Frequently Asked Questions
♦ What is the time frame for enrollment in the Alger Learning Center/ Independence High School?
Students may enroll anytime, all year around.
♦ Are your programs designed specifically or solely for “gifted” learners?
Far from it.
By making curriculum student-centered and flexible, we create an atmosphere where students of all types can learn what they want to learn at a rate and in a way that works best for them.
Although students who are already highly capable, self-directed independent learners do well in our programs, we have for many years served the educational needs of a broad spectrum of diverse students who have achieved success through the Alger Learning Center experience.
These include (but are not limited to): homeschoolers who need regular contact with a local certified teacher, students who require credit retrieval, students who have been suspended from or had to drop out of a public school for attendance or health reasons, and students who need more individualized instruction and custom curriculum.
We have also worked with students combining independent learning with global travel, or employment/career opportunities, and have helped many students who desire to graduate ahead of the public schools’ schedule.
♦ How do students graduate ahead of schedule?
Because students can work at their own chosen rate, and our programs are offered year-around, we have had many students graduate and enter colleges, trade schools, or careers at younger ages than their public school peers.
♦ How many credits are required to graduate from high school and receive an official diploma from Independence High School?
The Washington State minimum requirement is 20 credits for those entering 9th grade on or after July 1, 2009 (see below). We consider students’ future plans and ambitions when designing classes and setting up curricula, so they can attain the extra credits they may require for admission to four-year colleges.
Washington State Requirements for a High School Diploma:
Science 2 (incl. 1 lab science)
Social Studies 2 ½[United State History and Government (1) Northwest History and Government (1/2) World History, Geography, CWP (1)]
Occupational Education 1
Physical/Health Education 2
Fine Arts 1
Electives 5 ½
Total = 20**
* – One credit each of Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 are recommended, and are required by most 4-year colleges.
** – Students entering 9th grade prior to July 1, 2009 require one less credit of Math, and 19 minimum total credits.
(150 hours = one credit)
♦ Don’t homeschoolers have trouble getting accepted by the best schools?
Recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, and other publications have shown homeschooled students receiving consistently higher scores on college entrance exams than their traditionally schooled peers. Officials at many top colleges and universities quoted in these articles have expressed a very high level of interest in admitting homeschoolers and independent learners.
Among the many prestigious and respected schools that enthusiastically recruit and accept homeschoolers are such institutions as Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Purdue, the University of Texas, and the Air Force Academy, to name but a few.
Colleges recognize that more and more students are being homeschooled, and often with better results than those from public schools. Homeschooling should not be viewed as making it more difficult for one to enter the college of their choice, as colleges and universities are definitely taking note of homeschooled students, and, in many cases, actively recruiting them.
Graduates of the Alger Learning Center/Independence High School have a high acceptance rate, by 4-year colleges and universities, art and tech schools, and community colleges.
♦ What about “Socialization?”
Writes homeschooling mom Ann Simpson, “ . . . as you all know, socialization is NOT a problem. My kids are in community sports, the scouting program, they have jobs, and they have mentors. Believe me; they know how to interact with others!”
In a recent piece on homeschooling in Newsweek (Jan. 30, 2012), author Linda Perlstein describes a Seattle homeschooling family’s typical experience:
“The . . . girls spend most of their time out and about, typically at activities arranged for homeschoolers. There are Girl Scouts and ceramics and book club and enrichment classes and park outings arranged by the Seattle Homeschool Group, a secular organization whose membership has grown from 30 families to 300 over the last decade. In a way, urban homeschooling can feel like an intensified version of the extracurricular madness that is the hallmark of any contemporary middle-class family, or it can feel like one big, awesome field trip.”
Research suggests that homeschooling also produces better citizens. Dr. Brian Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute, in his 2004 study of more than 7,000 homeschooled adults, showed that homeschoolers were more likely to vote, volunteer for political campaigns, and participate in community service. Dr. Ray found that 71% of homeschool graduates participated in ongoing community service activities compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages, and 76% of homeschool graduates (aged 18-24) had voted in a national or state election within the last 5 years, compared to 29% of non-homeschooled graduates.
It is often suggested that homeschoolers do not learn how to live in the “real world.” However, a closer look at public school training shows that it is actually public school children who are not living in the real world. As Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, has written,
“Practically, homeschoolers generally overcome the potential for ‘isolation’ through heavy involvement in church youth groups, 4H clubs, music and art lessons, Little League sports participation, YMCA, Scouts, singing groups, activities with neighborhood children, academic contests (spelling bees, orations, creative and research papers), and regular involvement in field trips. In fact, one researcher stated, ‘The investigator was not prepared for the level of commitment exhibited by the parents in getting the child to various activities. It appeared that these students are involved in more social activities, whether by design or being with the parent in various situations, than the average middle school-aged child.’”
In traditional schools, child are often “socialized” to interact only with peers within their own age group – a very common practice in most schools – and may actually lose the ability to communicate with a broader group of children and adults.
♦ My child is not particularly motivated. How could a program like this possibly help him/her achieve success, when other programs have failed?
The primary purpose of traditional public educational systems is not to provide motivation for the student; the lock-step “bell system,” with its restrictive, structured environment, and attendance-based, mandatory curricula, cannot create an atmosphere conducive to motivating anyone.
Our approach is decidedly different from the mainstream. We believe that learning is a lifelong process, and one that requires lots of freedom and self-direction if it is to be truly rewarding and satisfying. We see unschooling as an important first step for some in freeing themselves to experience real and meaningful learning.
In the various programs we offer, we have deliberately sought out teachers who enjoy being able to help children become self-motivated, independent learners. Our teachers are dedicated to helping students achieve success and self-esteem through an open-minded approach to education that allows for maximum freedom and creativity.
Students and their parents work with our staff to design classes that reflect the student’s interests, goals, and learning styles. They are allowed, to the greatest degree possible, to determine what they want to learn, how they will learn it, and at what pace. The freedom to learn about what really interests you is one of the best motivators of all.
We have found time and time again that students who have been stifled in the public system can become happy, successful, and highly-motivated when allowed to pursue their educational goals in a student-centered program, totally free of restrictions and restraints on how and what the student is allowed to learn.
♦ Does the Alger Learning Center espouse, promote, or represent any specific religious, ideological, or political movements, or points of view?
The Alger Learning Center/Independence High School is non-partisan, nonsectarian, and nondiscriminatory. Our commitment is to freedom in learning, and to excellence in creating an educational environment where that freedom may be nurtured and prosper.