Reprinted with permission from KCParent.com. Copyright KCParent.com, 2012. Original author: Josiah Bell
For me, college was an inescapable fact, kind of like taxes or the Royals being terrible. It loomed, foreboding, somewhere out in the future, like a mythical beast I had to capture on some far off fateful day. If I somehow managed to capture that beast without getting skewered or trampled, and thereby dying horribly, then said mythical beast would be obliged to give me a ride to a good job, a fast car, and a nice house. When I would consider what my ‘future life’ my visions of fame and grandeur rarely took this obstacle into account. The only blip college made on my radar was the constant deposits from my newspaper earnings to pay for it, as if any university I stooped to attend wouldn’t grant me free admission on the spot. College was always something that I was going to do, never any doubt, never any worry.
I graduated last May after being homeschooled my entire life. Which meant I got a summer off from school to do pretty much whatever I wanted (which, incidentally, is when I started writing this blog) so naturally, when college at last started, I felt rested, ready. I enrolled for ‘easy courses’ which I thought meant I would be able to put forth the same amount of academic effort I’d been giving all my life. Well, as it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
You see, when you’re homeschooled, you get to move at your own pace, whether that means faster or slower, or somewhere in between. In college, there’s one pace: the teacher’s. Tests and quizzes are not things you get around to, they’re things you study for five hours on Sunday afternoons for. It was easy to put off missed work to put off for the next day. Individual days did not have the weight they do now. Now, if I don’t do an assignment today, then I am a day behind. School ceases to be that unpleasant thing you do in between fun things. As a full-time college student, school is literally my full-time job. And as I may have mentioned in a previous blog, having a job isn’t very high on my bucket list. Not far ahead of weekly schedules, or making daily plans, or waking up about two hours earlier than I want to make time for these activities.
Sure, I could blow off homework and being organized. It would definitely be more comfortable. There’s a good chance I could do alright putting forth less than maximum effort. Maybe I’d do fine cutting a few corners in college. But ‘fine’ isn’t my goal, excellence is. And excellence cannot ever be measured by standardized tests or a piece of paper that says I’ve gained proficiency in some field of expertise. It’s measured by the fact that I can say I personally did everything I could, everything possible, to bring honor not only to myself, but more importantly to my Lord. Besides, the fact that my mother will permanently disown me if I get anything less than a 3.8 GPA bears some motivational merit as well.
Most importantly, I choose to make the transition between ‘high school’ and ‘college’ because these are just code words for ‘complacency’ and, uh, ‘not complacency’. What I mean to say is that, despite my current misgivings, I’m still trying to remain excited about college. It’s a daily decision of course, to get out of bed and give my all. College is just so much more wearying than being a kid. But, college is also a new stage in my life, a new opportunity to prove myself. That may sound cliché to some, but it’s terrifying for me.
So that was, in a few words, what it’s like for a homeschooler to start college.