I don’t know how common it is, but I was home schooled all through High School. My teen years were tumultuous to say the least. One day I’d be happy to share those trials with you, but thats a long sad story for another day. The short version is there were years of emotional abuse and I ended up dropping out of High School to take care of my little brothers (one was a preteen, the younger was a toddler.) When I was 16 we lived in Ohio, Mom kicked me and the elder of my two younger brothers out.
I went to live with my grandparents in Texas and they enrolled me in High School, but too much time had passed. All of my friends were ahead of me and I just didn’t have the kinda of support I needed to find my way again. So, my Grandmother took initiative and enrolled me in Penn Foster School for Business, which had a program for anyone who wanted a diploma. So I worked full time at WalMart and worked through my courses online and by mail.
I am grateful to my Grandmother and the people at Penn Foster who helped me achieve this, but everyone, including myself pretty much felt like it was a waste of potential. When I was in fourth or fifth grade I was already reading at a college level. I barely attended school because I was so sick, I pretty much never did homework, only what I could finish in class, but I was in the top percentile for all of the testing. Even with Penn Foster, I barely applied myself and managed to pass with like a 3.4 GPA. Still, there are huge gaps in my knowledge because I didn’t have a traditional education. It boils down to a lot of wasted potential.
I was even accepted into a few colleges when I applied, but financial aid never worked out for one reason or another (or housing fell through) or things came up in life and school got put off for another year.
I’m 23 now and more and more I keep coming back to this idea. A few years ago this guy I was dating started going to Full Sail University. He often flew me out to see him. I was able to explore the campus and see the course work first hand and I absolutely fell in love with it. (He failed out because he had Rich Kid Syndrome and no work ethic) A few years have passed now and I keep going back to that school in my mind.
There are a few things that keep me from trying though, for better or worse:
- Full Sail is located in Winter Park, Florida. That is a long damn move to a place where I don’t know anyone. There are a few pluses to this, though. I went there often when I visited my ex and I love the area, the weather and the life. They also offer online courses now, but after doing long distance in high school, I really don’t want to do it again with college. Its just fine for some people, but I really want to make the contacts if I’m gonna pay for a prestigious school like Full Sail. Plus, Winter Park apartment prices, especially for Full Sail students, are cheaper than those around here.
- I think its more expensive than a normal college. I’m no expert on what tuition prices normally are, but the degree I’d be going for, Computer Animation, is like 75k I think. The plus side is that this covers all your course material fees. I don’t ever have to pay for books or labs or anything like that. They just require that you buy the proper equipment. (Which in this case is a heavily discounted Apple lap top with a software package of certain art programs.) The downside is I have no idea about the financial aid process, how to apply for grants, how to actually get started. I’m afraid I would actually be able to pay for it. 😦
- The work load is heavy. This knowledge is mostly second hand from my ex, who as I said, was pretty lazy, so I don’t know if its true, but I’ve heard the course hours are pretty extensive. You’re in school as much as you would be a full time job. You need to pass 80% of your course work and attend 90% of the classes or you fail. The attendance, is the scariest thing for me. I know that its very common to have that sort of thing, but in school, there were lots of years where I missed a good quarter of the year or more on sick leave. I haven’t been that sick in a long time, but its still a fear in the back of my mind. Part of me wonders if I’ll be able to handle this kind of stress.
If I could find a way to work through those big problems, I’d like to take a serious shot at it. There’s so much I want to learn, there’s so much I feel like I could do and in ten years, I don’t want to look back on my art that same way I feel about my high school education, like I have a lot of wasted potential.