| From Home School to UST Honors Program |
No school bus to catch. No tardy bell to beat. The teachers bear a remarkable resemblance to…Mom and Dad. These are the instantly recognizable hallmarks of home schooling—a growing trend in the United States and the K-12 experience of Sarah Ashour, a junior in the UST Honors Program.
At home in Grand Prairie, Texas, Ashour’s mother, an English major, and her engineer father served as educators.
Now working toward a major in theology, Ashour said, “It was convenient for me because I could go to my mom for liberal arts help and my dad for science and math. It gave me a really good balance.”
According to the website for National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), which conducts homeschooling research, 1.73 to 2.35 million children in all pre-collegiate grades were educated at home during the spring of 2010. The tide continues to surge by 2 to 8 percent annually.
Home-schooled students tend to score higher than public-school pupils on standardized tests. Ashour, one of six siblings taught by her parents, completed high school with a 4.0 grade average.
“I was enrolled in accredited homeschool curriculum, so I would send in my papers to the company where they had teachers who would grade them,” Ashour said. “That meant I had official transcripts that allowed me to apply to universities.”
UST welcomed Ashour’s application, admitted her to the Honors Program and awarded her the V.J. Guinan Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship.
She explained that her rigorous home schooling prepared her well for the academic challenge of UST.
“UST certainly is challenging, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting good grades,” Ashour said. “I have a 3.9 GPA.”
Her older brother graduated from Texas A&M University. Together, they are leading the way for four younger home-schooled siblings.
NHERI’s website cites a myriad of reasons for teaching children at home, including the desire to embed certain values and beliefs or to individualize learning or to provide a safer environment.
From her perspective, Ashour believes home schooling brought her family closer together.
“We have a strong family bond, and a strong Catholic faith, and both were fortified because we were together so much,” she said.
Success stories like Ashour’s are pushing home schooling ever closer to the academic mainstream. In the meantime, she sees it as a personal badge of honor.
“Having been homeschooled has become part of my identity, so it’s something special I can say about myself,” Ashour said.