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Leaving home: JBU homeschooled community speaks pros and cons

Homeschoolers are a hidden community, but not a uniform one. Each has their own unique experiences, challenges and advantages garnered from home education. Homeschoolers stay fairly hidden on the John Brown University campus.

“It doesn’t make you any different than anyone else,” said freshman Ely Wynn. “Sometimes they might think you’re super-intelligent, and I’m far from that. I’m just a normal person.” Wynn said that on coming to college, studying came easier for him, but that unlike one stereotype of homeschoolers, connecting with people on campus wasn’t a problem.

Students from a homeschool environment come to college with a different skill set than those from public or private schools. What differences in achievement are there between homeschoolers and other students in college? If homeschoolers really do achieve more, do they pay for it in other areas? Several homeschoolers attending JBU weigh in to share their own experiences.

Freshman Ashley Grant was homeschooled from fourth grade on through high school. Her family had moved to a new town two years earlier when Grant’s parents decided to switch her and her brother into homeschool.

“My brother was struggling in school, and my dad said I was bored.” Grant said when she came to JBU she did have some culture shock, especially in large group settings, but that it was lessened by her having taken classes outside of the home before that.

“I’m not a fan of large crowd, though I don’t think that’s necessarily related to homeschooling.”

Grant described how homeschoolers might be at a disadvantage to others because they were sheltered growing up. “I like to think the best of everyone, so it’s hard … for me to grasp that people really want to hurt other people.” Grant said that though homeschoolers might have a small advantage over others in time management because homeschoolers often have to learn on their own, homeschoolers were not somehow better than other students. Instead, they “just learn things in a different setting.”

Sophomore Lynnette McClarty was homeschooled for her entire academic career. “I don’t think that being homeschooled has hindered me with fitting into the JBU community at all,” she said.

McClarty struggled initially with going to lectures, because the professor would just repeat what was written in the textbook. She did find it easier to have the self-discipline to manage her time and get things turned in on time, because throughout most of her academic career she already had to teach herself.

“I think it’s just something that I take for granted, though,” McClarty said about homeschooling. “I don’t purposefully broadcast it, but I don’t hide it, either.”

“I don’t really categorize people in my head as homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers,” McClarty continued. “It’s just, oh, we’re all here at JBU and having a good time.”

Junior Matthias Roberts appreciated the way that his homeschool career prepared him for college. “I think there’s fear in the unknown,” he said, and although he was partly afraid of coming to college and finding out everyone was smarter or that he couldn’t fit in, he found neither to be the case. He said one con for homeschooling is that “you definitely get taught a very one-sided view … of the world.”

Roberts explained some difficulty he had in college, as the views expressed in classes didn’t fit with the views with which he’d been raised. However, Roberts also said that because of his upbringing he had the skills to work through questions that came up. “I feel like I’ve come to a … broader worldview and one that I think is probably more accurate than what I was raised with.”

Freshman Isaac Elmore also had a very positive view of how his homeschool experience influenced him. He said that homeschoolers actually tended to be more outgoing than other students, explaining: “in a lot of ways you’re stronger at doing that than if you’re just placed in a setting with all these people that you automatically are kind of friends with.”

“As long as you have a balance between knowing the world but not being in it, homeschooling is definitely the way to go,” Elmore said.