Seventeen-year-old Shiloh Schlung of Soldotna is taking the leap to higher education, a great leap, in fact.
Two days prior to Christmas, Shiloh received the news she had been accepted to Oxford University in London. She knows it will be some of the most challenging, rigorous study of her life and she's ready for it, due to her highly varied and unique educational history.
Schlung's educational backgound has included the tiny village school of Nikolski, Cook Inlet Academy, Quest, charter school, University of Alaska Fairbanks distance classes and home school in concert with Interior Distance Education of Alaska. Sch-lung believes she is mostly prepared for the intense study because of the perseverance and dedication she developed through home-schooling.
The difference between college in the United States and Oxford is there are few large lectures. Students are paired with a tutor who guides them through mostly independent studies during three, eight-week terms.
"There will be a lot of independent work, a lot like I'm used to having been home-schooled. With IDEA I was more responsible for myself. Home schooling makes you mature faster. It helps you learn how to grow up," Shiloh said.
Shiloh's mother, Cindy Schlung, said the unusual education history and dedication to learning made Shiloh an attractive applicant.
"Ever since first grade Shiloh has wanted to win. I told her if she wants to go for the moon, she should go for the moon. She has shown the will to win," Cindy Schlung said.
Though Shiloh has achieved a great deal on her own, Cindy said encouragement plays a major role.
"Parents need to stand behind their children. We made the choice to give the best education we could give her. If you want your child to succeed you have to make the sacrifices," Cindy Schlung said.
She attributes the success to Shiloh's attitude toward education.
"Shiloh has always been stubborn and tenacious," she sadi.
Shiloh has chosen to study archaeology in her three undergraduate years and plans to stay another year to get a graduate degree.
According to the Oxford University archaeology curriculum, Shiloh will begin her first year taking general archaeology methods and technique classes and take part in field work during a training excavation, then she will undertake three further weeks of fieldwork she will organize for herself.
Her advice to younger students with aspirations of getting higher education is to read a lot and take on challenges.
"If you don't have goals, you won't achieve anything. It's better to try something and fail than to spend the rest of your life wondering if you could have done it."
She also said encouragement makes a big difference.
"She (Cindy) told me I could do it, and said it was going to be hard. I could have sat back and taken the easy road, but I wouldn't have learned much," Shiloh said.
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