Homeschooling is a big risk on the part of a parent—it’s going against what society tells us is right to do with our kids – and it can seem even riskier if you think your kid might not be able to go to college.

I’m not saying college is necessary – it’s not. But knowing that your homeschooled kid will have the option to go to college makes homeschooling feel less risky. And the good news is that homeschooled kids make much better candidates for top schools than kids who spend all their time getting good grades in high school. Here’s why:

1. High school is terrorizing students.
High school assumes kids have no idea what they should be learning, when in fact, by that age it’s very clear who is good at what and forced curricula wastes kids time and undermines their confidence.

High school infantilizes students by not giving them choices. It causes social anxiety and unnecessary conflict with parents.

Forcing kids to care about grades at this age makes them crazy. Slate reports that “The average high school student has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in 1950s.”

2. Strong high school performance does not get kids into college.
Doing well in high school merely shows that you are able to follow rules and do what you’re told. These are not the traits that make for a standout alumni base, and colleges know that.

No differentiator means no entrance – especially for white girls.

The trend is to abolish SAT requirements because they don’t show a student’s ability to stand out for anything beyond taking a test.

3. Homeschoolers are more able to differentiate themselves.
There is more time for kids to experiment and try out things to figure out what is special about them. What is special about them is what will get them into college. For example:

Learn to play an instrument. Columbia accepts homeschooled musicians with just a GED. This is not uncommon for musicians.

Focus on sports. The trend in kids sports is to take kids out of school so they can focus on the sport. Private teams are much stronger than school teams, and you can travel for year-round training.

Start a company. There are plenty of examples of successful companies launched by high schoolers. A kid who launches four startups and each of them fails is much more attractive to a college than the kid who gets straight A’s at some suburban high school.

Run science experiments. There is not a Westinghouse winner who actually needs to go to high school in order to get into college.

Climbing a wall like the one in the picture up top reminds me how there are easy paths for your kid and hard ones too. At the beginning you tighten the safety gear and give directions. And as they get higher up you sort of scream up to the kid suggestions for what to do, but soon they get too far up to hear you, and then you hope they pick the right route so they get to the top.

But then again, really what you need to do is get the kid off the wall altogether so they have more options.