How I Spent My Saturday Afternoon

My EG and FB are spending the weekend at my parents' house, leaving the Spousal Unit and PC as my only company. While I should have been doing a few administrative tasks, I spent a good portion of the afternoon reading.

It is, as you can tell from the subtitle, couched as an approach to competitive college admissions. In reality, though, I would call it a manifesto, describing a particular approach to life.

The book never once mentions homeschooling or how homeschooled high schoolers are admitted to college. Despite this, I think it describes a way to tackle the high school years that is uniquely suited to homeschoolers. To oversimplify greatly, high schoolers should study smart, have time to explore their interests once their academic obligations are met, and then pursue one or two of those options into a large project or series of projects in an innovative manner.

The difference from other books that celebrate interest exploration and rabbit trails is that it does not denigrate the academic learning, which for most of his readers takes place in a private or public school's building(s). Rather, he suggests ways to streamline the time spent on homework and studying, so that academic obligations can be met and the student can have that free time to run down the rabbit trails.

It was exactly this desire for my children that led me to neoclassical homeschooling. I wanted them to experience a high level of challenge and achievement, yet be able to take time to read for fun, to volunteer, or do other interesting things. I want this for them at all points in their education, of course, not just at the high school level, but students in their mid to late teens are more likely to have found their interest(s), not to mention are capable of a higher level of effort and commitment.

This book carries an additional bonus for the homeschooled student. As I've discussed in the past, most of the material about competitive college admissions (or competitive scholarship awarding) discusses the importance of activities that inherently based in the structure of institutional schooling. It would be very difficult for a homeschool to replicate the activities list of a student at, for example, my alma mater. The time involved in getting to each activity alone would preclude a deep level of involvement! How To Be a High School Superstar, though, largely rejects the value of many, if not most, school-based activities. Editorship of the school paper or yearbook, student body president, Key Club - these are all, frankly, dismissed.

While not the main focus on the book (the author has two additional books, one specifically about doing well in college, and one about being a straight-A student), he also shares various study techniques. I note this because I have read a number of "study strategies" over the years. I have always thought that the skills and strategies seemed somehow contrived, and I could not understand how or why they would work. These skills in this book make sense to me.

In the end, an excellent argument could be made for reviewing this book, requiring your rising eighth or ninth grader to read it, and keeping its precepts in mind when planning out a homeschooler's high school years.


LaughingLioness said...

Love the book review! I'll be checking this one out = ).
My dd picked GA to campaign in because of Tim Echols. He started TeenPact which we've been very invovled with. He invited several of his former staff to help with the primaries and once he won he invited some back. KB is thrilled to go. Tim Echols is a visionary!!
love your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine and I'll be back to yours often = )
Blessings, Lisa

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