How Homeschool Students Are Adjusting in a College Setting

Apr 23, 2015

Levi Harris was homeschooled from kindergarten to his senior year of high school, and now attends MSU. He is a Pre-Med student, a cellist in the university symphony, and president of the campus ministry EXIST.
Credit Submitted photo

Homeschoolers often walk undetected among students at Missouri State. This past fall, 2,801 first-time college freshman began coursework at MSU. And as KSMU’s Kathryn Eutsler reports, 28 of them graduated from home.

“[Other people] definitely think that we’re awkward. Which, I am. To be honest I’m socially different.”

That’s Levi Harris. He’s a sophomore Pre-Med student at Missouri State, and he is among this small group of students that did not attend “regular” school before coming to college.

Harris says that while he does consider himself to be a bit socially awkward, he has done well fitting in with his peers in college.

“Everyone that asked me where I went to school were surprised to a certain extent, but then after a few seconds, they kind of realized that oh, yeah, maybe I do realize that he’s homeschooled,” Harris says.

In high school, Harris was involved in many social activities, such as playing in the Drury University symphony, teaching music theory, and working at a veterinary office. He says this social interaction made the transition from a graduating class of two (he has a twin brother) to a college with 20,000 students a little easier.

Academically, Harris says homeschooling prepared him well. He was astounded by how easy his coursework was freshman year.

“I felt like I was, not more intelligent, just more dedicated than other students were. Mainly because, being homeschooled you tend to take, you're just kind of trained to, take advantage of learning whenever you can, so I kind of took that with me to college.”

MSU’s Enrollment Management department says this year’s cohort of homeschool students had higher than average ACT scores and a better mean end-of-semester GPA than their peers.

Emily Jones is a sophomore Print and Internet Journalism major who was homeschooled while growing up in Africa. She says college classes feel a little confining after enjoying what she referred to as the freedom to “experience her education” as she grew up.

“[Learning in a classroom] is a way to learn, but it’s not my favorite way to learn,” Jones says.

She loves being around the diverse population at Missouri State, but says homeschoolers in the Midwest often get stereotyped as very straight laced, conservative people. She says many homeschoolers don’t fit this description.

"We’re just like everyone else, we just had a different classroom.”

Ben Funk will graduate from Missouri State this May, but says being homeschooled has held him back both socially and academically.

“I don’t pick up on, like, social cues or social trends. Like someone said ‘that’s on fleek’ to me the other day, and I had no clue what that means,” Funk says.

While attending community college following high school, Funk says he failed a class, noting he had not yet developed good study habits and did not know how to learn in a classroom.

At Missouri State, Funk says his academic advisor encouraged him to utilize the “Bear Claw,” the university’s tutoring center.

Additionally, Funk says MSU's Peer Assisted Study Session program helped immensely. PASS is a series of free, voluntary review sessions for selected courses. Anyone can attend, and each session is led by a student who has previously done well in the course.

Dr. Rachelle Darabi, associate provost for Student Development and Public Affairs, says the campus offers an abundance of academic resources. And while there may not be anything specifically geared toward homeschool students, she says they'd be willing to look into it if asked.

"I think it would depend on the individual student-I don't think we've ever done anything collectively for homeschool students, because nobody has really come and said, 'well, there's this group of students that would really like some help in this area,'" says Darabi.

Overall, Levi Harris says the best part about being homeschooled was learning not to take anything for granted. That mindset, he says, has carried over into his college life and has been a key factor in his sucess.