In the last interview, Lucy—a home-schooled student in the St. Louis area—offered a significant amount of insight into the homeschooling community. However, a large aspect of homeschooling is that, typically, no two-homeschooling experiences are alike. This week, a student who has gone to St. Louis Community College since the age of 15 gave me an entirely different set of perspectives. Liyu, who is graduating this semester, will have 49 college credits by the time she graduates. She says, “Currently, I just go to Meramec, I do all my classes at Meramec, and it’s for both high school and college credit—I’ve been here for three years.”
During the interview, Liyu had a lot of things to say that were similar to those of Lucy. She talked about some benefits of homeschooling that she has noticed: “I have learned different ways to learn, I have learned to look at things in a different way, and I’ve learned to teach myself things.” In addition to that, Liyu also described the ways in which her experiences as a child influenced her education now. She explained to me that not only has she been home-schooled all her life, so have a few of her siblings, “[When I was a child] we did a lot of learning from textbooks, and we would do co-op classes. But another thing was—and this might be a bad example—but, say, I was learning about photosynthesis, plants, or biology. [My family and I] would go to the zoo, go to the science center, or grow a garden. At that time, you’re then really in the process of learning what it is and how it works, and you’re more in depth with it. It sticks with you more.”
Although Liyu shared some of the same insights to homeschooling as Lucy, their views on the social aspect of homeschooling really provide a contrast to the different homeschooling practices in St. Louis—as Lucy and Liyu attended very different “home-school groups.” While Lucy noted that sometimes it has been hard for her to find people who differ from herself, Liyu said the opposite: “Because of homeschooling, I’ve met people who are very different. I’ve never been in a room full of people that are all the same.” Liyu also notes that she feels that she has received many negative reactions from people who find out she’s home-schooled. She expresses her frustration with the assumptions she has been faced with in the past. She presents these assumptions with a series of questions that she might likely encounter. She said, “[people wonder] ‘Do you have social skills? Do you have friends? Are you dumb? Or are you really smart?’ There really isn’t an in between—you’re either assumed to be stupid or a genius.” Conversely, Liyu has many positive things to say about her social life as a home-schooler as well—she talks lovingly about some of the social aspects of homeschooling that she enjoys. She said, “Socially, I do think that my friends and I were allowed to do more things. If we wanted to go out during the day while other kids were at school, we can go do stuff. I have made closer friendships.”
In the end, Liyu talked briefly about the way that homeschooling has impacted her learning experiences. Liyu is planning to go to University of Kansas in the fall, and elaborated upon the process of applying to colleges. “Another thing is transcripts—because you have credits, and they are real credits—but colleges take it differently [than traditional transcripts]. You can totally go to college, but it’s going to take more effort.” She said this while also noting that a few colleges she applied to had different standards for home-schoolers—many of which were higher than those of public-schooled kids.
Ultimately, Liyu appeared to think very highly of her educational experiences—as well as her robust volunteer and work experience, both which have been more accessible thanks to homeschooling. Liyu says, “I’ve always liked school, and I’ve always been interested in it.” An undeniable love for learning is something that Liyu and Lucy both share, and while their social encounters might differ; their ideas about the learning aspect of homeschooling compliment each other heavily.
The next interview will be posted on March 24th, 2017.