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Thoughts for a Homeschooler Starting College

Tips for CollegeThis month’s article was written by my daughter, who is just starting her second year in college.

I have put together some thoughts and advice for a homeschooler going to college. I will not even try to help you choose where you go to college or what you major in college, but I do have some tips that apply to students at any college and with any major.
1. Scheduling and Deadlines
When I talked to some advisors and professors, they said the biggest problem they noticed previously homeschooled students struggling with was deadlines. In high school, we could postpone something, perhaps a paper, and do it after we visit friends or go camping. In college, this flexibility is rarely an option. To help stay on top of things, I recommend you invest in a daily planner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something you can write meetings and assignment deadlines in, as well as dedicating time to study. If you shudder at the idea of writing in planner, there are whiteboard calendars you can hang in your room. You don’t have to carry it everywhere, and you can erase things as you do them. Bottom line, write things down, including time to study in your schedule.
2. Utilize professors
Our teachers in high school were wonderful and did all they could to help us learn. That said, chances are they did not know too much about biochemistry or the history of Japan in the 1800s. In college, when we need in depth information, there are professors available who do nothing but teach and research their subjects. In most cases, their utmost goal is to teach other people about their area of interest. If you are confused or just have questions, go to your teacher’s office hours, or the office hours of a different professor. You never know when a different way of explaining something may make everything clear. Professors sit in their offices for hours waiting for students to show up and ask questions. When you do, they will be able to address anything that confuses you and get to know you by name. Also, since they know you are trying to understand the information, their grading may be swayed in your favor later on.
3. Clubs and Organizations
As a homeschooler, your opportunities for extracurricular activities may have been limited. Unless you worked with a local high school or a homeschool cooperative, your school did not have a marching band or quiz bowl. Once you are in college, the opportunities are unlimited. Some examples from my university include greek life, any sport imaginable, pre-professional for every profession, a gaming club, a Harry Potter fan group, and religious and church student fellowships. While you may want to join ten of the clubs at your university and start a cupcake club with your friends, you should try to limit yourself. There will probably be an information day where clubs give you information. Find out when they meet to eliminate some you could not go to anyway, then give your email to the rest. They will contact you about their meeting time and location so you can go to their first meeting. If the meeting is boring to you, or you find yourself too busy to join that club, it is completely acceptable to not join.
4. Don’t Worry
Finally, don’t stress yourself out too much about college. There will be challenges and difficulties in your college career, but you are prepared to take them on. You have been trained to succeed academically and socially in any environment. Chances are, cafeteria food will not kill you, your randomly assigned roommate is not a psychopath, and you will not become lost for days in the halls of your dormitory. You are prepared to an above-average level and will not be negatively affected at all by homeschooling. For me, the only weakness being homeschooled has caused is that I cannot get my locker-style mailbox open.

Here are some sites that have helped me over the last year.
For paper format and citations, try these sites:
http://www.citationmachine.net/
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
As you schedule your classes, this site is helpful, although a bit ad-laden:
https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/
For tutorials on math, chemistry, and physics concepts:
https://www.khanacademy.org/
For your foreign language, this is a great free online Spanish/English dictionary:
http://www.spanishdict.com/