Viewpoint by Bleah B. Patterson
On my first day of college, I walked onto campus with every ounce of confidence. I bought new shoes and my very first backpack.
I was 17 years old and experiencing my very first day of school. Anticipation soon turned to anxiety as I stumbled from class to class.
I remember the first day I learned what a syllabus was and asked my English teacher if learning MLA was hard.
It was my third semester before I learned how to use PowerPoint.
Still, people say the pep in my walk isn’t to the same beat as everyone else.
As a homeschooled student, I spent more time in my room than most people.
I touched my first textbook at 16, and it belonged to a friend.
Bible history classes, etiquette class and singing on the Worship Team at church were among my electives.
I still don’t know what the inside of a high school looks like. I dress a little differently from everyone. Pop culture doesn’t make much sense to me either.
I’m used to being the odd one out, a little different and becoming known for being awkward or little too clingy.
I’m more excited about other people’s company than most.
All side effects, I believe, of a slightly more sheltered upbringing, but an upbringing I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Being a homeschooler comes with its fair share of stereotypes.
“Do you get to wear your pajamas all day?” and “So is your mom your teacher?” are among the most common questions after announcing that I have been homeschooled since kindergarten.
All of this aside, there is a very serious side to homeschooling and it has its problems.
The transition from homeschooling to a junior college had to have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
As I work my way through my fourth semester, I find myself just starting to get the hang of things.
In the state of Texas, homeschoolers are treated as students enrolled in private school.
Texas does not require the TAKS test of its homeschoolers or any other standardized test.
In fact, Texas requires no proof of education until you attempt to get a driver’s license, then the state simply requires a print out of a “proof of education” sheet.
Parents (or the “principal”) sign it and get it notarized.
The next official document is a transcript to get into college.
Transcript templates can easily be found online.
Fill one out, print it, get it signed by the “principal” and get it notarized.
Homeschooling is a fantastic right we are honored to have, but as a state, Texas should be investing in those students, rather than leaving them to their own devices.
Students who are not prepared for college life easily can be left behind.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like the stupidest person in the room.
Homeschooling is not bad, and given the choice to re-do my high school years, I would choose homeschooling again in a heartbeat.
I was able to graduate a year early and invest in interests that helped me grow as a person.
My intent is to shed light on pressing issues homeschooled Texan students face by sharing how ill-prepared I was for community college, more socially than academically.
Homeschooling parents find sanctuary in Texas’ relaxed laws.
They find freedom in the ability to set their children’s curriculum, to protect them from concepts they disagree with and cultivate beliefs and opinions that might be absent in the public (and even private) school classroom.
However, as a Texas homeschooler, I tend to feel more like an alien in a crowd than someone privileged enough to have received a tailored education.
My awkwardness stems from never knowing if I’m on the right track, feeling uncomfortable with tests, scantrons, professors and the mass of people in general.
This lack of exposure and preparation for college life leaves many a homeschooler feeling like a fish out of water.
While I do believe that homeschools should be able to maintain the ability to tweak the average school requirements, I also believe that Texas should take great pride in its homeschoolers.
To apply this, Texas should start regulating homeschoolers through exit exams before a homeschooler is allowed to advance from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school.
Texas also should require an annual spring or fall test, such as TAKS or STARR.
Ideally, Texas should set aside some sort of system to make sure young homeschoolers are adequately prepared before allowing them to be classified as graduates.
That would encourage homeschooled students to stay active in co-ops and create opportunities for homeschoolers to interact with other students.
As a result, homeschooled students like me would engage in college life feeling more comfortable with the environment instead of feeling like a lonely traveler in a foreign country.
While these changes will not be foolproof, it would put homeschoolers on more even footing before they enter colle