The Weekly Sam: If You’re Home-Schooling, Don’t Worry About College

Many home-schooling parents are concerned about their children getting into a good college or university after completing their studies at home. Will they need a diploma from school, is often asked. The fact is that they don’t. Colleges and mainly universities evaluate applicants on the basis of achievement tests. Admissions people are often impressed by the applications of home-schoolers who usually do very well on SATs and CATs. In fact, some home-schoolers have gotten scholarships to some very prestigious institutions. For example, Joshua and Zachary Kitchen, the Sons of Mr. and Mr. Ron Kitchen of Cincinnati, are now both attending the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Both boys ended their formal schooling with the second grade and were thereafter home-schooled right through high school by their mother. Both boys took SAT tests at a local public school and both received scores in the 99th percentile. Each received a full four-year Naval ROTC scholarship and completed one year at Miami University (Ohio), with Naval ROTC service, while waiting for an appointment to Annapolis. Joshua, 20, is now a 3rd Class Midshipman (sophomore), while Zachary, 18, has just entered the academy as a “plebe” (freshman).

Another inspiring story is that of Dew Colfax who never attended a formal school but at the age of 18 accepted a scholarship at Harvard University after rejecting similar offers from Yale, Princeton, and Amherst. Drew and his three brothers were raised on a remote mountaintop ranch Some 120 miles north of San Francisco. There they were educated by their parents, David and Micki Colfax, at their Mountain School — the ranch house of their sheep-and-goat operation. Drew’s brother Grant, 22, is an honor student at Harvard. Reed, 17, is a mathematical whiz, and Garth, 11, works in ceramics and painting. Colfax and his wife, unhappy with the quality of public schools, decided to teach their children at home. Their school is registered with Mendocino County as a private school, and he and his in wife divide theistruction chores. Laura Clark of Princeton, where only 1 in 6 applicants was accepted in 1986, said: “Drew was one of our most extraordinary applicant ts. He is home-educated and has demonstrated an amazing academic excellence. . He is truly a thinker. We’ve never seen a kid like this.” When he was 16, Drew installed a solar-powered electrical system that gave power to the ranch for the first time in more than 10 years. He is an avid stargazer who has read more than 300 books on astronomy, writes a weekly astronomy column for the local newspaper, and built his own telescope. and an observatory to house it. He ground the telescope mirror by hand. Drew’s father, asked if Drew were a genius, said, “No, no. He and his brothers are ordinary bright kids that work hard. They like to take a problem and solve it.” Some have brought up the possibility of inherited superior intelligence and ability to explain this family’s remarkable achievements, rather than attributing it to good home-schooling. The real story is that the two younger brothers are adopted: one is Eskimo and the other Black.

(Data from Orange County Register°, 4/28/86, and New American, 6/16/86).

(This article was a speech Sam Blumenfeld gave in 1986.  Please visit the Sam Blumenfeld Archives: