College Preparation in the Homeschool Setting
ST. EMMELIA WEST CONFERENCE, APRIL 2018
Married 33 YEARS, MOTHER OF 7 CHILDREN
5 COLLEGE GRADS (1 SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY, 1 HILLSDALE College, 3 BERKELEY)
HOMESCHOOLED 25 YEARS TOTAL
Interviewer: Tell us about your family, and your experiences. Since you homeschooled in California, did you file the California Private School Affidavit, or were you part of a public charter?
G: We did a range of things, from doing everything at home, to small co-ops, to two-day a week classes from a homeschool academy here and there, to online classes. We were never part of a charter school. Four of them took some junior college classes during high school. Six out of seven did speech and debate, so that was a big part of their education.
Interviewer: So did you have some kind of plan?
G: No. I didn’t really have a plan. I pretty much based high school on what I had taken when I was in high school however many years earlier. When it was time to make a transcript I had to ask friends who were a year or two ahead of me in their homeschooling journey how to do that. I had no clue. I kind of made one just by saying “okay you did this class and you did this class,” but a lot of what they had done I hadn’t really graded per se. So a friend showed me how to format a transcript. Then around that time a friend was visiting who had been the counselor and vice principal at a Christian school in San Jose, and I asked him what he thought of the transcript. He said, “I don’t see any Economics on here.” and I said, "Oh, I never did Economics! I didn’t know that was a high school requirement!" And he said, "Well, did you ever talk to your kids about how to balance a check book? Did they get bank accounts? Did you talk about the news and what was going on economically?" He listed all these things and I was saying, "Yeah, yeah, we did that." So he said, "You can write down Economics. That’s all that they would have gotten in school." So there was kind of a learning curve for how to make a transcript. And it’s funny because one of my sons later majored in Economics and two others majored in Political Economy.
Interviewer: Yeah, I was in an elevator at a homeschool conference with a well-known homeschool speaker once, and I just cornered him and said, "Okay, I don’t know how to do these transcripts." He said to me, "Did your children do what you asked them to do?" I said, "Yes." He said, “Then they got an A.”
Interviewer: Okay, so, you had kids that went to junior college first and ones that went directly a 4-year university?
G: All of them went to junior college before transferring to university. Some began with a few courses in high school. Others didn’t start junior college until they were finished at home with high school, but they weren’t technically finished with high school because they hadn’t done all their science and math, so they got those done in their first year of junior college.
Interviewer: Did you continue to do transcripts for everybody?
G: Yes. Everybody was different, but all of them either actually were, or technically were, high schoolers in junior college, so those units went on their high school transcripts. They applied to the university as freshmen, except one who transferred to Hillsdale. Even though some of them had been going to junior college full-time for a year, they applied to the university as freshmen because they were taking courses in junior college needed to complete their high school transcript for university admission.
Interviewer: So, that’s how you handled classes that you didn’t feel like you were able to teach?
G: Yes. We didn’t do science at home during high school. I couldn’t provide for lab sciences, so their first year at junior college they'd do biology in fall and chemistry in the spring. And that was it. That satisfied requirements for high school science. Math was not our strong point in high school either. Except for one who did PreCalculus at home, higher level than Algebra 2 they did at junior college. Our second son liked math and was really good at it, and he minored in Math. The oldest went to college as a piano performance major and after his first year he told me, “I’ve decided to switch to civil engineering.” I said, “Oh, but I didn’t prepare you for that!” He didn't have the math background, so it took a little extra time at the university, but that’s what he did. He went straight through and got his masters, and he’s a civil engineer.
Interviewer: That’s pretty common I think. Kids will switch.
G: Yes. I even switched. I wasn’t that interested in science until I took a year off college and worked at a forest in Vermont. I went back to school as a Botany major with really no background in science at all. So there was a little precedent for what he did.
Interviewer: So were they all successful in college? Did they have any trouble academically or socially?
G: Academically they were just like what [Panelist 1] was saying – they did very well. Outside of academics, some played intramural soccer, sang in choir, one started an OCF and another started a pro-life club, one was a sports broadcaster for football and baseball at Cal, several were on student senate at junior college.
Interviewer: And did you help them with fellowships and grants?
G: No, I really didn’t. They figured that out and they did get some scholarships. The schools either offered some or helped them apply for scholarships, in some cases after a year of being there.
Interviewer: So you have seven kids, and I know you start out very relaxed in your homeschooling approach during the elementary years. A lot of people start getting nervous and worry they’re making all these mistakes. Did you go through that while homeschooling for high school or did you always feel pretty confident that they were going to succeed?
G: I don’t know how confident I felt at first, because when my oldest was accepted to college, I was thinking, “Whew! It worked!” I was a little bit all over the map in my homeschooling because as different opportunities arose, I did different things for different kids. I never really had a plan that was set in stone for how to get them through high school. Sometimes I think if you have a big family, you have to be more relaxed because you just can’t handle everything. It’s kind of like, I’m doing the best I can, and there’s dinner tonight!
Interviewer: That’s always a good way to end the day. So would you add anything for people that is an encouragement?
G: Yeah, I would just echo what [Panelist 1] said. I think a lot of what we get caught up in is not really that necessary. I wasted some time thinking “Oh no, we didn’t do this,” or “maybe I should do that…” It just wasn’t necessary to worry. If you find yourself thinking you can’t give them a good high school education, that you won’t do a good job, I would say don’t listen to those thoughts. It seems to turn out well, even when you feel like you aren’t doing a very good job of it.