Ever wondered what Ivy League and top-tier (Top 50) universities and colleges really look for? Well, Antonio Buehler of Buehler Education introduced this amazing term to my girls and I: “Intellectual Vitality”. So, what is it? How do some kids possess this, and others do not?
We want to see your commitment, dedication, and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons; both in what you write about yourself and in what others write on your behalf. We want to see the kind of curiosity and enthusiasm that will allow you to spark a lively discussion in a freshman seminar and continue the conversation at a dinner table. We want to see the energy and depth of commitment you will bring to your endeavors, whether that means in a research lab, while being part of a community organization, during a performance, or on an athletic field. We want to see the initiative with which you seek out opportunities that expand your perspective and that will allow you to participate in creating new knowledge.
- Stanford students possess intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
According to the IECA’s (Independent Educational Consultants Association) ’Top Ten Strengths and Experiences Colleges look for in High School Students,’ number nine is “Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school, leisure pursuits, and more.”
Stanford University looks for intellectual vitality with a love of learning and interaction with teachers and fellow students. They are looking for the most compelling students, not the most competitive. 75% of the students who apply are qualified. They must look elsewhere for more information. The essay and teacher letters of recommendation are very important. Respect for others is also important.
Yale is looking for a unique student. Explain your passion and engage in your classes in high school.
Brown is looking for self-motivated, active thinkers and learners. You need to have a passion about something. Do you have intellectual curiosity?
Harvard is looking for well-cultivated interests, specialists and focused students who are involved.
Princeton is looking for students who challenge themselves and bring a unique viewpoint to campus. The essay needs to fit with you and show your true voice.
Dartmouth wants to know what you will bring to the college. Peer recommendations are important.
University of Chicago is interested in who you are as a thinker.
Homeschoolers Have an Edge!
Back in 2000 Stanford University demonstrated that homeschoolers are “In a Class by Themselves”.
Admission officers sum it up in two words: intellectual vitality.
It’s hard to define, but they swear they know it when they see it. It’s the spark, the passion, that sets the truly exceptional student–the one driven to pursue independent research and explore difficult concepts from a very early age–apart from your typical bright kid. Stanford wants students who have it.
Looking very closely at homeschoolers is one way to get more of those special minds, the admission office has discovered. As Reider explains it: “Homeschooled students may have a potential advantage over others in this, since they have consciously chosen and pursued an independent course of study.”
Indeed, when he and his colleagues read applications last year, they gave the University’s highest internal ranking for intellectual vitality to two of the nine homeschoolers admitted. And an astounding four homeschoolers earned the highest rating for math–something reserved for the top 1 to 2 percent of the applicant pool.
“The distinguishing factor is intellectual vitality,” says Reider. “These kids have it, and everything they do is responding to it.”
Tips for College-Bound Homeschoolers
All details with amazing anecdotes are shared in this article
- “Get at least two of their three recommendations from non-family members – such as, “tutors, mentors, community college professors, or civic leaders they volunteered with–although a parent’s letter will be considered.”
- Don’t worry if you don’t have grades. Missing transcripts is really not a big deal. The article even jokes how homeschoolers are capable of being straight-A valedictorians of their own class of 1. Isn’t he right?
- A detailed curriculum should be supplemented with students writing about themselves and their education. “We would like to hear about how the family chose homeschooling, how the learning was organized and what benefits (and costs, if any) they have derived,” Reider wrote.
- Study for SATs, ACTS, SAT IIs, etc. and aim for perfect scores. “Standardized test scores also carry extra weight, although tests aren’t decisive by themselves. In addition to the mandated sat and act tests, the University urges homeschoolers to take some sat ii subject exams (formerly called achievement tests), even though these aren’t required.”
- Don’t feel pressures to change your homeschooling curriculum to a “traditional” high school curriculum. We have an advantage with our self-teaching students and parents providing supervision, motivation, direction and the means to seek the best mentors and appropriate books.
- Take several college courses and get As. College courses ” help with evaluation and to give students a taste of classroom learning before they arrive on the Farm.”
- Know that our kids are more socially prepared and ready for top-tier universities. Be proud (as you should be, inshaAllah) that research suggests (even though we-homeschoolers-always knew, God bless) that homeschoolers are actually socially and emotionally healthier then the “socialized” school children–therefore are preferred by top-tier universities!
…1999 survey organized by Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute. Ray found that the typical homeschooler takes part in at least five social activities outside the home every week–from dance classes and sports teams to scout troops and community theater. He also collected previous findings by educators and psychologists suggesting that children taught at home are actually socially and emotionally healthier than those in schools. They are more comfortable interacting with adults and less likely to pin their self-esteem to the fads and whims of teenagers, Ray says.
Striving for the Best Education is an Obligation in Islam
It’s NOT the prestige and the immense amount of opportunities afforded only to Ivy league and top-tier university students that has my girls and I excited and eager to apply to them, inshaAllah…but, it’s my husband and my firm belief that if we don’t aim for the highest and best; we’ll never reach our highest and best potential. So, reaching high is the only way to go in when we educate our girls as home.
“Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember.” Qur’an 39:9
It is incumbent of all Muslim children to be knowledgeable in their deen, which includes and does NOT separate all superior, in depth understanding of ALL subjects: Math, Science, Language Arts, etc. There’ should not be any differentiation between “core” and “elective” subjects in Islam, as our Islamic history never divided the two. This is why I continue to believe Homeschooling is the Ideal Educational System for devout Muslims.
Public and private schools do not have the religious piece, and Islamic schools have not proven themselves collectively in mastering core subjects. Recent academic case studies presently being published (Ponn’s personal conversation with a Cornell-Yale researcher on this topic) suggest that the few “success stories” (children) in Islamic schools would have succeeded academically in non-Islamic schools regardless. So referring to 1-2-3…success students is not a success of that particular school or system, but merely the natural statistical effect of having an excellent student–period.
Also, in a recent college admissions book the author (who got her 2 sons both into 4 Ivies with no rejections) shared in her opening chapter, that Every Parent is a Homeschooler. More and more of the entry into Ivies are not because they are “good/excellent students” in school–it’s everything they do to supplement their education outside of the school walls. So, I’d like to add to her statement, “Therefore they should homeschool full-time”, rather than waste 8-10 hours a day at school (including before & after-school prep time, classes, extra curriculars and homework).
As my family doctor shares her favorite quote, which my girls and I have been reminding ourselves often
“If you don’t strive for perfection, you have no hope for excellence.”
Our end-point may not include Ivy League admission, but working towards and striving for them, will only grant them their greatest opportunities, individually and collectively. Alhumdulilah, this journey thus far has been absolutely invigorating…there’s SO much energy, life and amazingly-deep-profound conversations filling our home.
While I loved teaching while they were babies, and enjoyed the stumbles and achievements of teaching them to talk…alhumdulilah, this FAR exceeds any joy I ever imagined, mashaAllah. The amount of intellectual stimulation in our home on in ALL Multiple Intelligences (ie Art, Logic, Language, People, Self Skills etc.) is like having scholars to relate to on a deep level yet playful and effortless. The depth of their knowledge is motivating to one another, they encourage one another’s passions, applaud their efforts, marvel in ways to figure out how to correct a “mistake” so they strive to discover the answers together. The feed off one another, and so do I!
My role is to provide them with what they need to succeed. They’ve mastered topics FAR beyond my own comprehension, and the humility of having my girls teach me something new every single day is delightful, to say the least. However, they expect and turn to me to direct, lead, advise and “teach” them many new things each and every day.
So, yes–if anything, I am simply sleeping less…mostly because I’m preparing to at least be a 1 if not 2-steps ahead of them for the following day. However, I’m trying not to “prepare” too much, because whatever I “prepare” usually only lasts a mere minutes of lessons and we gain more by learning side-by-side, researching and building together…building our minds and alhumdulilah the memories of keeping their energy, life (vitality) of their possession of highly defined intellect (a state of being intellectual) alive and strong! I
like LOVE the new role I serve in my girls’ homeschool journery…however, as they read over my shoulder, they share, “But, Mama…That (the new role) is NOT new to you!” “Awww…MashaAllah.” I am ever-so-blessed.
MashaAllah, I tweeted last night to Antonio and my dear pal: @MegFromCT (a college admissions consultant for 16 years in Greenwich, CT who successfully gets her clients into Ivies & first-tier universities as well).
MashaAllah, we have a track-record, many small successes and tons of encouragement from top-tier university employees, alum, consultants, etc. who are all encouraging our girls to reach high, mashaAllah. We’d like to share any of our tips and lessons on the way, and pray that you will too. There’s definitely a revolution going in the U.S. educational system, and it’s called “Homeschooling!”
Please share your tips, lessons and most of all Your reflections of this post below.
Subhanallah, I didn’t realized, this post is basically bringing my Creating the Most Ideal Islamic Educational System series which began back in 2008, alhumdulilah to full-circle, as home education’s end-goal is adulthood, and inshaAllah for us includes competitive, respectable universities, and graduate schools, inshaAllah.
Creating the Most Ideal Islamic Educational System
- Failures of Modern Schooling – Islamic Perspective
- Education of Muslim Children – Challenges and Opportunities (Problems with Islamic Schools)
- We don’t need School Reform we need an Overhaul
- What are Personalized Learning Centers?
- Washington Post – Muslim homeschooling population growing
- Homeschooling with Multiple Intelligences
- Defining Intellectual Vitality and Intellectual Curiosity