Friday, October 8, 2010

If All the Other Kids Go to College...

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Cristina, the newest regular contributor here at The Homeschool Apologist.   Cristina joins us from her blog, Home Spun Juggling, where “she offers a view of her life in comic strips,” and invites readers “to share her love of learning, laughter and circus arts.”  Yes, circus arts!     Besides homeschooling her children and drawing comic strips, Cristina is an avid juggler.   The subtitle to Cristina’s blog says a lot about her work.   “Life is not black and white.  I only draw it that way.  This is the story of our homeschooling life in comic strips and my thoughts, which often wax philosophical.”   Cristina’s comic strips have heart and soul and humor, and we are blessed to be able to share them here at THA.
In a recent blog post, Cristina wrote about a new challenge facing her family.  It is a challenge that Linda has faced three times over, I will be facing for the first time this year, and many of you have or will experience in the near future.  Read along as she explores what to do
September was busy. And crazy. After all the busy we encountered last year, I was really hoping for something better. This is probably unrealistic of me. As they age, my children have gotten more busy, not less. This September saw a new chapter of growing pains: college.
For those of you with younger children, let me explain. Somewhere around 8th grade, the questions that swirl around your homeschooling begin to change. Instead of "what about socialization?" you hear "is she going to high school?" Once you say you are continuing homeschooling, the question becomes, "What about college?" We live in an age when college preparation can begin with the right daycare center, so I suppose we have been a bit more insulated from this issue than the average parent, but once the question started coming, it was relentless.
The problem was that Marina is highly intelligent and well read. She easily conversed with the adults she met. Everyone she spoke to was impressed by her ability to talk on various subjects. When I first heard the question, I was extremely laid back about the issue--She's only 14! What's the rush? I didn't start college until I was almost 19! She doesn't know what direction she wants to take yet. We wouldn't have the money for it anyway.--It soon became clear that this was only the beginning.
By the time she was 15, the high schoolers we knew had taken up the chant. Marina fielded various questions about whether she was going to college, which colleges she was considering, had she taken the SAT, and "what do you want to study?" I think that last question is what broke her. When you are multi-talented, it is hard to pick one area of focus. She started having moments of anxiety and depression that she hid very well from others, but not from me. Part of the reason I stopped reporting her at 16 was to allow her room to explore. She wasn't going to do this as long as I was filling out quarterlies and having my own little panic attacks every three months. It also didn't help that her two best friends had opted to go to high school. We were running out of homeschooled teens for her to connect with.
Long story short, when we were given the opportunity to attend a homeschooling information meeting at the local college, we took it. Which led to us going through the application process and placement tests. That led to her enrollment this September in an English 101 class. Which, in turn, has led to many tears this September as she worried about finding the class and as she tries to understand the professor's instructions, hyper-focuses on assignments, and worries about the teacher falling behind in her own schedule. Meanwhile, I am kicking myself for allowing us to get swept up in the college craziness. I'm not quite sure how we got here so fast.

Some lessons I've learned along the way...
  • I really wish I had encouraged her to start with something she was more interested in, like Italian. Frankly, I should have insisted on this. The English teacher she has is known to be tough. Several students had dropped her class by the third week.
  • I am glad we decided to start with only one class. We're in no rush here. She's only 17.
  • It would have been better to have her face the placements with less fear. If she could have spent a year--even six months--reviewing algebra and practicing essay writing, I think she would have been much more relaxed for the testing situation.
  • I don't regret skipping the SAT.
  • The majority of her peers right now are kids right out of high school, so she really isn't the youngest person there.
Some lessons she is learning...
  • She needs to learn to write faster for class activities.
  • She likes that people she meets on campus don't automatically ask what grade she's in or what school does she go to.
  • She isn't the only one to panic over assignments. Just today, the professor had to push a deadline back another week because students were anxious about completing it in time. (In their defense, they would only have had one day to finish this particular assignment.)
  • Being a student with a part-time job means she needs to improve her time management.
  • Saying no is easier when you blame college assignments.
  • The professor's schedule is not written in stone. It's more like guidelines.

I know things will settle down eventually. I simply wish I had not allowed the wave of outsiders' opinions to push us here before we were ready. I want my kids to make decisions in a calm and well thought out way, not to please me or anyone else. Apparently, I'm still fighting that urge to please others!
You can read more of Cristina's writing at


  1. thanks for the new post. We are right in line with these panic attacks. Which way do we go? Which way do we go?
    Her article really helped bring some calm to my chaotic mind.

  2. Thank you for the warm welcome, Arby!

    Twisted: I'm glad my experience could be of help to you. And just so you know, things are starting to calm down a bit now that my daughter has been at the college over a month!

  3. Welcome Cristina!! We're really happy to have you on the THA team!!

    The questions you fielded are a lot like the ones that we encountered as my daughters were nearing the high school/college years. The benefit I had was that my oldest knew exactly what she wanted to do (college and major) by the time she was a sophomore. It made the process so much less stressful for her. My middle daughter didn't have a clue and the whole thing stressed her out terribly!! And the youngest just completely ruled out college. Until a semester after she graduated from high school and realized that it was a really dumb idea NOT to go. So now she's in community college and juggling school/part-time. It's different for every child. Preparation is critical. And I think a "getting your feet wet" experience like your daughter is having is a GREAT idea!