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Why Kids Who Are “Unschooled” Go On To Do Well In College

By: Krystle Crossman

Unschooling is a newer concept and one that a lot of people have trouble wrapping their minds around. Children learn on their own. There is no formal schooling, no lessons, no tests. They are free to be who they want to be and do what they want to do. If they want to learn something, their parents help them as best as they can and keep them interested. Many say that this is no way to teach a child and that they need to have a more structure environment to learn in, especially if they ever want to go to college. According to research done by psychologists Gina Riley and Peter Gray the kids who are unschooled are just fine entering the structured world that is college life.

Out of the 232 families that unschooled their children, 83% of the kids went on to college and did just fine. Some of them were enrolled in state universities and colleges. Some were enrolled in Ivy League schools. Almost half of those who went on to college either had finished a bachelor’s degree or higher or were currently enrolled in a program for those degrees.

There were some administrative hurdles to overcome that were a little tough to overcome at times, but it was done. The kids do not technically have a formal education so they have never taken the SATs, they didn’t graduate from high school, and they didn’t take any formal classes. Many colleges are very strict about their requirements for being accepted into the schools but with a little hard work the students were able to get into great post-secondary education schools.

Once they were in the classes they had a relatively easy time getting into the swing of formal classes. One would think that they would be lost as they have never had to write an essay before or take notes in class. But it did not take long for many of them to learn and pick up tricks and habits that helped them along the way. Some of the unschooled students even felt that they had an advantage over the other students as they have been working their whole lives with self-motivation.

Critics of unschooling state that it is not possible for children to learn everything that they should know, such as math, without some direction or formal education. Math was one subject that many of the students struggled with when they got to college. A lot of them chose majors in the creative arts due to this. There were still quite a few however (half of the men and 20% of the women) that went on to pursue technical fields that required a background in math or science and did well.

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