College-Bound Homeschoolers

Join us on November 7

from 6-8 pm at Beacon Self-Directed Learning

Homeschoolers, without a high school diploma or even a GED in hand, apply to college, get accepted, attend, and graduate. This may seem inconceivable to those who have only ever considered or known a traditional path, but if you think about it, an individual who has followed a self-directed learning path has already demonstrated certain qualities that are an asset in college.

What is a self-directed learner anyway? Someone who takes initiative, who doesn’t wait to be told what to do, who has confidence in their ability to learn and to seek out and follow through on a chosen course. They are curious, persistent, and embrace the responsibility necessary for their learning. They are not in school being told what to do to get to the next level. Instead, they determine what they want, what is required to move ahead, and then they do it. They are the pilot and co-pilot of their learning, which is an essential ingredient in college success and something many traditionally schooled candidates lack.

Even though colleges are adjusting their admissions to accommodate homeschoolers you will need to put non-traditional experiences into traditional boxes. As a homeschool parent, if you plan ahead and keep track of the "high school" experiences, this task will be much, much easier.

If you, or someone you know, is a homeschooler or unschooler who may consider college, don’t miss the interactive panel discussion on Wednesday, November 7 from 6-8pm at Beacon Self-Directed Learning, 123 Whalley Avenue, New Haven. Parents who have successfully navigated homeschooling right through high school into college, along with Beacon staff who regularly assist and advise on the process, will show examples of successful homeschool transcripts and provide valuable insights and allow for plenty of questions to be asked and answered. $10 per family. Email info@beaconlearning.org for questions or to let us know you are coming.

“Yes, you can quit traditional high school and everything will be okay”

If you have a teenager who doesn’t love high school, what’s the right thing to do—push harder, or try something new?

For more than a decade, Blake Boles, our good friend, public speaker, and author of "College Without High School", "Better Than College", and "The Art of Self-Directed Learning", has worked with happy, thriving teenagers who made the decision to quit traditional school—or never went to school in the first place. This fall, Blake is touring the U.S. giving a new talk entitled, “Yes, You Can Quit Traditional High School and Everything Will Be Okay.”  We are so excited he's going to make time to speak at Beacon on September 27, 2018 at 6pm.

Whether you’re skeptical about alternative education or you’re a seasoned educational rebel, this talk will inspire, inform, and entertain you with powerful stories of teenagers who have skipped high school and turned out just fine. If you are thinking of bringing your teen, or almost teen, this talk is appropriate for adults and teenagers. 

We at Beacon agree with Blake. Our former members have entered the workforce, taken a gap year, or entered colleges including Lawrence University, University of the People, Towson University, Ithaca College, Harvard University, Southern Connecticut State University, Hampshire College and others. 

Blake Boles speaks at Beacon Self-Directed Learning.

Blake Boles speaks at Beacon Self-Directed Learning.

Reflections on Self-Direction

By Kyle Holton

Twenty minutes before boarding our return flight to New York City this summer, the flight was canceled by air traffic control at LaGuardia due to “congestion.” The room gritted its teeth and gasped. Within seconds, people were running to get in line and fight for another flight. It was adulterated competition in its purest. Individuals jockeyed for position hoping to avoid further scheduling trauma. Everyone moved with clear self-direction. The only problem was that each person’s interests were the same. The room collided with self-interest resulting in a kind of Darwinian battle of the fittest.

I moved to the New Haven area last year and immediately began working with Beacon Self-Directed Learning. As an educator, I have been a passionate proponent of self-direction. However, the 2017-2018 year at Beacon taught me a fuller understanding of self-direction. Throughout last year, I facilitated a number of classes that ranged from writing nonfiction to investigating interspecies communication. In each class, I had the opportunity to watch individuals pursue a style of self-direction that was truly inspiring.

As you can imagine, each class at Beacon is full of individuals of different ages and academic experiences. In this swarming sea of consciousness and self-direction, an order emerges that is consistently patterned along lines of cooperation and active listening. Beacon students help each other as they pursue their own curiosities. The end result is a form of cooperative autonomy that is unique and exactly what our society needs. I’ve seen older individuals explain difficult concepts to younger students. I’ve seen small groups work together to solve complex problems. I’ve seen students form ad-hoc writer’s guilds in which they listen and provide valuable feedback to each other’s writing.  Competition is also at work at Beacon. However, the competition is playful and framed within a larger paradigm of cooperation. Even in the midst of playful competition, I’ve witnessed students reflect back and acknowledge their own weaknesses with honest candor. In the end, it’s easy to be an authentic individual at Beacon. In the midst of so much authenticity, people thrive, feel safe, and work with more cooperation.

From this vantage point, the airport scene is best described as driven self-interest that produces palpable emotional stress and trauma. Meanwhile, the Beacon scene is best described as cooperative self-direction that produces empathy and meaningful communication. Now, it isn’t fair to compare an airport room full of strangers with a Beacon room full of friends. But I believe we play how we practice. We live according to the communal games we cultivate at home, in our learning centers, and at the workplace. What if society operated like Beacon?