We’re all familiar with the list of academic requirements for admissions into a college or university. Each one has a list of courses that your child should have taken in school in order to be an acceptable applicant to that college. So, if someone is directing their own learning, how will he/she ever become a competitive applicant for a college or university?
Sometimes people ask that question because they genuinely do not understand how life learning works, and they’re curious about how someone whose childhood is spent far outside of the brick-and-mortar norm as a life learner will be able to integrate into college. Other times, it’s not really a question. They’ve made up their minds that life learning isn’t a viable approach to education, and they’re pulling out what they think is their trump card.
My short answer to the question, “when your child gets older and wants to go to college but didn’t learn the skill sets necessary then what?” that I was asked is that they’ll either learn them or take some remedial classes to get those skills. The window doesn’t close on higher education when a student turns 18 and finishes high school. Additionally, they’ll learn those skills quicker and more efficiently when going to college is a goal they are working toward, rather than a track they’ve been put onto by someone else.
My 17 year old hates, hates, hates math – but he’s plodding along diligently through his math book because he does want to go to college. The possibility exists that he won’t have enough math credits to go straight to a university after high school because he is very busy doing other things that are more important to him. He’ll have to go take a placement test at a community college and maybe take some remedial classes to shore up his credits. It’s not the end of the world.
If you ask my 14 year old about that same thing, she’ll give you the same answer. If going to college is important to her, she will do the work to get there when it needs to be done.
On a personal note, as a parent, I believe that if going to college isn’t important enough to my kids for them to do what it takes to get there, then I don’t want them going anyway! I also don’t believe that getting a college degree is the end all/be all that it was when I was a teenager. The notion that you should “get good grades in high school so you can go to a good college so you can graduate with good grades so you can get a good job” baffles me. That’s out-dated advice, a relic of the second half of the 1900s. My kids will only go to college if there is a compelling reason for them to do so. Otherwise, they will take all of the real world skills and wisdom they have learned as children and teens, and forge their own paths.