In a matter of seconds, it was done. At the sound of my name, I walked across the stage, received a diploma from the school president, returned to my seat, and turned my tassel with the rest of my graduating class—the culmination of my undergraduate degree.
Throughout my twelve homeschooling years, my parents wondered whether the education they provided would be adequate when it was time for me to attend college. As I review my undergraduate experience, I realize that my four college years were possible largely because I was homeschooled. I believe that homeschooling gave me an edge over many of my peers, especially during my first year at Taylor University.
Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschooling provided me a chance to study at my own pace and work toward deadlines, pushing myself to learn as opposed to just cramming for tests or throwing together a last-second paper. Sure, my parents encouraged me to work hard and do well, but the emphasis lay on my achievement to succeed. I didn’t have strict class schedules, study halls, and periods to organize my day. Rather, I knew that I had to work exceptionally hard if I were to finish everything given me each week. This independence prepared me perfectly for the pace of college where I faced fewer classes each day and deadlines on a syllabus. I knew that I had to work ahead of time to get things done. I excelled my freshman year when many of my classmates struggled to find the motivation and desire necessary for success.
Not only did I reap the benefits of self-discipline but I also had an advantage of a broader background than many of my classmates. I had taken worldview, Bible, church history, and language classes that had prepared me better than the average undergraduate freshman was prepared. I tested into a Spanish class made up entirely of juniors and seniors, had a familiarity with church history that only a few students from private schools had formulated, knew the Scriptures well because I had been blessed with a great Bible curriculum in high school, and could write better than many other students. During my freshman year, I saw other students struggle to keep up with the academic rigor, but I was more than prepared to handle the added workload and requirements. I do not mention this out of vanity or pride, but rather out of a desire to laud and encourage those parents who try to provide the best education possible to their sons and daughters.
Response to Homeschooling Stereotype
When people hear that I was homeschooled throughout high school, their response is almost always, “Really? You don’t seem like you were homeschooled.” The stereotype that homeschoolers are socially inept due to minimal interaction with their peers during their formative years causes many people to assume that they will go to college and hole-up in a room to avoid people because of innate introverted tendencies. While I was a bit less outgoing than some students were the first year, I would not say that I was socially incapable or overly awkward. I adjusted to classes, made friends, and embraced dorm life while having an absolute blast. My parents did me no social disservice by teaching me at home.
My parents’ encouragement to stretch myself outside my comfort zone gave me the impetus to go after numerous experiences and positions that augmented my education. I tutored at Taylor’s Writing Center, participated in and ultimately co-led the discipleship program in my dorm, played in almost every intramural possible, was a two-time freshmen orientation leader, helped to produce a school sponsored literary journal, traveled for two weeks on an academic trip to Turkey, and spent a semester studying abroad in Israel. I see that without my parents’ example of a full Christian life and their advice to seize opportunities to better myself, I would not have enjoyed college as much as I did.
A Word of Encouragement
Having just completed my undergraduate degree, I look ahead to future graduate studies. I am thankful that my parents homeschooled me. I realize that what I have accomplished would not have been possible without their loving support, instruction and correction, and their willingness to educate me at home rather than entrust that sacred duty to someone else. For parents who struggle with the decision to educate your children or who wonder whether to continue educating through the high school years, I encourage you to stick with it. It will not be easy, but the rewards are worth it. If done well, your kids will be more than prepared for whatever further study they choose to pursue.
Robbie Maakestad graduated from Taylor University in 2012 and is pursuing a Masters of Creative Writing at Ball State University. He loves to worship God as he writes and desires to instill this passion in others. Robbie was homeschooled by his parents, Debbie and Jim, from grades one through twelve.