I thought you may be interested to hear what happens when self-learners go to college!
Well, two at least. I recently interviewed/grilled Nick and Lauren (our two oldest kids) about their respective college experiences thus far because I get asked frequently how they are doing. I have some really encouraging news for those who are wondering if self-learning works, if mastery learning works in the big picture.
Nick is a sophomore this year. He survived year number one in the honors college at Belmont University. He ended last year with a GPA just a hair under a 4.0.
Last year Nick’s biggest shock was probably how much busy work he had to do – how much work there was which was not related to anything he thought he was interested in learning, which is so different than homeschool where you can choose your areas of study pretty much once you have covered the basics. But the stretch has been good for him, and I know he would agree. We still tease him about the paper he had to write on Ancient Mesopotamian Pottery. Logic meets culture.
Nick says, “If I hadn’t been in the honors program, I wouldn’t have been challenged much at all. My non-honors classes were extremely easy for me.”
In essence, he worked hard for his grades in the honors classes, and interestingly enough, those were the classes he found the most “irrelevant” such as “Ancient World History,” and a couple others I can not remember at the moment but were equally related to the Humanities. His major is Music Business Law, a brand new major that he has been allowed to create there at Belmont. (site of the final presidential debate in October, btw.)
To summarize his first year in college as well as his transition from homeschool grad to college student, Nick says it was “amazing, exciting, interesting and boring.” So much for the details.
Just a funny little footnote to Nick’s classes this year: he is taking Elementary Statistics, a required course, and he says that they literally are doing stuff he did in the 6th grade. Just to make it interesting he has decided NOT to use a calculator for the duration of the class and spends in-class time challenging himself in this way just to stay awake. The professor knows he is doing this. (and is watching him in amusement, I am sure. LOL)
Lauren is a freshman, and has been on campus for about 7 weeks now. Initially I think she was a little overwhelmed at the change in environment. Her laptop got injured the first week, and she was without it for about 3 weeks which would be less than pleasant for any of us, right?
Due to her scholarship requirements, she has to maintain a 3.75 GPA, so college algebra seemed frightening until she actually took her first test. She got an A, and soon classmates were asking her for tutoring assistance. A girl on her floor also has asked Lauren to read through her English papers for her before she turns them in. Just as I tried to tell her, she is doing just fine. Funny how moms can seem so unbelievable at times simply because we are moms.
Lauren says she has been shocked at how much her fellow students don’t seem to care about their classes. This week less than half the class showed up for algebra, so the prof gave a pop quiz to benefit those who attended. The quiz was this, and yes, I am serious: 2+2 = ?
Lauren reports that in all of her classes she is one of very few who pay attention and contribute to the discussion. This apathy does not surprise me one bit, however, as that attitude is so prevalent in high schools that it is bound to carry over to the college scene. That is a topic for another post at another time.
If you have young children, middle school children, or even high school children, you can confidently introduce them to self-learning and watch them move more and more towards educational freedom – freedom from being told how much of what to do every day, and freedom to learn at a more rapid pace because mom’s schedule isn’t holding them back. Kids are so much more motivated when they are in as much control as possible over their daily school work.
I am kinda encouraged by the results we have had here in the Calderwood Laboratory so far. I share them to encourage you as well!