From homeschooling to college
From homeschooling to college
”Your talk was reassuring,“ the woman told me. We were standing in the lobby at TEDx Couer d'Alene 2020, during one of the breaks between talks. She had been homeschooled herself, she told me. She had followed different paths with each of her kids, based on what each kid seemed to need—different methods of schooling, different mixes of formal and informal education. ”It was nice to hear that that was a good idea.“
Another woman said she was considering homeschooling her son, who currently attended a local charter school. She was frustrated with decisions the school had been making, completely counter to parental opinions: ”They think they have it all figured out. They have a process for getting top scores, and they don't want to hear from us.“
These women was some of many people who came up to me during the event to share their own experiences with schooling and ask questions about how unschooling and homeschooling can work.
One question I got: What did I think about getting into college as a homeschooled student? I happily shared that I, and many of my homeschooled friends, attended college. Homeschooling wasn't an obstacle.
We didn't all take the same path to college. Some, like my sisters and I, applied to four-year schools off the bat and ended up at small liberal arts colleges across the country. Some friends built up enough credits at the community college to transfer to four-year public universities. The requirements for transferring could be a pain, but bureaucracies often are. Other friends went straight to state schools.
Some of my college applications required an extra essay explaining our homeschooling process, so that the college admissions committee could better evaluate my educational background. It certainly helped that I had community college credits under my belt. I had been taking community college classes since I was fifteen. Physics, math, Spanish, yoga—I transferred some credits when I went to Vassar. That let me skip a few required classes and move on to other, more interesting classes.
Adjusting to college life wasn't too hard, either. The practical aspects were easy—show up for class on time, eat and sleep enough, finish my homework, etc. I'd been managing my own time for over a decade.
One of the biggest changes was social—and not in the stereotyped "homeschoolers don't have enough socialization" way. Instead of the mixed age groups I was used to, everyone was suddenly my age plus or minus a year. Despite our ages, many of these students seemed immature. They had no idea why they were in college. They didn't know what to do with their newfound freedom from the strictness of teenage life and high school. And it showed in the lazy ways they approached classwork.
Me? I worked towards my undergraduate degree because I wanted to, because I was curious and interested. I'm sure I got more out of my classes as a result.
A homeschooling poster child?
Someone told me I make a pretty good poster child for what homeschooling success can look like. I suppose so! Getting into a good college. Having a research career. Growing a family. Building hobbies, friends, a good life... it's all attainable!
I want to highlight the positive outcomes homeschooling can have because the number of homeschoolers is doubling this year. I keep seeing posts in my local homeschooling facebook groups: ”Hi, I pulled my kid out of school this year, what curriculum do you use or do you use one, HELP!“ Millions of families are switching from full-time public or private schools to homeschooling, unschooling, and other variants.
If you're one of them—or considering it—you're not alone! Success can be had! Randy and I will spend many future posts discussing our approach to educating our children, and our respective backgrounds with homeschooling and other alternatives to the conventional classroom. Stay tuned!
Here's my talk:Credit for this post's header image: TEDx Couer d'Alene