Despite stereotypes, some say homeschooling prepares students well for the rigors of BYU

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A student studies on campus. Despite stereotypes, homeschooling prepared some BYU students well for classes on campus. (BYU Photo)

Pop culture typically portrays those who were homeschooled as awkward, socially inept and unable to keep up with schoolwork in a public school environment. Despite this, BYU students have found that homeschooling prepared them well for the rigors of college.

BYU student Dallin Kaufman went to public school until the seventh grade when his parents began to homeschool him.

“Homeschool and public school are two completely different mentalities,” Kaufman said.

According to Kaufman, his parents’ end goal with homeschooling was to teach their children to love learning and to continue to love learning throughout their lives — not just to hit educational benchmarks set by a third party.

At first, switching from public school to homeschooling was difficult, because Kaufman’s family was working to figure out a dynamic that worked for them. During public school, they had the mentality of receiving assignments, completing them and being done with school for the day.

Eventually, they “got into the groove” of learning about topics that interested them, which allowed Kaufman and his siblings to get curious about things and learn about their environment, which he believes helps him to succeed at BYU, he said.

David Higham, a married BYU student who hopes to homeschool his children in the future, said that decision came from his positive experience being homeschooled when he was growing up.

“Each morning we had early morning seminary, then we then would have an hour or two to do stuff on my own,” he said. “I took core classes from a teacher, and we would meet once or twice a week.”

Math, science, history and writing were covered by a teacher for his homeschool group, while he learned other topics from an online curriculum implemented by his mother. The online curriculums covered topics such as literature, and the coursework was done independently.

By the time Higham was in high school, he was completely self-led and did not need his mom’s supervision to complete his work and schedule his days.

Higham has noticed when he tells other BYU students he was homeschooled for all 12 years of his formative education, they are surprised, because of stereotypes that have been built up about the homeschooled community.

“I think everyone does have an idea of what the stereotype is in their head: super awkward, doesn’t talk to anyone and that sort of thing,” he said. “I like to think that I don’t fit that stereotype at all.”

Statistics show facts about homeschooling from a survey done across the U.S. Some BYU students have said that the rigor they experienced during homeschooling was greater than that at BYU. (Stacia O’Leary)

Although initially, some may have questions about his experiences, Higham said he has not had an interaction that questioned the validity of homeschooling or the caliber of education that can come from the experience.

“No one really questions the level of education that comes out of homeschooling, but they do question everything else about you,” he said. According to ThinkImpact, homeschooled students, on average, score between 80% and 90% on standardized tests, regardless of the level of education their parents have.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, only 3.4% of children ages K-12 were homeschooled. Since the pandemic, 9% of students are reported to be in homeschool, almost tripling the percentage of students across the country participating in homeschooling.

One difference between public school students and homeschool students when applying for BYU is the application itself. Public school students are required to submit a copy of their high school transcripts.

Most homeschooled students do not have transcripts. Depending on the state, they will be required to submit a GED or an equivalency exam. In other cases, their standardized test scores are considered to represent their entire academic application.

Madelyn and Adam Baxter, siblings from Maryland, have enjoyed their academic experience at BYU, and both experienced a transition of social environments from homeschooling to BYU.

Adam said his family was involved in a homeschooling group, allowing him to make friends with people his age and have a social environment. He also said the transition to living on campus and being constantly surrounded by people has been enjoyable. According to Baxter, he likes always having the opportunity to be with people, and not needing to drive to go see his friends.

Madelyn enjoyed the social elements of her homeschooling group and, when given the opportunity in high school to transition to public school, chose to stay in homeschool to be with her friends.

“I had really good friends and I did a lot of homeschool groups for class and it was a big part of what made me decide to stay home,” she said.

When Madelyn moved to Provo to attend BYU, she had more of a difficult time, especially because she had lived in the same place her whole life and had the same friends for most of her formative years.

“It was different and it was a little tough — it took me a while to make friends at BYU, but also I have a lot of friends and cousins here at BYU who went to public school and had a similar experience, so I don’t necessarily think it was because of homeschool,” she said. 

At the end of the day, all students who have been accepted to BYU have fit the standards required by the university for admittance. Regardless of the schooling route taken by individual families, every student can find a place where they belong on campus.

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