Here is a population you might not know much about — the kids who grew up homeschooled and are now attending your university. I’m one of those kids.
I’d like to share some of my experiences and bring in other people to share some thoughts as well. I’m hoping that this glimpse of our lives and stories will help you understand and learn more about this part of your student body.
When it comes to what things looked like day to day, I would split this up between pre-high school and post-high school. My mom’s approach has changed as the years have gone by, but this is what it was like before high school: we had homework by ourselves and then mom would teach us as a group. For the part of school I did by myself, I remember sheets with schedules written on them outlining what homework we had each day. For “together school” — which was when my mom would teach my siblings and I as a group — my fondest memories are of the parties we would throw when we were learning about different countries. We would decorate the house and make delicious food at the end of learning about one country. Having school alone and then in a group happened every school day, as far as I can remember.
In high school, things were more intense. The students pretty much worked by themselves unless they needed mom’s help. There was no “together school,” and the work you had to do on your own took longer. In high school, all four years had a formulated schedule of the things that needed to be done each day, but this could be changed as needed. I remember my days back then primarily being filled with school.
My three sisters close to my age have always been the common denominator in my social life. Here are a few examples to show you what this looks like: we all work at Hobby Lobby, and we are always excited when our boss schedules the four of us for the same shift. The most recent time this happened, we worked the closing shift, and we found each other afterward and stood in a circle to give each other fist bumps. I have found sweet notes in my register drawer from the one I call my closing buddy forever, because our boss frequently schedules us for the closing shift together. Recently, another sister and I were studying at a coffee shop and she wanted to go on a walk, so we went on a walk together. A couple weeks ago, another sister and I went to a retreat with the college ministry we’re a part of, and that was incredibly special.
I think college was always the plan. I am now finishing up my third year here at our university, with a minor in Spanish and a major in English. After graduation, I’m hoping to pursue either teaching English as a foreign language or teaching Spanish as a foreign language. I am happy to share life with several people who grew up homeschooled who also attend UNO, one of whom is Joshua Rothfuss.
Joshua is a freshman here at UNO, majoring in computer engineering. I asked if he felt there was anything people needed to know when it comes to perceptions or stereotypes of homeschoolers, and he said he does not strongly dislike any of the stereotypes or perceptions, aside from homeschoolers “actually learning stuff” being a surprise.
To this, he says: “Yeah, we do actually learn stuff, and it’s stuff that I want to learn.”
I asked him how college has changed him, and he said he had not been around large peer groups before.
“I now have to interact with people …on a much more broad scale,” Rothfuss said.
He mentioned trends he is trying to be more on top of in order to “be more relevant” and to “talk with more people.”
He said he is majoring in computer engineering because he finds physical science and technological advancement to be endlessly fascinating. He said he is thankful that being homeschooled allowed him more time to invest in these things.
His cousin, Hanna Rothfuss, also shared some thoughts. We have known her for about three times as long as we have known Joshua. Hanna will be graduating from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in English in a few months.
She said that being able to push herself to do things on her own in school while forming friendships “with people of different ages, and in different stages of life” are all things about being homeschooled that prepared her for these four years.
Hanna also said there are things that college has done when it comes to helping her grow that homeschooling has not. She shared that she has gotten much better at research at UNO.
“It has been so helpful to learn from professors who are experts in their own field because they can be so knowledgeable about specific areas,” Rothfuss said.
A snapshot from this semester: I am sitting at a table in the Milo Bail Student Center. I have my headphones on and they are playing sounds of rain and piano, and outside my window is some sort of sleet or rain mix that is making the trees look fuzzy. Across from me are my sister and one of her classmates, and a couple chairs down from me is Hanna. They’re all having a nerd conversation about books.