Elite colleges ask more of homeschoolers

Are Elite Colleges and Universities Discriminating Against Homeschoolers? asks Paula Bolyard, a recently “retired” homeschooler, on PJ Lifestyle.
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Homeschooled student “enter college with significantly higher test scores than their public (and even private) school peers,” she writes. “They graduate from college at a higher rate­—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earn higher grade point averages while in school, according to one study.”

Princeton seems to get it, she writes. Applicants who can’t supply a traditional transcript can submit an outline of the homeschool curriculum.

Yale wants to make sure homeschooled kids are not socially awkward:

We look for evidence of social maturity from all our applicants and especially from home-schooled students. Your personal statement, interests and activities, and letters of recommendation should speak to your ability to integrate well with other students and tell us about your non-academic interests.

But elsewhere Yale says “academic strength” is the “first consideration” with “motivation, curiosity, energy, leadership ability, and distinctive talents” in second place.

“We’re going to want to know what the reason for homeschooling is,” a Dartmouth admissions official told Lindsay Cross at the Mommyish blog.

“Was the student busy with another demanding pursuit, like playing music? Were they traveling with their family? Was there a lack of resources in their area? Somewhere in the application, they’re going to need to explain.”

Private school students aren’t asked to explain why they didn’t attend public school, Bolyard points out.

Some elite colleges ask homeschooled students to submit additional SAT II test scores. That strikes me as reasonable. A straight-A student who’s been graded by Mom will need objective evidence of achievement.

But what about a teacher’s recommendation when Mom is the teacher?

In addition to a “not-so-subtle interrogation about the family’s choice to opt out of public education,” Brown also asks for “letters of recommendation from instructors who have taught you in a traditional classroom setting and who can speak to your abilities and potential in an objective way.”

Brown “would prefer not to receive letters of recommendation from your parents, immediate relatives, or from academic tutors in the paid employ of your family,” unless the applicant has no classroom instructors to ask.

Ha-Ya or community college?

It’s 2020. Harvard and Yale announce their merger. Ha-Ya’s new president, “tiger daughter” Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, pledges to slash tuition to attract students. Shanghai University is buying Princeton. Stanford is shedding its undergraduate division to focus on law, medicine and business schools.

Instead of attending a high-cost bricks-and-mortar college, debt-averse students are taking online courses, studying with freelance professors and using a portfolio of test results, essays and reports on activities to qualify for jobs without a college degree. It’s Jane Shaw‘s fantasy of the future of higher education.

It all started, Shaw writes, on May 28, 2010, when “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber wrote about  Cortney Munna, a graduate of New York University who owed $97,000 in student loans and works for a photographer earning $22 an hour.

All it requires to become reality is an accepted way for people to certify what they’ve learned.

On Community College Spotlight: Where should collegebound students go in the fall: Harvard or their local community college?

Is a college degree worth the debt?

New Haven promises college aid

New Haven’s public school students will get free college tuition at any public college or university in Connecticut, if they maintain a 3.0 grade point average and 90 percent attendance. Graduates will get $2,500 a year to attend an in-state private college. Students will have to maintain a 2.5 grade point average in college to continue receiving the money.

Yale University is providing most of the $4.5 million a year needed to fund the New Haven Promise. It’s open to city students who’ve attended public school — district-run or charter — since ninth grade or earlier.

Only 200 of the 1,000 graduates last year would have qualified, city officials said. About 83 percent of New Haven graduates go on to college, but more than 70 percent dropout after two years.

(Mayor John) DeStefano said the program was intended to curb a citywide high school dropout rate of 38 percent and cultivate a college-going culture, as well as to provide an economic incentive for families to move to New Haven. Students will qualify for the financial aid on a sliding scale, with those who started in city schools at kindergarten receiving the most, 100 percent of their tuition. Students who arrived in the ninth grade will receive 65 percent.

In Syracuse, New York, enrollment in city schools has grown since 2008, when Syracuse University and the Say Yes to Education foundation began offering free college tuition to public high school students. However, the graduation rate hasn’t improved.

George A. Weiss, a Wall Street financier who founded Say Yes to Education in 1987, said the foundation had paid college tuition for more than 350 students in predominantly poor schools in Hartford; Philadelphia; Cambridge, Mass.; and Harlem in New York City. He said academic enrichment programs, counseling and other services had supplemented the tuition assistance.

“You can’t just give them an offer of money,” Mr. Weiss said. “They still have their day-to-day issues, and you have to help them.”

All college scholarship programs have learned this lesson:  Disadvantaged students need mentors, tutors and counselors to get them on the college track and keep them on track. A scholarship offer isn’t enough.

I also predict students with only 90 percent attendance aren’t going to need more than one semester of college tuition.

Update:  Why isn’t Yale offering scholarships to Yale? Chad Aldeman wants to know.

Chinese students, Ivy dreams

Obsessed with prestigious U.S. universities, middle-class Chinese parents have made Harvard Girl a best-seller, reports the Boston Globe. Other books on raising “high-quality children” include Stanford’s Silver Bullet, Yale Girl and Creed of Harvard.

“Harvard Girl,” written by the parents of one of the first Chinese undergraduates to enter the university on a full scholarship, chronicled Liu Yiting’s methodical upbringing, which the book says instilled the discipline and diligence necessary for academic success. The tome has a place in many urban households with high school-age children, and new parents receive the book as a present from family and friends.

All the parents’ hopes rest on their only child.

Liu’s parents challenged the young girl to hold ice in her hands for as long as she could bear it to improve her endurance and made her jump rope every day for increasingly longer periods until she won a school contest.

They put toys out of her grasp when she was a baby to make her work harder for them, timed the girl’s studies to the minute as soon as she entered elementary school and made her do school work in the noisiest part of the house to develop her ability to concentrate.

Liu was graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a degree in applied math and economics; she works at a New York investment firm. Last year, 484 Chinese students applied to Harvard; five were admitted.