If you were homeschooled, you likely dealt with quite a few of the stereotypical but curious questions. People always wondered if I got to wear pajamas all day long (um… no), while many others tended to insist that I never actually did “real work” (um…no…again). Every time my family moved, I had to convince my new peers that I was not a sheltered “freak” from an ultra-conservative cult whose mother gave them straight As for watching The Magic School Bus.
Thankfully the questions slacked off for most of high school — except for senior year. While I could laugh away the silly assumptions that homeschooled meant an easy A on a transcript, the “how are you going to handle college” and the “how will you handle the real world” questions were frustrating, especially for an anxiety-riddled perfectionist.
I started college with a near paralyzing fear that having been homeschooled would be the demise of my collegiate career. I was so very wrong. After three semesters on the president’s list, a study abroad tour, and a wonderful jump-start on my writing career, I’ve realized that being homeschooled actually prepared me for university life….
Self-discipline. Unlike most other college freshman, I hadn’t spent much time in a classroom setting with a teacher standing at the front besides a few dual-credit college courses. Most of my academic work had been done at the kitchen table or at the desk in my room– all on my own. Each of my classes had a “syllabus”, and it was up to me to make sure things got done on time. Kinda like college, huh?
Focused studies. While I still had all the wonderful (and yucky) required classes, I was able to add a bunch of specialized courses to my schedule. Elementary school brought social studies via American Girl Doll curriculum. In middle school, equine science and the rodeo circuit counted as PE. High school was full of college lecture series like “The Sentence: Structure and Style” or “Methods of Writing: Analysis and Research”. The result: I started college knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my major, and I had the academic background for it.
Strong study habits. Mom was (and still is) a fabulous teacher, but I didn’t always have curriculum with built in study guides or fill-in-the-blank notes. I learned how to outline textbooks in middle school, and high school brought on organized flashcard systems and the ability to create my own study guide based off of notes. By the time I started college, I already had a structured and effective study system in play. Which is why I spent six hours my first day of college reading ahead for classes… It definitely paid off in the end.
Subject Comprehension. Since I was homeschooled all my life, I never had to deal much with standardized testing. I was able to focus on learning my subject’s content and on connecting it to other aspects of my studies instead of just memorizing things for state exams. While much of college is cramming for midterms and panicking over bad memory during finals, things like exit exams ride on a student’s ability to make connections between four years worth of classes and to synthesis that knowledge into a degree.
Academic honesty. Cheating was not a thing in my homeschooling household. In high school, I was baffled by acquaintances who referenced cheating with a wave of the hand. Growing up in a family that valued education helped cultivate a responsible attitude that has backed my academic work in college. Cheating is never an option, and missing an assignment is out of the question. Knowledge is worth more than any price, and I was raised to treat it with utmost respect– something professors appreciate in a sea of “I couldn’t care less” students.
In the end, those questions of “can you handle it” turned out to be just as silly as the pajama one. Why was I scared that being homeschooled had disabled me? The “real” world of college isn’t about following instructions blindly– it’s about learning how to read the labels and understand the methods behind them. College isn’t about classrooms with same age peers and a professor– it’s about becoming a responsible adult who faces life with a plan. Turns out that being homeschooled was what enabled me to start a successful collegiate career.
And there we have it, five ways being homeschooled helped prepare me for college.