It’s not that top universities are telling people directly to homeschool their kids. Instead, top schools are using a selection process that is hugely advantageous to those who do homeschool. Here’s why:
1. Good grades are a commodity, so they don’t help in the admissions process.
Girls are doing so much better than boys in both standard high school courses and in standardized tests that their good grades and good scores don’t get girls into good colleges. It’s not enough anymore. White girls especially need a hook.
A hook is, ironically, something you are passionate about and engaged in that is outside of school. Top schools like Harvard and Stanford have always required a hook. Because when you’re in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn’t matter—interesting is what matters.
So Harvard, for example, makes a pile of all the applicants who have the grades and the scores to get into Harvard, and then they look for what they need: A violinist, a middle-hitter, a coxswain. Then they look for what else might be interesting. A ballerina, a professional actor, a published author, and so on.
It used to be you needed a hook only for the very top two or three schools. But now white girls need a hook for all the top schools.
2. Your kid will be evaluated on the stuff that is NOT in school.
What this means is that top colleges are devaluing standardized tests. They don’t care if you learn the national curriculum. They don’t care if you can get a high score on the SAT. These achievements are commodified in the way that learning has been commodified. What really counts now is showing passion, drive, and accomplishment outside of standardized learning.
But now things start to make sense.
In general, a college degree is simply a ticket to play. It doesn’t matter what school you went to, unless you go to a very top school, say, top ten. In that case, the vetting process is so tough that it’s a huge endorsement to you to have the school on your resume, and there is a great network of graduates that will help you go through all stages of your career.
It’s no coincidence that the only undergraduate degrees that really give you an edge are from the schools that require achievements that school does not provide. You get that special hook outside of school, not in it.
3. Going to school undermines endeavors that really impress admissions officers.
In fact, most of the hooks that get kids into top schools are driven by ingenuity and creativity. This is why Stanford accepted 27% of homeschool applicants and 5% of traditional applicants. And it’s why Conrad Tao got into Columbia without any AP classes or SAT tutors. He just had his piano and a GED.
But the blog Marginal Revolution has a great summary of how teachers in school suppress creativity because teachers don’t like creative kids.
So the only colleges that are really worth a student’s time and money are colleges that don’t value time spent in school. This is one of the biggest endorsements of homeschooling that I have found.