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left to right: Homeschool alumni Tim Pike, Elisabeth Pike, and Aaron Pike, all engineering students, pose for a portrait at the ARC on October 16.

Home-schoolers face 'culture shock' during transition to college

Aaron, Elisabeth and Tim Pike did not attend public school for grades K-12. Instead they were taught from the comfort of their own home.

The three siblings were part of about two million people who were home-schooled in the spring of 2010 in the U.S., according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Though they have faced minimal problems in the classroom, they have experienced a culture shock regarding some of the social aspects of college life. 

Chuck Lowery, an assistant professor of educational studies, said the concept of home schooling is “deeply rooted in our ideas of democracy” and people’s right to choose in society. The key to successful home schooling, he said, is having a good home environment, commitment to education and the resources to teach.

“I think students can potentially go through an entire career of home schooling, go into college and still do quite well,” Lowery, who was a public school teacher for 10 years and a principal for 10 years, said. “A lot of time in those situations, the parents go into it knowing they’re going to home-school their child. It could be for … conviction purposes, religious purposes.”

Lori Pike, the students’ mother who taught the majority of the curriculum, said her and her husband’s Christian faith played a major role in the decision to home-school their children. It was their “God-given responsibility,” she said.

Lori, who lives about two hours away from Athens in Mount Vernon, said she was able to teach concepts that are not taught in public schools, such teaching the Theory of Evolution alongside the Creation Theory.

When the parents decided to home-school their children, Lori said her family was living in the Washington D.C. area and were not impressed by the public school system.

Lori graduated from Ohio University in 1991 with a degree in music education, another reason that prompted the decision to home-school.

“We just heard a lot of positive things about home schooling, and because I was going to be a teacher, we thought it was a good fit,” Lori said.

Lori now teaches her five other children in their home in Mount Vernon and prepares them for different aspects of collegiate life.

“I tried to prepare them both spiritually and educationally,” she said.

Alongside a college preparatory curriculum — which included four math and science courses throughout high school — she taught her children how to show their faith in college and prepared them for questions about their faith.

Lowery said it is important for home-schooled students to gain perspectives of other worldviews and different individuals to prepare for college.

“If this is just a ‘I’m going to keep my kid under a rock and not let them experience life at all,’ throwing them onto a college campus after (being home-schooled) … could be a culture shock,” Lowery said.

Aaron, a senior studying civil engineering, said he gained people skills despite being home-schooled and is able to interact with people of all ages.

“(Home schooling is) good for learning how to communicate well with other people on serious things,” he said. “So now I’m more comfortable approaching someone regardless of how old they are.”

Elisabeth, a senior studying electrical engineering, found the classwork to be easier at college, she said. In high school, she said she received mostly Bs and Cs and some As. Since coming to college, she finds it easier to earn an A.

“(Our parents) didn’t care what letter grade we got or what percentage grade — they cared about what we learned,” Tim, a freshman studying civil engineering, said.

Though they have not experienced many problems with classwork, they said the culture of college and the attitudes of their peers shocked them.

“I suppose we sort of missed out on pop culture. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, but it was kind of a culture shock coming here to college,” Elisabeth said. “But I think that’s usually something that happens to everybody that comes to college. You just meet a bunch of different people with different backgrounds from yourself.”

Tim said he has difficulties connecting with his peers on a deeper level because they only want to discuss the social aspects of their lives.

“(The biggest shock was) the level of immaturity of most of the incoming freshmen,” he said. “I would really like to have a good conversation with somebody.”

Aaron said he still asks his parents for help on his schoolwork, but can go two or three weeks without calling them.

“I think that (our parents) know us a lot better than most parents know their kids just by being home,” Aaron said. “They know that, you know, ‘(We'll) be OK.’ ”


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