“Be confident in your experience and know you can adapt”
The first year of post-secondary can be nerve-wracking for anyone. But if you’re starting a new program after being homeschooled, you might be even more nervous.
For students coming from a homeschool environment, the biggest hurdle to overcome is understanding how post-secondary works, says Meredith Allan, NAIT’s rural community partnerships coordinator with student recruitment.
There are a few things parents, students and classmates can do to make the transition easier for everyone.
Research and plan
Allan advises parents to build post-secondary visits into their homeschool curriculum so students have an understanding once they arrive on campus.
“They can come for an advising appointment and get connected with tours. I really recommend that, to have that support,” she says. While visiting, prospective students learn about admission requirements, student activities, NAIT programs and get a feel for life on campus. “If they know the procedures, it’s easier for them to align their course work to help prepare,” says Allan.
“There’s a certain amount of stigma where people have this idea that homeschooling means you’re not social.”
Homeschooled students don’t have guidance counsellors, so she reminds parents to fill that role and talk to their child about career options.
Don’t single classmates out
Jonathan Drachenberg (Architectural Technology ’18) was homeschooled until Grade 9 before switching to traditional schooling for high school.
“There’s a certain amount of stigma where people have this idea that homeschooling means you’re not social,” he says. “We’re not socially stagnant.”
The NAIT grad says if there’s a former homeschool student in your class, just be kind. Treating them differently than other classmates may make the transition more difficult.
Once on campus, students should use every support available, Allan says.
“We have nurses, we have counsellors, people to support with education if you’re struggling, and financial aid,” she says. “If you’re a new student, try to be engaged as much as possible. Be a Campus Ambassador, [or try joining] clubs.”
Drachenberg chose to get involved. He was a Campus Ambassador during his time at NAIT, which gave him the opportunity to connect with students in other programs and learn more about the institution. He says the role was positive and contributed to a great school experience.
You’re not alone
“Traditional students and home-educated students share some common ground when it comes to being in a new environment,” Allan says. “Transit is new, [figuring out] where to live, what it’s like downtown – all students will find something in common with that and they can connect.”
“There’s always a little bit of anxiety when you’re doing something different,” he says. Whether you’re coming from a traditional high school or a homeschool, you can figure it out.
“Be confident in your experience and know you can adapt,” he says. “You’ll be fine.”