Age

20

Current country

United States

When did you unschool?

2012-2017

Where did you "graduate"?

Texas

Describe your childhood education (through age 12).

I went to public school until age 12-13. Even though I went to school my parents were very open about how I spent my time, and they always encouraged me to try new things and figure out what I liked. Other than having to go to school during the week, my life wasn’t super structured. It was mostly up to me to decide how I wanted to spend my time.

Describe how you interacted with other kids around your age in your childhood.

When we first started homeschooling we were involved in a homeschooling group where I met a lot of friends. I never saw age as an important factor when socializing, because when I was growing up I was encouraged to hang out with adults and younger kids as much as kids my own age. During family events there wasn’t ever a “kids” table. 

Who made the decision to unschool you?

There was a lot of trial and error during this time. At first we used a curriculum, but when we realized it wasn’t doing much for me we moved to a more freeform approach. When I was younger I had a lot more structure, but as I got older I was free to learn pretty much anything at any time. By the time I was seventeen my learning was pretty much entirely in my own hands. 

Describe your education in your teen years (ages 13-18).

In my younger teen years I went to park days and game days, and as I got older I was able to hang out with those same friends in different settings. I also joined a book group when I was sixteen. 

Describe how you interacted with other people around your age in your teen years.

In my younger teen years I went to park days and game days, and as I got older I was able to hang out with those same friends in different settings. I also joined a book group when I was sixteen. 

Describe how you interacted with people much older or younger than you during your teen years.

For my first job I worked in an engineering company, so I worked around a lot of people older than me. It always came naturally. I’ve always liked kids, too. I feel like I can be really playful, so being around kids feels easy.

Did you receive a high school diploma or equivalent?

I did!

During your teen years, what did you end up focusing on, working on, or learning?

I was always very into the arts. For a while I painted, and then I started focusing on film, photography, and culinary arts. I was always encouraged to read, too, since a lot of people in my family love books. I was always absorbing all sorts of information. 

How did you make the decision to go to college?

I chose to take a few community college courses, and now I’m looking forward to attending culinary school in the spring. 

What are you studying?

I studied photography for a few semesters, and now I’m going to study food! 

What was the hardest part of the transition to college?

I’m not very good at sticking to a super strict educational process. I tend to get bored/feel trapped if the program goes on for long enough. 

Do you feel like your unconventional upbringing made getting into college more easy, more difficult, or both?

I don’t think my upbringing really affected my outlook on college. I think it has more to do with my personality. 

Did you feel pressure to attend college? Did that pressure come from within your family or from outside of your family?

At first I felt a lot of pressure, but strangely enough that pressure just came from seeing other kids I knew go off to college. I was afraid I was missing out on an experience that I wouldn’t be able to recreate. 

Describe the kinds of jobs you’ve had in life so far.

I worked at an engineering company as an assistant/secretary.

What is your current job?

I’m a hostess at a restaurant. 

Why did you choose your current job?

I’m going into the food industry, so I wanted a job that would help me transition into it. 

Did your unconventional upbringing make it easier or more difficult to find paid work?

Maybe easier? Both of my parents are really hard workers, so I think they gave me a strong work ethic. Being homeschooled also might make employers curious about you, which could give you a better chance. 

What advice would you give to someone beginning their unschooling/alternative schooling journey?

Don’t worry about being different from the kids who aren’t homeschooled! Being homeschooled doesn’t make you weird. Also, spend your time doing things you enjoy because you’re lucky to have that time. 

What advice would you give to their parents?

Remember that kids are really good at teaching themselves. As long as you offer them the opportunity to decide what they want to learn, you won’t mess them up.

If you choose to have children, what school/unschool experience would you want for them?

I’d want it to be similar to my own! I’d encourage them to read a lot, to be curious, and to follow their curiosities. Kids should be able to grow! 

Published: August 2019