We’ve all heard the stereotypes about homeschoolers, right? You know, the assumptions people make when they find out that you’re one of “those” families. A lot of times, people’s curiosity about (or disapproval of) homeschooling may reveal itself in the many questions they ask about your children’s future welfare. They may ask, “Don’t you worry that they aren’t at the same level as their peers?” or “How will they know how to compete when they get to college?” Maybe you’ve come across people who automatically associate homeschooling with a lack of social experience or skills. Honestly, I’m glad that this stereotype seems less popular than it used to be, but it’s definitely still out there! Those concerned queries are still fluttering around in response to homeschooling: “How is she going to meet people her own age?” or “Doesn’t he need to be at school, learning to make friends?”
In reality, almost every former homeschooler I’ve known (myself included) had plenty of friends and did well in college. Furthermore, I don’t think I’ve ever met a former homeschooler who didn’t impress her employer, particularly as a young person in a first job. A 2009 study by the University of St. Thomas showed that not only are homeschoolers more likely to finish college than their private or public school peers, but they also tend to have higher GPAs. Beyond academic success, however, many homeschoolers find that the same qualities which helped them succeed in college also carry over into building successful relationships and doing well in the workplace. Here are 10 reasons why homeschoolers are uniquely prepared to handle the transition into college and adulthood.
1. They know how to be their own bosses. Homeschoolers know how to be self-starters and prioritize their time. After all, they learned growing up which subjects took them longer and which they could complete more quickly. They also learned that, if they worked hard and relentlessly, they could make their own schedule and enjoy some time to pursue other interests. This quality makes it way easier for homeschoolers to adjust to a college schedule, which is less taken up by in-class time but has much more demanding academic tasks alongside a plethora of social activities. Homeschoolers already know their work-style and how to balance business and fun….which makes all of this a lot less overwhelming.
2. At the same time, they know how to respect the boss. Because everyone knows you should respect your teacher and you should respect your mom….But when you grow up with your mom as your teacher, you are going to have a pretty good idea about how to be respectful in general.
3. They tend to be perfectionists. When you’re homeschooled, there aren’t dozens of other students around to watch and compare yourself to. However, you know what you are capable of, and so does your teacher, and you are pushed to that limit.
4. They’ve got an arsenal of skills and interests. I think a lot of people would really be shocked by the sheer number of crazy-awesome things most homeschoolers know how to do. As a teenager, I led a writers’ group, took dance most nights of the week, taught ballet (to help pay for my own classes), sang in the choir, was on a drama team, and was part of the youth leadership team of my church. I knew another homeschooler (through my writers’ group), who was a professional-level blacksmith at the age of sixteen. Another homeschooled friend was a math whiz and helped his dad analyze stock market trends. My husband and his siblings (also homeschooled) did a ton of interesting things growing up, too. He found a love of aviation as a teen and was able to learn how to fly planes before he even had a driver’s license. Having a wide variety of developed interests like this is good for your résumé and is fun for conversations…but I think it also makes you a happier person.
5. They know themselves. While a lot of twenty-somethings go crazy trying to “find themselves,” most former homeschoolers already seem to know who they are. I think this is probably true for a lot of reasons. The ability to independently find that balance between work and play probably has something to do with it, and so does family support (homeschoolers tend to have close relationships with their parents and siblings). They’ve also got an edge on the self-discovery thing from the unique opportunity they’ve had to pursue their interests and passions.
6. They know about relationships. It’s true that kids who grow up in public school are constantly surrounded by large groups of other kids in their exact age bracket, which can make it easier to find friends fast during the growing up years. However, it gets a lot harder for most people to make new friends once they’re officially out there in the “real world” (without the shared bond of a crazy chemistry teacher as a conversation starter). However, homeschoolers have always made their friends out in the “real world” and are used to striking up conversations with others of all ages. In my first job out of college, I was younger than all of my co-workers by at least twenty-five years, but I was able to be friends with all of them pretty easily, which is something I attribute to homeschooling
7. They’re always learning…even as grown-ups. Homeschoolers are kind of like the romantic poets, you know, like Wordsworth, who went out into nature and found a whole new philosophy in the daffodils. Ok, so maybe that one’s only for the lit-nerds (like me). But the concept of finding learning in every experience holds true for all the former homeschoolers I know. We are always thinking about what is going on in terms of things we’ve learned about: history, politics, psychology, science, etc. I think this is because so many homeschool parents really know how to personalize learning by connecting it to their children’s interests. Once homeschooled, always homeschooled, in a way; the learning never stops, but that’s fine with us because learning is fun!
8. One-on-one is not intimidating. Did you know that Oxford and Cambridge University both use a learning model called the “tutorials system”? It’s pretty much a one-on-one mentor/mentee learning situation where a student gets to learn from an expert in his or her chosen field of study. I did not learn this until I studied abroad at Oxford as an undergraduate. Each week, I’d read a list of books, write a paper, and then walk through the streets of Oxford to meet with my “tutor,” who would pretty much make my brain start working overtime with the questions she would ask. I actually loved it, because it allowed me to focus intensely on what I was learning and really challenged me. It also felt really familiar…..You see, homeschoolers are used to one-on-one conversations about about what we think and why we think it. That’s a pretty important skill in academia, in job interviews, and in marriage, too, for that matter.
9.They can teach. At some point, most homeschooling situations experience a shift from parental instruction to more independent learning. By this point, homeschoolers know how they learn and are pretty good at teaching themselves. If you can teach yourself by figuring something out, then it’s not too hard to teach it to others either.
10. They’ve got family values. Responsibility, respect, caring, and accountability are some of the attributes former homeschoolers are likely to demonstrate. Homeschooling parents have the unique opportunity to make the values which are important to them a valuable part of their children’s educations, entwining lessons like how to be a good son or daughter, sibling, friend….even husband or wife, into the daily curriculum.
These are just 10 of the reasons I think homeschoolers rock at college and adulthood. As a former homeschooler myself, I know that my homeschooling experience shaped me in so many ways, academically and socially, which have continued to be helpful in life.
How about you? How do you think homeschooling makes a positive impact on our children as they grow up and have their own lives, jobs, and families?