What Can We Do Better?
Homeschool Students: Desirable Characterisitics and Suggestions
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College Professor Critiques Homeschoolerscopyright 2009 by Greg Landry, M.S.
I teach sophomore through senior level collegestudents - most of them are "pre-professional"students. They are preparing to go to medicalschool, dental school, physical therapy school,etc.
As a generalization, I've noticed certaincharacteristics common in my students who werehomeschooled. Some of these are desirable,some not.
1. They are independent learners and do a greatjob of taking initiative and being responsiblefor learning. They don't have to be "spoon fed"as many students do. This gives them an advantageat two specific points in their education;early in college and in graduate education.
2. They handle classroom social situations (interactions with their peers and professors)very well. In general, my homeschooled studentsare a pleasure to have in class. They greet mewhen the enter the class, initiate conversationswhen appropriate, and they don't hesitate toask good questions. Most of my students donone of these.
3. They are serious about their education and that's very obvious in their attitude, preparedness, and grades.
Areas where homeschooled students can improve:
1. They come to college less prepared in the sciences than their schooled counterparts -sometimes far less prepared. This can be especially troublesome for pre-professionalstudents who need to maintain a high gradepoint average from the very beginning.
2. They come to college without sufficienttest-taking experience, particularly with timed tests. Many homeschooled students have ahigh level of anxiety when it comes to takingtimed tests.
3. Many homeschooled students have problemsmeeting deadlines and have to adjust to that incollege. That adjustment time in their freshmanyear can be costly in terms of the way it affectstheir grades.
My advice to homeschooling parents:
1. If your child is even possibly collegebound and interested in the sciences, makesure that they have a solid foundation ofscience in the high school years.
2. Begin giving timed tests by 7th or 8th grade.I'm referring to all tests that students take, notjust national, standardized tests.
I think it is a disservice to not give studentstimed tests. They tend to focus better and scorehigher on timed tests, and, they are far betterprepared for college and graduate education ifthey've taken timed tests throughout the highschool years.
In the earlier years the timed tests should allowample time to complete the test as long as thestudent is working steadily. The objective is forthem to know it's timed yet not to feel a timepressure. This helps students to be comfortabletaking timed tests and develops confidence intheir test-taking abilities.
3. Give your students real deadlines to meet inthe high school years. If it's difficult for studentsto meet these deadlines because they'recoming from mom or dad, have them take"outside" classes; online, co-op, or communitycollege.
Greg Landry is a 14 year veteran homeschool dadand college professor. He also teaches one and two semester online science classes, and offersfree 45 minute online seminars.
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