Monday, September 28, 2009

They Walk Among Us - Homeschooled Adults

The world continues to be surprised by my daughter. Attractive and personable, she manages the restaurant where she has been employed for the past two years, while attending college part time. She spends a large percentage of her earnings on clothing and cosmetics, must take care that her social life doesn't interfere with her studies, and thinks she will die if she can't find an affordable car soon. She will probably pay more for the stereo system than the car. In short, my daughter is very much like any other recent high school graduate.

I've witnessed the jaws dropping when people find out she was homeschooled. That's when the quizzing begins. Were you ALWAYS homeschooled? (Yes.) Did you LIKE being homeschooled? (Usually.) Will you homeschool your own kids? (Heck, she doesn't know yet.)

Parents who began homeschooling years ago might have been perceived as taking a gamble. There were no homeschooled adults wandering around as "proof" that the homeschooling choice wouldn't cripple your child for life. Despite long lists of famous people who were homeschooled, most of them didn't receive their education in this culture, so the jury was still out on how the children of the early homeschooling movement would fare.

Now, though, thousands of modern American students have been homeschooled until adulthood . . . and they walk among us! Since they rarely introduce themselves by saying, "Hi, I'm Mary, and I was homeschooled," we often don't know when we are talking with a homeschool graduate. Anecdotal evidence implies that they are difficult to spot at first glance. When he graduated from college, my grown son was subject to the same type of surprised questions that my daughter is now encountering. Did they let you in to college with a homeschool diploma? (Yes.) Were you prepared enough academically. (Certainly.) How was your social life? (Waggling eyebrows and mysterious smile . . .)

I have four more children to guide on this journey. We belong to a terrific homeschool co-op, which welcomed two new families this year. The mothers were both homeschooled themselves. The fact that they also chose to homeschool their own children was significant to me, because my children have occasionally expressed an interest in attending public school . . . from the six-year-old who thought it would be fun to ride a bus, to the teen who assumed school was the hallway gab-fest portrayed in the movies.

Anecdotes are interesting, but the statistics reported by the Home School Legal Defense Association's survey of 7,300 homeschooled adults are more telling. When asked how happy their life was in general, 58.4% of homeschooled respondents said they were "very" happy, while 27.6% of the general U.S. population reported being "very" happy. Homeschooled adults also reported greater job satisfaction and more financial peace than the general population. 95.2% of homeschool graduates either "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that they were glad they were homeschooled. 82.1% said they would homeschool their own children.

I was particularly interested in the questions that measured a homeschool graduate's perception of the control they have over their own lives. Those who were homeschooled were more likely to agree that hard work is more important than luck in getting ahead in life, and that individuals can influence the direction our government takes.

It would appear that adults who were homeschooled can be different than the community at large, but in ways that are noticeable only to the individual himself. When it comes to quality of life, homeschooled adults seem to have an edge over the general population.

Discuss this topic and other subjects of interest to homeschoolers on the Time4Learning Parent Forum.

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