NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Home-schoolers start college early

In today’s culture, where public education has become the norm for K-12 students, individuals who are home-schooled tend to be misunderstood and associated with a variety of stereotypes. 

Such stereotypes include speculations as to whether the home-schooled student ever leaves their house, how they make friends if they don’t attend school, and how complete their education truly is. 

In reality, most home-schooled students are not that different from those who learn in public or private schools. 

There are some students whose parents choose to homeschool them to accommodate disabilities they may have.  However, the majority of these students are home-schooled due to their parents’ beliefs that they will be able to give them a better education at home. 

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are more than 2 million students in the U.S. in grades K-12, which equates to 4 percent of all school-aged children.

In 2009, a study was done by Michael Cogan, the “director of institutional research and analysis” at the University of St. Thomas.  This study researched the success of home-schooled students at a medium-sized Midwest university. 

The results from this study found that home-schooled students earn more college credits while still in high school than other students, the average being 14.7 credits for home-schoolers in comparison to only 6 credits for non-home-schoolers. 

Meriwether Kimball, a Creative Writing major, was a home-schooled student who started taking courses at NECC while she was still in high school. 

Although she struggled at first with time management that was necessary to balance the work of three or four classes a semester, her experience ended up preparing to eventually move to Harvard Extension school this past semester. 

“Being in a classroom environment gave me that missing structure so I turned in work on time,” she said. 

After completing classes where she studied subjects such as literature, art and Shakespeare, she successfully got her GED.

“This was a better route for my particular interests,” she said.  “I got an A in my first semester at Harvard, so it seems to have been the right decision.”

Rosa Herbawi, a Biology major, attended NECC for two semesters as a senior in high school,

taking 3 or 4 classes a semester.  Before she came to NECC, she started taking classes at Middlesex Community College as a junior.

“My transition wasn’t really bad at all because I started out easy with taking one community college class per semester that supplemented my home schooling,” she said. 

“Before classes started I was really nervous, but once they started I never had any trouble at all so I definitely think that I was well prepared.”

Currently, Herbawi has returned to Middlesex this semester to take a few more classes before she transfers to a 4-year school in the fall. 

She has already gotten accepted to UMass Boston and University of Southern Maine.

Once she graduates with her bachelor’s degree, she plans on pursuing a doctorate degree or applying to veterinary school to become a vet tech. 

“Overall, I think home schooling has actually given me a head start in life and I’m grateful for it,” she said.

Nina Cabral, a dance major in her last semester at NECC has been home-schooled her entire life. 

Her parents decided to home-school her because her mother wanted Cabral and her siblings to be able to have the freedom to advance in their education. 

“She wanted our education to be more wholesome and also wanted us to excel because she knew a lot of home-schoolers who were doing really well,” she said.

“I learned that being a genius, or being really intelligent, is not necessarily that you’re born with this innate talent to have knowledge, but that you’re put in an accelerated program and you just learn it sooner.”

During high school, Cabral did a combination of online classes and classes at a local home-school co-op where other students came together and learned from parents in a classroom setting. 

Before high school, she didn’t have a lot of experience working with deadlines, so this experience forced her to start working a lot harder to meet those deadlines.

She had also started dancing the year before she started high school, which took up a lot of her time. 

“I would be gone for almost three days because of dance class, and then have all of this homework to come home to,” she said.

If she wasn’t home-schooled and didn’t have that time available to devote to dancing, she may have never achieved the success that she has today.

“I felt like I had so much homework during those four years of high school and was so overwhelmed by it that when I got to college, it was still a little overwhelming, but it was a nice transition,” she said.

Cabral recently was accepted to Boston Conservatory and received a big scholarship, enabling her to continue to pursue her dream of becoming a dance teacher in Boston.

Taking classes at community college while still in high school can not only reduce the cost of earning a degree by thousands of dollars, but can also reduce the amount of time the student has to put in to get their degree. 

For example, the average amount of 14.7 credits that home-schoolers get while in high school equates to almost a full semester.

Further research in the study conducted by Cogan also found that home-schooled students also achieve significantly higher ACT scores, grade point averages and graduation rates in comparison to students educated in public or private schools at the university.  The home-schoolers’ GPA reports resulted in an average of a 3.74 GPA in comparison to an average of 3.54 for other students. 

This evidence seems to contradict the popular stereotypes associated with home-schoolers for not getting a solid education or being prepared for college. 

In reality, home schooling can save time and money, as well as encouraging educational growth and independence. 

As in public and private schools, it really depends on the student, as everyone has strengths in different areas.