As a home school graduate working for a university, one of the most common questions I receive is, “Was it difficult transitioning from home school to college?” I always smile as I answer a resounding “No! The transition was seamless.” Home school students often come into college well prepared academically, but the college transition requires more than good grades. Whether your student is headed to community college or a four year university, here are three tools that made my own transition seamless and can do the same for your rising star:
1. Reading-Focused Curriculum
Most home school educations already require extensive reading, a factor which has proven helpful for graduates who attend college. The academic requirements of higher education are heavy on reading and composition. Home school parents can provide their students with a distinct academic advantage by utilizing reading lists (divided by subject, classics, fiction or nonfiction – whatever suits the student’s strengths and academic needs) to give their child a ‘bird’s eye view’ of their schooling. Reading expands a student’s understanding of a topic into how that topic interacts with and affects other aspects of life; for instance, a historical fiction book about the Civil War may contain some economic factors and scientific inventions from that time period. In addition to obtaining a broader perspective, students who read often show better writing and composition skills, better understanding of language (both oral and written), and superior critical thinking skills. Much of the basic material covered in English 101, Sociology 201 and other lower-level college classes will be familiar to a student who was an avid reader in high school, contributing to a better grade point average and more rewarding college experience.
2. Socially-Focused Lifestyle
While the common myth of ‘home school socialization’ has been proven a misnomer on many fronts, the transition from home to society does require some intentional training. Students transitioning from home to college (or any other life transition, such as a full-time job or mission trip) should be prepared to interact with people of many ages, beliefs, and vocations. Some home school students find their peers – the 18-24 year old demographic – the most difficult with whom to socialize. A socially focused home provides training for respectable behavior in work, school, and free time.
What does ‘social focus’ look like, practically applied? A few ideas might be to host parties in-home: harvest parties with games, Super Bowl parties with yard football, bonfires, or, if you are limited on land, movie nights, cook-offs, or Bible studies. Incorporate into daily curriculum principles of manners: how to set a five course table and meal, how to dress for formal, semi-formal, and business casual occasions, and how to introduce one person to another. All of these principles and events will be helpful to a student during the transition to the business luncheons, networking parties, and career fairs often an integral part of the college experience and job search.
3. Future-Focused Worldview
In higher education there are students who borrow wisely, and students who ‘over borrow’ when it comes to financial aid. One of the contributors to ‘over borrowing’ is a student who has no idea what he wants to study! Frequent changing of a major can change scholarships, alter degree completion plans, and take a student anywhere from a semester to years longer to confer his degree, multiplying his need for loans along the way.
It is never too early to ‘cast the vision’ for your children. Find their interests and pour into them! A middle school interest in poetry could blossom into a journalism career; your 12-year-old son’s small engine business could be the beginning of a mechanical engineer. They may need to try and fail throughout middle and high school before they find their niche, but once they do, their passion will make the college transition smooth and seamless. Lifting their eyes to the ‘big picture’ and designing an education centered on their strengths will make the home school years not only enjoyable, but also the perfect launching pad into the vocation God has designed for them.
Phylicia Duran is a 2008 home school graduate and alum of Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university. Her educational background includes dual enrollment, CLEP testing, community college, online courses and residential study. She has filled the roles of Admissions Counselor, Social Media Coordinator and currently Coordinator of Group Visits at Liberty University and is passionate about spiritual and vocational discipleship, especially as related to home education.