College Applications Circus

By , January 14, 2011

We’re all working on getting Aly’s college application together these days. It’s been quite the circus. The process appears at first to be very straightforward, and should be, but in our situation we have to make sure that we do it exactly right. That’s putting a lot of pressure on all of us.

The factors involved are that she really only wants to go to one college. Despite all of our urging, she has no serious second choice. All her eggs are packed firmly into this one basket! Also, she’s homeschooled, and not just that, but unschooled.

Our ducks are in a row here; we have a transcript for her that’s every bit as informative as the ones Michelle and I used to get into the college of our choice. It’s all legal by state education standards. We even have a plan in place to “certify” it, giving it the same legitimacy as a transcript ordered directly from an accredited school. We have carefully documented Aly’s learning, and her standardized tests scores are exemplary. The fear, though, is that all this could be for nothing if her application happens to be reviewed by someone with a slightly different interpretation of the requirements and/or evidence. That’s the risk we’re working to overcome. We’ve already talked to three different counselors at her chosen school, and received three different answers over the course of two years.

I’m trying hard not to let my idealism get in the way here. Aly’s chosen school is attractive to her primarily because of its teaching method, which relates closely to unschooling. However, they keep telling us that a good GED score would cover her application needs! She has pursued an education that is in many ways superior to “standard” schooling, and now aspires to a university that would offer a superior education as well, yet she’s finding that the easiest way in is through a diploma equivalency! Something’s wrong with that, in my book. And yet, if that turns out to be what it takes, we may do it—we may play the game to get the desired result.

Beyond this, there’s also the matter of financial aid. We’ve just finished filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s ironic how, with almost no income, we can be so close to the upper limit on PELL grants and other forms of aid! That’s been an interesting aspect of our lives here. We are well below the poverty level, yet because of the way we live, and the frugality we practice, we’re doing a little too well. Later on, I’ll be very happy about that, but for now, I’m not so sure . . . .

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