiences were terrible at regular school and funnily enough, 95% of my “bullies” were teachers. In preschool…I don’t talk about preschool. In pre-k, the meanest girl in the class was the teacher’s daughter and so I was expected to put up with bullying lest I offend her oh-so-great parenting skills. Beyond that, my parents put me in Catholic school and I didn’t know anything about Catholicism because they sent me to a New Age-ish church. Yeah I know that’s weird, I don’t care. I like being honest. Anyway, the teachers would mock stuff I said in mean voices and tell me I was a bad kid basically. Family didn’t care. I then moved on to kindergarten and remember I got in trouble for getting glue on a penny because that was “defacing currency.” Fast forward to first grade. I got in trouble for taking down a kid’s name from a cubby after he moved away. Second grade, I had this teacher who “didn’t believe” in recess. She was just a beeotch but supposedly “oh she has colon cancer” was ample excuse for the fact that we were holed up in her classroom for 6 hour days with no recess and were required to be silent this entire time while being told that we were immature, rude, etc. My third grade teacher was a lot better but she had her favorites and I wasn’t one of them.

By fourth grade I was a mess, and my family was sending me to this lousy therapist. I developed mild OCD and I got in trouble for OCD rituals. In fifth grade, the teacher was a single lady in her late thirties/early forties who was just angry all the time. In sixth grade, my teacher was one of the crabbiest people I ever met. I could NEVER finish the homework she gave us, and it wasn’t because I didn’t understand the material. It was because it was a ton of busy work and a ton of perfectionism. To illustrate, we had to write a whole paper without using the words “is” or “be.” 

At age eleven/twelve-ish, I started living with different people from who I grew up with. When they put me back in school, they took my disability documentation to the office and they assured my guardian that “oh yeah we’ll let her teachers know.”

Well…English teacher didn’t think my documentation was sufficient and kept making me jump through all these hoops. At the time I was having trouble sleeping and it affected my ability to stay super focused in class. The office didn’t help because supposedly it was his decision whether or not to accommodate me. Social studies teacher actually got fired eventually (but not soon enough) because he was constantly making demeaning jokes about people with mental illnesses. Foreign language teacher was a really nice lady. Math teacher was just…really bad at his job. The school sorted me incorrectly into a higher math class than made sense for me, and so I ended up struggling *a lot.* I also dealt with some bullying that was pretty bad. The girl bullying me had a fake ID (I know, right) and was possibly a teenage alcoholic but even when I shared that with the principal he just asked me if I wanted to start a lynch mob or something. So yeah this girl never got help for her addiction and I never got help for her bullshit.

My new family fought HARD to make normal schooling work for me. Poor guardian tried her hardest. She kept telling the office and my teachers that I had been in a rough family situation before and needed some consideration. Teachers just told her they wanted it “dealt with” and that I ought to be in therapy/taking medicine if it was really that bad. At the time, I was in therapy but my therapist basically said “I’m not a miracle worker” and stated that I did need accommodations and understanding to be successful and that his job wasn’t really to “change me” and change my needs so much as keep me thinking and processing and working on myself. Basically the school’s response was “well if he’s not a miracle worker, find someone who is.”

During that time, I was so scared of going back to my old family. I thought if I didn’t perform well in school, I’d be shipped back and that thought was terrifying to me. It added so much stress to my life. I remember talking to an academic counselor about that.

It went something like this:

Me: I moved away from a really bad home situation, but since this is new I’m really afraid of getting sent back if I can’t prove to the powers that be that this situation is good for me. I’m afraid that if I make bad grades, they’ll think my current living situation “isn’t working out” and it’ll give my parents leverage to make me come back.

Her: Oh, I don’t think that’s true! I think everyone involved in your care has your best interest at heart.

Me: But they don’t. My family is horrible, and I don’t even know if I’m going to finish school if I have to go back there.

Her: That sounds really hard. Are you in therapy?

Me: Not currently, Dr. G and I are taking a break, but it’s not emotional support I need. It’s basically having teachers work with me. I’m getting in trouble for missing class or falling asleep in class and I’m not sure I can handle this block schedule, mandatory attendance thing but I absolutely have to stay in school and succeed to stay safe basically. Sometimes I’ve requested alternative assignments and been ignored. I need someone to advocate for me.

Her: Well, unfortunately my hands are tied. The verbiage states that they have to give you “reasonable” accommodation and if they don’t feel that the accommodations you’re asking for are reasonable then they have a right to refuse. 

My guardian tried dealing with this woman too, to no avail. A family friend who also had some kids at that school started complaining, and then they started freezing her out because her kids weren’t students anymore and they had to prioritize “current students.” I think the counseling department even blocked her e-mail address which is just…wow. 

Then I was taken out of school. I felt a LOT of grief over losing “the high school experience,” whatever that is. I felt a sense of failure for not being able to finish strong. My grades were terrible (well, terrible for me – Bs and Cs when I know I could have done better). That school was private so C meant “barely passing” by their standards. I remember a teacher wanted to give me a going away card and I couldn’t even go pick it up because I felt sick even looking at that place. We did our homework and figured out how to make this work. 

In the beginning, I had frequent panic attacks and so I ended up having other people present for all of my study time and telling me when to stop basically. The end of seventh grade was a lot tamer than what I’m up to now. My new family has sort of structured some of my education around helping me emotionally. Communications was a required course at my old school and instead of public speaking, we focused on de-escalating high-conflict people and having successful interactions with jerkasses. It was funny, there was an online course about this, a webinar, articles to read, etc. With English it was kind of just okay as long as I was reading. A lot of what I did was history and art last semester. It wasn’t until this semester when I decided to get a bit more structured with it. The point is, it’s okay to take your time especially when you’re dealing with hard things. It shouldn’t be about “normalizing” if the whole point of education is to enrich young people and give them the tools to be productive adults. In fact, if you get beaten down for 21 years before you get out into “the real world,” you’re not going to be able to do a job or be a successful person.

Things are a lot better than they used to be. I can actually socialize with people now, and handle responsibility and goal-setting a lot more easily. That wasn’t going to happen at regular school. I notice a lot of parents take their kids out due to ASD rather than OCD/PTSD like I have, and I’m curious as to whether or not that’s a similar experience with teachers not getting it and blaming the kid for not falling in line. 

So this is embarrassing to talk about, but I figured somebody else out there has to have a kid with problems like mine and has to be wondering if home schooling would help. It does. A lot. Especially when you focus a few art sessions on drawing silly pictures of all the teachers who hurt you. 

Am I being totally unrealistic?

We’ve been talking about my plans for next year when I supposedly start high school, and I’m so confused/frustrated with it. When trying to picture my ideal home school situation, it looks like something I’ve never seen before ever.

I’d like to take online courses someplace with a recommended curriculum. It’d be nice if they had some AP courses available. The problem is, I don’t really want to apply/register to a “real” online school that basically assumes you’re signing up to have that be the school you’re going to. Does that make sense? I don’t want to just enroll in a school that’s basically no different from any other school except that it’s online. I more want a program where I know I’m touching upon the same materials other people would be but it’s not so structured like “we expect you to graduate from Online Asynchronous Expensive Institute of the Midwest by fulfilling these requirements, sending your real name and a lock of hair and an immunology record and a middle school transcript and blah and blah and blah and blah.” It’d be nice if there were some avenues for talking to other students online too.

There are some things I’ve come across that *might* fit the bill, but I’m not sure.

  • Thinkwell. A family member did a course through them in high school and said it was kind of boring but it gives you progress reports which is nice.
  • Education Portal. Somewhat good but a.) it’s all multiple choice and I hate that and b.) not all of their courses are complete.

It’s frustrating to me how you can’t just get a strong curriculum without it having to mean a commitment to do all your coursework there and sort of not be a home school student anymore. What if you want a transcript saying “hey, I did some stuff here” but you ultimately are using an online school to enrich home school education and not like as the be-all, end-all of your official normative high school education? Bleh. You must not exist if you want that. 

College and stupid.

I just don’t know what to think sometimes. It seems like there are so many people trying to figure out “what colleges want” and advice is about as consistent as teen magazines are about how to get a boyfriend. If anybody actually had it figured out, people wouldn’t still be buying these “top ten signs he’s into you” type articles. I swear…”top ten signs a college is into you” could be a thing. There are so many categories of “do this, no do this” type scenarios that it makes my head hurt.

  • Colleges want IB courses, except no wait, those don’t transfer so take AP except no wait, we only count those as placement and not credit so take CLEP oh wait we don’t even know what CLEP is.
  • Colleges want extracurricular activities and hate home school students except when they don’t.
  • GPA matters except at schools that don’t care about your GPA. There it’s all about the ACT/SAT score except at schools that don’t care about those things. 
  • Community college courses are a great way for home school kids to show colleges they’re college-material except oh wait a lot of colleges won’t transfer them and will even look down on them and make you retake the same stuff you already took.

The more I look at this, the more it gets to seeming like college prep programs are just big cash mills. Maybe I don’t know anything about this, but I swear it seems like everywhere I go I find major contradictions in what colleges “need” to see and major discrepancies in what different colleges find important. Example:

  • There are about a gazillion “home school curriculum” programs that are extremely expensive and from what I hear not all that good. All of these things are supposedly “mandatory” to not get your parents arrested/get into a great school. The thing is, how mandatory does it have to be for someone to put that on their website and make a lot of money off of scared parents?
  • There are so many (expensive) ACT prep programs that it seems like the actual value of the ACT/SAT starts to decrease. I mean, think about it. If the person who can afford all the test prep programs has a 36 and the person from a low-income family has a 21, it doesn’t really seem like that’s a fair way of evaluating people and some colleges have actually dropped the ACT/SAT in part because of that issue.
  • There are people who SELL classes that will help you pass the CLEP exams which are supposed to be exams that give you college credit for thing you already know, not for paying to take an actual class. In other words, these programs can make money as unaccredited schools essentially.
  • There are so many “continued ed” and “certificate” programs. How many of those do employers actually value?
  • Some colleges will almost never take your transfer credits. They claim it’s because their education is so top-notch that your pathetic little junior college course doesn’t hold a flame to it, but I have to wonder if it’s really about making more money.
  • I also hear about people whose schools are making them spend like 5 years in college and then roping them into master’s programs they probably don’t even need OR that are basically grad school factories that don’t prepare students for jobs. They make them repeat customers due to their inability to get hired anywhere. 

There’s all of this “do this and do that or you’ll never get into college” stuff going around, but when my family and I were looking at options for next semester (I start high school in the fall) I saw that community colleges have open admissions which means that almost anyone can go. If you complete an associate’s and then get a bachelor’s somewhere, is an employer really going to go “hmm…how many extracurricular activities did you do in high school again? Did you drop out of band?” Something makes me doubt it. 

In the end, I just end up wondering if a lot of hard-working people who are in AP courses and going to $50,000/year schools are actually getting the best educations and the best jobs when I know liberal arts grads who are struggling so much.