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How to Find the Best Colleges to Nourish Your Gifted Homeschooler

gifted homeschooler in bed with guitar searching for colleges
Yes, your gifted homeschooler can find Utopia in college…if you know these important things.

Is your gifted homeschooler always waiting? Waiting for that something. Those people. Their moment?

Is there always an empty pit in your stomach because you just don’t know how to give it to them?

Most gifted teens I know live with this craving. They live with the knowledge that there’s something more. THEY are something more. Life is filled with more.

Yet, it isn’t within their grasp because, well, they’re still kids. They’re ready to explore deeply and share profusely, yet their thoughts, their ideas, their journals, their theories, their projects must be put on hold. They’re held close to them — in their mind, as it runs in circles, craving an audience.

As a parent, this made my heart ache.

For many of us, homeschooling is a wonderful fix. Our kids learn in meaningful and intentional ways. Their academic and extracurricular pursuits are personalized and deep.

But our kids still wait. For their Utopia.

And many believe that their Utopia lies in college.

I have worked with many gifted teens. And they’re right. Their Utopia can exist in college.

As long as it is the right college.

Do not underestimate what your gifted homeschooler needs in a school. Do not let that common phrase, “Bloom where you are planted,” guide your search.

Your child is unique. Their gifts are unique. Their needs are unique.

​​​​kid in room with computers

For many, their Utopia will be found through…

1. Friends

Kindred spirits who accept their quirks and sensitivities and obsessions and play Magic the Gathering or take long walks to discuss the meaning of life.

2. Like-minded peers

Students who actively participate in classes and enjoy stimulating conversation. Intellectual peers who get energized talking about Geometric Algebra and Effective Altruism outside of class and into the night.

3. Professors

Teachers who inspire. Mentors who collaborate. Got a kid interested in ornithology? Reach out to professors doing research in that field. Sit in on their classes. Ask about the chances of doing undergrad research. Insist on excellent and engaged professors. Your gifted teen will.

4. Academic Culture

A place that nurtures and inspires and supports your kid’s needs and desires. Will your teen thrive in a competitive environment or a laid back one? Each school has an academic culture; make sure you know what each is. Does your high schooler prefer to be in the middle of the pack or the top of the heap? A good indicator is where their SAT/ACT scores fall in relation to the students in each school.

5. Learning Philosophy

Would your homeschooler prefer an Open Curriculum such as Hamilton’s or a Core Curriculum such as Columbia’s or a Great Books Curriculum such as St. John’s College’s? Will they want the intensity of block scheduling, a trimester with a winter term, or traditional two-semester schedule? Would they prefer large classes or small seminars?

6. Challenge

Your teen finally has the opportunity to be challenged in every way. Will that student body, those courses, that professor stretch them and question them throughout the entire four years?

7. Courses

Is your high schooler ready for upper-level courses? Can your teen test out of certain classes? Ask professors and potential advisors if this is possible; this is an absolute necessity for many of them. When considering small schools, make sure there are enough depth and breadth in the course selection. Sometimes, liberal arts colleges just can’t fulfill academic needs with their limited courses and lack of graduate level offerings.

8. Graduate School

Think ahead. If your teen is set on a particular path, will that institution get them there? Is it a feeder into certain grad schools? Will there be plenty of quality research, internships, advisors, and support?

9. Extracurriculars

Don’t underestimate the impact of extracurriculars during the college years. It is another piece of the puzzle. Find out whether there are active clubs and intra-murals that nurture the other bits of your teen’s needs.

10. Opportunities

Is there a breadth of additional opportunities such as research and entrepreneurial funding, internships, study abroad?

11. Validation

For the first time ever, your gifted homeschooler may feel noticed and accepted and appreciated. Which leads to…

12. Joy

To see our kids laughing with ease, comfortable in their own skin, no longer pretending. That brings everyone joy.

Chances are your gifted homeschooler has very particular ideas about education and learning. It’s not surprising…they’re gifted AND homeschooling!

Choosing the right school is imperative. Don’t take the search lightly.

Make sure your family is thoughtful and intentional about each step of the process.

Your kid has waited a long time for their Utopia.

Make sure it is worth the wait.

What worries you most about your gifted homeschooler’s college search? Share below.

This blog post was created for Hoagies Gifted Blog Hops. Click HERE for more posts on this month’s theme, Utopian Fantasies.

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