FAQs

What ages or grades does Alcove serve?

Right now we're focusing on older kids: adolescents and teenagers, aged 12-18. But of course, different people develop at different rates. So we're open to considering members anywhere from 10-20 years old. That second decade where young people are really trying to figure out who they are and what they value.

How big is the program?

We started with three students. We now have about twenty-five, including distance members. We never planned to grow beyond thirty, to keep the community tight-knit. But we may open a second center on the west side of LA if enough families are interested. We're also hoping to start an informal Alcove Jr. for younger siblings of current members.

How do you make sure everyone knows enough math?

Math is important. We love math. That love has a way of rubbing off on people. But there really is no required curriculum at Alcove; including math. And even if you did force a student to attend a class, it’s just not possible to force them to learn anything. Learning doesn’t work that way. (See Maxim #6) Of course, if a member's goals happen to require a certain level of math, it's our job to make that clear to them, and keep encouraging them to follow through.

Can members go on to college?

Of course. On paper, an Alcove student applying to college looks like a homeschooler. And each year, thousands of homeschoolers apply and get into great colleges. You don’t need to go to a traditional high school to get into college. You may want to take some tests. And we can help you prepare for those. We’ll also help you put together a detailed transcript of all the work you’ve undertaken while at Alcove. If anything, we think our members stand out from the crowd in the college admissions process, because they have such unusual and interesting intellectual journeys to share.

Is this just for geniuses? Or kids with special needs?

No. Alcove is for pretty much everyone. It's hard to imagine a more individualized program. If all you want to do all day is theoretical physics, we'll find the people and classes you need. If you're struggling with reading and writing, we can focus on basic literacy. It's up to each student to plot their own course. But we believe everyone's better off among a diverse group of learners.

What about students who struggle with motivation?

How your child behaves in one environment (traditional school) is not necessarily a good predictor of how they'll behave in a totally different environment, like Alcove. (See Maxim #4) There may well be a “de-schooling” phase as members make the transition from one setting to the next. But eventually, almost everybody starts getting involved in their own learning.

Can families use charter funds to pay tuition?

Plenty of our members are affiliated with charter schools, but we deliberately don't accept charter funds to pay for Alcove programming. That's our loss, not yours, since our tuition plan is "pay what you can". Luckily, we've found a way to run our organization without pulling funding out of the public school system.

How does remote membership work?

Pretty much the same way as in-person membership. Almost everything on the calendar is available online at the same time that it's happening in-person. And distance is no obstacle to developing meaningful mentoring relationships. In fact, going hybrid has opened Alcove up to a host of specialist instructors in other cities and states that we never would have had access to before.

Where did the name Alcove come from?

Originally it was just a synonym for niche. As in: a place where we can help you find your niche. Then we noticed it was sort of an acronym for Autonomous Learning COoperatiVE. There's also something cozy about an alcove. Like a quiet corner where you can snuggle up and read. Shelter from the storm that is Los Angeles. We can imagine a little alcove for education in every corner of LA one day.