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Homeschool to College: A Look At One Girl’s Transition

Today’s guest post is from my friend Rachel. She’s written before about her courting journey and today she’s sharing about her transition from homeschool to college. 

I am a Sophomore in college, working towards an Associate’s Degree in English, planning to pursue something in the writing field:  Journalism, editing, or writing Christ-centered books and devotionals for teenage girls.

I am just a normal 19-year-old horseback-riding, homework-doing, wedding-planning, deer-hunting, child-loving, Jesus-adoring, Pennsylvanian country girl.

So what is the difference between me and many of my college peers?  

The transition from homeschool to college from the eyes of a new college student

I began homeschooling at the age of four and graduated from a home-education “program.”  (My being a Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian with an opinion always has an impact too.)

Let me just add though, that my transition from high school to college seemed to be an abrupt one—as was my introduction into adulthood, come to think of it……

Most kids are affected by gradual changes that lure them into a false sense of security of being a grownup.  Mine however, was a sudden moment of panic when I was thrown into the whirling waters of maturity and had no choice but to swim.

What takes most kids 2-3 years to experience, I underwent the “trauma” in only 2 short months.  In that minuscule period of time, I entered into a serious relationship with my now fiancé Brian (we just got engaged on July 17th, I graduated from high school, I bought my own car (which depleted most of my savings especially since it needed work done), I got my driver’s license, I had to pay insurance for the first time, I got a credit card, I enrolled full-time in college, went back to work, and my birthday finally made me a legal adult.  That was one crazy-busy summer, and it dumped more responsibility on me than I had ever imagined possible!

With all that “drama” of becoming an adult still fresh in your mind, let me rewind for an instant and explain what a typical day in my life as a homeschooler looked like:  I would groggily awake each morning somewhere around 8:30, take my good old time eating cereal before doing my barn chores, then grudgingly return inside to “do school.”  I had the liberty to choose which subject to study first; usually it was history, closely followed by English.

I would finish a subject, piddle around for a few minutes, check Facebook or grab a snack, and then begin the next subject.  I began schooling at about 9:30am every day and ended around 2pm, making my school day roughly 4.5 hours long.  After schoolwork was finished, I would do some chores, chat with friends, play with the animals in the barn, etc.

Now, back to the present. Enter, me, as a full-time college student.  My school-days go much like this: 

The alarm blares at 6:45am, warranting an immediate groan of annoyance as I glare at the clock before punching it.  I hate mornings.  Can you tell?

From there, I rush around the house packing lunch/snacks, matching clothes, and fighting with my unruly curls…only to give up in an exasperated frenzy and settle for apples, jeans and a ponytail.  What a prelude to the upcoming hours that never cease to be as strenuous.  I then drive half an hour to campus, taking shortcuts and trying to avoid school buses in my hurry.  I rush into class just before the professor enters, breathlessly taking my seat.  I will sit quietly in this chair for the next 75 minutes of my life, trying to follow along the best I can, but unable to help from wondering if it is possible for a human to perish from boredom.  If it is, surely, I would be the first victim.

You see, this is math class.  I hate math.  Who needs to know how to count in Babylonian numerals or how to compute in Base 7, 46, 19 or 3?  Clearly, I did not choose this class or it would have been Creative Writing 201.  The instant the big hand on the wall clock points to 9:15, the classroom is eerily vacant, save for the stunned professor at the whiteboard who helplessly stands watching papers wafting gently to the floor.  I have a 30 minute break in which time I sit in the “cafeteria” with a hundred+ other students who are enjoying loud chatter and listening to music.

Then it’s the next class.  This week in Biology, we have studied how public sewer systems work, where our “crap” goes and how it’s treated before being disposed of.  There was enough potty talk in that class to make a girl sick.  Thankfully, the effusive lecture was interrupted with another half hour break, during which time I ate my apple, texted my fiance and used the restroom—of course, not without picturing Gettysburg’s sewer system as I washed my hands.  My mind is slowly being corrupted.

Onward, to Speech class.  When I thought there was no hope…I was finally dismissed and sped home.  It’s now 2pm; is my work finally done?  Ha, not even close!  I still have hours’ worth of homework from each class whose conceited professors believe they are the only ones in my life.

I read lesson after lesson, write more essays than I can count, and study so intensely that I forget the time until I’m interrupted for dinner.  I take a short rest, only long enough to eat, chat with my parents, and harass my brothers. Then I’m back at it.  9pm comes and Brian calls to Skype.  By 10:30 I’m in bed, asleep, so I can do it all again tomorrow.

So…….

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What are some of the differences between college and homeschooling?

The biggest difference, simply put, is time:

  • I study for at least 9 hours a day instead of 4-5 which literally gives me no time for anything else; there are far more distractions; less freedoms;
  • I cannot choose my schedule like I could at home; each class lasts longer as there is more material to cover; I cannot move at my own pace;
  • I have an hour commute each day instead of simply wandering down the stairs; and for some reason, it is not deemed appropriate to appear in class wearing my barn clothes.

Did Homeschooling Prepare You for College?

In many ways, yes, it did.  My mother never took any nonsense so I was accustomed to doing things I disliked.  Therefore, if a project was required, I would do it; no questions asked.  She also instilled in me determination and dedication.  I am also a perfectionist, so I am easily frustrated if I receive a grade less than I anticipate…additionally, I will not quit until I have done the best I can do.

If I have to stay up half the night to finish an essay, so be it—I will get an ‘A’ on that assignment and I refuse to quit until it’s finished.  (Several of my classmates bragged about how they stayed up watching a movie the night before our English assignment was due, so at 2pm they started writing it.)  I knew not to procrastinate in high school but never entirely understood the necessity of getting work done sooner rather than later until being handed 5 classes’ worth of homework. I figured that if an assignment got done immediately, it would not stress me out later.

I have no social-life while in college because homework takes 9+ hours a day, but I have been rewarded by making the honor role each semester and getting the highest grade in one of my worst classes.

So in those respects, I was prepared, although the amount of schoolwork and book reports was somewhat unexpected.

Did you know how to study when I got to college?

To an extent, I did.  I had the basic concept but had no idea how much time it actually required and demanded.  In high school, I could study before taking an exam in the subject, but studying the night before and refreshing my memory in the morning was challenging at first when the exam was for my very last class of the day.

Retaining the answers for 6 hours without notes/flashcards was a skill I had to learn; but, I realized, if I could recall information for the exam 6 hours later, odds are, I’d have a good chance at scoring decently on the test.  So as far as retaining information for extended periods of time, I was initially caught off-guard, but otherwise, I had the general idea.

All in all, my study habits have been perfected, I am learning how to cope under stress, and my issue of time or the lack thereof has been managed.

Have you or your children transitioned from homeschool to college? How did it go?

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