Living with a Schedule: Karen Poole’s Story

Stepping onto a college campus for the first time was not a big deal for me. I was ready to leave home. Tired of the monotony, drudgery of my daily life at home, I was excited to move on to bigger and better things.

Thankfully, my parents had never encouraged me to believe the typical mantras that many of our homeschooling friends encouraged, that 1) I shouldn’t go to college and have a career, or 2) women can go to college, but their main priority should be to find a husband.

I wasn’t fazed by the dorm life. I had grown up with 8 younger siblings, after all. Crazy and hectic was the norm. I wasn’t even concerned about the fact that I had 5 roommates in a small room my freshman year. We all shared growing up. That was normal life for me.

The atmosphere of the college wasn’t an issue. My parents both happened to be alumni, so I was familiar with the campus and the overall feel of the small Christian liberal arts college. I wasn’t even really concerned about not knowing a soul. I wasn’t overt or outgoing, but I was comfortable meeting new people and developing new friendships. Our close relationship with many of our “secular” neighbor friends growing up had provided a good background for that.

The classes weren’t really that big of a deal. I actually found them to be much easier than most of my peers, and didn’t have to work extremely hard to do fairly well. I graduated with a 3.64 GPA. None of these factors bothered me that much. NO, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the schedule. As an education major with a music minor, I had about 160 credits to cram into the shortest time possible. My family didn’t have very much money, and I didn’t have access to a job that would allow me to take the sometimes 6 years that many people allow themselves to graduate with an education major. This meant that I was constantly tired, always on the run, had many credits each semester plus the music electives and performing groups to fulfill my requirements for my minor. It was insane.

I went from the doldrums and lazy days of being homeschooled, where I could set my own schedule as long as I completed my assignments in a timely manner, to sometimes 8-10 hours of classes per day. Don’t get me wrong, college is exhausting for everyone. However, not having a structured routine or going through the high school experience, I did not have a clue as to what I was getting myself into schedule-wise. I ended up sleeping through classes and feeling guilty about it, going back to my dorm if I had more than a 45 minute creak to take a 20 minute nap, falling asleep in the library, etc., etc.

The routine was so different than my entire school experience, that it was almost mental overload. I wasn’t an organized person, and certainly wasn’t used to having to micro-manage my time to accomplish everything that needed to be done. However, I soldiered through. I didn’t quit. I drank 64 oz. sodas to keep me awake to finish projects and papers. I persevered.

And although I think my homeschool background failed to prepare me for that aspect of college, another trait got me through – flexibility.

Because, even though the overall experience could have knocked me out and I could have run away with my tail between my legs sobbing because I just couldn’t do it anymore, homeschooling taught me that it’s ok to be flexible. It’s normal for things not to go exactly the way that you planned them. Constant changes in plans – Dad has business colleagues over today so we have to clean the house instead of doing school this morning, or it just snowed 6 inches and we need to go shovel our elderly neighbor’s driveway – taught me that my life will never be just the way I want it, and that I need to adjust to what it is, make the best of it, and keep on going.

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