Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Homeschoolers in College

Rivers Street Tunnel,  Appalachian State U.

Three of my children have already graduated from college and my 4th is a college senior this year.  All homeschool graduates, attending state universities.  All successful in navigating both college academic life and college social life.  All lived on campus for all or part of their college years, worked campus jobs, were active in intramural sports, ROTC, clubs, campus life. Three worked as RAs for  part of their time in college. 

What prepared them to be successful?  I'm not sure.  We aren't that special. They are not geniuses.  We did raise our children to be leaders, and gave them opportunities to build leadership skills through team sports, Boy Scouts, summer camp jobs, lifeguarding, and being part of a family that serves the lcoal homeschool community in various ways.  They entered college with a maturity that helped them to make good choices, focus on what was important, choose friends wisely, and work hard. As parents, we let them make their own decisions regarding classes, and didn't get involved with professors or making sure they were doing their homework.  That was expected. 

They each changed majors at least once in the process.  All but one managed to graduate in 4 years - 8 semesters -  except one, who needed one extra semester to finish. They have all pursued very different things - not a surprise.  Engineering switched to Political Science.  Interior Design switched to Photography with minors in  Media Studies/ Graphic Design.   Computer Science changed to Marketing changed to Sustainable Technology changed to Computer Information Systems.  Athletic Training switched to Child Life, transferred to a different college, and landed in Child Development - Family and Consumer Sciences.  

None are working in the field of their degree.  
 **I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing, as the education plus other experiences they received definitely prepared them for many things. Something to consider.

Our homeschool style is rather relaxed, but they each took a few outside classes during their high school years that gave them experience with other teacher's styles, expectations, deadlines, etc. Three of the four took a couple of community college classes, utilizing the dual enrollment program. The college credits earned were nice, but the primary benefit was learning to navigate a small college campus and schedule.   We did not do AP courses, nor did they take CLEP exams.  We did read widely, traveled some, encouraged a learning mind-set no matter where we were.  They learned to play musical instruments, took care of a pet, were expected to help with household chores and did not have TVs or computers in their rooms ( this was before smartphones ; they didn't get laptops until after high school graduation -  things are a little different with the youngest now, and we have to make smartphone and laptop rules)  

All but my oldest, who was an ROTC student, took out some student loans.  My husband and I paid half of the remaining amount, and my children earned money to pay the other half.  They did not have cars, so that eliminated a major expense. They found small scholarships to help -  the electric company,  department scholarships for their majors, Jr. Woman's Club, etc.  We are not one of those families whose kids earned full scholarships to college. I wish.  Nor are we rich. My husband makes a nice salary, but helping put our kids through college has meant sacrifice. Our house is kind of falling apart around us.  We don't take vacations.  We live pretty frugally. It is a season.

I guess I would characterize our family dynamic as encouraging excellence without being rigid;  using common sense when setting boundaries and limits, and offering increasing freedom as maturity was proven; laughing hard together;  fostering an attitude of gratitude over things big and small;  centering life around family above anything else, and celebrating each person's interests and achievements as a family; living out our faith in how we treat people and in the life choices we make; showing affection; living generously.  Perhaps these things played a part in their success. Perhaps it was just God's grace. 

We're not done yet. Our last child will graduate high school next year and then embark upon his college years.  His siblings will give him plenty of advice, I'm sure. That's how we do things in this family. 

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