I need some academic advice. Not for myself – I already know the answer to that problem: quit blogging! I mean for my children, and especially my older daughter.
Γ aspires to be a medical doctor. As a homeschooled student, she is now two-plus years ahead in her Math-U-See curriculum, and comes home from the library with stacks of books on science, which she reads voraciously. I’ve been thinking ahead as to what we should do with her if/when we’ve exhausted secondary-level material to teach her.
In a post that I can’t seem to find, Steve Sailer recommended that ambitious high school students abandon high school entirely after their sophomore year in favor of community college, from whence they can transfer into a four-year program and graduate two years early. I’ve been considering* this in the context of our own local community college. It’s well-regarded, not far from where we live, and pretty cheap for us county residents. Plus, it offers a program in “Liberal Arts and Sciences” that will fulfill the freshman and sophomore math, science, humanities, and Soc. Sci. requirements of the state’s universities and easily transfer for this purpose, even for students intending to major in science, engineering, and pre-med. So why hang around in high school if you are ready for college?
Well, actually, I can think of several possible reasons why it might not be a good idea:
Transfering into a local state school would be easy. But transferring into anywhere else would be difficult. Schools typically admit transfers only to replace dropouts, and the more competitive the schools, the fewer dropouts they have. The Ivy League, MIT, etc., graduate 99% + of their entering freshmen. So competition for a transfer slot is even more heated than for freshman admission. (MIT, for instance, almost tells you not to bother.
Adding to the difficulty is that many colleges won’t consider a high school student with college credits (as opposed to AP credits) beyond some threshold value as anything other than a transfer student, even if they took those credits while high-school-aged. (A notable exception to this is the Service Academies, which regard all selectees as freshman regardless of their previous college experience. The downside is that while the credits transfer, a cadet still must take a full course load every semester.)
As Half Sigma has pointed out, the top schools are looking for “demonstrated leadership potential”, which in practice usually means extracurricular and athletic achievement in high school. My daughters compete in figure skating, but I’m not sure what a homeschooled student can do to look competitive. Further, while the community college does have clubs and such that might fill this bill, my daughter would be competing for recognition with older students. (Despite her academic prowess, Γ’s social maturity is at best on par. I guess the apple never falls far from the tree.)
That’s my take on the problem. Does anyone have any insight on the best way to proceed?
* This is where I make the usual disclaimer about how this will be all her decision, etc. I’m just thinking about the direction in which I should, you know, advise her. Yeah, that's it . . . .