College Preparation in the Homeschool Setting
ST. EMMELIA WEST CONFERENCE, APRIL 2018
MARRIED 30 YEARS, MOTHER OF 9 CHILDREN
3 COLLEGE GRADS (ALL TEXAS STATE University)
HOMESCHOOLED FOR 23 YEARS; STILL HOMESCHOOLING
Interviewer: Could you tell us again about your kids that have gone through college or are in college?
E: Yes, I have three children who have graduated from college and all three of them will be going on to graduate school in one form or another. They all did the junior college route. For me junior college is a perfect transition. Besides being cheaper, it gives them a halfway place before they’re ready to go to the university. It fixes any learning gaps or anything that was possibly missed in homeschool. For example, we didn’t do laboratory science at home, but they got there and they did fine. There wasn’t any problem. Our homeschool was stronger in literature and history, but two children did science technology in college, and they’ve been straight A students.
E: And for us the transcript thing in Texas is much simpler. You just make up anything and give it to them and that’s it. So it really doesn’t matter. They test them anyway and put them where they need to be. The one problem we had is that I used a lot of older literature and that messed up their writing. They’re good writers but because they were using English spelling and old style grammar and sentence structure, the computerized tests messed them up. So they had to start at a lower level, and then the professors would say “You don’t belong here.” So that’s the biggest problem we had. And also a math curriculum we used was good curriculum and good for self-learning, but it did not teach for that entrance test. So we’ve had trouble there, where the material we used didn’t go well with computerized placement tests. It’s not that they didn’t know the subject matter – they did, and they did fine in their courses.
Interviewer: So what was your main focus when you were preparing them for college?
E: I didn’t have the mindset of preparing them for college per se. I’d let God decide where they needed to go and let them find their own direction.
Interviewer: So what does that look like though? Did you talk to them about leaving all doors open?
E: I was on survival mode! I was still having babies and breastfeeding when my oldest children were preparing for college. So it’s not quite that orderly and they know it. They had to be self-directed and know what they wanted, and I would do my best to support them but they really had to do it themselves to be honest.
[Other Panelist]: Self-made people. The best kind.
E: Yes, well I think that’s why they did so well in college because they wanted to be there. They’re interested. The professors love it because everybody else is just passing time, they don’t care. While the homeschooled kids are engaged, they’re interacting with the professors, they are there and they want to be there.
Interviewer: Okay so you’ve all said this, you’ve all talked about self-directed kids and I know our [final panelist] would say the same thing. So do you think your kids were successful because they were naturally self-directed and motivated, or do you think some of that can be attributed to the homeschool setting?
E: I think the homeschool lifestyle encourages it, at least certainly in my case.
Interviewer: I know it can be a mix.
E: Yeah, it wasn’t because I taught them how to be self-directed. It was just because they had to be, in order to survive. My children – with our situation – had to be self-directed to a large extent. Also when they get to junior college and college, it’s a fresh new experience. They’re excited. And then they’re surprised they can actually do pretty well! Maybe their mom didn’t seem that good as a teacher, but maybe it actually worked!
Interviewer: Yeah, I didn’t ask this, but do you think your kids were nervous that they were going to be prepared?
E: [panelist turns to her adult college graduate in the audience and asks:] Were you nervous going into college?
[son of panelist 4]: I freaked out a little bit during the placement test. I didn’t realize it was going to scale the difficulty when I gave the right answers. So I got to this point where I was actually doing calculus and I didn’t recognize it, so I broke out into a cold sweat thinking, “I'm bombing the placement test.” But I actually did okay. The panic was more at the beginning because I didn’t realize how the placement exam worked. Once I actually got into class, it really wasn’t a big issue.
Interviewer: So going through the process now with several kids, would you do anything differently or are you staying the course?
E: I am not as gung-ho about college as I used to be. I’m disappointed there are agendas there. I don’t think college is right for every child. I think for girls there are a lot of temptations there, too, as far as values – careers vs. traditional family life. I really think that with college you have to know what you want, and go there and get what you want. You can’t just go because everybody does it. You have to have a purpose, so that you can overlook these other things. I don’t think it’s a place just to spend time anymore; there are too many temptations. My kids went through and they all stayed chaste and they were fine in that department. It’s just the mentality, you know. I think with girls I’m more wary, to be honest, just from my experience. My oldest daughter got through; the culture didn’t influence her. I have another daughter now who is college age, and she’s not going to go to college. She may do trade school, but it looks like she may just get married. And I’m okay with that. I think it’s good to have fallback skills, but I don’t think you have to develop those skills from college. I developed a business, but I never went through college. There is so much available now that college isn’t essential any more. I think we’re still thinking in an old way, and we need to start thinking outside of the box. Because everything you need that you get at college you can also get on the internet. You just need to have direction and know what you want. It would be nice to have an apprenticeship where someone can help you in a direction, but I don’t think you have to go to a four-year university anymore, unless you’re doing certain things where you have to have certifications or the degree.
Interviewer: Any advice or encouragement?
E: It's just like they all said: it’s easier than you realize. My kids did great, and I think, for the most part, they did enjoy it.