Lauren Bird-Staff Writer
Every year, around 15-20 Dordt freshmen come from a homeschool background. This year, there are 18 freshmen at Dordt who were homeschooled. Though this number is small, these students have managed to stand out among the students at Dordt.
Janna Hulstein, assistant director of admissions at Dordt, is in charge of working with these students since they don’t have a guidance counselor like students who attended conventional high schools.
“These students and their parents have different questions (as compared to other students). I work with them on putting together transcripts and help them during the application process,” said Hulstein.
Hulstein has been working with homeschoolers for the past ten years at Dordt. She works with them regardless of where they’re from, but doesn’t work with the students who were dual enrolled in both public school and homeschool.
Homeschoolers, Hulstein has found, do really well at Dordt. One might think that these students have a hard time adjusting to college life, but Hulstein thinks just the opposite.
“I think they absolutely adjust well,” said Hulstein. “I don’t think that coming into college life for them is any different from other students. They’re used to being self-motivated and they know how to direct their studies.”
“I’d like to see the number of homeschooled students grow,” said Hulstein. “They’re a good fit at Dordt.”
David Mahlum, a senior at Dordt who was homeschooled before college, said he enjoys fitting in and adjusting to college life, which hasn’t been too difficult for him. Because he took some classes at a community college in high school, Mahlum was able to get a taste of what college is like.
“It gave me time to adjust to both the social atmosphere of academia and the load of school work,” said Mahlum.
However, Mahlum misses the free time that he had while homeschooled.
“I miss all the personal time and space of being homeschooled,” said Mahlum. “I feel like I learned better when I had space to read and write and do math homework. Here at college I feel as though there are too many things to do.”
Scheduling seems to be a big part of what sets homeschooling apart from college life. Maria TeKolste, a sophomore at Dordt, finds that college is more scheduled than being homeschooled.
“I have to sit in class and even though I may have picked up the information quickly, I still have to learn at everyone else’s pace,” said TeKolste. “There are more people in the class than just me.”
Like TeKolste, Elle Jelinek, also a sophomore, misses the freedom she had in her studies.
“When I was homeschooled, I could just pick up my studies and travel,” said Jelinek. “I could work ahead and there was the freedom to pursue what I liked more.”
On the other hand, Nathan Walter, another sophomore, disagrees with TeKolste and Jelinek about the difference in scheduling.
“Homeschoolers and college students set their own schedules,” said Walter. “You have to determine when to do homework, when to play, and what events to attend. You have to set priorities and manage your time so that your work gets done in the midst of all the free time. I think homeschooling prepared me for that aspect of college.”
TeKolste also believes that homeschooling helped her with time management skills.
“It helped that I was homeschooled because it means I’m independent already,” said TeKolste. “I know how to learn on my own and set my own schedule.”
These time management skills are important in college since there are so many things to do. In spite of this, David Mahlum has still found time to build relationships and have fun.
“I love seeing friends and people everywhere here at college as opposed to just on special occasions,” said Mahlum. “Because I have many interactions with friends here, I learn social norms much faster than at home.”
Nathan Walter appreciates the way that homeschooling can prepare students socially in other ways as well.
“Homeschooling naturally creates self-motivation in individuals,” said Walter. “It taught me to take initiative, pursue excellence, and go the extra mile. It prepared me to stand on my own two feet, make my own decisions, and engage the world around me with a solid Christian worldview.”