Federal Relations

Bright Spots in Home Schooling

June 4, 2003  

Homeschoolers Make USA Today Academic Team

Chad Chisholm would be considered by many to be a pretty normal guy. A resident of the Denver suburb of Evergreen, he began his education at Red Rocks Community College after completing his high school requirements.

But there are a few things that make him stand out.

Chisholm was 15 when he first set foot inside a community college as a student … not to mention the fact that he was homeschooled.

This ambitious home-educated student, now 16, joins Jennie Bauman of Texas, 18, and Chris Burton of Arizona, 20, as part of USA Today's 2003 All-USA Community and Junior College Academic Teams, which consists of only 20 people. That's nearly a fifth of the entire team; not bad for three students who represent a movement that makes up less than 2% of the school-age population.

"These students come from all walks of life to excel in scholarship, leadership and public service," said USA Today's editor Karen Jurgensen, describing the team in an April 7th article entitled, "Where all walks of life converge."

And indeed these homeschoolers have proved themselves to be of an elite crowd. Chisholm has been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for 400 hours of community service, was Phi Theta Kappa Vice President of Five-Star Chapter Alpha Kappa Sigma, and served as student body President when he was only 15, and has a 3.81 GPA. Bauman was elected president of the honor society, named her college's Chemistry Student of the Year at age 16, and presented papers at regional C.S. Lewis literary conferences, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. Burton served his community by coordinating beautification drives, is in charge of his campus's international education week, was named the New Century Scholar of Arizona by the Coca-Cola foundation, and manages an "online classic video business in partnership with Amazon.com." He also has a GPA of 4.0 at his college.

For these college-goers, age is nothing. "By the time [everyone knew my age], no one cared," stated Chisholm simply. "Although I was fifteen and sixteen while attending the school, I made many, many friends and did not feel out of place at all."

Bauman added that she had to get used to attending a school with students who were as much as ten years older than her. "I think homeschooling contributed to this comfort level a great deal because I was used to relating to people of other age groups and not only my peers," she said.

Indeed, these days the social aspect of schooling takes almost as much space in newspaper stories as academia, if not more. It's an area in homeschooling that is oft-criticized by those outside the homeschooling sphere, These three say, however, it's nothing to worry about.

"People often ask me 'Do you think you missed out on any of the social stuff of a public school?' to which my reply is 'Well, my mom would let me out of my cage in the basement to see sunlight once a month…'" joked Chisholm.

"My homeschooling prepared me to interact with people of all ages far better than any public school system could have," agreed Burton.

"In homeschooling, I learned to teach myself which is a critical asset in college," said Bauman. "Of what I have seen of public schools, the instructors spoon-feed the students."

"I was very much a self-directed learner," said Burton. "It was always 'Learn it for your benefit, or don't.' My mother helped show me the way, and let me make the journey."

But they know that academics is not the only thing in life, or even the most important, for that matter. "I learned that putting family first is one of the most crucial aspects of life," said Bauman.

As these three students lead a generation of home-educated youth, there is yet one more advantage that they take with them into the future.

"Lots of freshmen spend the first semester figuring out who they are," said Bauman. "Because I was homeschooled, I was one step ahead."

 Other Resources

Where all walks of life converge (USA Today)

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