Homeschool Alumni Interview: Don't homeschool to avoid the world
I am currently 22, a white female in Texas. I was homeschooled my entire life, through 12th grade. Personally I have no religious affiliation and am the only person in my household. I am still in the $20,000-$30,000 annual range financially. I attended Texas Lutheran University where I studied Communications Studies and graduated with honors.
I am currently working in the antithesis of homeschooling—standardized test administration! I also work weekends as event staff. Generally I work 50-60 hours weekly.
The Basics About Your Homeschool
Why were you homeschooled?
My mother’s initial impulse to homeschool came from her utter disdain for the future teachers she encountered while pursuing her bachelor’s degree.
Was homeschooling financially difficult on your family?
Not having a parent work outside the home meant our income suffered. My parents, however, were frugal for the sake of frugality and therefore regardless of income our lifestyle would have been much the same.
Was attending public school an option?
My parents strived to follow the example of Mike Pearl and No Greater Joy ministries as closely as possible.
The only curriculum we used was for math, for which we used Saxon math through Algebra II.
Did you have multiple siblings that were homeschooled?
I had a brother who was 2 ½ years older than I and a sister who was 1 ½ years younger. (In the following statements, my middle child complex will become quite evident.) The most meaningful way that this impacted my education was watching the aggravation that my mother and brother went through as she attempted to teach him algebra. Neither were mathematically inclined. I resolved to sidestep dealing with this myself by teaching myself algebra, which gave me a strong sense of control and discipline regarding my education that served me well in college.
Do you think your parent/parents were qualified as educators?
My dad did not participate in our education. I would say my mother would be qualified to educate in the areas of literature and music but not in science, math, or social studies.
A Day In Your Life
There was little structure in our days beyond a few tasks that had to be accomplished before the end of the day.
A “day in the life”
I like to consider my homeschooling career as having two distinct phases, roughly coinciding with two different places where we lived. The first lasted until I was about 13 years old, 7th/8th grade. During this phase, we had a bit more structure with handwriting practice and spelling quizzes. Initially myself and my siblings were involved in a homeschool soccer league. None of us were particularly adept or driven to be competitive in soccer. We began music lessons, guitar for my brother, piano for myself, and eventually violin for my sister. My sister and I also took ballet and my brother took Karate. We were strongly encouraged to read as much as possible, particularly historical fiction and classic literature.
When I was 13ish, we moved a few hundred miles south. In the following phase, there was very little structure. The only academic structure in our lives was math-related. We no longer participated in dance, karate, or music. Eventually we became involved in biweekly classes at another co-op, where we took biology, physics, chemistry, pre-calculus, and calculus. This was the most structure we were ever to have.
Did you feel like homeschooling provided you with enough experience to be considered “well socialized?”
I and my siblings were the archetype of the badly socialized homeschooler. To this day my 24-year-old brother cannot be described as remotely ‘socialized.’ For a long time our greatest social outlet was church, which predictably encouraged us to be self-righteous little egoists with no consideration for others’ perspectives, thusly greatly exaggerating the perspective already encouraged my homeschooling.
I and my sister were able to drag ourselves out of this pit, although with different levels of success. Society is something that one needs to build up a ‘tolerance’ to. If you throw someone into it without letting them build up a tolerance first, that experience can make someone crazy. My sister and I both went crazy.
Loneliness is the best word to describe my social experience. I have recently come to terms with the fact that I spent a long period of my life deeply depressed. I am a natural extrovert and not being able to interact with people meaningfully made me miserable.
I wasn’t particularly keen on my extracurricular activities of soccer, piano, church groups, or the occasional community play. I developed a hobby of writing and wrote multiple novel length manuscripts in high school, compensating for my lack of interesting experiences and social interaction. During my junior and senior years I wrote a complete novel-length manuscript that was about 360,000 words.
Any experiences of feeling out of place?
I had so few interactions that I seldom had the opportunity to feel out of place.
Society & Family
Did you dread being asked “what high school do you go to?”
I still dread this. Once, if someone found out I was homeschooled, they would say, “Oh, well, that makes sense.” Now, they act surprised. If they say, “Really, I never would have known!” my day is made.
Did you have to deal with ‘judgement’ from society about being homeschooled?
No one judges me for being homeschooled as hard as I do.
Did your extended family support the decision to homeschool?
No. Recently I was happy to tell my dad’s mother that I wished my parents had taken more of her advice regarding us.
Key Insights From Your Experience
The "bests" parts
Ultimately, like everything else in my life, homeschooling has contributed to my current identity, which I am happy with.
Did homeschooling offer you opportunities you wouldn’t have had in public school?
I am glad that I got to spend as much time as I did writing and reading and was able to be an active participant in my own education.
The worst parts
I spent years of my life depressed. I will always suffer from self-loathing due to my suppression. I am ashamed of my diploma. You might be thinking, “Well, this girl’s problem is not that she was homeschooled, but that she was depressed. Depression can happen to anyone and it’s not fair for her to blame it on homeschooling.” This is a valid point, and one which I will counter with the fact that I and both my siblings have suffered not only from depression but from depression to the point of being suicidal. These are not numbers that imply coincidence.
Did homeschooling limit you?
Homeschooling limited me socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. By not attending public school, I think I missed a decent shot at happiness.
Do you think homeschoolers have less exposure to new experiences, ideas, and fields of study?
Yes. See: Creationism. See: Anti-Vaccination. Both these stupid ideologies have a lot of support in homeschooling.
Transport back in time, what would you tell your mom before starting homeschool?
My mother is so ridiculously stubborn I would be unable to convince her of anything. My best bet at not being homeschooled would be to travel back far enough in time to convince my dad not to marry her. That way, I would either a) have a 50-50 chance of being raised exactly the same by my mom or being raised in public school by my dad or b) never exist. I am comfortable with these options.
Were you able to focus at home? I was able to focus better then than I am now.
Did you ever ‘cheat?’ Why bother? My mom gave me straight As on my transcript regardless. I actually had to argue her down to a B in one subject because I felt it was a more accurate depiction of my performance in a certain subject and I felt so awful about that transcript to begin with.
Best pieces of advice
For homeschool parents? Don’t f***** homeschool your kid.
For homeschool students? Hang in there. It feels like forever now but it will get better. Focus on your grades and study habits. Invest in your future.
Highlights and favorites
Favorite book during your high school homeschooling years? “The Left Hand Of Darkness” by Ursula K Le Guin.
Favorite book from your early years as a homeschooler? “Catwings” by Ursula K Le Guin and “The Witch Of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare.
What was your favorite curriculum or course? Math. It made me feel in control of my life.
Was there a subject that you were glad you tackled as a homeschooler? I am an academically oriented kid so I was pretty happy in all subjects, but mostly in math and science because they got me out of the house.
Recommendations for homeschool parents
Not to homeschool. You can receive the same educational results much more easily by framing your kid for a crime and letting them be educated by America’s Juvenile Detention system and the same psychological results by forcing them to watch dismember their pet with a chainsaw.
We were taught creationism as science and hyper-evangelical gender roles as social studies.
What do you believe is the relationship between religion and education? I would describe this relationship as “inverse”.
Do you think that your parent’s religious beliefs (pro or con) were forced upon you? Absolutely.
Is there anything else you want to share regarding beliefs/religion and homeschooling? If you think that homeschooling is a surefire way to indoctrinate your kid into your religion, you are badly mistaken.
Homeschooling’s Impact On You
Do you think you were “sheltered?” Yes.
Do you think that homeschooling impacted you as a ‘lifelong learner?’ Post-homeschooling, I was eager to go to college and prove that I really was intelligent and hadn’t just been spoiled into thinking that I was. Fortunately, I was able to do so. In this regard I am the exception of my siblings.
If you could do it over again, would you pick homeschooling? No.
Will you homeschool your children? I will not have children, but if I did, I would not homeschool them.
What was the most formative/impactful thing about homeschooling? Homeschooling indoctrinates you with paranoia, cultish beliefs, and egoism. That I was strong enough to get away from it is a source of immense pride.
Did homeschooling give you more free time? Yes, but it didn’t give me anything constructive to do with it.
Questions about after homeschool graduation...
Did homeschooling prepare you for college, academically?
I was prepared for college academically but that was not due to homeschooling. It is due to the control I took of my education and my own motivation to succeed and correct my mistakes.
Looking back, would you do differently?
I would have taken a few more CLEP exams so I could have had more time for fun electives.
What was the college search like as a homeschooler?
Pretty simple. After taking my SATs I got a lot of college mail and applied to all that looked interesting.
What was the application process like?
Fairly simple. I can’t think of a particular instance where the process was more difficult for me than it would have been for anyone else.
Any schools to avoid?
I can only speak to my own school, Texas Lutheran University, which was excellent.
How should homeschoolers prepare before college?
Look for friends to split housing with so you can avoid both living with your parents and living in exorbitantly priced dorms. Start moving all your property—bank accounts, insurance, car titles—into your own name. Locate birth certificates, medical records, social security cards. Work a job and don’t spend the money on stupid things. Work two jobs over the summer. The end is nigh!
I received a 1520 combined and a 2200 cumulative on my SAT. I had a 32 on the ACT. Standardized tests are very important to homeschoolers because we cannot be judged based on class rankings. For me the best preparation was taking practice tests and studying the format of the tests in advance.
If you have/had a job, do you think your educational background had any influence on any aspect of the job hunting/application/interview process? No.
Does your education as a homeschooler have any resonating effects that influence you on a day-to-day basis? My depression resonates through everything I do, but fortunately I have the self-loathing down to a dull echo.
Your Closing Thoughts: An open platform
Do not homeschool because you think that the public school system will squash your child’s originality/education/sense of wonder. Every day in your kid’s life, the world will try to do this. Your kid needs to be able to be original BECAUSE of the world’s dullness. They will need to know how to learn REGARDLESS of their academic environment. Your child will be much better served by you teaching them how to turn a public school environment to their advantage than by you removing them from that environment.
Do not homeschool because you are afraid of the world corrupting your child. You can’t escape corruption anywhere, and your kid needs to become acclimated to living in a world where people do stupid and evil things.
Do not homeschool to indoctrinate your child religiously. This simply does not work. The harder you try to ram something down someone’s throat, the more likely you are to trigger their gag reflex. And when someone is violently purging themselves of religion, they can damage themselves far, far worse than if they never had it to begin with.
The only reason to homeschool is if, for whatever reason, your child asks to be homeschooled. Even then, this should only be considered as a temporary fix. We all have to learn to live in this world, and by denying your children that, you cripple them.