Conversation with Columbia University SoCE re: homeschooled high school students

I spoke to an admissions advisor at the School of Continuing Education at Columbia University yesterday. I noticed that Laurie Spigel's Homeschooling NYC website mentions programs at Columbia for high school students. Also, if a high school student wants to take a class at his high school but it is not offered, but the class is offered at Columbia, the university will accomodate. For homeschoolers, the availability of classes at Columbia would mean "everything."

I decided to take Columbia up on that challenge. I prefer the front-door way of doing things as opposed to the back-door, so I was open and honest.

Me: How can a homeschooled high school student register for classes at Columbia?
Columbia dude: He can't. We've found that homeschoolers still in high school are unfortunately a bad fit here. Unlikely he'll get in.
Me: Why is that?
CD: The evaluations we get are poor, usually no grades or incomplete information, no standardized testing. We have no idea what these kids are doing. And usually it is difficult to do well as a high school student taking a college-level class at an Ivy League University.
Me: I see. Harvard University's Extension School has homeschooled students, however, and actively recruits them. Might Columbia consider doing the same?
CD: Um, no. No. I doubt the admissions director will allow high school homeschooled students here. They just, um, no.

Okay. I would like to know: who are the students or parents who are f*pking things up for the rest of us with their shoddy applications and no evaluations? True, Columbia may not just want to "deal" with a new demographic of student. But I've been to the SoCE and I've seen what the student population is like. They get students from all over the world, with all sorts of transcripts and situations. Why should homeschool students make it more difficult for the admissions offices?


Heidi said...

> The evaluations we get are poor, usually no grades or incomplete information, no standardized testing. We have no idea what these kids are doing.

First he mentions the admin troubles, then says that the kids don't always do well.

Admin types need Flat Student. The student on paper, as represented by numbers and ranks and memberships.


la Maitresse said...

I am wondering if what he says has some truth, however: if these kids aren't prepared on paper, or are submitting half-a**ed applications, how can they be prepared for advanced studies at the college level while still in high school?

Again, SoCE has a very diverse student body, from all over the globe, from all sorts of situations. I was rather surprised that this open-minded school at CU had an impression about homeschool students at all.

Again, I must qualify my post: this is about high school students taking college level classes at a univeristy known for its academic rigor.

liz said...

General Studies is a different animal, though, as you pointed out yourself. Lots of people go there who wouldn't have a prayer of getting into the "regular" Columbia or Barnard.

On the other hand, as you also point out, the subject is high school students taking college courses. So maybe it does make sense that he'd want to have some "objective" measures (or even detailed, subjective ones) to see where the kid is at academically/intellectually before taking a chance on the kid.

And isn't there some correlation between the choice to homeschool and a philosophy that would result in fewer/looser "evaluations" than a kid enrolled in regular school would have? (more "live and let live" approach to learning?)

On most of the lists I'm on parents seem to recoil at the idea of the one annual test and the IHIP or whatever you call it that you have to hand it to the school district. The last thing most are interested in is any sort of replication of the sort of paper trail that the anal types in college admissions are in love with.