One of the biggest misconceptions people have about opting out of school is that one cannot get into college without a diploma from an accredited high school. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, for the great majority of people, getting into college, especially a top college, is much easier for those who opt out of school than those who stay in school. While there are select private schools, very affluent public schools, and public magnet and charter schools that tend to send a lot of children to top colleges, these schools are few and far between. Further, they are typically filled with students who tend to come from families that colleges are eager to court (e.g., the very wealthy, politicians, celebrities), or they are filled with the type of students who have always performed exceptionally well on standardized tests and who are willing to work very hard to get top grades in lieu of deeper learning. However, even most of these children would be better off opting out of school if their goal is to gain admittance into highly selective colleges and universities.
Gone are the days when college admissions committees at the top schools (e.g., Harvard, Stanford) were looking for the well-rounded student with a 4.0 GPA, a 1600 SAT, who played three sports and served on student council. Today, the schools are looking for young people who first and foremost have an insatiable desire to identify, understand and solve questions and problems about the world around them. Stanford University uses the term “intellectual vitality” to describe such an orientation. These admissions committees are also looking for people who have superior academic skills, have demonstrated excellence in some manner (e.g., athletics, community organizing, entrepreneurship), and who add substantially to the class profile in terms of personality and diversity.
Students who test into public magnets, or win the lottery into top charter schools are positioned to present themselves as having superior academic skills, but their intense workload makes it extremely hard for them to demonstrate excellence outside of the classroom. Likewise, students who attend the top prep schools are often able to present themselves as having superior academic skills, and they often come from families that the schools are eager to court, but they also have limited time to demonstrate excellence outside of the classroom. In both cases, demonstrating high levels of intellectual vitality is difficult for students even from these “top” high schools.
Learners at Abrome, however, are able to position themselves much better in the admissions process than their traditional schooled peers. Without the pressure of earning top grades in a wide variety of subjects, Abrome Learners are able to engage in deep learning in the areas that matter most to them. This results in a much more meaningful understanding and appreciation for the areas they choose to investigate, allowing them to quickly demonstrate excellence in that area, and better prepare themselves for college and post-graduate work. At the same time, Abrome Learners are able to develop superior academic skills by focusing on maximizing literacy and numeracy without having to worry about a GPA.
By freeing themselves of the requirements of traditional schooling, including being assigned to a particular building for about seven hours a day, Abrome Learners have much more time to engage in activities that allow them to do remarkable work in areas they care about, such as creating beautiful works of art, conducting world-class research, or starting businesses or social movements. Most importantly, in the eyes of the admissions committees, because Abrome Learners have full agency over their education, and everything is of their own volition, they are able to clearly demonstrate heightened levels of intellectual vitality through the learning experiences they choose to engage in. This opportunity is one that escapes virtually all traditional schooled students.
At Abrome, we have no desire to push kids onto a college pathway. However, for those who choose to make college a part of their learning pathways, there is no better place to position oneself for admission into the most selective colleges and universities than the Abrome learning community; even for those who would otherwise attend the top prep schools in the country.
* Reprinted with permission from Abrome.