Friday, December 14, 2007

Buying into the Ivy League illusion?

I was chatting to someone who had been reading my blog recently and she made a comment that I thought was really interesting. She asked why homeschoolers often go on about how they (or other homeschoolers) are attending Ivy League Universities in the USA, something she finds a bit of a contradiction.

My first introduction to homeschooling was an article about the Colfax brothers, who had attended Harvard after being homeschooled. I think that there was an element of "Wow, if they can do that after being homeschooled, then it must be okay", that guided my initial reaction and opened me up to this possibility. I, personally, have had no experience of American universities at all, but my friend had attended both an Ivy League institution and a state college. She said that, in her experience, Ivy League universities are over-rated and not worth the extra tuition fees. The state university that she attended had a much higher standard than the Ivy League university.

She wanted to know why, when homeschoolers prefer to give their children a more individualised (and cheaper) education than they could receive at overrated private schools and then brag that their children are attending these overrated universities.

My immediate reply to her was that first of all, home educators who attend Ivy League universities are usually there on scholarships. Also, I am sure that there some careers in which a particular elite university has a very good course in this discipline, making it worthwhile to attend this college. Generally, homeschoolers don't attend such institution - your average American ex-homeschooled kid is either getting an education at a community or state college or deciding to avoid the option of university altogether, rather concentrating on in-job training or starting their own business.

However, I think that we homeschoolers should examine our assumptions about education and ask ourselves to what extent we are buying into an illusion when we spotlight those homeschoolers who take the Ivy League route. Are we being taken in by the snob effect of these schools (and is this what makes them so expensive) or is this truly education of a high quality which home educators should be proud of achieving?

1 comment:

Henry Cate said...

I think over the next decade or so the higher learning education approach will be reevaluated. This is due partly to the cost of university education in the US climbing twice as fast as inflation over the last several decades.