Full time job.
That’s how it’s supposed to go, right? Or at least, that’s the stereotype. White picket fences, a school teacher mother, a lawyer father, and two perfect children. Starting at the age of 4 – sometimes even younger – locking kids up in a brick building for 8 hours a day until they’re 18, then expecting them to choose a path for the rest of their lives. Sending them off to another institution and expecting them to have magically acquired the skills to lead an adult life – cooking and feeding themselves, managing bills and jobs, going to class and having friends. In my experience, the focus often ends up slightly skewed so students end up fluent in the languages of frat parties and Thirsty Thursdays, but perhaps not so familiar with car insurance and lines of credit. It’s so predictable, this formula that society has told us is “normal” – the only “correct” way to live a meaningful life.
What if I told you that was a lie?
What if I told you that you didn’t have to be a slave to homework for 12 years before heading off to college?
What if I told you that you could live a fulfilling, enriched, meaningful life, even if you skipped a few steps on that list?
What if I told you that I skipped several steps on that list, and yet here I am, a functioning 20 year old adult. I manage a part time job, go to school full time, and even have time for my friends and hobbies.
And then, what if I told you that I was homeschooled?
Homeschooled students don’t grow up to be normal, do they??
Now you’re sitting there, trying to come up with everything you know about homeschooling. I’ll help you out with a few stereotypes here, in case you can’t come up with them on your own.
Children in abundance (probably 8 or more).
Denim skirts for the girls; overalls for the boys.
Sweeping farm lands behind the house.
Teenagers with the worldly experience of a tree stump, and the social skills of a poorly trained house cat.
Abusive, manipulative, controlling parents.
No Harry Potter/dark magic/Disney.
“Gosh darnit” being considered harsh language
Garbage-scrounging children with no supervision (often how homeschooling is portrayed on TV)
Shall I go on?
If you feel heat rising up your cheeks in embarrassment after reading several of your homeschooling ideas on that list, please don’t click away. The vast majority of people have no contact with homeschoolers, and there’s often no place to experience the world of homeschooling unless you’re neck deep in it yourself.
This is where I come into play, and is exactly why you’re reading this post right now. In my life, I have already skipped several steps on the list of pre-approved life choices, namely:
1) Elementary school
2) Middle school
3) High school
And believe it or not, I have even attended
though in a slightly unconventional manner.
This all leads me to the big question here –
What is this blog all about?
Well, to answer that question, I need to tell you a bit more about myself. I was homeschooled for 12 years. When I graduated, I started attending QVCC, a local community college. I graced the halls with my presence for two and a half years (insert a sizeable dose of sarcasm here) before I graduated again, this time with an Associate’s Degree. I now commute to UConn, hiking around the campus while dragging my computer, stacks of books, and an umbrella, (because of course the only days I’m on campus are the ones it will start downpouring) while I work on a Bachelor’s Degree.
I think that the idea for this blog has been festering for years, revealing a slightly more concrete edge here and the corner of a foundation there, after every judgy question I heard – questions like “how were you socialized?”, “how can you do high school level work at home?”, “how will you ever be ready for college?” and “did you do school in your pajamas?” However, there were two main catalysts that really rocketed this blog into existence.
I’m shadowing a Cardiology Physicians Assistant when I find myself talking to another PA staff member. He’s older (in his 60’s), and seems very worldly. He appears open-minded and polite, so when I mentioned being homeschooled I was floored by his response.
“If you were homeschooled, how did you learn to respect other adults that weren’t your parents?”
I’ve been asked many frustrating questions about homeschooling throughout the years, but this question took the cake. I was infuriated. I was angry. I was so blown away by the ignorance of the question that at the time, I could do nothing but stutter my way through a half hearted explanation of my years spent socializing through dancing. And with that comment, I just knew that I had to educate people about being homeschooled. I didn’t know how, or when, or in what format at that time, but I just knew that I couldn’t be passive in perpetuating the ignorance many people have about this valid alternative educational choice.
I’m meeting with my UConn advisor. I’m a junior, with one semester at UConn already under my belt and 83 credits transferred to UConn from my community college. I’m applying for a competitive program in Dietetics which only accepts about 18 undergrads per year, and we’re discussing the aspects of my transcript and resume that would help me get into the program. My advisor is complimenting me on my A in Organic Chemistry, and said that four straight A’s in my first semester at UConn was really very critical for my acceptance into the program because…
“You need experience at UConn. Sure, your grades were very good at QVCC, but they weren’t ‘UConn A’s’. The committee needs to see how you function here before they’ll even look at you, so it’s a good thing you didn’t just try to get in straight from community college.”
I was infuriated. Me and my 3.98 GPA from QVCC stormed out of her office together, knowing that now I didn’t need to just talk to people about homeschooling, but also about community colleges. That night, on my hike to my car, I called my mom and told her I wanted to start a blog.
And now you’re all caught up.