Sunday, October 10, 2010

Homeschooling for Engineering Wanna-Be's

Today I revisited this blog post explaining MIT admissions and homeschoolers (which I had originally read a couple of years ago).

Given that MIT is one of the most prestigious engineering schools I think that planning studies around their ideal is a good idea. How can you go wrong? With that said having been on the MIT campus for Splash in 2009 I saw many things that made me think their students are some of the  most brilliant minds in the world. Since my son loved Splash and feels comfortable on the MIT campus of course it's already on his top choices list (and he doesn't graduate for another five years). I don't know if my son would be accepted to MIT but he is surely going to try.

I thought I'd share this link today because about a handful of my blog readers have sons  nearly identical to mine with hopes of becoming an engineer.

Here are the admissions guidelines for MIT for your consideration also.

Recommended High School Preparation


Here are quotes from the blog post on homeschoolers and MIT Admissions and my reaction:

"One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, taking full advantage of opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants have really shined in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themseleves and others, and more."

Check. However if we keep doing multiple homeschool co-op's there will not be time for this except for the cases when the co-op is hiring SMEs and professional science teachers to delve deeper into specific content areas. Note to self: stay home more to do lessons at home.

"The vast majority of our admitted homeschool students have taken advantage of advanced classes outside the homeschool setting, such as through a local college or an online school such as EPGY. Transcripts of these courses, in addition to evaluation of the homeschooling portfolio, are very helpful. Some students will also take advantage of MIT's OpenCourseWare."

Check, kind of. To be qualified to do "advanced" courses he'll have to stay on top of the basic courses. So we have to  make those a priority and do them early enough so he'll have time to do the advanced courses. This means we will have to stay home more to do the work.

Check, for the future. My son will probably end up in community college perhaps starting in grade ten.

To Do: If he is to take any EPGY online classes I'll have to start teaching him how to take standardized tests now and have him tested perhaps this year, since EPGY requires certain high test scores to get into their program which is for gifted kids.

To Do: My son will wind up taking other online classes.

To Do: If he is to take advantage of the MIT OpenCourseWare (which is free I'll add) he will need more time at home to pursue those studies (not out at homeschool co-op's).

"Most of our homeschooled students have taken advantage of extracurricular activities and community groups, such as community orchestras and theater, athletics groups, scouting, religious groups, volunteer work, work for pay, etc. Our homeschooled applicants, like all of our students, are active in their communities."

Check. My son recently turned thirteen. He was a Cub Scout and earned his Arrow of Light and now is a Boy Scout. He is in a religious group and does crew at a rowing club. He has already started doing volunteer work.

To Do: He is too young to do work for pay now but I do want him to do some entry level minimum wage jobs as I did, they teach life lessons like nothing else can, whether it's working a service job with customers or washing restaurant dishes, there is a lot to be experienced and learned there.

"Many (but certainly not all) of our homeschooled students have been active in summer programs. For some students, summer programs (see some recommended examples in this entry; some programs I have frequently seen in homeschooled applicants include CTY, TIP, PROMYS, MathCamp, RSI, Tanglewood, and Interlochen, among many others) are a great opportunity to work with other students from diverse backgrounds in a colloborative manner. Summer program mentors and job supervisors can also be great choices to write college recommendations."

To Do: This is something we are going to have to look into. Some of these programs require certain scores on standardized tests. He will have to find time for these in addition to Boy Scout summer camp and the summer season of crew.

"Extra recommendations can be especially helpful for many homeschooled applicants. We welcome a recommendation from a parent, but require at least three recommendations in total (usually a counselor and two teachers). We encourage you to submit additional recommendations (but don't submit more than 5 total recommendations) from those who know you well, such as coaches, mentors, job supervisors, clergy, etc."

Check. This will be easy. My son is a unique individual with good relationships with every adult he works with. I have received many compliments on his demeanor, behavior, actions, and personality and some have said they see and like the way his mind works.

"MIT has alumni volunteers called Educational Counselors throughout the world who conduct interviews on behalf of MIT Admissions. We strongly encourage all of our applicants to take advantage of the interview, if available."

Great! This will be especially important for my son since I think his personality and character will shine in an interview, possibly looking even better than his transcript and showing more about him than the test scores.

However the interview is irrelevant if the student has lower than desired standardized test scores. Therefore, this underscores the need to get working on whatever is necessary to prepare him for getting good SAT scores and also practice writing good essays and finding his authentic writing voice so his essays can show who he really is rather than sounding like some stock answer that a college admissional essay writing tips book recommends. Note to self: stay home more and get this work done.

Know the goal and focus on what it takes to get there.

Reviewing this has helped me decide what some of our family's choices for homeschool experiences should be going forward.


Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

Thank you (as one of those Moms). We have been thinking if MIT Is the better choice or our local Queens U which is well known this side of the boarder for engineering. But we have more time then you for such decisions.

Right now I teach my middle three together. I think I may need to build in some more one on one, diversifying what each some extent so I can cater to their talents and interests. Thanks again for this helpful info and your helpful insights; they helped me take the same train of thought for myself and my middle son.

floriancafe said...

A very belated thanks for reviewing my book insectlopedia many years ago. Your review perked me up on a very down day.
douglas florian

WildIris said...

Very helpful. I appreciate the links for further reading.

Crimson Wife said...

Students can actually take many of the EPGY courses through their "open enrollment" feature without needing to qualify via standardized testing. It's also a LOT cheaper than the standard EPGY enrollment ($135 per year for both language & math vs. ~$500 for each individual course). You do need to hook up with a homeschool group that is sponsoring an OE group for this school year. But if you ask around you may be able to find one.