I will let you in on a little secret regarding getting your child into college.

It’s not that hard.

And here is another secret, one that is slowly but surely being brought to the attention of the general public:

Paying more for a “prestigious” education is, for most people, not worth it.

My husband, who helps run an IT staffing consulting firm, will tell you.  About 10 years ago, the majority of applications he saw from near graduating college students were in business or technology.  In the past five years, however, that has changed dramatically.

Microbiology. Engineering. Chemistry. Public Relations. The list goes on and on.  These are students from a highly rated university.

These are 3.85 to 4.0 majors, too.  Our daughter’s friends have had the same problem.  She is almost done with her bachelor’s in nursing, meanwhile her other friends who received degrees in other disciplines have been working in restaurants, construction and retail.

I don’t think I am reporting any breaking news, though. I think most of us are aware of what is happening.

Still, however, I see many, many homeschooling moms living in constant fear of whether or not their homeschooled child will be able to get into a good college.  None of the moms seem too worried about whether or not their children will do well once accepted–they just worry about getting admitted.

Having had experience with two homeschoolers who are almost finished with college, I will tell you something that should help you feel better.

The secret to getting into a good college is a good ACT/SAT score.

If you don’t have that, the alternative way is to start taking community college classes, do well, and then transfer.

If you don’t have that, you can get on the job experience and work your way up.

I use a curriculum that focuses heavily on preparing students for the ACT/SAT, so I don’t have to spend my time trying to figure out how to prepare them myself. What a relief not to have to sift through curriculum catalogs, pay for testing tutors, or spend my precious time with my children worrying.

So, Robinson Curriculum comes through with shining colors if you are worried about getting your child into college.

But, that’s not what I am mainly concerned with as a homeschooling parent.

I want my children to be educated.

I want my children to have a love for increasing their knowledge and wisdom.

I want my children to understand not only how to take a test, but to live life in such a way that the world is lighter and better and safer and more beautiful because of their presence in it.

I want them to have these feelings and characteristics spring out of their own hearts and be part of who they are–not something they do because I am making them or bugging them or nagging them.


To Love A Good Book…

I want them to love good books, to see the divine in the natural world around them, and to be spiritually connected.

How has Robinson Curriculum done with that?  Can any curriculum actually manage that task?

I have been using this curriculum for almost a decade, and I have worked very hard to follow Dr. Robinson’s experiment as closely as possible.

We have, for the most part, nixed sugar in our home.

We have worked together with our children to help them be part of the choice of rejecting the siren song of video gaming and television.

We have not allowed our little ones to get on the computer, even when things are “educational.”

We have restricted the use of electronic devices (including e-Readers), until they are closer to the age of understanding computers that Dr. Robinson recommends (he recommends 16, we start around 14).  In that vein, I find it humorous to notice that I end up buying paper books because the majority of my children find the e-Reader annoying for some reason.

I wonder if they know something intuitively that we adults don’t.  We seem to love convenience and free stuff far too much.

“Oh, the e-Reader has a built in dictionary that will tell you what words mean without you having to look it up.”

How is that a plus for a student who is learning? There is something very virtuous and good about getting up, going to the bookshelf, pulling out the dictionary and “looking it up.”

We have done our best to let the children learn by themselves without interfering in their learning process.

We have stuck hard and fast to Saxon math even though there have been many, many times that I have been tempted to go with something easier.

What are the results?

Well, I will tell you what happened when, about a month ago, I came down with the ear infection that turned into spinal meningitis and a serious brain infection that nearly killed me.

I will tell you that during this time, my children have absolutely proven that this curriculum has delivered in every aspect.

My children have done their studies consistently, daily (even on Saturdays), and the older children have gently reminded the younger ones to do their studying.  The older children have continued where I left off teaching our Abby how to read.  They have helped edit each other’s writing assignments, and they have encouraged each other.

They have cleaned up after themselves, made dinners, lunches, and breakfasts, changed diapers, taken on responsibilities and divided them up in a manner that is mutually agreeable to everyone, and have read their scriptures and said their prayers daily.

They have had little to no bickering, they have allowed their father to work from home and visit me, and now that I am home recovering, have let him take the time to continue nursing me back to health.

Meanwhile from my room, I hear them voluntarily practicing the cello, violin and piano, reading aloud to each other and playing pretend.

I hear them remarking that someone is a “vagabond” and how my daughter tends to enjoy feeling like she is has an “august presence” when entering the room in their daily conversations–even the five year old uses the vocabulary words in her usual speech, because my older children do.

I have often wondered if the Robinson Curriculum is too demanding–the no sugar thing, the rules regarding electronics, and the overall philosophy of not interfering, even when it is difficult for the child to grasp some concept.

I don’t wonder anymore.

If anything, I have looked at this little experiment and cannot help but compare it to my own life and my relationship with the Master Teacher. He has rules–some of them seem quite stifling and unreasonable.  He gives me hard things to accomplish, and sometimes, I feel like He isn’t helping me enough.  In my foolishness, I cannot see that He is allowing me to gain the victory for my own and that helping would not really help.  And, His love is always near to encourage me.

He often seems to make sure that things are inconvenient for me.  Whenever He prompts me to help others, it seems to be at the most inopportune times.  But, He is a Master Teacher and knows that it is important in my character building to do things that are inconvenient out of no other motivation that because it is right.  The only way I can learn that is to do it.

To be honest, I think most curricula will work to educate children as long as the principles that Dr. Robinson espouses are applied.  These are just good, solid true principles of character and virtue that, unfortunately, are a mystery to most parents.  Even good ones.

It is far too easy for even good parents to get caught up in the zeitgeist of our permissive, all-for-convenience, instant gratification, how-much-can-I- get-for-how-little society.

I think Dr. Robinson’s curriculum helped me to stay on track of the culture of greatness, while at the same time, allowing me to spend more of my resources on being a great mother because he already gathered the needed resources for my children to “get into college.”  I guess I just needed the extra reminders and the example of how to apply it that his curriculum gave me.

Of course, we are not perfect.  My children are far from perfect.  We all have our moments.  But we are on the right path, and they have been educated in the culture of great books, beautiful, beautiful words, hard work, service and love.  We are, at the very least, on our way to something amazing.

The Story Book 1877, by William Adolphe Bouguereau

Even Our Littlest Ones Would Rather Read…

I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give. -Thomas Jefferson