If you’re a BJU student reading this article, then there’s a high chance that you were home-schooled. Currently, homeschool graduates make up 34 percent of the entire student body, including 33 percent of the freshman class.
But home-schooled or not, most students question their level of preparedness when they step onto a college campus for the first time. But, for home-schoolers, this question of preparedness is even more pronounced.
According to the Institute of Education Sciences, only 3 percent of students in the United States were home-schooled in the 2011 to 2012 school year. If 97 percent of people were doing something differently from you, you might be a little hesitant. Is everyone else learning something you’re not? Are you going to start college and realize you’re missing some vital piece of information?
Even so, most BJU students who were home-schooled say home school provided them with something invaluable: flexibility. And they don’t mean being able to stroll into the kitchen at 11 a.m. in their pajamas to work on a few math problems before their afternoon siesta. No. Most of them used the extra time in their day to go above and beyond in activities that benefited them and their community.
Matthew Arnold, a senior engineering major, pursued Motocross, a physically demanding and time-consuming sport. Arnold said he and his brother would have never had time to work out, practice and compete in competitions with a traditional school schedule.
“Lots of guys who competed had to really sacrifice academically to compete, but we didn’t have that problem,” Arnold said.
Likewise, Rose Johnson, a senior biblical counseling major, pursued a number of activities: piano, ballet, 4H and one particularly influential one, TeenPact, a program that allows home-schoolers to get involved in their local government. The program also offered different leadership conferences throughout the country that Johnson wouldn’t have been able to attend as a student at a traditional school.
“I was a junior in high school, and I knew people all across the country,” Johnson said.
Erik Hanson, a senior science education major, was able to pursue piano, organ and guitar, while also working part-time at a nuclear power plant.
Besides flexibility, these former homeschoolers say that their parents had a big impact on the success of their primary schooling. Each of the students had parents with a strong desire to expand their children’s horizons. In addition, each of the students had parents with backgrounds in education. These parents had the training necessary to teach their children with excellence and knew the kinds of activities that would be most beneficial to their education.
And, when the parents weren’t confidant in a subject area, they were sure to supplement them with tutors. For example, Arnold mentioned that he had a number of people who were skilled at upper-level math who would help him. Arnold is now an engineering major with a job lined up at an automation factory.
Hanson also had parents with deep education backgrounds. “My parents had the training so they basically could have taught all my subjects,” Hanson said. As an education major himself, Hanson said he would be interested in home-schooling his own children one day if the situation was right. Finally, a third benefit of home schooling comes from the ability to ease into college.
“There’s no extra credit for starting a year ahead of everyone else,” Arnold said.
Several students were actually able to take a year off in between their high school graduation and the start of their freshman year in college. But again, this wasn’t to waste time. Hansen used the time to take some online classes, gain work experience and help at a summer camp. Arnold used his time to further his interest in robotics and volunteer at a fire department.
These students are evidence that with the right mixture of desire, self-motivation and proper parental guidance, home schooling can be a powerful tool, more than capable of preparing students for college.
Knowing this, the University is looking to expand its already substantial efforts to reach home-schoolers.
“The University has always tried to recruit home-schoolers, but now that effort is being expanded even further,” said Samuel Hawkey, who oversees the recruitment of home-schoolers in the Office of Admission. These new efforts include a special upcoming home-schooler recruitment day and a partnership with the Creation Museum in Kentucky, a venue often frequented by home-schooling families.
Hawkey said he would love to hear any feedback from students on ways the University could do an even better job of recruiting home-schoolers. Students can contact him at Shawkey@bju.edu.