One of my daughters has just completed a year abroad program post high school. When she first applied to this school, they had never had a homeschooled student apply before, and they were quite hesitant to accept her. They were somewhat cagey with us at first about what their objections might be to accepting her into the program, but after much persistence on our part, we finally got them to be open with us about their concerns. Not surprisingly, they had many of the same stereotypes as other people do regarding homeschooled kids, ranging from poor socialization to inability to integrate into a traditional academic setting, to not knowing how to “fit in” with more mainstream kids. We were able to get lots of personal references who spoke very highly of our daughter, and who assured them that in each of the areas of concern that our daughter was certainly able to function well, and that they would be making a big mistake not to accept her. In the end, they agreed to accept her conditionally, and off she went.
A few days ago was the end-of-the-year banquet at the school, and each of the administrators spoke about one of the students. The head of the school chose to speak about our daughter, and he started out by saying, “If I could be sure that every homeschooled student would turn out like _____________ Bass, then I would pull all of my kids out of school tomorrow!” Then he went on to enumerate her many great qualities and her long list of accomplishments over this past year. Obviously we are thrilled that she has done so well (truthfully, we knew she would!), and we have a tremendous amount of pride as parents that the people in charge of this program were able to see her for the fine person she is, rather than the image of who they assumed she might be.
What I am also very pleased about, though, is that I feel like our daughter has done a tremendous service for all homeschoolers. As the number of homeschoolers grows in our community, more and more of them will be entering similar programs, and then going on to apply to college (This is something she did also, and she faced similar challenges. Luckily, she has been admitted to her first choice, and I’m sure she will be similarly successful there. But it’s always like reinventing the wheel when you need to get a homeschooled child into a mainstream program…We are now facing the same issue with my next son…). One might think that by now homeschooling would be a common enough practice that most institutions would have some protocols in place for dealing with integrating them, but the stereotypes persist, and it is simply not the case that their paths are smooth. So any time a homeschooler can go somewhere and make a positive impact and be successful, that will leave an impression behind and make it that much easier for the next homeschooled kid who comes along.
So, I am super proud of my daughter for what she has accomplished for herself, and I am super proud of her for the trail she has blazed for others who will come after her. She will be home soon, and all of us can’t wait to have her back again- it can’t come soon enough!