Homeschool vs. High School: Expectations of a New Student

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Photo courtesy of Naomi Engle (’24)

Naomi Engle

For a long-time homeschooled student like me, the idea of a real school with other people was always a dream. When I learned that my first year at Viewpoint would be in an online environment, I was simultaneously excited and disappointed. While I wouldn’t get quite the new experience that I’d been hoping for, living in a hybrid of my past life and the future I’ve now stepped into has allowed me to share my talents to others in a different way. I’ve also learned so much about myself through this new school process, and my expectations have wildly changed for the 2020 school year because of this.

One of my expectations for the school year was that it would be in-person, but the pandemic shattered any hopes of that. Though I still can’t help but feel disappointed that my first real chance of socializing with people my age is gone, I’ve found that online school is strangely familiar to me. I’m used to almost all the programs and curriculum styles that teachers have been using, and so, in a way, I feel at home in the online world and have been able to teach others using my experience.  

The only main difference between this year and my previous years in homeschool is that this year is much more responsibility-driven. My parents have stepped back from teaching me and that has allowed me to take charge of the school year and make my own decisions that aren’t driven by a parent curriculum. Overall, I’ve found the online year to be really enriching and enjoyable, though I can’t help but miss the experience that I’d been hoping for, with other kids in person.

When I was homeschooled, the schedule was a lot more lax and certainly different. Unlike high school, we didn’t have a real schedule or homework. Most assignments were done in class, which often extended the time I was in school by several hours. Still, there were no set start times for any of my classes, which meant that I had more flexibility to sleep in or take breaks, but also more work to do in class. 

Homeschooling often consisted of watching my mom write lecture notes on the whiteboard while I copied down key points into a colorful binder.  I’ve found that the surprisingly small jump in homework, while difficult for someone more used to in-class work, has suited me well this freshman year. As a natural procrastinator, I actually think that I’ve been better at getting my homework done right after class, at least compared to my homeschool years, where I either had no homework or assignments I could do with my parents. While stressful at times, especially over the weekend, I’ve found the homework this year to be quite manageable.

The last defining difference between homeschool and high school for me has been the people.  I never really had many friends, simply because school never presented the opportunity to make them, and I wasn’t one to dabble in many extracurriculars.  But in the two months that I’ve spent at Viewpoint, I’ve felt the need to reach out more, to seek others for help with homework and general social interaction as well.  I’ve made a few genuine friends who I can’t wait to meet when conditions are safe to do so. High school so far has been both a blessing and a curse for an introvert like me, but I’ve been settling in well. I hope the transfer to on-campus learning will be just as easy as the online one has been.

Homeschooling overall was such an amazing experience, and I’m so glad that I had the resources and the tools to do it (and an amazing mom to teach me). Although it’s a very unique learning situation, I think it has prepared me well for all the highs and lows of high school, both online and in a personal environment. 

As Viewpoint reaches the end of the fall semester, I look forward to drawing more from my past educational experiences and to moving forward into an unfamiliar world, one that I hope will stay with me forever.