Thursday, January 8, 2015

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This college thing is tricky for homeschoolers

All my kids' friends are college age right now.  Some about to graduate, and a few still to enter college. From my own kids' experience and observing and inquiring into the college journey of their homeschooled friends, I have come to the conclusion that college can be difficult for homeschoolers, and while many make it through completely unscathed, very many become disillusioned quite quickly and struggle or drop out.

Just starting with the fact that they are homeschooled and used to doing things in a way that makes sense to them and only them, bending to a teachers whims and quirks is off-putting and difficult to maneuver. In short, the freedom they experienced as homeschoolers, can cause problems when it disappears suddenly when they reach college. All of a sudden things that have never counted, and probably should not count are deal-breakers.  My own son was penalized greatly for things like, not using the plagarism check tool correctly and thus losing a grade point, not taking a screen shot of a completed test, and therefore failing an important test that the program somehow glitched and deleted, And while he was a genius (if I say so myself) at computer art, he had to prove himself in craftier art classes, and that didn't go well either.  It's all very confusing and can be unfair to these kids to jump through hoops that just don't make any sense at all.

Then there's the old college fit. We spend years perusing lists of homeschool friendly colleges, and finding a schools that feel like a good fit for the kids, only to find that our kids are unhappy.  That christian college we thought would nurture our kids doesn't quite feel so Christian in practice.  Those scholarships offered now have unreasonable strings attached. Or it could just be that since you and your kid were more inseparable than most mom-kid pairs, and now they are not happy not being home or not being with you.

The good news is that about 60 percent of homeschoolers I know, at least, have gone to and remained in the very same college they started in.  The rest either left altogether, or transferred at least once in their college career.  This percentage is no better or worse than the rest of the population though, so that's good.  Be encouraged.  College is a crap-shoot for everyone, it just feels more painful for homeschoolers when things aren't quite right because we tie our self worth as parents and homeschoolers to how our children fare when the leave the home.

So don't get freaked out if your kid asks to transfer at the end of their first or second semester.  Don't flip your lid if your kid fails or almost fails a class or two. Don't fall into despair if your kid tells you they don't want continue in college but instead want to get a job.  At the same time, don't rush to bring your kid home if he or she tells you they are struggling, and don't let them lay around and do nothing if they withdraw from school.  They are adults now. They have to have a game plan if they are not going to college, they have to be making forward progress.  

Finally, I said this before, but it surely needs repeating... don't tie your success as a homeschool parent to your kids' academic success post homeschooling. At the same time, don't lord you child's post homeschool success over other homeschoolers, because that's not fair either.  Just know that you did your best to bring out their best qualities, because as homeschoolers, that really is our goal isn't it?


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