Harvard and Homeschooling By Virginia Vagt
The words "Harvard" and "college" definitely go together.
No matter what we may know about Harvard we know these two things: Harvard is a college, and Harvard offers highly valued credentials. This year both the United States' Presidential candidates have a Harvard degree, and one of them has two Harvard degrees.
But, do the words "Harvard" and "homeschooling" go together?
Both start with the letter "H," but more to the point, during the last 25 years Harvard has been quite public about their acceptance of homeschooled applicants.
In 1989, after three sons in a row from the un-schooling Colfax family of California had been accepted, The Harvard Crimson (the nation's oldest continuously published daily college newspaper) ran a profile article on Grant, Drew, and Reed Colfax. The article, Homeschoolers Are At Home at Harvard, March 16, 1989, included positive comments from Harvard Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons: On the whole, homeschooling is an educational asset that Harvard considers favorably when making its admissions decisions. One often sees a self-reliance and independence, as well as intellectual curiosity in people with usual educational experiences. Homeschooled students, he added, do just as well as most all students who come here do.Since then and every few years (including this year) The Harvard Crimson runs a profile on current Harvard students who were homeschooled. On January 27, 2012, The Harvard Crimson ran this article: Freshman O'Dorney Juggles Math and Music, featuring Evan M. O'Dorney, homeschooler and Harvard class of 2015.
We can also appreciate Harvard not only for accepting homeschooled students and letting us know about it, but also for wise advice offered to families and students as they prepare for college. The Harvard pamphlet, Preparing for College, guides students in high school academics and affirms the idea that academic achievement is not an end in itself. A good high school education should do more than prepare you for the next level of education or for later employment -- it should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds. http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/apply/preparing/index.html
In Taking Time Off, Harvard affirms the value of living a balanced life while pursuing learning, a value which homeschooling families appreciate. Their strategies include taking real breaks from the intense pursuit of academic achievement such as taking real vacations, having weekends, relaxed mealtimes, and encouraging families to "Bring Summer Back." More advice in: Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation, by Dean of Admissions, William R. Fitzsimmons, Marlyn E. McGrath, Director of Admissions, Harvard College and Charles Ducey, Adjunct Lecturer in Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education. http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/apply/time_off/index.html
Good advice for all students, whether or not Harvard-bound.
* The Colfax family described their home education path in their 1988 book, Homeschooling for Excellence. Updates on the family: Their first Harvard son, Grant, won a Fulbright Scholarship, graduated from Harvard Medical School, and practices medicine as an infectious disease specialist. After Harvard Drew earned a JD from Michigan and an MD from Harvard Medical School. Adopted son, Reed, graduated from Harvard, earned a JD from Yale, and now specializes in civil rights litigation. Fourth son Garth, though not a Harvard graduate designs websites, repairs computers, and works with developmentally disabled people.
Virginia Vagt is a writer, speaker, editor and 13-year veteran homeschooling mom. Click here to read selections from Vagt's Be Encouraged column or, for additional resources, visit HomeFieldAdvantage.org.