Marquette Wire

More home-schooled students look to college

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"I was used to getting things out of the fridge," Stowers said. "I wasn't sure how it all worked. I didn't know what the rules were for standing in line.",”Upon arriving at Marquette as a freshman last year, Rachel Stowers said the biggest change was adjusting to the cafeteria.

"I was used to getting things out of the fridge," Stowers said. "I wasn't sure how it all worked. I didn't know what the rules were for standing in line."

Stowers, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, was home-schooled until coming to Marquette.

She said that apart from the cafeteria, college was not a big adjustment for her.

"I was really excited about college the idea of being in a class, the idea of having professors and getting to know kids who are different from me," Stowers said.

Stowers and her five siblings were home-schooled by their mother, who wanted to be more involved with their education, Stowers said.

Stowers said more and more people are home schooling their children.

The number of home-schoolers is increasing by about seven to 15 percent a year, according. Ian Slatter, director of media relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The group is a non-profit organization that defends parents' rights to educate their children at home. Slater said an estimated 1.9 million to 2.4 million are home-schooled nationwide.

He said as the number of home-schoolers increases, so does the number of college applications by such students. He said many colleges have created a home-school admissions policy or an admissions officer to deal with home-schoolers on a case-by-case basis.

"Over the last 10 years, because colleges are recognizing that home-schoolers come ready to learn, learning independent research-they're very, very good students," Slatter said. "Now colleges are reaching out to home-schooler communities and calling them to apply."

While Marquette does not have definitive numbers on how many home-schooled students are currently enrolled, Roby Blust, dean of undergraduate admissions, said has seen an upswing in home-schooler admissions.

"More home-schoolers are focusing in on college where maybe that wasn't the case in the past," Blust said.

Home-schoolers applying to Marquette must fill out an application and attend a mandatory interview. Blust said for the current semester, he interviewed 20 to 25 students, a high percentage of whom were accepted.

Blust said he looks in detail at home-schooled students' test scores and academic preparation, trying to fill in gaps that might appear on their transcripts.

"I try to gauge how mature they are in terms of their readiness for overall college life, and gauge a little bit more about their home schooling experience," Blust said.

Anna Toshach, a junior in the College of Business Administration who also was home-schooled until she went to college, said the interview was to see if she was a well-rounded student and prepared for college.

"He was trying to make sure I wasn't going to be overwhelmed with work and people and just leave," Toshach said.

College is a big adjustment for everyone, Slatter said, and home-schoolers do not have a much different experience dealing with their freshman year than other students.

"They're very well-socialized and used to dealing with adults," Slatter said.

Toshach said it was not hard for her to adjust because she attended a co-op three days a week for many of her classes while taking high school courses.

She said she also enjoyed the freedom of home schooling. The only thing she missed out on were high school dances, she said.

Toshach's mother, Julie Toshach, said she sometimes worries that her kids missed out on school.

"School is such a big part of our culture, I sometimes feel bad that they will not have the same high school memories," Julie Toshach said.

Overall, Julie Toshach said she's glad she home-schooled her kids because of the time she spent with them.

Stowers said she doesn't feel she missed out on anything and said she made many home-schooler friends.

"A lot of people think they're all denim skirt-, white tennis shoe-wearing kids who all look the same and are awkward, but most are really normal, happy kids," Stowers said.

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