The summer of 2009 found my dad and me embarking on a 1,200-mile trip across prairies, through deserts, and into a suburb of Los Angeles, where I would be attending a private university. During the twenty-four-hour trek from Kansas to California, I had plenty of time to mull over the typical questions that college-bound students ask themselves: Will I make friends? Will I be good enough for the program? As someone who had been homeschooled through high school, there was one more lingering thought: Will I be as prepared as my public-schooled peers?
Throughout high school, I had encountered many naysayers who questioned whether homeschooling could adequately prepare me for college, from the overly nosy hygienist at my dentist’s office to the local high school admissions counselor, who refused to give scholarships to home-schooled students. Their skepticism made me wonder if homeschooling could truly prepare me to be a well-adjusted, competent college student.
It’s been a year since I graduated from college, and I can officially say that the skeptics were wrong. Homeschooling not only prepared me for college, but it also enabled me to excel. There are five reasons why this is true:
1. Homeschooling taught me to value learning.
One of the main things my parents emphasized while home-educating my siblings and me was that learning is an enormous privilege and responsibility. Education should never end when a person receives a diploma but rather continue to deepen throughout his lifetime.
Homeschooling not only taught me about worthwhile subjects such as math and history, but it also taught me about the necessity of cultivating a learning-centric mindset and growing daily in “knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9).
Homeschooling is not a money-back guarantee that a student will value learning. It affords an opportunity to partake in a challenging and rewarding form of education, but students must consciously choose to be good stewards of this gift.
Because of homeschooling, I learned to appreciate the gift of learning, which meant that I took my education seriously in college. Rather than complaining about general education requirements, I enjoyed the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the world in which I live. Hard work and dedication have continued to pay off as I pursue my current goals. Homeschooling not only prepared me for college, but it also enabled me to excel.
2. Homeschooling taught me to be self-motivated.
Being homeschooled enabled me to actively participate in my education. Rather than having a teacher who set all deadlines for me, I was responsible for completing projects on my own in a timely manner. Instead of waiting for someone to tell me what to do, I took responsibility for my own growth.
This mentality of initiative and independence served me well on the collegiate level. I finished assignments ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute, which meant I turned in high-quality work instead of half-hearted attempts. I met with professors to gain feedback and insight as I considered career options. I pursued internship opportunities outside of my college rather than waiting for someone to offer me a dream position. Parents can encourage their students to be self-motivated by encouraging them to take an active role in their schooling. Students should work to cultivate a mindset of initiative that will continue to guide them throughout their lives.
3. Homeschooling taught me to think for myself.
In the midst of a society that pushes people to conform, the ability to think for one’s self is an incredibly important asset. Homeschooling taught me to think critically, deeply, and analytically about the world around me. I learned to value the pursuit of truth above my previously held convictions and ideas and to critically analyze what I believed and why I believed it.
College is a wonderful marketplace of ideas in which students will be exposed to lifestyles and belief systems different from their own, and it can stretch and expand students’ horizons by introducing them to new ways of thinking. Rather than being pressured by groupthink, the critical thinking skills I had gained through homeschooling enabled me to think for myself. Instead of believing something just because everyone else did, I was able to figure out why I believed what I believed. I learned not to accept everything just because I read it in a textbook or heard it from a professor but rather to become a student dedicated to seeking truth.
4. Homeschooling taught me to work hard.
During high school, I completed difficult coursework instead of choosing subjects I knew would be easy for me. I sought out classes that were challenging and stimulating. This practice equipped me for the world of college academia.
Homeschooling taught me the importance of striving for excellence rather than settling for good enough and trained me to be diligent in things both big and small. I was well prepared for the creativity required in film school because of the countless hours I had spent making movies on my own.
Homeschooled students should strive for excellence in their current studies. Those interested in attending college should also study hard to prepare for standardized college admissions tests.
5. Homeschooling taught me to achieve my goals.
Homeschooling provided an environment in which I could delve into the topics I was interested in and allowed me to dedicate significant time to pursuing my personal interests and hobbies. It enabled me to travel to speech competitions, complete internships while in high school, and work at a part-time job. I learned . . . to become a student dedicated to seeking truth.
High school students should think about what they want to achieve and how they can work toward these goals. They should take responsibility through planning ahead: writing down a list of goals, developing character traits, reading books about certain topics, or shadowing a professional in the area they are interested in.
Homeschooled students who are diligent about valuing learning, being self-motivated, thinking for themselves, working hard, and achieving their goals will find themselves well prepared for the rigors and challenges of collegiate life.
Copyright 2014, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Annual Print 2014 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.