Yes, I Was Homeschooled

For some mysterious reason, Cincinnati people are obsessed with asking what high school you went to, so my answer usually raises a few eyebrows.

Once people find out where I went to high school, there's typically an inevitable barrage of questions that soon follow...Here's my attempt to explain my education history in a little more than an elevator pitch. Just as a disclaimer: there are many ways that someone can be homeschooled, and I can't speak to every one of them, only my own experience. To introduce myself a little bit, I went to preschool and began my homeschooling journey as a kindergartner. My mom taught my younger sister and I all our subjects, using a mix of different curriculum. Some families choose one publisher and stick with them for all their subjects but others choose different publishers depending on the subject.

We had lesson plans for each day, and as long as we got our work done - whether it was by 12 p.m. or 4 p.m., we had the rest of our day to do whatever we wanted. Legal regulations for homeschooling in Ohio are pretty simple compared to some other states. Parents have to submit an annual notification to the school superintendent to excuse them from compulsory attendance, provide 900 hours of instruction per year, and provide an assessment of the student's work, either through standardized testing or a third-party evaluator.

How did you have friends?

I did a lot of extra-curricular activities, like clubs and dance lessons, where I made my earliest friends. My childhood was pretty normal - I liked playing outside, watching Cyberchase, and staying up past my bedtime. But it definitely started to get lonely in middle school, so I begged my parents to let me go to "real school." Seeing how unhappy I had become, my parents enrolled me in a homeschool cooperative (co-op) that met twice a week and the social butterfly in me came out from the cocoon. I had teachers for different subjects and classmates (like 14 classmates, but classmates nonetheless) so I made friends with everyone I possibly could. There, I met some of my closest friends that I still hang out with today. I think being homeschooled pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and seek out friendships since I didn't always have a class of kids who were my age to socialize with.

What about prom?

Our homeschool co-op hosted a school dance every year, between the two different campuses that each had around 150 students in 7th-12th grade. Most years it was at a fancy event hall, and one year it was at the Newport Aquarium!

I bet you didn't have to do any work...

I wish. I read Romeo and Juliet like everyone else did in high school. My co-op was also college-preparatory, so they made us read Dante's Divine Comedy in its entirety and I wrote 13-page papers about the "Development of Individualism in Fashion."

Did you like it?

Most of the time, yes! I'm a very independent person, so I liked being able to do most of my work whenever it was convenient. Being a night owl, that was usually late at night. It gave me the flexibility to work in high school as well, so I was able to work two part-time jobs at one point while also being involved in what I was passionate about, things like community service and music. Piano lessons and show rehearsals consumed a lot of my time. Balancing homework with a job, social life, and sleep... I pulled way too many all-nighters.

I definitely did school in my pajamas. All the time.

Homeschooling isn't for everyone. Sometimes, I wonder what I would be like if I hadn't been homeschooled if I maybe missed out on the quintessential high school experience. But it has made me who I am today, so I wouldn't trade it for the world. Transitioning from being the only student in my 4th grade class to being one of thousands at the University of Cincinnati has been crazy and exciting, but I think the values of independent learning and time management prepared me well for college and I can't wait to learn for the next four years from all the people I have the privilege of going to school with.

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