Tell us about yourself? What grade are you in, how long have you been homeschooling/online schooling?
I’m in twelfth grade now, and I started homeschooling in ninth grade. Throughout high school I’ve mainly taken Kolbe online classes, but I’ve also taken a couple online classes from other sources, some community college classes, and some classes at home from Kolbe homeschool curricula. Before homeschooling I attended public school for four years, a Catholic primary school for three years, and a Catholic all-girls high school for two years.
What is your favorite subject?
I enjoy most subjects. I’ve taken some really awesome theology and history classes. I also really enjoy math, science and Latin.
What advantages have you experienced because of this educational model?
I’ve really loved the flexibility of being able to choose my courses based on my interests, values and abilities, rather than having to follow a rigid and in-adaptive curriculum and being limited by the resources of a single school. I’ve also benefitted from the ability to adjust my own schedule. Since I only have a few live classes to attend each week, I can take a lot of opportunities and do things that most full-time students wouldn’t be able.
How has schooling with Kolbe been a benefit to your family?
Aside from it giving me a great education, my schooling with Kolbe has made it easier for my family to attend daily Mass. It also allows me to spend more time with my family, especially my mom and sister who are usually at home. In all I think I’ve been much more engaged in family life than most high school students are able to be, which I’m sure has been a huge benefit to my formation.
My younger brother also homeschooled with Kolbe for a year (last year). I’m sure he’d say he benefitted from that as well, though I can’t speak for him.
We hear about the benefit of homeschooling not being all-consuming for students. If this is your experience, what do you do your free time? How has that supported your formation as a person?
I definitely find that homeschooling leaves a lot more time free than attending school, and I really value having time to pursue my interests and enjoy myself outside of academics. To be honest, most days I spend my free time listening to music, messing about with our piano, reading, or sleeping. However, when the mood strikes me, I sometimes take on creative projects (like sewing curtains), cook a meal (or bake some bread), or go exploring either alone or with friends (sometimes in the city, sometimes the wilderness). It’s really important to me to have the time to do some things just because I want to, because when my obligations become all-consuming it becomes difficult for me to even remember what it is I like to do, and this is very discouraging. Besides, knowing I will have time to relax and pursue other interests makes school-time exponentially more enjoyable as well.
Do you feel like your education is tailored to your needs and interests? What have you discovered about yourself through the educational model?
I really think it has been, which is quite possibly the biggest benefit of homeschooling for me. I’ve learned a lot about what kind of education works best for me through trial and error. I know now that it’s important for me to have a clear structure in my classes, and that the more depth of understanding about a topic I’m able to pursue and achieve, the more I’ll enjoy learning about it. I’ve learned that all the resources I need to learn something new have always been available to me, and that all I need is the creativity determination to use them. But I’ve also learned to appreciate the value of a good teacher.
What does she want to do when you graduate?
I plan to attend Christendom College after graduating (I just sent in my enrollment deposit a few days ago!), which I am extremely excited about. After that I think I will most likely enter the Colettine Poor Clares, but all in God’s time, yes?
What role does the faith play in your education?
The Faith is the Truth, and the purpose of education is coming to know truth, so the Faith serves as a reference point for everything I learn. It animates every subject and links them all together.
What are some misconceptions or concerns about homeschooling?
I think people often think that homeschooling means that your only teachers are your parents, which raises concerns about how they can possibly be qualified to teach every single subject at a high school level. This is very much a false assumption, though, since homeschooling allows students to learn from many sources. People also seem to worry that homeschooling is isolating. I think it is generally true that homeschooled students spend less time with peers than other students, but I also think it is a false assumption that spending ¼ or more of their waking hours in a week with a large group of peers during school hours is necessarily beneficial to students. There are plenty of good opportunities to socialize outside of school.
Socialization? Have you made friends? Do you feel supported and involved?
I think one of the benefits of homeschooling is that it allows me to form friendships more naturally and freely than I did when in school. When I was in school, I never really made friends outside of my class, although my classmates were not always the sort of people I would otherwise have chosen to make my friends. Since I started homeschooling, I see my friends less often (since I am not in physical classes with peers every day), but my friendships are much deeper and stronger, which I prefer. I keep in touch with many of my friends by writing letters, and we pray for each other every day. When I do see my friends I really enjoy spending time with them, going on picnics and doing all manner of other things we like to do.
Are your parents “home education experts” that spend all their time teaching you? Or does Kolbe make it easy even if your parents are not teachers by trade?
No, not at all. My dad works for a software engineering company and isn’t usually home during the day on weekdays. My mom is a very busy stay-at-home mom, and between errands, driving my siblings (and sometimes me) around, and everything else she has to do, she doesn’t really spend much time teaching me at all. I’ve had other professors for most of the classes I’ve taken throughout high school, through Kolbe Academy Online and other sources. For the classes I’ve taken with the Kolbe homeschool curricula, one of my parents will just spend a bit of time each week to grade my work, help me to study for exams, and occasionally try to help me understand certain points, and I’m still able to learn a lot and do well with the classes.
Do you feel prepared to face your next set of challenges?
Well, I’m not really sure what sort of challenges might be coming next for me, but I do feel excited for my next adventure and sure I’ll have the tools and help I need to face whatever comes. God doesn’t abandon me to the storms.
What are some useful tips on how to optimize this educational model for families who are unfamiliar or new to this model? What worked well for you?
I think optimizing will look very different for each individual and family, based on their needs and situation. Being flexible and willing to experiment and being attentive to what benefits and challenges each different approach brings is I think the best way to learn how to make this model work best for you.
What have you learned over the course of your studies?
Well, I’m not so wise as to be able to distil all the important things I’ve learned in years of learning important things into one statement. But I have learned that learning is awesome, and that nothing good and true is worthless when you see it in its proper place.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an incoming freshman?
I’d say, don’t try to make your experience with Kolbe’s high school program fit your expectations, but rather learn to enjoy it as it unfolds. Don’t get frustrated if it takes time to get your bearings and figure out how you can get the most out of this mode of education, if it’s new to you. As you learn more about how the program works over time, be willing to adapt and always be on the lookout for ways you could help yourself enjoy it even more!
You earned the highest score of in the country on the Classic Learning Test (CLT). Tell us about that experience. How did you prepare? Were you surprised by the results? Who contacted you, to let you know the great news?
I got the highest score for the September 29th test date this fall, which was my second attempt for the test. I scored three points higher than on my first try in May (all my improvement was in the quantitative reasoning section). Before the test in May I had looked through some questions in the preparation booklet, but I didn’t do much more preparation between the two test dates. I think I was mainly able to raise my score because I knew what to expect the test the second time, so my pacing was a lot better. I was fairly pleased with my score, but I was very surprised when I learned it was the highest in the country for that date. My mom got the call about it from Jeremy Tate, the president of the CLT.
Many thanks for the interview! And congrats once again on your CLT score. Any parting words of wisdom for us?
Thank you! I’m really a bit bewildered as to what made you choose me for this, but only hope something I said seems good to you! As for wisdom, the most important thing I know is that loving Heaven is the most important thing to do. I can always tell how well or badly my life is going by how I think of Heaven at the time. I don’t know what you’ll make of that, but that is all I have to say.