Unschooler Goes to College

 Ivan has left home. There was no graduation, no prom, not even a final project. His last summer here at home, he continued reading interesting books, sparking heated debates about politics and religion at the dinner table, working a bit in his beloved computer animation program that he had taught himself, and playing soccer at every opportunity even if it was only with the 12 year-old friends of his brother.

He had managed to get into animation College by the skin of his teeth….successfully side-stepping all entrance exams… and applying to the two toughest animation schools in the country. The rejection from one meant that it was a no-brainer to be persistent with the other.

So he is there now; shocked to have an-ending supply of assignments and homework; too much to actually get done in a thoughtful considered manner. He tries to avoid sleeping, but then he risks missing entire classes when he finally succumbs to deep sleep. He sounds dejected and cowed on the phone, humbled, and in awe of the many talented students around him. Is this too big of a shock? Has the quiet independent study of his first 18 years left him un-prepared for coping with the requirements of a rigorous Foundation year program?

As the parent who used him as a guinea pig for her radical educational theories, it’s difficult not to want him to succeed where he is. He wanted it so badly. I remind myself daily that what I have instilled in him is the knowledge that he will determine his own success, even if it might mean forging an incomprehensible path. It will be painful sometimes supporting him along the way. I have to remember to listen, take a deep breath, and refrain from making any pronouncements.

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