|Posted by [email protected] on August 15, 2014 at 8:55 PM|
So here I am: I’ve finished my first year of college (a state university away from home). Sure, the transition was big—who would say going to college isn’t a big change? I’ve gone from seeing my family every day, all day, to calling them once or twice a week and seeing them about once a month. I’ve gone from having few non-Christian friends (none of whom were my own age) to having a group of friends that mostly consists of atheists and agnostics. And I’ve gone from studying at home, largely on my own, to going to classes in a variety of buildings, interacting with all kinds of people all day long. I’ve frequently encountered the bias people hold against homeschoolers, whether it be in playful mocking or in my housemate’s sincere surprise, “You interact with people so well!” when she found out I’d been homeschooled all my life.
Some people think homeschoolers are sheltered—that their parents homeschooled them in order to protect them from the “evil influences of the world.” If that was indeed my parents’ goal, they failed; but, somehow, I don’t believe that was at all my parents’ intention. Far from being sheltered and unable to adapt to an unsheltered college life, being homeschooled gave me the skills and understanding I needed to interact successfully with the variety of people with whom I come into contact daily and for the classes I am now taking.
Homeschoolers are a minority. Whether you look among neighbors or friends or people you meet at the store, homeschoolers do not make up a large segment of the population. Consequently, we tend to be stereotyped. We sometimes face discrimination and alienation due to the way we have been educated. We have to accept that people will often not understand us nor be able to completely identify with us. Some examples I’ve encountered are the advice from a waitress on why homeschoolers won’t be able to make it in the world—because they won’t know how to act around people. Or the naïve questions from people who have only ever heard of homeschoolers but who don’t know any personally. Or even the jokes from friends that serve as frequent reminders of the fact that we aren’t like everybody else. We’re different. It wasn’t by choice; we usually didn’t have any say in the matter, but it’s now a part of who we are.
I am not interested in seeking sympathy for homeschoolers. Far from it. The understanding I have of the world, coupled with a strong education, has given me an unexpected advantage in my own transition out of homeschooling and into college. Here at university, my interaction with Christians is limited. Instead, I live and interact with Muslims, atheists, a moral relativist, a nominal Christian, and a girl who doesn’t care about God. I spend most of my free time with a group of atheists and agnostics who delight in picking on Christians. Unfortunately, most of the Christians with whom I am friends are so accustomed to hanging around other Christians that it’s difficult to identify with them most of the time—the struggles they’re facing are so completely different from my own.
How does this relate to being homeschooled? I have come to realize that the lessons I learned as a homeschooled minority are equally true to those of the Christian minority. As a homeschooler, I am so used to being a minority, to not being understood, to having many people be biased against me that I think I have an advantage over the freshmen here who attended some of the public schools or private Christian schools. Being part of the homeschool environment, I learned how to interact and identify with all types of people and across generational lines. This, in turn, has made it easier for me to adapt to being a Christian minority.
Just as I am proud of being homeschooled and therefore not afraid to let people know about it, I am proud of being a Jesus-follower and equally not afraid of letting people know it. Friends and strangers often make jabs at homeschoolers, but that doesn’t bother me or make me less willing to tell them I was homeschooled. In like manner, people at school make frequent jabs at my being a Jesus-follower, but I continue to introduce Jesus to them.
Yet, in all the transition and change, I’ve never once regretted being homeschooled. In fact, I think I may now have more pride in my home education than ever. And while I will be the first to admit that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, I am sincerely grateful to my parents for making the sacrifices they did to give me a unique education that has prepared me well, not only for college, but for life beyond the educational environment. As the diploma given to me upon my graduation from Teske Academy states, “Soli Deo Gloria.”