From Homeschooling to College {Guest Post}

{The following post was written by Natalie Shull, former homeschooler. I thought it would be fun to read about someone transitioning from homeschool to college. Enjoy!}

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Natalie is on the left, in the purple jacket.

I tried not to think about it, but deep down, the idea of going to college intimidated me. I had been homeschooled since the days when “school” meant coloring and learning my letters, and as my high school graduation approached, vague anxiety settled a little heavier upon me.
I wondered if my love of learning was simply a byproduct of being homeschooled, and I would assume the anti-school sentiments that I often sensed from my public-schooled peers the moment I set foot in a classroom setting. I wondered what homework would be like. And my biggest worry, the thought that I returned to time after time: what about taking notes!? Do I write in a notebook? Does everyone bring a laptop to class? Do I write in pen? Pencil?
It sounds silly, of course, and maybe it was, but note-taking seemed like a fundamental aspect of education. If I couldn’t take notes correctly, I worried, then I’d never do anything right in college!
I had dreamed of attending Moody Bible Institute since I was 11 years old. In August 2011, my family drove a half hour from our home into downtown Chicago, and I became a Moody student. My college career had begun, and I was full-speed on my way to finding out what college is really like.
As I prepared this post, I scrolled back through journals and past blog posts and read what I’d written during my first weeks and months at Moody Bible Institute. I read those words and I remembered being overwhelmed. Moody has one student dining room and rather restricted dining hours, and I remembered how I tried so hard to avoid peak hours in the dining room. There is no lunch room in homeschooling, and sharing a table with twenty other people, while a couple hundred others ate at surrounding tables, struck me as loud, chaotic, stressful.

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Natalie in the front row, wearing the black belt.

I read what I’d written and I remembered the uncertainty of friendships in those early months. I firmly believe that the vast majority of homeschooled children are incredibly well adjusted and appropriately socialized. But well-adjusted or not, when you throw together 400 young people who are still figuring out their own identities and tell them to make friends, it gets a little rocky. Along with most of the other freshman around me, I blundered my way through meeting what seemed like innumerable new faces every day for weeks. Friendships started. Some of them died out after a week or two; others stuttered, stumbled, and hung on. Some are my closest friends now.

I didn’t have to read much of those freshman posts to remember the imminent threat of vulnerability that seemed to meet me at every turn. I had worked long and hard throughout high school to develop a relationship with Jesus that was just Him and me. I quite selfishly avoided situations that might involve truly sharing my heart with others, and attending a Christian college soon became the bane of my existence, at least where vulnerability was concerned. Classes, chapel, friendships with the girls on my floor; it seemed as if the honesty and vulnerability that I found so uncomfortable were waiting for me everywhere I looked.
I remember all of that.
But one of the best things about God is that He is faithful, and He’s too wise to leave any of His children where He found them. So He continued to grow me. I adjusted. Time spent in the dining room began to feel more like a party than a zoo. As unknown faces became friends and classmates, life on campus began to seem significantly less intimidating.
And a funny thing happened, as my heart began to soften to what God was teaching me, the idea of being really real, really me in my friendships seemed slightly less painful. As my trust in God’s sovereignty and His incomprehensible ability to care for me, sustain me, teach me developed, so did my friendships. I grew to love God more and more and simultaneously, my relationships with the girls around me grew in depth. I trusted His wisdom, and I trusted Him to use them in my life, and my friendships flourished.
And the actual schoolwork, you ask? Did my love for learning survive the transition from homeschool to college? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be reading my textbooks, working on next week’s papers, or sitting in class taking notes. In a notebook. With a pen.

{If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to check out Natalie’s blog over at Lead Me Where.}

8 thoughts on “From Homeschooling to College {Guest Post}

  1. A great read, and a good insight from someone going from homeschool to college. I have heard that it can be hard for some people, I guess it depends on the family and social environment you have had while growing up through those years homeschooling, I have enjoyed homeschooling, tho I was the opposite where I was in public school, and only started homeschool when I was 14, so I didn’t really experience a full life of homeschool.
    But it’s also good to read that it’s also helped your relationship with God grow too, I have heard and read that some go to college and they lose that closeness with God and the church, but that comes from a good and loving family upbringing and a true personal relationship with God, well done and keep up the good work. God bless for your continued time at college.

  2. Pingback: The Roommate is Photographed* | Lead Me Where

  3. Here’s what I notice: Nathalie is incredibly poised and writes very well–very clearly indeed. As it happens, I’m not a religious person, but her writing is so straightforward that I can understand what it feels like to experience religion in the way that she does. She’s obviously had a very good homeschooling experience–it was clear that she already had amazing study habits before she started college.

  4. As another gal who went straight from high school at home into the “real world”, I really appreciated the transparency of this post. Thanks for sharing! =)

    • Yes, I’m aware of that. We have no WiFi out here. In fact, we’ve tried to hook it up so he could play multi-player when we are out (like in the waiting room at the dentist) but Judah bought it used and we couldn’t manage to get it hooked up.

Please share your thoughts!