School at home

Glimpse into how, why families choose this unique educational path

Fifteen year old Arianna Tilson can wake up whenever she chooses, decide which assignments she wants to do on which day and can do her studying while lying in bed.

Tilson is one of less than the four percent of children that are homeschooled in America According to Congressional Quarterly Researcher, currently at about two million, the number of homeschoolers has doubled in the past fifteen years.

A study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 36 percent of parents homeschool in order to provide religious moral instruction. In Tilson’s case, not only did her parents want to teach their daughter creationism, but they also wanted her to be able to learn at a faster pace.

Sarah Bowen, director of student services, said that every family she has worked with had a different reason for homeschooling their child.

“They might have a child who’s really involved in a particular sport, or a very talented musician, or is pursuing something that requires a lot of time and practice,” Bowen said. “So a 7:30-3:30 school day might not work for that student.”

While Tilson enjoys the flexibility of homeschooling, she said the biggest disadvantage is that it can get lonely at times. Seeing as her entire curriculum is online, she must find other avenues of meeting people.

“Extra-curricular activities are my main way of meeting and interacting with other people,” Tilson said. “I’ve also taken piano lessons, done Girl Scouts and played volleyball.

While extra effort may be needed for social interactions, there are several academic benefits to the unconventional learning approach. The average SAT scores for homeschooled students are higher in every category compared to all college-bound seniors, according to the National Home Education Resource Institute.

However, without a high school diploma, many homeschooled students experience difficulty in applying to college. They face challenges such as creating their own transcript or explaining their unique situations on each application.

This does not mean colleges, including top tier universities, do not accept homeschooled students. According to Stanford, nine out of thirty-five total homeschooled applicants were accepted to the University in 2000.

While the college process can be slightly confusing, the majority of homeschooled kids do not feel disadvantaged. The Washington Times cites that 96% of adults who were homeschooled thought that their unique education prepared them well for the rest of their life.

“I’ve had times when I’ve hated it and times when I have loved it – it varies,” said Tilson.