Jennifer Plymale

To most, when we hear about someone who is homeschooled, we stereotype them as awkward, anti-social, and sheltered. However, homeschooled students are often involved in extracurricular activities that get them out of the house and interacting with people their own age. Some homeschooled students are on travel athletic teams while others elect to find a job to help build a social life.

Daniel Dixon, a twenty year old programmer and software developer, experienced all of his education completely at home. Due to his ability to manage his own schedule, he began his job training early. With his dad and older brother already in that specialty, he was given the opportunity to get a hands experience in programming.

Because his experience proved his capabilities in this field, he decided not to attend college. “I know of people who’ve worked years for their bachelor’s degree in computer science and are still unable to get an I.T job after years of trying. A person needs experience to get a job to get experience,” said Dixon. He enjoys his job and is very thankful for the talents that he can show because of his schooling.

A new trend in homeschooling that provides opportunities for youth to get together, called a co-op, enhances a closer feel to a true high school life. Spending the past four years in Southside Homeschooled Academy, Dorrie Pegram views it as a time to become a better, well-rounded student. She is able to experience the different teaching styles and use newer techniques in accomplishing assignments. “I’ve always loved and believed strongly in the idea that school should teach kids how to think, not what to think. No matter what kind of school system you choose, if it succeeds in doing that with your child, then that’s what matters,” Pegram says.

The co-op setting allows Pegram to interact with people her age, and older, similar to situations public school students experience.

Getting into college is definitely one of the long term goals for the majority of homeschoolers. Shane Carruth has been looking to attend Regent University’s NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) program then enlist in the US Marine Corps. He believes being homeschooled has prepared him for this next step. “Growing up with a good deal of my time at home, I’ve learned very much of patience, dedication, responsibilities, and had then some tested by my simple everyday life,” Carruth said. Those characteristics will play an essential role in whatever life throws at him.

In the past, homeschool groups were unable, because of small numbers, to maintain a strong athletic program, and many colleges did not recognize the accomplishments of homeschooled athletes, but professional athletes like Tim Tebow are paving the way for homeschoolers to play sports on the teams of local public high schools. In Virginia, the Tebow Bill was narrowly passed by both the Senate and House, and it now awaits Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s signature.

Homeschoolers may soon join together with those who attend public school for one part of the educational experience.

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