Guest blog by Bridgette Pasquarella
“Where did you go to school?”
That question. That simple question that most people can answer easily is much more complicated for me. When I say I was “homeschooled,” I brace myself for what comes next. Sometimes I just shoot out answers before they even have the chance to ask. Yes, my mother was my teacher. Yes, I went to school in my pajamas. Yes, I had homework. Yes, I know what 2+2 is. And yes, I have friends!
People love to blame every one of my faults on being homeschooled. You’re shy.You don’t own a Pokemon card. You’ve never been to Disney World. You’re short. You are obsessed with fluffy bunnies… Somehow this is all a result of my education. It used to bother me, but I refuse to let it anymore.
I am a graduate of Western Connecticut State University (WCSU). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Marketing. I graduated Cum Laude with a group of incredible friends and big dreams. By day, I work full time at my dream job in Manhattan. When I am not at work or commuting back and forth, I am just a normal 24-year-old spending time with my family or partying with friends. You would probably never even know I was homeschooled. Unless of course you recap childhood memories by grade and not age-then I will have to ask how old you were.
My grades all blended together because I worked as far ahead as I could. If you talked about “summer reading” I might ask, “Don’t you read all year long?” If you asked me about bullying, I might say that my sister always stole my crayons – does that count? I still don’t quite understand what an “open house” is if it takes place at a school. I might also get some weird looks when I say I can’t name the members of the Backstreet Boys, but other than that I like to think I am pretty indistinguishable from my public-schooled counterparts.
I even had a high school graduation. I got to pick the color of my cap and gown (I chose a pretty shade of pink!) and I got a diploma. I had a graduation ceremony and party to celebrate. Throughout my high school years, I kept track of all of the subjects I was learning and counted them as credits the same way a public school would. I took the required years of math, English, science, etc. When the time came to apply to college, WCSU had no problem accepting the transcript that we submitted. I took the ACT and submitted my test scores and I got accepted!
Once I got accepted into college, people started telling me I would never fit in, it would be culture shock and I would not do well. I have to admit, it was a little weird at first. I had no idea there were specific left and right-handed desks. Of course this righty would choose the only lefty desk to sit at the first day. When I was handed my first Scantron sheet (machine-readable papers which students mark answers to multiple-choice test questions), I was very concerned because I couldn’t find the test questions. When I had to write a short paper describing my favorite teacher from high school it turned out sounding like a Mother’s Day card. When we were put into groups to debate marijuana legalization, I was afraid my mom would find out that I finally ended up at a D.A.R.E. presentation. When I was asked to come to the front and write something on the board, I was so excited to do that for the first time, I think I knocked over my left-handed desk in my haste to get up.
I tried not to show that there were some things about “real school” I didn’t understand, and I was pretty successful. One professor was helping me prepare for a psychology conference where my research had been accepted for display. This professor popped “that question.” She told me I was one of her best students and asked where I went to high school. When I gave her my answer, the pure shock in her voice was insulting. Unfortunately, I got used to that response.
My senior year in college changed my whole perspective on my education and myself. I had finished my psychology degree requirements, so I used my remaining elective credits to earn a minor in marketing. I spent that year exclusively in WCSU’s business school – Ancell School of Business. My teachers and classmates were suddenly referring to me as the “psych major.” The focus wasn’t on my homeschooling any longer. Not only did I somehow meet my best friends in business school, but I also realized that it does not matter what your educational background is. People will always have a reason to point someone out for being different, regardless of where you went to school, or how much you know about left-handed desks.
I am not afraid anymore when people ask me “that question.” I am proud of my education and I am excited for where in life it brought me. I also understand that every defining quality about myself is not a result of being homeschooled. I met many shy people in college, and they never missed a day of public school in their life. It seems that people will sometimes pick an aspect of others that they don’t understand and try to use it to explain their behaviors. This isn’t always accurate, but it helps them make sense of those around them. The important thing in life is to make sure you don’t allow yourself to be labeled based on false assumptions.
I have learned to use my homeschooled background as a conversation starter, a fun fact about myself that people love to learn more about. When the stereotype comments come, I laugh and just let my personality shine through-a personality that may or may not be a result of my wonderful education.
Any student, whether a high school graduate of homeschooling, public school, or prep school, can have their diploma framed by designing their own frame.
There’s also Class of Photo Frames, Graduation Autograph Frames, and School Days Frames. If you’re into sports, there’s our Varsity Letter Frames.