As the parent of a 2022 Classical Conversations® Challenge IV graduate, I’m enjoying the necessary and well-earned summer slowdown following a fruitful year of once-in-a-lifetime events. My daughter, a CC student since she was eight years old, had the rich blessing of consistent classmates. At least four of the ten Challenge IV graduates in her local community have been traveling together for the last nine years. You can imagine the joy and depth of their final Protocol, their senior thesis presentations, their commencement day, a bonus senior trip, and what seemed like endless graduation parties.
Those are the pinnacle events, and they are as remarkable as many will say they are. But our journey to the summit was full of switchbacks and harrowing climbs. We were nearly to the end of my daughter’s Challenge IV year when, in the middle of one ordinary day, she stopped short, teared up, and declared, “It’s almost over. I fought my Challenge years so hard (i.e., I fought you and dad), I didn’t want to do any of the programs. After a while, I didn’t even know why I was fighting. It was probably just principle and habit. “
“And, mom,” she cried, “the saddest thing is, I got so habitual about it that I didn’t recognize it until now, but I’m having the best year of my life!”
She was nearing the end of her climb, having been pushed most of the way, and in that single moment of revelation, she took to the path and achieved the summit on her own.
It was of great interest to me to review her answers to the 2022 Challenge Graduate Survey she received from Classical Conversations. She responded with positive feedback to nearly every question, and her perspective as a graduate is far more balanced and optimistic than when she was a student. Of course, this is immensely relieving to her dad and myself, but more importantly, how much better is it for her to conclude her Challenge years with a positive rather than oppositional point of view?
I would suggest the answer is nearly immeasurable.
What Can We Measure and Why Should We Care?
Surveys are designed to take experiences, perspectives, and opinions and help us quantify answers—to measure them. They give insight into what we are doing well and what should remain. The opposite is also true. The ineffective and unsuccessful are also revealed. When a survey is well done, the data it generates can be one measure of the success or failure of a program.
Shortly, I’ll share some results from the collected surveys of 2022 Challenge program graduates. Over 200 students responded to an optional survey sent to them by email. This is a yearly practice, and we’ve been interacting with graduates this way for over ten years! Our findings are often encouraging to dads who typically play a supporting role in the family homeschool and very affirming to homeschool moms. That is, Classical Conversations graduate statistics point to a job well done.
It’s satisfying to quickly assess based on survey results that some form of “success” has been achieved by homeschooling, and that students are well-prepared for what is to come. Sometimes positive survey results are a gentle rebuke for the doubters that insist on answers to questions like, “What about socialization?” and “But do homeschoolers get good instruction in…?” And survey results can be a useful communication tool for colleges and universities, businesses, partners, and external organizations who wish to know more about what Classical Conversations is and does. Surveys can ask typical questions that will help us generate typical answers.
What Questions Should We Ask?
But what if the questions we ought to ask aren’t typical?
- What if we are less interested in what the average college entrance exam score is than whether students seem well-rooted in personal faith in God?
- What if we are less concerned about whether students have a strong vision for a career than whether they’ve learned self-governance?
- What if we are less focused on whether students have high test scores than whether students outperform their scores when they apply themselves to the task at hand.
In short, what if the question that matters most is: what did they learn?
Let’s face it. The decision to homeschool through high school is hard. There are many alluring reasons that cause us to consider an early finish to the homeschool race. Whether it’s getting a jump on college, or maybe the students themselves are eager to explore beyond the walls of their home or local CC community, it’s not uncommon for other opportunities to offer competition. Alternatively, mom, dad, and student alike can all become restless and uncertain about college preparation or making decisions for a successful future, and fear clouds the homeschool vision.
The 2022 Graduate Survey results will settle some of these questions with a solid pattern of Classical Conversations success statistics. And this 2022-23 Student Profile offers data that will allow me to share non-typical results because it clearly demonstrates the college and life readiness of a Classical Conversations graduate. These indicators of success are no small thing, and we should celebrate the measurable victories.
Remember though, I’ve already asked you to consider the questions we ought to be asking about Classical Conversations graduates would fall outside of “typical.” It’s not unreasonable or wrong to inquire about Classical Conversations’ graduate careers, or academic readiness for college, etc. Life is a practical matter, and we want our students prepared to respond and press into whatever their future brings.
Circumstances will shift and situations will come and go. The future is unknown to all of us, and although we have an obligation to inspire and equip the generation that follows us with vision for the future, the academic arts and college degrees are only part of what they need for success. Most importantly, their character and range of virtue will determine their long-term success. Therefore, we ought to ask our Classical Conversations graduates to describe how:
- Attention leads to ownership
- Ownership builds discipline
- Discipline is the cornerstone of freedom
- Freedom provides opportunities for noble choices
- All choices bring consequences
- Understanding consequences defines leadership
As a Challenge IV parent, I want to evaluate whether my student learned to conduct herself virtuously, with civility and humility. Is my student now a capable learner with the ability to integrate content and ask sound questions? Can my student discern that which is true, good, and beautiful?
Is it evident to you that these are nearly impossible to capture in a survey and assign meaning as statistics, but are immeasurably evident in how our students live?
Classical Conversations Graduate Statistics
The 2022 Classical Conversations graduate statistics gathered from our recent survey are encouraging and refreshing. I’ve selected 11 questions and corresponding answers for your enjoyment and a sample of confirmations that CC is and does what it claims as the largest classical education provider in the world. And let’s face it—there is much to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate on behalf of the 2022 Classical Conversations graduates and their parents. Well done!
(Note: The percentages don’t all add up to 100% for each question. I’ve elected to share the top responses for each, assuming that you will understand that other answers make up the total amount.)
Have you ever previously attended any homeschooling program other than Classical Conversations?
How would you rate the quality of Classical Conversations academic programs compared with other homeschooling programs that you experienced?
What is your level of mastery in each of the following subjects? (Note: These are self-report answers, according to the student’s perspective; not measured with analytical tools. Percentages and mastery level selected by highest responses)
|Literature and Composition||Very Good||65.78%|
How frequently involved were you in each of the following activities during your CC homeschool years? (Note: Answers displayed reflect the 5 highest answers in the “more than once each week” category)
Overall, how satisfied are you with your CC homeschooling experience?
How certain are you that you would homeschool your children one day if/when you become a parent?
|Very certain I will||47.59%|
|Fairly certain I will||31.02%|
“My ___________________ is very important to my sense of self.”
“I am confident of the strength of my moral principles.”
“I love learning.”
“I am confident of my ability to make wise choices.”
“Faith in Jesus is the only way to God.”
There you have it—a sampling of content, program, and value-weighted questions with statistical answers from our 2022 Classical Conversations graduates.
Well Done Classical Conversations Graduates!
At the end of her Challenge IV experience, my daughter is a far more mature, thoughtful, caring human than even she was purposing to become! The classical curated curriculum served her well, and the model of learning, living, and participation in local community was transformative. She is grateful, appropriately humble, and reflective about the education she received. She is pursuing business leadership and growth in a service franchise that offers continuing education opportunities. Well done, dear daughter. And, well done to all the Classical Conversations graduates of 2022!
If you still have questions or curiosities, consider reading the following posts:
- Homeschoolers and College
- Paths for Homeschoolers After Graduation
- The Trifold Purpose of Education (Written by a Challenge Student)
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.