Graduate 2019 / by Emily Parker (Class of 2014)
For a homeschooler, the world is the classroom. By being taught at home, you’re being given the best kind of education—the kind that will continue for the rest of your life. You are acquiring the tools you need to think for yourself, the self-discipline you need to reach your goals, and the love for learning that will spur you to continue your education beyond graduation. These are invaluable traits that will shape your life for the better. In my own experience as a homeschool graduate, my love of learning has spurred me to attend college and travel abroad. Although outside my comfort zone, my experiences have contributed to my education and caused me to grow and learn. I owe my successes to the solid foundation of a home education built on God’s Word. It’s my hope that by sharing what I’ve done so far, I will encourage homeschoolers looking at life after homeschooling to continue their own education by stepping out of their comfort zones and pursuing their own incredible experiences.
I grew up in Clayton and was homeschooled all the way from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I graduated in 2014 and graduated from North Carolina State University in the college of design, and God blessed me with the opportunity to study what I enjoy at the school of my choice. I will admit, once I arrived, there was an adjustment period. It was difficult at first to make friends and adjust to the new status quo, but I jumped right in, made friends, participated in extracurricular activities like Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), all while keeping up good grades—not bad for an “unsocialized homeschooler!”
Being in college doesn’t just mean spending time in class and doing homework. To a student, there are a crazy number of opportunities available. From opportunities like studying Shakespeare in London to studying Chinese in Hong Kong, there are countless trips to go on and fellowships to receive so that a student can travel the world. At first, I hated the idea of study abroad. However, the more upperclassmen talked about study abroad, the more I started to change my mind.
I absolutely love history. When I was homeschooled, it was my favorite subject. I was super involved in the local homeschool history club and got a lot of joy out of my involvement. I realized it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to walk in the places where the history that I learned about as a homeschooler happened. When I looked at traveling abroad through the lens of expanding my education in history, I decided I would overcome my fear of leaving home and do it.
Studying abroad in Europe blew me away! My school was in Prague, Czech Republic, which is one of the oldest medieval cities in Europe still intact. Since I had not been out of the country, the fact that some of the buildings were a thousand years old left me speechless! I had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over Europe while studying. I went to Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and even France and the UK, if only for a few days in each place. Every place I went was soaked in history, and many places still bear bullet holes and burn marks from World War II. Some sites, like the Tower of London, were the locations of events I had read about since I was little. I didn’t just learn about history while I was traveling. I learned about being independent, about different cultures, and about understanding others. When you know where someone is coming from, it’s easier to understand who they are. Traveling abroad is the most rewarding experience I’ve had so far.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was homeschooled, I don’t think I would have studied abroad. Because of my education at home, I’m invested in learning more about the world and have the self-discipline and focus to reach my goals. I applied for every scholarship I could think of, and even though I got plenty of rejections, I didn’t give up hope and put it in God’s hands. It all worked out: I received the Benjamin Gilman scholarship, which is a competitive national scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State. It covered exactly the amount I still needed, and before I knew it, the fee was paid, the plane ticket purchased, and I was on my way to Europe!
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that you shouldn’t let fear stop you. I was afraid I wouldn’t get into my desired college, but I got in anyway. I was afraid of leaving the country, but I went anyway and had a blast. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough money for study abroad, but God worked it out. Make goals that are crazy big—even if you fail, you’ll learn a lot from trying.
As I said before, for a homeschooler, the world is the classroom, so go out into the world and learn! You have the foundation of a good education, which means you can achieve great things.
Thanks, Mom and Dad for homeschooling me!