I know it is unfashionable–perhaps heretical–for homeschoolers to care about where or if their kids go to college.
It’s always been my opinion, however, that college match matters. I found college and grad school to be great opportunities for meeting really really really smart people — other students, professors, TAs, etc. There’s a critical mass of ambitious, intellectual people, which is often a missing ingredient in the lives of asynchronous gifted kids, who get serious about intellectual pursuits well before many of their age peers.
There is not, for example, a critical mass of preteens who want to talk linguistics and comparative grammar in our lives right now. But someday . . .
So I want my kids to find the college that is right for them. An article in the NYT today describes the broader consequences of poor college match:
The first problem that Mr. Bowen, Mr. McPherson and the book’s third author, Matthew Chingos, a doctoral candidate, diagnose is something they call under-matching. It refers to students who choose not to attend the best college they can get into. They instead go to a less selective one, perhaps one that’s closer to home or, given the torturous financial aid process, less expensive.
About half of low-income students with a high school grade-point average of at least 3.5 and an SAT score of at least 1,200 do not attend the best college they could have. Many don’t even apply. Some apply but don’t enroll. “I was really astonished by the degree to which presumptively well-qualified students from poor families under-matched,” Mr. Bowen told me.
They could have been admitted to Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus (graduation rate: 88 percent, according to College Results Online) or Michigan State (74 percent), but they went, say, to Eastern Michigan (39 percent) or Western Michigan (54 percent). If they graduate, it would be hard to get upset about their choice. But large numbers do not. You can see that in the chart with this column.
In effect, well-off students — many of whom will graduate no matter where they go — attend the colleges that do the best job of producing graduates. These are the places where many students live on campus (which raises graduation rates) and graduation is the norm. Meanwhile, lower-income students — even when they are better qualified — often go to colleges that excel in producing dropouts.
Granted, so far my kids are not the low-income students the study was tracking. They are statistically more likely, based on their parents’ education alone, to be in the group that graduates no matter where they go.
But the point stands — shooting low is a bad way to get a good college experience. So I’ll continue to keep college acceptance up in the list of homeschooling goals.
I learned of this article from a friend who maintains the Learn in Freedom website, which has a lot of information about homeschool-to-college.