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Homeschoolers announce, "Harvard, here we come!"


How do you think top colleges such as Harvard feel about admitting potential students who have been homeschooled? Do you think they encourage it? Frown upon it? One Harvard student, a co-founder of a homeschooling group at Harvard called "Homeschoolers Anonymous" is quoted as saying:

“Homeschooling almost prepares you better for college, and especially a college like Harvard,” Hudson says. “As a homeschooler, a lot of it is kind of up to you in taking very personal ownership of your education.” (1)

Several years ago, I wrote about a discussion I had with the head of a thriving Jewish Day School. He made it clear to me that he frowned upon potential applicants to his school who came from a homeschooling background. I explained to him that even Harvard looks for homeschooling students, as it shows that they come from a unique and diverse background, and it helps them stand out from other applicants. I showed him an excerpt from an article from the Harvard Crimson that explained as much. (The excerpt appears later in this essay.) Despite the article, he simply stuck by his anti-homeschooling stance. 

One article in the Harvard Crimson reports that in 1989, only 5-10 homeschooled students applied each year. In 2006, less than ten years later, between 100-200 homeschooled applicants applied. This is attributed to a growth in homeschooling. Yet, only 3-8 students were accepted.

The article goes on to speculate about the social preparedness of a homeschooled student preparing to go to Harvard. Various theories are proposed about whether they are "socially prepared."

So how does Harvard really feel about homeschoolers? Depending on who is interviewing the applicant, there might be several answers to this question. In another article in the Crimson, I once found the following. (This is the one I showed the principal. Note the names; there will be a test on this later.): 

"Reed and his brothers, J. Drew Colfax '90 and Grant N. Colfax '87, are among the approximately 500,000 students who are taught at home by their parents instead of attending regular schools. Their 13-year-old brother, Garth M.A. Colfax, is still at home.
And Fitzsimmons says that, on the whole, homeschooling is an educational asset that Harvard considers favorably when making its admissions decisions. "One often sees a self-reliance and independence, as well as intellectual curiosity in people with unusual educational experiences," Fitzsimmons says. Homeschooled students, he says, "do just as well as most all students who come here do." (2)
I read an interesting homeschooling article that was posted online this week. It was written in 1985. I was only 21 when it was written, and the subject of the article may not have been much younger. I had never heard of homeschooling at that age. Those were the days when, if you wanted to research any topic, you basically had to drive to the library and try to find a book on the subject. And if you were researching homeschooling, for example, there is a good chance you might find nothing, depending on your library. (The internet has really changed the way we do research!)

The article I read this week was about a boy, Grant Colfax, who had been homeschooled. His parents were both teachers, but they had moved to the mountains in California, and there was no school nearby. The article explains how Grant did ranch chores, helped his parents build their house, sold pedigreed dairy goats, and wrote articles at age 12 that were published. He thereby gained a working knowledge of math, business, and more. Eventually, when his knowledge of science surpassed that of his parents, he began devouring textbooks. He scored in the top 5% on the SAT, eventually applied to Harvard, and was accepted. (4)

Here is what he looked like when the article was written in 1985:


For fun, and out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could find current information on Grant Colfax. A simple google search not only found him, but what is he is doing as an adult.

Here is what he looks like now, and his bio. (Make sure to read the headline at the end, too!)


Grant Colfax MD , Director of HIV Prevention & Research 

Grant Colfax, MD, is Director of the HIV Prevention and  Research Section in the San Francisco Department of Public Health AIDS Office. 

Dr. Colfax is an NIH- and CDC-funded research scientist whose main focus is on developing interventions to reduce HIV and HIV risk behavior in substance-using populations. Most recently, his research has focused on the relationship between methamphetamine use and HIV risk behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM). He is currently Principal Investigator of several behavioral and pharmacologic interventions to reduce methamphetamine use and HIV risk behavior. 

Dr. Colfax has authored multiple papers on the relationship between drug use and sexual risk which have appeared in peer-reviewed journals.

In addition to his research activities, Dr. Colfax is a clinician at the University of California’sPositive Health Program, where he treats persons with AIDS and those at high-risk for HIV. (3)

Also worth noting:

"White House names UCSF professor Grant Colfax, M.D., as AIDS policy chief."

What a great case of "homeschooler makes good," no? Despite the fact that there are many recent articles, and professionals, questioning the usefulness of a college degree in the 21st century, whatever path your chidldren end up taking, I wish them much hatazlacha, and I'm sure they do will great!


 1 Retrieved from the internet 8/14/12.

2 Retrieved from the internet 8/13/12.

3 Retrieved from the internet 8/14/12.

4 Retrieved from the internet 8/13/12.

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