Successfully home schooled?

Last night, Jon Stewart was talking about home schooling (one word or two, I'm not sure, but I don't doubt that someone with a badge and a dictionary will tell me). Did I mention that I love me some Jon Stewart. I have a fantasy that he develops a new segment called "Heather's Marketing and Finance at Marketing Blog as Read by Children" cute would they be saying "whee!"...really, they are the only ones that have a right to say that anyway!

Also, I have been loading up on the reality TV. I have lots of comments to make about what I have been watching. I may need a purge post to get all my opinions out there (anyone see Average Joe last night?). One of the shows that I am watching is The Scholar, which I have to admit caught my attention because it takes place at USC. The premise of the show is that there are ten (I think) kids that need money to attend a top school. They are all incredibly bright, but their financial need was not met through scholarships. On one hand, I want to invite them to the wonderful world of student loans that I am still (yes, still...thankfully, I got scholarships to cover most, but the loans were absolutely needed to live) living in. But I also have to admit that I really love some of those kids (and if being smarter makes you more deserving, which is one of the points of scholarships, then I'm OK with them getting the cash). My favorites are Melissa (who wants to be Melissa when the grow up? I know I do!) and the home schooled guy, Scot (I would have had a crush on Scot when I was in high school but that is beside the point, I guess).

Back when I was growing up (I'm sure there's some prehistoric era associated with it), you (or at least I) never really heard about people being home-schooled. I started school private and moved to public in fifth (eleven schools during my K-12 that deserves a whee!) and never have known anyone that was home schooled. I'm fascinated by the concept. Especially since I am in an occupation where I'm responsible for assessing skills and intellect (you decide if I am qualified to do the latter).

When you hear about successful people, you often hear about their college background. For example, it's well-known that Bill Gates did not finish college. Or that Harvard MBAs run several Fortune 100 corporations. So I guess I am just curious if we are at a point now, where people that were home schooled as children are prominent business leaders. It would be interesting to know, if we can identify these people, what unique qualities they bring to the table that those of us with more *traditional* education channels lack. Would also be interesting to hear from anyone that was home-schooled.


Comments (14)

  1. Andrew says:

    The Daily Show is by far and away the best thing on TV these days.

    I wasn’t homeschooled but you might find this New Yorker article about a college that targets homeschoolers (one word, apparently) and aims to produce the next generation of politicians interesting.


  2. This is becoming more and more prevalent, especially in my area. We homeschooled our oldest two until fifth grade, then we put them into public school. The advantage is that we took and even more active interest in what our children were learning. Of course, this has continued even as they’ve gone to the public school, although we don’t have to plan schedules, lesson plans, etc.

    Another interesting dynamic here in Washington State, and other states too, is the ability for kids to elect to go to "Running Start". This enables high schooler’s to attend a community college for the final two years and at the end of it they’re awarded an Associate’s degree, in lieu of their high school diploma, and they can fully transfer the credit’s to a 4-year school if they choose. In my area, kids can transfer to U. of Washington, Washington State, etc.

    The interesting part of this is that kids are getting out of school that much faster and at a lower cost (the state funds the Running Start program). Most of these kids are smart and this has actually enabled them to realize their potential faster, rather then "waiting out their final years of high school".

    These kids are certainly leveraging and adapting to technology much faster, since they’re growing up with it.

    Many studies are finding that homeschool test scores are equal to or exceed their public school peers. Also, did you note the number of homeschooled kids that were in the recent National Spelling Bee? We’ll see more and more non-traditional education and the nature of technology is that we’re always changing and learning anyway. The key skill, as I’ve seen throughout Microsoft postings, is "can you think?". You can learn that skill in a variety of methods and they don’t all require one to be within four-square walls to do this.

    Just my thoughts,

    ~ Jonathan

  3. I was homeschooled practically my whole pre-college education, and am a Release Manager (Box PM) within my first year here at MS (typically a position requiring several years of experience). I had a successful time at college running my own programming consulting company and was one of the first C# MVPs while in college. It was a good experience for me! 🙂

  4. mark pulver says:

    My wife and I are trying the homeschool thing with our first of 4 kids… so far, our boy (Grayson) is thriving and the other siblings are picking up lots just by being around it. My other boy who just turned three is counting to 100, which is kinda scary (my wife & I are natural teachers, so that has something to do with it..). I do sometimes wonder what they’re missing (from the traditional route) but then again I recall being SO bored during most of my public education. Grayson’s favorite subjects are history and building killer lego spaceships 🙂 So far, so good.

  5. Andy says:

    I’m not homeschooled but I have at least 8 close friends that were and I know quite a few more people now who are in the process of homeschooling their kids currently. From what I have seen so far it turns out very creative thinkers and the kids seem to like it a lot more than I remember liking school. I went to private school but I was still bored a lot no matter how advanced the school was you just can’t beat one on one teaching. If you look at a lot of people I work with it’s no surprise that they can homeschool their kids either. I mean who better to teach a kid than people with Phd’s in engineering and Computer Science. Most of the folks I know homeschooling their kids have a much better education than your average public school teacher. Personally I think the idea rocks. I wish I had been homeschooled my Dad was a programmer and a college professor and he’s a million times more interesting than most of the teachers I had in school.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Interesting discussion. I also wonder about the reasons why people home school. Kids too smart for a limited curriculum (maybe some of those spelling bee kids you mention Jonathan), creative thinkers that learn better in a non-traditional setting (sounds like Mark’s brainy brood) as Andy mentions.

    Noah-cool! I wonder if Microsoft’s culture is more comfortable for people that were home-schooled because it’s kind of casual and entrepreneurial. Of course, we’ll want to track your progress now that we know! And good for you for all the you have achieved!

  7. Andrew says:

    I was catching up with my Tivo’d Daily Shows last night and imagine my surprise when the very author of the New Yorker article I recommended to you came on the show. Somehow a ‘whee’ seems very appropriate.


  8. Carla says:

    From a recruiting perspective, if we stay focused on results achieved (whether traditional business achievements or non-traditional accomplishments achieved through alternative "paths"), I’d like to think it’s moot whether someone came through a public, private or home school! As you noted, the $64K question is "Can you think?" Full disclosure: I definitely have a bias toward transferrable skills and non-linear career paths since that’s my own background; if someone can accomplish or drive a great result in life without having had the structure and network provided by traditional schooling or career paths, then more power to them!

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Carla-I agree that it is the results that count, but don’t agree that it’s moot. The whole point of the blog is to discuss and educate each other. I, for one, am definitely interested in understanding how experiences for home-schooled students can be different. For example, many student may have been home schooled because their learning style is different than the way most schools teach. Knowing that, are there opportunities to adapt our interviewing process to people with alternative styles? Also, many students may have been home schooled because their rate of intellectual development exceeded that of their classmates (ding,ding,ding…those are definitely people we would want to talk to down the road). As a recruiter, that is totally interesting to me. Not moot at all!

  10. Allison says:

    I have a few friends who home school their children, and while the kids are obviously extremely smart they are also socially behind other kids their age. I’d be interested in learning the difference in the TYPES of success home schooled vs. non-home schooled kids have. Does one group excel at more social pursuits (Fortune 100 CEO) while the other excels at creating new ideas/"thinking"? Hmm

  11. Nathan says:

    I went to public schools for k-12 and undergraduate. I learned a lot, had fun, and met lots of nice people.

  12. HeatherLeigh — I appreciate your open attitude and inquisitive mind. I’m a web developer and technical writer… so I guess I fall into the mild-geek category compared to a few others that have posted here. 🙂 My husband works in various areas of the music/movie industry.

    We have homeschooled (home schooled … either works 😉 our boys all their lives. They’re now 13 & 16. We didn’t do it because there were any learning disabilities or challenges. We didn’t do it because they went to school and were bored (though that was both our experiences). Initially, it was my husband’s idea. He wanted to create great thinkers. People who could process information and come up with a creative and unique idea of their own. Not kids that "memorize and spew back well" and thus, test well (that was me).

    I was scared to death by the idea since I knew much of it would fall on my shoulders (I didn’t work for the first 10 years of their lives). I also worried about socialization (the number ONE question that every single person asks when they find we home educate). I agreed to do it for Kindergarten as a test (how badly can you ruin K, eh?). And after that worked, I agreed I’d continue "until it doesn’t work anymore."

    What did I find? I found that during the first several years of school, you don’t even need regular curriculum. That phonics and reading can be taught using billboards and regular books. That children’s minds are naturally so inquisitive that they desire to learn — as long as you make it interesting. And that if they resist learning a certain subject, at the point they realize it’s important, they’ll pick it up swiftly.

    Perfect case in point – when our oldest was in third grade, he resisted English and grammar type work — and strongly. He had gone math crazy in 2nd grade and mainly wanted to work in that realm, so his grammar skills really weren’t where they should be. I had purchased one of those little books that tells you as a parent what they should know that year (I used those enrichment books to stay on track with what was age appropriate much of the time). After three days of trying to force him to do some work in it, he was crying and I was frustrated. I closed the book and put it away. "When he’s ready, he’ll learn it."

    A couple months later, he found that there was an online forum for a space game he really loved. He begged me to come to the computer and post for him. I refused. I made a deal with him that he would compose/spell/punctuate/capitalize and type his posts. Then, before hitting send, we’d go over them together. Within 2-3 months, he had learned everything we should have done that year and more. By DOING… not sitting in a classroom doing worksheets. He recently went to the Nationals in his debate competition (Lincoln-Douglas style value debate) and won 3rd place in a local historical fiction writing contest (against adults)… and lest you think he’s this geeky nerd, the writing competion was one of his English assignments this year. We have been learning various styles of writing. He actually spends about 3 hours a day playing guitar and has a long afro. LOL

    Relating to the "socially behind" issue Allison brought up — I haven’t seen that in the least. In fact, when my boys were younger, one thing I loved was that they dealt equally well with all ages. They didn’t believe they were only supposed to hang with and be influenced by kids their own age. And heck, I don’t know about you, but my current friends are all over the place in age ranges. School is the only time in your life you spend most of the day with people the same age. I don’t agree that it’s the most positive thing.

    We have always been involved with home school associations. When they were young this gave us the ability to do field trips with other families… have park days… beach days… twice yearly 10-week cooperative teaching sessions (various parents teach things they are proficient at that perhaps the child’s parents aren’t…many of them creative things). So there has never been a lack of social times. We also live in neighborhoods — other kids DO finally get home from school. 😉

    My experience has been that kids that homeschool and have social issues _usually_ are from more remote areas where they don’t have a lot of interaction. But they are rare. We lived in a large city and now we’ve chosen to live in a small beach town — both places, I’ve met wonderful, respectful, well-socialized kids. The socialization issue is a myth.

    Are my kids bright? Sure. 😉 Aren’t everyone’s? Seriously though, we do get a lot of comments about how amazing our kids are. But I have to wonder if they’re really so much different than anyone else’s kids would be if they were raised in the same situation mine have been. It creates a different way of looking at the world and thinking. That’s what we wanted.

    They have never been told they CAN’T go to school. But until this year, they haven’t asked. Now my "rising Junior" has requested to go to the public school all his friends are going to. Will he? Not sure yet. 😉 We really hate giving up the freedom to go on family vacations when everyone else is in school. The freedom to take off to Italy or Florida for 4-6 weeks at a time as we’ve done several times. He wouldn’t be able to have the debate coach he’s been working with for two years. There are lots of issues to weigh. And why does he want to go to school? It’s not to sit in a desk for 90 minutes at a time, I can tell you that. So we have to weigh whether going to school for social reasons outweighs the rest. There’s also a dual enrollment program at the Community College that’s free to high schoolers and would give him college credit. It would give us more class freedom as well. So that’s the direction we’re leaning.

    We have about a month to figure it out. 😉

    Though mine are obviously not in college yet, I’ve kept fairly close track of what’s going on in that department. When my boys were young, it was an issue many places. Now, there are many colleges that either actively recruit HS, or are very postive toward us. I have several friends and aquaintances whose kids not only were accepted, but also got either partial or full scholarships. I’m really not worried.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. Good luck on your research. Keep us posted on your findings. 🙂

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wow Stephanie! I meant to respond sooner. Thanks for all your insight. I definitely see your writing background! Great info and you sound like a great Mom. It’s nice that there are so many resources for people pursuing home schooling. I think you are right about the socialization thing. I think that if the parent makes socialization a priority then the kids do fine but if it doesn’t come naturally to the child, it needs to be pursued (listen to me sounding like I think I am an expert…I’m not so this is totally just opinion). I was in private and public schools and I could have used a little help with socializing as a child (I know it sounds strange now but I was painfully shy).

    So my two additional questions are first, whether there were qualities that your boys had very young that made you feel they were good candidates for home schooling or was your perspective that you could adjust it to make it work for them. Sounds like the latter since you mentioned the flexibility. Second, I know it’s a ways off, but I’d love to get some insight into how home school transcripts are received by college admissions. Hopefully, the best schools that want the best students are mindful and flexible as well. Great insight. Thank you!

  14. Now it’s my turn to be slow. Sorry. 😉 Under the gun with work deadlines.

    To quickly answer you though — I did not see, or even look for, any particular qualities in my boys. We really didn’t evaluate it that way. I knew they had bright inquisitive minds (but aren’t most young children inquisitive?) and frankly, I felt their natural "need to know" was enough. As long as you don’t kill that, you’re ahead of the game. Our goal was to simply make learning a part of life. Hubby and I are both rabid knowledge junkies by nature — if you’re not growing you’re dying you know. 😉 We wanted to instill the idea of "learning all your life" into our boys. I suppose only time will tell whether we’ve done that … or whether they’ll be in therapy in their 20’s, blaming us for who knows what. hahah

    As far as college goes, many homeschoolers keep a portfolio of sorts. Records of classes taken, goals reached, projects created, outside interests pursued, volunteer work completed, that type of thing. That, along with their SAT scores, seems to work fine for most.

    Funny thing — there was a time where colleges were looking for the well-rounded-good-at-everything type of student. The trend now seems to be moving toward people with interests and heavy talent in a certain area. That tends to be what happens to many homeschoolers. Since they have more freedom to follow their interests and develop a specific thing they are really turned on by, they tend to have a very strong area or two. Many of the HS families I know have gotten at least partial scholarships due to the way their kids excel.

    And then there are the kids I know that don’t go to college because they’ve already started working in a business they love. We have a couple we hang out with a lot (yes, they’re in the 20’s and we’re in our 40’s — proof that you don’t hang with people your own age all your life. LOL)… anyway, he and his siblings were homeschooled. He makes TV commercials (amazingly good) and has been developing a new HD camera in his spare time. He never went to college. His younger brother was, at 14, doing 3D work comparable to the professional work I’d seen just about anywhere… because he was allowed to pursue his passion. Now, at 19, this kid is freakin’ amazing. He works with his brother doing TV commercials and they’ve created a couple regional commercials that you can’t tell from national level stuff. One was for a VW dealership where he created a 3D volkswagen that you couldn’t tell from the real thing. Very impressive. Though neither of them have been to college — they’re highly marketable in their industries… and they make an excellent living. (How many 19 year olds do you know that drive a nice Saab that daddy didn’t buy them… LOL)

    Back to work with me… 🙂

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