This may sound off the wall…I don’t usually write about homeschooling. But I’m also very proud to have been homeschooled and now homeschool my kids. As a result, I’ve got a heart for those who are homeschooling. Having both perspectives gives me a unique view.
The other day I got an email newsletter from a homeschool mom who has developed an expertise in preparing our kids for college — a very needed niche. But she wrote something that bothers me. She suggested that homeschooled teenagers going to community colleges is a very bad idea. After listing several reasons, I knew she firmly believed her position, but it still bothered me.
I started college at a community college at the age of 16. The smartest thing my parents did was support me in my dream of starting college then, but also by being extremely firm that I would do it from home. Fortunately, North Platte has Mid-Plains Community College and I was able to take a full load of classes there while still living at home. Here are a few reasons that I plan to follow the same course with our kids.
1) I was able to test everything I learned at home in the college environment — but with the big advantage of being able to come home and get added resources and arguments as needed. For example, I was prepared for evolution to be part of the coursework in science, but when the first day of world history emphasized evolution, it threw me. But I was able to go home, dig up books, and bolster my arguments with my mom to bounce them off of.
2) I wasn’t an oddity as a young student. People really didn’t care that I was a couple years younger than the norm, because a community college is by its very nature a mix of traditional and returning students.
3) I had amazing opportunities in the much smaller classes to test my academic and leadership abilities. The development of both led to scholarship at the university and my first nomination for the Truman Scholarship. And my younger age actually made me stand out in the hyper-competitive Truman environment, while the leadership experiences I gleaned and grades I earned completed the package.
As we’ve cleaned and rearranged the house, I actually found my letters of recommendation and application for the Truman scholarship. The letter I received from the then executive director encouraged me to reapply because of the way I stood out. And the only reason I could reapply is because I’d first been nominated as a community college student. Usually, the award is for juniors from four-year institutions.
4) It let me work through many of the issues students are confronted with at college while still at home. I had the accountability of both parents and formed positions that served me well at UNL. To me that just seems wise.
5) The classes are small. Have I mentioned that? I got 90% of the freshman and sophomore classes out of the way — in classes with 20-40 students rather than 200+. I also had the accountability of being known…I couldn’t slack off because the teachers knew who I was and were watching. Talk about helping me develop great study habits. I also learned that it was okay to speak up in class. My instructors actually encouraged it.
As homeschoolers, we invest years in our children. Why not help them ease into independence?
So I can see the other arguments. Really. But at this point still plan on the community college transition for our kids.