First Week of University to my Master’s in Education: Ellen Martin’s Story

In May of 2014, I graduated with my Bachelor of Honour’s Degree, with a major in Sociology. As I prepared to walk across the stage to receive my degree, I reflected on my experiences that had brought me here to this moment — from kindergarten through my final project in my fourth year of my undergraduate program. This was an accomplishment I never expected to achieve. Along my educational journey, I had family question the home education method, and occasionally I had even questioned it myself. The result of my home education was a success. As I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelor’s Degree, I realized that homeschooling did provide me with success. It provided me with the success I needed to succeed in post-secondary education. The following narrative will tell of my experiences and challenges that I had in order to get where I am now — currently completing my Masters of Education degree and beginning my career. After graduation, I hope to gain employment as a School Administrator or within the alternative learning spectrum. My ultimate goal is to eventually operate my own private alternative learning school to provide children with the individualized attention similar to that which I received during my education years. I hope to reach underprivileged students who do not have the resources or encouragement to be successful in school.

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through grade twelve. I never set foot in a public school classroom until I volunteered in one during my first year of university. Growing up, I was often asked “do you like being homeschooled?” I did not know how to answer, since I did not know anything other than homeschooling. I always answered “yes”, since I did love it and was not aware of anything else. I was a very self-disciplined child and completed the majority of my work independently.

My parents never pushed for me to attend college or university. My parents made it clear that it was my choice. Most of the pressure to attend stemmed from my extended family. I did not know what I was going to do after I graduated high school, so I applied. Obtaining acceptance to university was easier than I anticipated, although I did not know what to expect. I simply had to submit an essay and the transcripts my mom wrote that stated all of the high school courses I took. My dad was not entirely happy about me attending school, but grew to accept it once I was enrolled. My mom was happy I was going and dedicated much time to editing my essays.

My first week of university was extremely overwhelming. The feeling I felt when I walked into orientation is indescribable. Although it is a small school, there were still more people than I was used to. I found my seat amongst hundreds of other first year students in the gymnasium, and the program began. Orientation was very informative and I became less anxious and more excited as the day went on. The administrative aspect of university was explained along with what to expect in the classes. The following day was my first day of classes. Because I had spent some time exploring the campus on my own the previous day, I easily navigated my way to class. I enjoyed my classes and easily made friends with a few people. One friend in particular I made during my first week of university was in three of my five classes. I remember her frequently saying “I’m going to socialize you.” She did. She made the transition to university easier in that we quickly became good friends and provided me with companionship on a daily basis. At the end of my first week of classes, I felt extremely overwhelmed but confident that I would be successful.

My first semester was enjoyable, although burdensome. I learned how to be successful in university. One new experience university brought me was writing tests, as I did not write tests during my homeschooling years. I did poorly on the first two tests I wrote. After this, I researched different ways to study and figured out which methods worked best for me. Since this was a new experience to me, learning how to study for tests was one of the biggest challenges I faced. Being amongst several other students, up to 80 in some classes, was a huge change. After the first few weeks, it became normal. The adjustment was not as significant as people assumed it would be for me.

I feel that I was prepared for university because I was accustomed to learning and studying independently. Although homeschooling provided me with a sense of responsibility for my learning, part of my self-discipline comes from my personality. Throughout university, I knew what needed to be done by what date. I made efforts to complete the work in advance. My parents through home education helped to instill this into my character by encouraging me to set my own goals and routes to achieve them. Because of this, I became very self-disciplined from an early age. This transferred to my post-secondary studies in that I would become determined to complete the assigned work when it was given, rather than waiting until a later date. I did not feel as prepared as I should have been for the social aspect. I quickly adjusted to the many people in my classes, however.

I am currently completing my Master’s thesis before graduating with my Masters of Education. The transition to university from being homeschooled was very overwhelming. I adjusted more quickly than I anticipated. I felt that I was on par with my peers in terms of academics. Although my homeschooling experience was not entirely positive, it did provide me with the skills I needed to be successful in university.

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