Building Bridges: College Admissions
As a representative of Alpine Valley School, I keep a mental list of the most common questions I am asked. Just after "why do kids play so many video games" is this question:
How do AVS students go on to college without a traditional transcript?
Before addressing the meat of this question, I want to preface it by saying that not all students (from any school) go on to college. Some of them prefer to join the workforce right away, while others choose to take a "gap year" or some other time off to enjoy travel, family, and other experiences. Those are valid choices and, as a staff member I would support any student in moving forward in any such direction.
But, let's assume that a student really wants to go to college. If they came to me and said, "Marc, I want to go to college but I have no idea where to start. What should I do?" Here is what I would tell them:
Step 1: Make a Plan
Why does the student want to go to college? What is it they're hoping to get out of the experience? What field of study do they intend to pursue? If they don't have a specific interest or aspiration, I might suggest that they enroll at a Community College and begin the journey there, exploring what the academic world has to offer with a cheaper tuition and less restrictive admissions criteria. From there, the student could transfer to a four year University (at least in Colorado) with very few additional steps. Many Alpine Valley School students choose to attend Community College and find it a rewarding experience.
If instead the student is focused on attending a four year program immediately, there is a little more work that needs to be done.
Step 2: Build a Bridge
While it's true that Alpine Valley School does not have the kind of transcript that most colleges might expect, we do, in fact, have one. Our transcript is focused on the positions the student held within the school (School Meeting Chair, JC Clerk, etc.) and includes an overview of their attendance at school over the years.
The work required of the student in the application process to a four-year school is to build a bridge between their experience at Alpine Valley School and what a college admissions office will be looking for. I recommend that students accomplish this aim by creating a resume for themselves, which includes the information provided in their AVS transcript, along with any individual educational goals they accomplished while enrolled. Here's an example from my own experience as a student:
Field of Study: Business - Project Management
Acted as the lead project manager for 10 different talent shows, parties, and events while enrolled at Alpine Valley School.
Managed individual contributors while executing fundraising events that raised hundreds of dollars for my school.
School Meeting Chair (2000-2003): Ran weekly meetings following Roberts Rules of Order and participated in a leadership role at school.
Almost any experience at Alpine Valley School can be leveraged in this way, helping to point out where the individual's growth and learning unfolded so that it's clear why the University's program will be a good fit for them. I've helped many students create such a resume and the results are always impressive to them, and the college admissions office.
Step 3: Take a Test
More often than not, colleges are looking for students to have completed at least one, if not several, standardized tests (including the SAT, ACT, and so forth). Students at Alpine Valley School have a significant advantage in these situations as they can spend as much time as they want focused on taking the test and performing well. I've known several students who spent their last year at AVS focused solely on acing the SAT. Unlike students in a traditional schooling environment, our kids can devote hours a day to study sessions, practice tests, and classes specifically tailored to their needs.
Using all of these tools, many Alpine Valley School students have gone on to the first college of their choice. Once enrolled, they are frequently model students. Why? Because they are excited to learn. They want to be in school, they are hungry for knowledge, and they are not afraid to ask questions.
To hear more experiences from AVS grads in a college environment, check out our podcast episode "Frequently Asked Questions":
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