Over my career as a student, I have found that traditional 'Bricks and Mortar' schools are not conducive to a proper learning environment for me, so I switched to home-school for 10th grade*. I have/am learning the equivalent of regular high-school courses, but on a deeper level, and at a faster pace. I also added in extra material that better suits my interests (e.g. for my 'sophomore' year I learned Chemistry, Algebra II, Biology (from an AP textbook), US History I & II, Hebrew Language and Python 3.x).

I want to study Biology. I find myself to be very passionate while learning about the world in which I live, and I would love nothing more than to dedicate my life to studying different fields in Biology.

How likely is it that I could find a college which would accept me based on this learning program I have developed, and allow me to attend their school for a higher degree in Biology?

*Note: I had been cyber-schooled for 5 years between 4th and 8th grades.

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    Why do you think a "brick and mortar" university will suit you when a high school did not? – jakebeal Jun 26 '16 at 9:32
  • On what my parents have told me (My father is a J.D., my mother is a Ph.D.), college seems to be a better fit. Not as many classes, focusing on a topic of interest, students spend the majority of their time doing independent work (that was one of my big issues in traditional schools), etc. – XaNaX Jun 26 '16 at 17:57
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    Most schools have a path for admissions that doesn't involve following the standard track. Contact the admissions office and ask what it is. They may be some tests involved. There may be an initial admission as a special student class of some kind. Sometimes they are intended to apply to older students and the school might not want to apply it to you, but there is no harm in asking. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 2 '16 at 0:25
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    How did this work out? Did you get in? – Robert Columbia Jan 30 '19 at 15:59

Almost all colleges in the United States accept home schooled students into undergraduate programs. Usually it is necessary to submit a portfolio of work and test scores.

  • In Pennsylvania, where I live, they changed homeschooling laws this past school year, so we don't really have that stuff. I would only have ACT scores, and possibly SAT Subject Test scores. – XaNaX Jun 26 '16 at 17:59
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    @XaNaX Is there anything preventing you from collecting a portfolio, even if it is not legally required? It might be useful for job hunting as well as college admission. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 1 '16 at 10:53

It sounds like you are saying that your primary barrier is not having a formal high school diploma. This can be remedied somewhat easily.

  • You can take the GED exam. Some colleges are known to not accept it, but many do.
  • There are adult high school programs that you can attend online. Penn Foster is famous for offering one, though it can be pricey and may end up taking a year or more as you complete actual coursework.
  • There are brick-and-mortar adult high schools in places, but it sounds like you probably don't want that. It's possible that you could find one with a generous acceptance of homeschool credits, credit-by-exam, and/or portfolio credit (you can use the projects that you did in homeschool, or enhance them) that would allow you to graduate after taking only one or two actual courses there.
  • You can try the National External Diploma Program. This is more performance-based than adult high school (so you can just pass the assessments promptly rather than spending months or years racking up high school credit hours), but isn't just a single exam like the GED. If you really do know your stuff, like it sounds like you are saying you do, this shouldn't be too difficult. Just block out some time to speak to a counselor and get started on the required projects, availing yourself of a little tutoring if and when it is needed. This one seems to be more based on broad higher-order thinking than specific content memorization or mastery - e.g. there is less of a focus on regurgitating Boyle's Law on an exam than on "thinking scientifically", etc.
  • Even without a high school diploma or GED, you can still try to get in to an open enrollment or low-prestige school based on Ability to Benefit (ATB). Community colleges are good for this. Once you have 30-odd credits, you can transfer them pretty much anywhere and your lack of a high school diploma no longer really matters. ATB has been defanged pretty heavily in the past few years, and IMHO it's about the same level of effort as just passing the GED (which is also useful for getting a job or getting in to vocational education/trade school).
  • It is a myth that you need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in an undergraduate degree. – Anonymous Physicist Jan 30 '19 at 21:27
  • @AnonymousPhysicist it's also a myth that you can just show up at the door of a university and expect to be accepted onto an undergraduate program. – Robert Columbia Sep 14 '19 at 14:16
  • That varies greatly depending on the university. American community colleges take everyone they can fit into a classroom. American for profit colleges take everyone, and they do the paperwork for the student. Some places that expectation would be mostly correct, depending on how you differentiate between remedial cousework and an undergraduate program. – Anonymous Physicist Sep 15 '19 at 8:40

I too learn much better on my own, but I had to stay, and agonize, throughout high school.

I though that that would change, but for me it did not. My community college and undergrad university experience was nearly as bad; I bit the bullet and stayed the course.

It was only at the master's level that I found the latitude to work, freedom to learn, and do independent research as I saw fit.

Yes, there are some “Alternative” universities for whom you aren’t just a square peg to be fitted in a round hole.

I did apply to Antioch back then, but I was put on a waiting list, I also remember a very good “no grade” university, for gifted students, in the east coast, but I can’t recall the name, something like school, or center for advanced studies, or something. Anyways, do some research, here are some links:

List of alternative universities

Best colleges for non-traditional students

Non-traditional colleges

For that ivy+ > Brown, Cornell, Columbia (school Gen Studies).

You can also learn on your own, you don’t necessarily need formal education to learn all about biology or do research. If you later when the title, you can apply for a PhD by “publication” in some countries like England. Though that might be radical and you won’t have access to top lab equipment and loose on the possibility to be inspired by colleagues or professors.

My advice would be to at least avoid a traditional bachelor, try one of the alternative colleges.

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