Tag Archives: Wake Tech

Wake Tech, MIT, and homeschool

It was an interesting juxtaposition yesterday when I received an email from a homeschooling mother about the push-back she received from Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina when she tried to enroll her 14 year old child into some classes there. We ran into the same flavor of push-back from Wake Tech when we tried to enroll our son Christian there under very similar circumstances. That interaction was well documented here on the is blog. Click here for a description of that particular part of the story. That email was ironic because, a few minutes before I read it, I was on the phone with Christian, now 22, who was sitting in an airport in New York waiting to catch a flight to Boston to make a presentation on his PhD dissertation topic to the people who fund his research at MIT.

Both our kids were extremely well served by Wake Tech. Both of the kids finished hard, math focused STEM degrees at the undergraduate level with honors, had multiple funded graduate school opportunities at least partially because of their college start at Wake Tech. They functioned well socially and academically at Wake Tech and they went there without adult supervision. We attribute their success from a social standpoint to the fact that they were not socialized in a traditional school cocoon and were able to interact effectively across a broad range of age groups and social backgrounds because of their homeschool socialization.

None of this had to do with any special abilities of our kids. They are/were of normal intelligence and academic gifts, but they excelled because they were in the kinds of environments provided by both homeschool and Wake Tech. It would seem like Wake Tech would want to do more of that sort of thing than less. I hope that I can help promote this if I ever have the opportunity to do so, either with Wake Tech or any other such excellent community college that will listen.

You can read about how we homeschooled by clicking here and how both the kids skipped high school by clicking here.

Christian’s birthday present and Lorena gets started

Christian's BS Applied Math diplomaChristian starts his last year as a teenager today. A couple of days ago he received the final piece of paper from his time at NCSU. There is no longer any official connection to NCSU. He is officially and completely graduated. I get to run down to Tempe today after work to bring him the computer he purchased with part of his ASU grant. The computer he bought for NCSU died a couple of months ago and he has been limping along with an ASUS tablet/laptop that is awesome, but not really powerful enough for his current work.

Lorena heads down to Wake Tech Community College today to figure out exactly what she needs to do to finish her degree. She is not very far away and we have had such joy with higher education in North Carolina it seems like a shame no one is affiliated there any longer. It will be good to remain in that world for a few more semesters. We will be able to get all those great student discounts for a little while longer.

Betty Blonde #160 – 02/25/2009
Betty Blonde #160
here or on the image to see full size strip.

Sophomore year in college

Kelly and Dad during sophomore year in collegeDuring the first semester of the kids sophomore year at Wake Technical Community College, the whole family started going to the North Carolina State University Hill library to study on Saturdays. The picture of Kelly and I to the left was taken right about when we started going there. The kids would study for their classes, I would work on the GaugeCam project, and Lorena would either go shopping at Cameron Village or read magazines.  The fabulous new Hunt Library was built over on the Centennial Campus half way through their Junior year at NCSU.  We switched to Hunt as soon as it was available to us, but the Hill Library really is quite nice.

Just for posterity, I put up the picture below of Kelly, Christian and their friends from Chula Vista, CA, the Rizos kids.  This was taken just a few weeks before they started their sophomore year at Wake Tech.

Picture of Kelly and Christian just before they started their Sophomore year

Betty Blonde #136 – 01/22/2009
Betty Blonde #136
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.

Wake Technical Community College reunion

Day 886 of 1000

Kelly and Christian made good friends when they went to Wake Technical Community College.  Of their three closest friends from that time, two entered five year co-op programs, so will graduate next year with a boat-load of engineering experience.  The third is an Iraq war vet name Mike who is nothing short of amazing.  We expect to hear very big things about him some day.  I hope it is in my lifetime.  He will graduate this May the same time as Kelly and Christian with a degree in Computer Science.  They have all maintained very high grades since the arrived at NCSU at least partially due the stellar preparation they received at community college.  I guess I never expected these kids would stay in touch.  Actually, the kids from the community college seem to be significantly more mature both in their studies and in the way they live their lives than the kids that started out at NCSU as freshman.  We are glad and thankful the kids started at Wake Tech.

Betty Blonde #52 – 09/26/2008
Betty Blonde #52
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.

Lorena’s term paper–Intro to New Testament

Day 821 of 1000
Betty Blonde #6 – 07/24/2008
Betty Blonde #3
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.

Lorena's term paper on the Apostle PaulLorena was required to take a Religion class for her college transfer associate degree at Wake Technical Community College.  The kids enjoyed their New Testament class while they were at Wake Tech, so Lorena decided to take it, too.  Lorena loves both the class and her professor.  He is a remarried widower who is also a pastor at a local church.  He is an engaging teacher both in the way he lectures and how he manages class discussions.

Today, Lorena had to turn in her term paper and give a five minute presentation on its contents. You can see the paper by clicking either here or on the image to the left. For the last month she has reasearched the life of the Apostle Paul. She took many notes and distilled them down to eight hand-written pages. Then, last weekend, she had Kelly helped her write the report and Christian helped her print it. We think she did a great job.

Lorena faithfully reads her Bible, but feels like she has learned new ways to study that will help her in the future.  She feels like she now understands the flow of Paul’s life much better than before.  She also has a better sense for the culture and influences around Paul during the time he lived.  It makes me want to study my Bible more and better.  It also makes me want to read some more history of the Ancient Near East to get a little better understanding of the big picture of that time and place.

Notes on Christian’s 18th birthday

Day 745 of 1000

I will be in Arizona on Christian’s birthday this year so we had a birthday cake and celebrated a little early with a birthday cake and some candles after dinner last night.  It was nice.  I thought I would write down a few things about him to celebrate this milestone.
Christian and Dad, two days before his 18th birthday

Here are a just a few random notes:

  • When Christian was about 12, he had pretty sloppy handwriting, but for some reason or another, he got fascinated with the topic of fonts.  He implemented anti-aliasing of fonts on RockBox (an operating system for MP3 players with screens), designed some computer fonts, then decided he wanted to design his own, fast, efficient, handwritten, serif font.  He did that and it was quite amazing.  For a period of about two years he took notes and wrote letters with a hand-written font that looks essential similar to courier new.  When he started getting into complicated college class at age 14 or 15 he needed to write faster, so he dropped some of the serifs, but still has impressive handwriting skills.
  • Christian is one class short of his associate degree.  He has enough credits, but needs one literature class to finish up.  He loves his old community college (Wake Tech) and wants to finish the degree online after he gets out of graduate school.  I hope he does that.
  • Christian started NCSU as a Junior when he was 16.  Rather than go through normal channels to get a canned research project, he approached the professor in charge of electrical engineering graduate research to solicit a research project.  The professor told him no one had previously done that, but got the word out and he was given two professors that needed some help.  He is now on his third project for the professor he selected and has had a stellar research experience that has included circuit design, data gathering and analysis, PID loop tuning, C/C++, Assembly, and MatLab programming, a research paper, two research posters (and presentations), and he still has a big capstone project and paper in math and image processing to do before he graduates.
  • Christian started college full time at age 14, but had 15 credits from CLEP testing he started accumulating when he was 13 that were accepted by the community college.
  • Christian started his Senior year at NCSU at age 17.  He has a 4.0 GPA.  He is taking two graduate level math classes this semester and is scheduled for three more next semester.  He has been on the Dean’s list every semester he has been in college.
  • Christian took a driver education class that is offered by the State of North Carolina when he was fifteen.  He got his drivers permit just in time to spend the whole summer driving from near Fuquay-Varina with his Dad to an engineering internship in RTP.
  • Now that he is 18, he is old enough to go into the men’s locker room at the YMCA.
  • He is scheduled to do English-Spanish translation at our church convention this weekend.
  • He is a good son who gives us great joy.


A serious 18th Birthday picture of Christian with Dad

Freshman level fluff classes

Day 728 of 1000

Kelly's commie writing professorLorena’s first day of class was last Friday.  Christian and Kelly’s first day of class is tomorrow.  I got a timely reminder of what college is like yesterday afternoon when my buddy at work received the following text from his college Freshman son:

Philosophy is full of creepy people and the instructor is also fairly sketchy looking…

He laughed out loud when he got the message.  He showed it to me and I laughed, too.  It reminded me of some of the messages Kelly sent from her writing class with the commie professor.  You can read about it here.  This year Kelly and Christian both are scheduled for all technical classes all the time.  Both of them have technical writing classes this semester, but that is as close as it gets.  I am thankful the non-reality based, leftist, humanist classes are now over, but they were kind of fun while they lasted.  On the other hand it is pretty maddening to pay for classes that teach nothing good and a lot of material that is objectively wrong.

Kelly ups her game and joins Christian for a graduate class

Kelly’s internship was quite an amazing and fruitful experience for her.  I described that a little bit here and a few other places.  She loved the day to day statistics work given to her.  Her boss was a good mentor and even a better teacher.  He recommended a couple of classes for her to take that were not on her plan.  Today, she decided to drop her Economics minor so she could take the classes he recommended.  This semester’s class is a graduate class in Linear Algebra.  There is only one session being taught and Christian is in it.  That is great.  Kelly and Christian have not had a class together since their last semester of community college when they took undergraduate Linear Algebra.  Then, next semester, she plans to take Real Analysis, a very ugly but very necessary mathematical proofs class.

I asked her, “Do you think you can handle it?”

She said, “Sure.  I have a completely different perspective now that I have seen what kind of work I will do after I get my degree.  It will be hard, but I can do it.  I am taking it because I know I will need it.”

There is nothing like a little bit of real-world experience doing something you love to provide some motivation to do something that is worthwhile, but hard.

Forgetting to pay tuition

Day 723 of 1000

Somehow, tuition payment for Lorena’s Biology class at the community college slipped through the cracks.  Class is scheduled to start tomorrow (Really??? On a Friday?  Who made that decision?).  When she checked her schedule on the internet we found she was registered for zero credits.  Zero.  How lame is it that I remembered to pay the two big tuition payments, but forgot the small one.  We compared the available classes with open sections with the courses she needs to finish her degree and found a total of TWO classes that would work.  Introduction to Old Testament is offered as a three hour class on Saturday mornings so that is out.  Introduction to New Testament is offered on MWF from 8-8:50 so we signed her up.

I wish I could say this is the only time I have done something like this, but it is actually the third time.  The fall semester of the last year of the kids community college experience “featured” a trip to Johnston Community College so Christian could take Physics I and Differential Equations.  Lorena drove him, took two classes herself, and got some bonding time with Christian, but it was pretty painful.

Why not skip high school? (Part 6) That supposedly thorny socialization question

Day 581 of 1000

This is the sixth in a series of posts on the benefits of skipping high school and going straight to college.  The introductory post and index to all the other posts in the series is here. You can see their undergraduate results and post-graduate (PhD) chase here. I try to keep the results updated as they occur.

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This post is not about socialization in a homeschool.  The move from homeschool to college after the eighth grade at age fourteen is a somewhat more thorny issue.  I have explained why we believe the socialization that occurs in typical homeschool settings is profoundly better than what currently happens in traditional government and private school settings here.  There are links to reasearch and additional articles on socialization in that post.  This post describes some of the things we considered with respect to socialization when we chose to move our kids from homeschool directly into college.


The timing has somewhat to do with the fact that we were not aware that Kelly could have handled college work at least a couple of years before she went to college.  After she passed her third or fourth CLEP exam and got good scores on the ACT college placement exam it became apparent that she could probably handle the academic rigor of college.  Still, we do not think we would have put her in college then even if we would have been aware that she could handle it.  The reason is that she was very young and she would have been attending college on her own.  We think it was good that she waited that extra couple of years during which she took many more CLEP tests for college credit and worked on the understanding the intellectual underpinnigs of our worldview1.

When the time came to consider college for Kelly when she was sixteen, we still thought she might be a little unsure of herself to handle the social aspects of college on her own.  We did not want her to be too far from home and we did not want her to be alone.  By that time, we had been through some pretty rigorous worldview education with both the kids.  Kelly and Christian have always been very supportive of each other, so we thought that, if they went to the Community College together, they would, at least, give each other some moral support and it might not be so scary.  We now knew through testing and for other reasons that Christian could hand college, go we decided to pull the trigger and put them in college together.

The Social Environment at Community College

We were surprised by the high professional and academic standards of the teachers at Wake Tech, but even more surprised and appreciative for the kindness and helpfulness of both the teachers and the administrative staff.  Of course there were a few who did not want to do their job or had (being gracious here) bad people skills, but they were definitely the exception and not the rule.  Our expectations about the students was quite a pleasant surprise.  There was a very interesting mix of students at Wake Tech.  There was a good mix of foreign students, vocational and college prep students right out of high school, people in the work force trying to upgrade their skills or get a degree, and maybe a little bit unique to Wake Tech, soldiers recently discharged from military service at Ft. Bragg, going to school on the G.I. bill.

Kelly and Christian befriended a pretty amazing mix of people.  They made four special friends with whom they remained in contact.  Nestor and Daniela are a brother and sister from Venezuela who come from a close-knit Latin family.  They took the same hard math and science classes as Kelly and Christian.  What was really great about them is that they also had a Latin mother and understood Kelly and Christian in ways that are sometimes difficult for gringos.  Christian still gets to have a class with Nestor and Daniela every now and then at NCSU.

Mike is an Iraq War veteran who pretty much adopted the kids.  They took almost all of their math classes together.  It is hard to over emphasize what a great thing it was to have Mike as their friend.  Make was old enough, mature enough, and sure enough of himself to not care to much what anyone thought about him, including the commie English professor he took one semester before Kelly and Christian got him.  He was unfailingly kind to the kids, more conservative (but not by much) than me, and willing to give the kids advice and correction when they needed it.  They still love the guy and are grateful that Mike went on to NCSU with them.

Finally, there is Mr. McCarter.  He was the kids math professor for Calculus II, Calculus III, and Linear Algebra.  He talked and joked with the kids and Mike every day before and after class.  They send Mr. McCarter an email every now and then to let him know how they are doing.  They owe a lot to him for the encouragement he gave them and the rigor with which he taught his math classes.

The upshot is that Community College was very scary when the kids first started.  They got to turn down invitiations to parties that were illegal on their own right, but would have been profoundly illegal if two underage kids would have showed up there.  The saw lots of drugs, heard all kinds of immoral jokes and stories, and heard all manner of casually used bad language.  They even saw a fist fight our two.  They came away from Community College with their Christian worldview intact and with a good mix of wonderful friends.

The Social Environment at Big State University

The social transition to NCSU was interesting.  It seemed to be a big advantage to not have been socialized in the artificial world that only exist in traditional government and private schools where self-esteem and political correctness are preached as if they were holy writ.  The entire educational experience of most of the kids entering the university was in a highly regulated, institutionalized environment where decisions were made for them about what they studied, when they could talk with a time and place for virtually everything chosen by the school district or state set regulation.  The self-esteem thing was particularly apparent when the kids went to new student orientation.  Since the kids were both in their Junior years in hard degrees, so they did not have to spend much time with the freshmen.  By the time students make it to their Junior year in a hard (STEM) degree, some of the narcissism gets knocked out of them.


All in all, the kids homeschool transition served them very well in their move from Junior high school to college.

1.  See this link on worldview considerations.

The Wendys by Wake Tech and how to use CLEP tests in homeschool

Day 342 of 1000

Yesterday Kelly and I had lunch at the Wendys over by Wake Technical Community College.  We ate there a lot when the kids were going to Wake Tech because it was so convenient.  While we were sitting there waiting for our food, it dawned on my that this was no longer the official “on the way to school” eating place because the kids have moved on to NCSU.  For some reason that seemed pretty weird.  Then today, a lady wrote a very nice comment about some of the stuff we did with CLEP and homeschool that I have written about in a series of blog posts several years ago.  It got me to thinking.

I miss homeschool, but not nearly as much as I thought I would miss it.  Lorena, the kids, and I really did the very best we knew to do in our homeschooling.  The same is true for the community college.  Maybe that is why I feel a little nostalgic about those times, but even better to have moved on.  Sure, there are a lot of things we think we could have done better, but we really do not know how we would have known we should do them at the time–if you know what I mean.

Now that we have a new school to support, we need a new “on the way to school” eating place.  Even though the closest Chick-fil-A is not really on the way to NCSU, in light of recent events, I think it will be worth it to make the detour–a double reason to eat Chikin.

Finals week and Economic Animation

Day 112 of 1000

This week is finals week at Wake Technical Community College.  Everyone in the house except me studied for finals.  I worked on a project for my new job which involved mostly study about a new product.  I am going to be glad for three weeks of non-study activities starting next week.  The one fun thing that happened this weekend was Christian’s Macroeconomics project.  He had to put together a brief video of some macroeconomic principle.  The first pass was not so good, so he decided he would try to learn how to do animation and use that to smooth over the rough spots.  This is what he produced:

Update: He did it in Linux with Kdenlive, Inkscape, pencil, paper, scanner, and his Nikon d90.

The greedy man pays twice

Day 109 of 1000 (212.8 lbs.)

Stepan and I continue to talk in the mornings when we arrive at work.  I am going to miss that a lot when I switch jobs next week.  He told me another Russian proverb today:  The greedy man pays twice.  He says that not only applies if you buy cheap, shoddy stuff, but also in life.  That is certainly true.  I do not know whether my recent travails with Kelly’s and Christian’s classes have anything to do with that, but it certainly might.

I signed Lorena, Christian, and Kelly up for spring semester classes at Wake Tech, but in the confusion and busyness associated with my job change, I forgot to pay for them on the specified day.  We were able to get both of the kids into Linear Algebra at Wake Tech with their favorite math teacher, Kelly was able to get her Macroeconomics class, and I was able to recover a couple of classes that had filled up by signing the kids up for two distance education courses each at Central Carolina Community College.  I had to switch Kelly from Astronomy to Physical Geology, but that all worked out OK.  The big problem was that Differential Equations and Physics II were both full.

It took about three weeks of pain and frustration, but I finally have him signed up for both classes at Johnston Community College.  Lorena want to drive over there with him, so I signed her up for a couple of classes, too.  To say it is a relief to have all this done is a wild understatement.

Update:  When it rains it pours.  They have Lorena as an out-of-state student and want here to pay more than three times as much for her six ours of classes than Christian paid for his seven hours of classes.

Dead week at Wake Tech

Christian dead weekIt is dead week at Wake Technical Community College.  The winter fine arts performance is over.  There is only one mid-term left (multivariable calculus).  No more papers.  No more quizzes.  Nothing but study, study, study.  The effort expended this week separates the A’s from the B’s, the B’s from the C’s, the C’s from the D’s, and the D’s from the F’s.  These pictures represent what our household willbe like for the next week and a half.  Study, study, study with an occasional break to go to a review class, to eat, or to get a short workout.  Normally, it is just Kelly, but this semester Lorena is in on the fun.  Study, study, study.  It is worth it.

Kelly dead weekLorena dead week

We love community college

Day 102 of 1000

Lorena, Christian, and I made our way to the Community College last night to see the final performance and art show for the fine arts program.  Paintings, pencil drawings, charcoals, and sculptures were displayed outside the music performance room.  The chorus and the story-telling classes provided the performance arts.  It was wonderful.  There was a pretty good sized crowd to see it all.  They dynamic of the community college is very fascinating.  It is obvious that Kelly’s chorus professor and the story-telling professors take their jobs very seriously and derive great joy from them.  Kelly sang with the chorus and with one small group of Mexican students who sang “We Are the World” in Spanish.  Christian got some great pictures–I will put up a few of them this evening.  Wake Technical Community College has an impressive facility, the student body is eclectic and fascinating to watch.  It was all pretty impressive and very, very fun.

More fun with the commie professor

Day 99 of 1000

Commie profThe following is the transcript of Kelly’s texting from today’s class. It speaks for itself.

in communism, ALL ppl who work a socially useful job get whatever they need whenever they need it
mantra switches from “me, me, me, s***w you” to “US”
we are above the fray
8:58 AM

it’s a beautiful thought but should’nt we be free to choose whether we want to be selfish or sharing?
from the Marxist perspective there is no human nature

Exactly.  You are forced into stuff.  I work with my Russian buddies and they HATE communism.
9:02 AM

how are you going to change human nature? it’s very unlikely that you’re going to change  you’re forcing everyone to subscribe to the same view… under capitalism you have the freedom to choose to be selfish or sharing
in capitalism you’re rewarded for being greedy. socialism is different
9:04 AM

this guy thinks he’s so smartttt

They kill people off.

how are you going to remove human nature from this equation?
9:07 AM

the only ppl who are going to go to med school are the ones who want to help other people, not the ones who make money. socialism rewards people for making the right decisions
9:09 AM

two things: who decides what’s right and what gets rewarded under socialism and how can you depend on the good of people if you know that people are so greedy? human nature is impossible to remove

these kids are getting brainwashed