Earlier this week, a friend of mine reached out to me about homeschooling. They told me that they were currently going through the decision process on whether or not they want to make the switch. Since they knew that I had just graduated as a homeschool student, they wanted to ask me some questions and get my opinion. After reading over them, I realized how great of questions they were, so I decided to share them with my answers as well.
Did you miss anything about actual school after being away from it?
In the beginning, the transition phase took some getting used to. I missed my friends and the social aspect of school a lot, but I didn’t miss the actual learning part at all. I kind of struggled with feeling left out at first, so I would go visit my friends for lunch or go to different sporting events. About a month or two in, those feelings started to subside, though.
Is being lonely as big of a factor as some people make it out to be?
I think it totally depends on the person. For myself, as I already mentioned, I struggled with feeling left out in the early stages of the transition. Within a couple of months I got over that, but I’m going to be really honest. You will lose friends. Over time, it becomes harder to relate to each other and keep the friendships going. When I made the switch, I had about a handful of friends. Now, three years later, I don’t talk to a single one of those people. Personally, I think losing those friends was the best thing that could have happened to me. It taught me independence and how to feel secure in myself. If you do feel like you’ll struggle with feeling lonely, some homeschooling programs offer co-ops and sports. You could even meet people at church or work. You can put yourself out there if you start to feel lonely.
How was the work load each day?
With the program I chose, things like my work load was customizable. Each week, I was given lesson plans for what should be accomplished that week, but I didn’t have to do it exactly how they had it set up. They didn’t give me specific days to get it done, it was just there for me to work on and finish by the end of the week. However, if I didn’t get it done, I wasn’t penalized for it. They just would do that to try to help me stay on course to be done by the end of the school year like everyone else. Overall, the load wasn’t heavy at all. I could get all of my classes, which was about 4 or 5, done in a couple of hours.
Did you have a hard time adjusting to your schedule?
No, not at all. The good thing about homeschooling is the fact that you get to make your schedule. You figure out when you want to work. I learned that I worked best towards the afternoon, so I would give myself all morning to do whatever and then start plugging away after lunch. But, you don’t have to do the same exact schedule every day. If you want to go shopping or hiking or whatever one day, go do it. You don’t have to adjust to your schedule, your schedule adjusts to you 😉
What was the best/worst part about being an online student?
The best part about being an online student was the freedom. I didn’t have to spend 6 hours in a classroom like everyone else. I got to sleep in or go out and hike when I wanted. Online school, or homeschooling, also taught me how to be a more mature adult. I got away from the social teenager crowd and learned how to be my own person. Pretty much the only negative thing about homeschooling that I can think of was the videos my homeschool program had me watch. To teach me, they would have me watch videos of people giving a lecture, but they were dressed up in outfits doing annoying voices and such. I told my advisor that I didn’t like that, so I switched to learning from books and liked that a ton better.
Did you miss being able to have a graduation ceremony?
No, I didn’t. My homeschool program actually holds an optional graduation ceremony at their headquarters every year. I was invited, but it was a few states away from me, so I opted out. They still sent me a cap, gown, and diploma with a holder upon my request.
Is it harder to apply and be accepted into colleges being homeschooled?
I didn’t think it was difficult at all. It’s your responsibility to make sure you find a school to take the SAT/ACT at because that’s what matters when it comes to getting into four-year colleges. Since I chose to go to a tech, I didn’t have to take either one of those. All they did was have me do a simple placement test. I literally applied to my college 3 days before classes started, got in, picked my schedule, and was present on the first day. I had already been showing up to my classes for about a week before my acceptance letter even made it to me in the mail. Obviously, this won’t be the case for everyone, but the idea that homeschoolers have a hard time getting into colleges is a complete myth. In some cases, it’s easier for us than it is for public/private school students.
Was it hard to unenroll from your other school?
No, the process was easy. In fact, it wasn’t even a process. My mom and I thought we would have to sign papers or something, but it was nothing like that. All we did was walk in, say I wanted to unenroll, get a simple “ok” back, and that was it. The entire thing took like a minute.
I think it’s important to explain that I chose the online homeschooling route where I was responsible for myself. My parents didn’t stay on top of me or have to grade papers. Everything was done online. When I switched to books, it was basically the same thing, except I was reading books instead of watching videos. All of my assignments, tests, and quizzes were still online. My homeschooling journey might be different from others. Some programs may be more strict or more lenient. It’s important to think about what you want in your homeschooling experience and look at your options from there. I loved homeschooling, and I would do it over again if I had to.