From Homeschool to College

“There’s always one really good water fountain in every school,” says my friend.

“Yeah, at my school it was the kitchen sink,” I say.

A third friend takes a second of reflection before saying, “Oh yeah, you were homeschooled.”

This is a song and dance I have done many times during my four years at Kenyon. Basically, my life has become one big homeschool joke. I don’t mind, but it’s a strange feeling when all my friends are discussing what happened in their traditional public or private high schools, and I spent my entire life, up until college, doing school at home or through online charter programs.It was a decision my parents made that I didn’t really even question until I reached high school. Though a good number of my friends went to public school, (even my childhood best friend transferred from homeschooling to a Catholic academy when she got to 9th grade) no one really questioned it. In fact, most people tended to forget I didn’t go to a regular school, each assuming I went to a different school in the area. I think this is because I don’t fall into a stereotype they’re presumed about homeschoolers: I’m not super religious or incredibly sheltered, and while my social anxiety is not to be ignored, I’m not socially inept.Because of this, most of my friends and peers assumed that I was just a gifted student or incredibly smart. This wasn't necessarily the case. It’s hard for friends, even ones I have now, to see the benefit or understand why parents like mine would choose to teach their kids at home when their children would have fit in at any school. Growing up, I witnessed my mother asked over and over how she could deny her children “socialization” when in fact, we participated in many activities over the years, and moreover, we interacted with a greater number adults than we probably would have in a traditional setting. I think this is why, later on, I would always be referred to as incredibly polite, because I was already well-versed in communications with my elders.

Laughably, the response I seemed to hear most from my peers was how they couldn’t believe I’d miss going to prom, which overlooked A) the fact that many of my friends at public school didn’t attend their proms, and B) many of my homeschooled friends attended prom at their friends’ schools.

The transition to Kenyon wasn’t hard. I’m an auditory learner by nature, and I like to hear lessons spoken to me. While I hadn’t spent much time in a brick-and-mortar schoolroom, I understood the social cues and the expectations. I fell into the routine easily. The strange thing is, I’ve only met one or two other homeschooled students at Kenyon. For whatever reason, I seem to be one of only a few who speak to that experience.​By now, my senior year, it’s almost difficult for me to see how my early education helped to shape my undergraduate one. I am a naturally self-motivated learner, and I am independent. Perhaps my hate of group projects spurred from my lack of a group in middle and high school. Maybe none of this has to do with the setting in which I learned. At the end of the day, I feel like the largest way being homeschooled has affected my daily life is my general difference in my experience when compared to that of most of my friends, and it gives me the opportunity to use my sense of humor to incorporate that part of me into the conversation.

 

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