Homeschooled Student Finds Challenges and Rewards at UNM-LA

Andrew Hollis. Courtesy photo


Los Alamos Daily Post

Andrew Hollis began attending UNM-Los Alamos two years ago, when he was 16. Hollis is a homeschooled student who is entering the equivalent of his senior year in high school this fall.

“UNM-LA gives me classroom experience, which is important for homeschoolers. I appreciate the experience of meeting deadlines and doing homework on time,” Hollis said.

“My college courses look really good on college applications, too,” he said. “As a homeschool student, I don’t have AP classes on my transcripts, but college courses from UNM-LA show that I can do college-level work and they stand in for AP courses.”

Hollis takes one or two classes at UNM-LA each semester. They supplement the coursework he does with other homeschoolers and online classes.

“I take mostly math and science classes,” Hollis said. So far he has completed calculus I and II, trigonometry and chemistry. This fall, he plans to take calculus III and physics at UNM-LA.

Hollis said the best thing about UNM-LA is the challenging classes. He has especially enjoyed his calculus classes with UNM-LA mathematics instructor Irina Alvestad.

“Dr. Alvestad synthesizes things well. Her students don’t have to memorize formulas, because after being in her class, her students understand the concepts and can derive their own answers,” Hollis said.

The small class size is another advantage to attending UNM-LA, according to Hollis. “There’s more discussion and individual attention from the teacher than you would normally get and that is very helpful,” he said.

Hollis also appreciates being in class with students of varying ages and backgrounds.

“High school aged people often interact only with each other. Having older students in class gives you a chance to branch out beyond your peer group and learn to be comfortable with people of all ages,” he said.

Hollis is looking at a college major in economics or accounting and perhaps law school after he gets his bachelor’s degree. He receives not only high school, but college credit for his UNM-LA courses through the Concurrent Enrollment program, giving him a jumpstart on his college degree.

“I can get a lot of the requirements out of the way at UNM-LA,” Hollis said. “Also, higher level math courses are very helpful for someone going into law. Math is one of the best things you can do to train yourself to think analytically. These classes would not be available in a high school. At UNM-LA, you can advance on the career path you are interested in now, without waiting until you’re done with high school.”

Hollis is also building skills useful for a law career by participating in competitive speech and debate and serving as one of the attorneys for Los Alamos Teen Court.

This summer, Hollis is working at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), where he helps handle the scheduling and coordination of experiments by visiting scientists.

His college classes at UNM-LA and his job at LANSCE are giving Hollis a broader range of experiences than he might otherwise have so early in life.

“It’s important for homeschooled students like me to get out and experience the world,” he said.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories about the people behind the scenes at UNM-LA. The UNM-LA special all mail election is Sept. 17.







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