After a few decades of advocacy, US home-schoolers now get respect. Kids who learned high school material at home, under learning plans managed by their parents, can now apply to college on a nearly level playing field with kids who went to ordinary schools. But imagine a home-schooled college student applying for a job or grad school – he’d be treated almost as if he had spent those years on a job or goofing off. What is the difference?
Kids who do weird things maybe be ostracized less because we assume it was probably their parents who made them do such things.Meanwhile, in my world, this sympathetic calibration of ostracism has never, ever happened.
I agree that self-teaching requires more discipline. I'm pretty successful in traditional school settings; I've tried self-teaching a number of times with limited success. Damned internet.
I'm a big fan of recorded live lectures. Get 30 people in the room so that the professor is teaching TO somebody, which makes sure he makes sense and isn't being crazy boring, but still allow the majority of students to not show up at the appointed place and time.
I'll go on the record, though, as saying that remote learning =\= home college
There are economic efficiencies of scale and legal protections in a college environment that cannot be duplicated in an at-home experience.
Can you imagine the personal cost of being a bio-physics or chemical engineering 'student' at your stay-at-home college? Also if a student started mixing chemicals at their own home in the name of 'lab experiments' they are more likely to talk to the FBI than a corporation.
In my opinion, an at-home university would be better structured as a corporate apprenticeship.
Good points, Doug, regarding the 1,000 student class. Agreed, Thanks.
As someone who has a tendency to procrastinate, I think there is some benefit. It is easier to make myself go to a lecture for an hour and pay attention than it is to sit there in my own personal room with 100 distractions and make myself pay attention to a difficult book or a difficult computer course for an hour. It is of course possible that I am uniqe in my failings. But that would mean that the word "procrastination" was made up entirely in preparation for my birth, which strikes me as overstating my importance to the universe. If there are other people like me, then the lecture model will continue.
good point... niche-seeking auto-professionals would model neatly if we had the metrics.
I followed the normal college and grad school route, but along the way I dabbled in some uncredentialed work. In particular, in high school I worked part time as a programmer, and I received an unsolicited offer for a reasonably-attractive-sounding full time job offer (from a different firm) as an alternative to going to college.
Also in college I also knew various pure science majors, typically physics majors, who went directly into engineering jobs upon graduation.
From my anecdotal experience, my guess is that if you were prepared to show that you understood half a dozen relevant engineering-ish texts well --- texts at the level of _Introduction to Algorithms_ and _Mathematical Methods for Physicists_ and _The Art of Electronics_ --- and you could show off a nontrivial demo project or three, it would be straightforward to find good engineering jobs. Most companies would ignore you, true, especially big ones with human resources bureaucracies, but a significant fraction of less bureaucratic companies would be impressed, and such a fraction is all you need.
At the University of Arizona, due to budget cutbacks, there will be classes offered in the concert hall to upwards of 1,000 students at a time. These are not televised or internet based. These are bodies in the seats. Do we really believe in the authority of the teacher so much that we are willing to suffer this charade? Is there some transmission of knowledge that can only occur in person?
There's actually reasons why the school would do this. First of all, it's harder on a professor to give a televised lecture. The standards for performance are higher; any flaws in the professor's public speaking ability, such as stumbling over words and such, stand out more when it's on a recorded video. Second, if you're physically in the room with a professor, even if it's a huge lecture class, you can still raise your hand and interrupt the lecture to ask a question, or otherwise interact with the professor directly. Yes, it's still basically a charade, but it's not *completely* pointless.
At the University of Arizona, due to budget cutbacks, there will be classes offered in the concert hall to upwards of 1,000 students at a time. These are not televised or internet based. These are bodies in the seats. Do we really believe in the authority of the teacher so much that we are willing to suffer this charade? Is there some transmission of knowledge that can only occur in person? The University believes so, apparently, and that is laughable.
1: Standardized Testing (ACT and SATs) verify HS in ways that college is too broad to do.
2: In my experience, positions that require actual skills (programming, etc) won't care as much about the signalling aspects as the potential employees ability to do the work. It's only when 'I gradubacated' is a useful metric that it counts (I.E. it takes a lot of work and money to separate home college from unqualified. If you have to do that work to determine skills that not all college grads have, the degree becomes less important.)
No they wouldn't, at least not if the college was any good at all. Actually going to college has significant networking and social advantages not provided merely by the credential. As long as the academic work and institutional bs isn't aggressively stupid, it's probably worth more to actually attend college.
Even colleges without an exceptional student body usually still have very good faculty that's worth networking with or being mentored by, as long as the institution is not so focused on serving the extended high-school population that those professors aren't free to teach to their ability.
Also, because of this, that kind of degree wouldn't even be worth as much as a signal. Part of the signaling value of an elite college education is that your social circle is expected to contain a lot of very smart successful people. That affects you and how you perform, and it affects the contacts and resources you can bring to a job
I think home college has some advantages but the weakness is obviosly. Home studying let the boys and girls stay away their friends and social network. This is unhelpful to their growth. Our hot forging department employed some home coolege boys. Most of them is not good at communication with other tema members. Obviously they need more social activities.
Setting up a public evaluation scheme for professionals, so that anyone --regardless of academic background and job experience--- can prove his or her competence in a particular field or discipline, seems like an obvious answer to me. That is, assuming that one can gauge a person's proficiency in a subject in a way that is logistically sound. Standardized testing comes to mind; yet, most importantly, there would have to be a way for those who do well in the tests to then prove their knowledge in action by getting a short internship (in, say, an investment firm) where they'd be under the scrutiny of their peers --and therefore subjected to the forces of professional competition.
After this, it seems responsible to give a self-taught pro a gleaming diploma. Right?
Moreover, if autodidacts turn out to be as prepared as college graduates, then colleges would be forced to step up their game and humanity would be served well.
In the end, determined individuals only need guidance and guidance flows aplenty in the Internet. An institution cannot optimally educate an individual as it does not have enough insight about the individual's cognitive quirks, interests and motivations. It is therefore important to respect the individual as the best source of knowledge on how this individual can become more adept at what his or her interests turned him or her to.
Be that as it may, I love academia.
In my experience, it's possible to teach oneself much of what's learned in a regular high school, whereas the level of challenge in good colleges can be much higher than one would be able to impose on oneself in home college, particularly in science, math, engineering, etc.
I've noticed this when auditing courses--I never worked as hard as when I was taking the class. It's hard to be as serious without the pressures of grades, teachers, and other students.
Ahh, and now I'm depressed.
How 'bout this: The purpose of going to college (from the student's perspective) is to be in an environment where you can be weird, isolate yourself from social standards for a few years, find like-minded people, self-teach, and then be able to vaguely support yourself due to your degree while still living in a society that doesn't fit--the social status of a college degree offsets the loss of status due to your weirdness (experienced by you as "sanity" and "humanity").
The employer gets the benefits offered by the credentials and status system that varying university degrees confer on their holders, thus allowing them to quickly sort through possible job applicants with the assumption that any weirdness on the part of the accepted candidate that doesn't show up on first inspection will at least be offset by the degree and whatever qualities allowed them to get it--they had to disguise themselves in an academic institution for a few years while still living in a society that doesn't fit.