One Homeschooler’s Shocking Transition To College, And How She Fought Back

by Katie England - Colorado State University Pueblo on August 28, 2013

A Colorado State University Pueblo student gives an honest account of her journey from being a homeschooled K-12 Christian to entering the bowels of a secular university.

“Wow. You’re such a homeschooler.”

I will never forget the way those words cut into me. Eighth grade girls have never been known as the most compassionate people on the planet, and the popular girls on my eighth grade volleyball team were no exception.

No matter how hard I tried to get around it sometimes, being homeschooled from kindergarten all the way through high school made me different.

I was always the one who had not seen that movie, heard that song, or been to that place.

In high school, things got a lot better (don’t they for everyone?), but I was still the innocent, the one whose ears people would cover if they were going to talk about anything even borderline inappropriate.

I never got invited to the parties that involved alcohol, and was shocked sophomore year to find out a girl my age was pregnant. She’s pregnant? I had not even had my first kiss yet.

I was sheltered, yes. So imagine how it felt for me to transition directly from that environment to a secular college campus.

Did being sheltered really make me “unprepared” for the bizarre environment that is the average college campus today? Or did it prepare me – just not in the way most people would expect?

I will be the first to admit that there are challenges, big challenges, involved in going directly from homeschooling to secular college.

Making friends was definitely not easy for me. I am naturally an introvert, and add to that the fact that I did not have a ton in common with the average college kid, it was a struggle at first. As someone who is naturally shy, college presented hurdles for me that have nothing to do with having been homeschooled.

I did not get the full effect of the transition, since I continued to live at home while I commuted to a junior college nearby. My experience might have been a lot different if I had moved away from home and lived in dorms.

Probably the biggest challenge for me in the transition to a secular campus was coming face to face with people who disagreed with me on issues I held sacred.

One of the best parts of homeschooling is you can teach your kids from whatever curriculum you want. My parents chose A Beka, a respected and academically rigorous curriculum in which everything is taught from a Christian perspective. For example, I learned God made the universe – that humans did not somehow evolve from primordial slime. And every single textbook, regardless of subject, rigorously taught Christian theology and morals.

So to come into a classroom and hear a teacher tell me that the human body evolved over millions of years? That was hard for my mind to comprehend.

Hearing a fellow student give a presentation on why homosexuals should be allowed the same marital rights as heterosexuals? I was astounded.

But, rather than immediately dismiss or accept views that were not mine, I became a counter-cultural agent. Every school project and presentation became a way for me to show my worldview to an environment that seemed bent on engulfing me.

Once I transferred to Colorado State University Pueblo, things got even better.

I took a women’s studies class, and you can imagine their reaction when my final project was on abortion’s negative effects on women. I think I am the first person who ever tried that in that class, which is sad if you think about it.

So, did homeschooling “prepare” me for the “college experience?”

I believe it did.

It did not prepare me to get smashed every weekend, engage in casual sex, or try every drug known to man. It did prepare me to counter culture, a skill with which very few kids come out of high school equipped.

I am not saying I would definitely raise my kids exactly the way my parents raised me, or that I would never consider any method of schooling my own kids besides homeschooling.

I am saying, as a successful college student with good grades and, yes, friends, that I would not change the way my parents brought me up, or how they chose to educate me.

It prepared me to stand out.

Fix contributor Katie English is a student at Colorado State University Pueblo.

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  • Christina Watkins

    I’ve had two kids so far go from homeschooled-through-high school to community and state colleges..and they’ve had a great time. Their traditional Catholic curriculum prepared them to fight the good fight of defending their moral beliefs, and even got them discussing evolution vs. intelligent design with science professors. One surely does feel like a bit of an oddity, but in college, it’s often “cool” to be somewhat different.

  • http://www.qmbarque.com/ QM Barque

    Thank you for this. Your parents taught you to think instead of conform. If there were more teachers like that in the world, there’d be no need for homeschooling.

  • Tina O’Connell

    The problem is kids are not protected from the nasty of this world enough and not given the foundations in faith that can keep them strong enough to not desire the crap in this world like the drugs or drinking. Praise your parents! It was not the norm or easy to do it but they did the best for you that you could have. Your life will be better for it and your eternity as well I hope my friend. Thank you for sharing.

  • c matt

    … a skill with which very few kids come out of high school equipped.
    Like constructing grammatically correct phrases as the one above. Bravo to your parents.

    • nullifidian

      There is nothing ungrammatical about ending a sentence with a preposition. It is a spurious rule that was originally invented by long-dead grammarians intent on making the English language conform with Latin. The clause you highlight is one of the four cases (a passive structure) where an end-sentence preposition would sound much less stilted.

      http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/

    • Common Sense

      Obviously you have not had a college writing class where you peer review your ‘peers’. Those people have graduated from high school. So, what’s your point?

    • Tim Rowland

      So… if you’re the grammar police, you are reading out of the wrong rulebook, Matty. There is nothing grammatically incorrect in her writing.

      What horrible thing has the homeschool community done to you that you hold such hatred in your heart for them?

      Snark is a window to the soul, Matty, and yours is not pretty.

  • Tim

    Thanks Katie! we are hoping that homeschooling our kids will not only keep them from the evil that most kids think is normal, but we want them to have the answers no one “in the box” can see. We want them to questions lies when they are presented like they are facts because you cannot solve the problem with the wrong variables. Thanks for your article!

  • Jason

    Excellent article. Thank God for homeschooling. The rotten secular culture is defended by screeching phantasms–stand up to them!

  • Bira

    Regarding your women’s studies project, good for you. People need to talk about the negative effects of abortion on women. All the women I know who’ve had one regret it and still cry ten years later. It’s very sad. Abortion is sold through pop culture as a tough but empowering decision. The people in that women’s studies class probably had never even considered the idea that it could be harmful to women. I hope some perspectives were changed or tweeked at least.