How homeschool students perceive their experiences influencing academic and social integration in college

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


K-12 homeschool enrollment in the United States has increased to over two million students since legalization in 1993. As more homeschoolers enroll in higher education, colleges are taking notice of potential opportunities and obstacles they bring to campus from their homeschool experience. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of how homeschool students perceived their experiences contributing to academic and social integration in college. Eleven state university and nine community college students participated in personal, face-to-face interviews using open-ended questions providing opportunity for students to tell the story of their personal homeschool experiences. Two themes evolved from the interviews as influential to integration: homeschool platform and student learning characteristics. Student learning characteristics consisted of self-discipline, independence, memorization, organization, and respect functioning as both obstacles and opportunities to college integration. Homeschool platform evolved from one-on-one instruction to student self-instruction, allowing flexibility to engage in self-discovery experiences developing capital with similar and diverse individuals. These relationships helped transition to academic and social integration. A sense of belonging was a product of the relationships built through integration and contributed to student engagement and satisfaction. Data showed homeschool students come to college with student learning characteristics to self-instruct, ability to develop relationships through respect, and gain respect from peers because of their morals and values. Relationships with individuals sharing similar interests provided students confidence to enroll in early start college courses to better understand college expectations. Limitations of the homeschool experience as students transitioned to college included: working in group projects, peer relationships with diverse individuals, and college expectations. Working on group projects caused anxiety for students due to their motivation for academic excellence and lack of interpersonal trust to allow peer responsibility of projects. Uncertainty of college expectations became evident as students enrolled in college with limited experience outside homeschool education. Students lacked experience using text books, taking notes, lectures, schedules, and inability to progress at their own pace. As homeschool students enter higher education, institutions have the capacity to address obstacles and opportunities they bring to campus to enhance their college experience.




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