Rate of home schooled students at UNC Charlotte increasing
Source: Niner Times
By: Elizabeth Bartholf
February 23, 2012
At UNC Charlotte, 238 homeschool students were admitted to join the ranks of the 49ers in fall 2011.
Freshman Cara DeCoste enjoyed working on schoolwork curled up on her couch at home. As a 7-year-old, junior Bethany Wescott woke up at 5 a.m. with her older sisters and studied. “We would get all our work done before our parents got up and jump back in bed when we were done,” she said.
DeCoste and Wescott were home-schooled from elementary school through high school and took college courses through dual enrollment at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) before coming to UNC Charlotte.
DeCoste seeks a major in electrical engineering and physics with a minor in mathematics.
For DeCoste, one of the highlights of home schooling was her flexible schedule. She frequently took history-related field trips with her family, including visits to Gettysburg, presidential and historical houses and museums.
Her two younger sisters, ages 13 and 17, also have been home-schooled since elementary school. DeCoste’s parents consider it a privilege to teach their children.
“North Carolina is one of the best states for home schooling. A lot of states have a lot more regulations. [Other states] want to know what curriculum you are using. They will send officers to your home to look at the work kids are doing,” said DeCoste.
DeCoste registered with the N.C. Division of Non-Public Education and took required yearly standardized tests upon completion of course material. As a N.C. home-schooler, DeCoste and her parents could choose her school curriculums. She enjoyed teaching herself from several curriculums and learning through family discussions about world and church history, literature, geography and economics.
“Home school is about self-directed learning. It’s about raising kids to love learning so that when they have the opportunity they will choose to learn themselves,” said DeCoste.
DeCoste also was involved in her church and met with other home-schoolers, both from church and her community, and learned from hired lab instructors and friends who were chemistry and biology professors.
“A lot of people have this stereotype of home-schoolers as shy and antisocial, which may be easy [to be] without church or support groups,” she said.
Wescott said she also made lasting friendships with people from her church who were home-schooled. Wescott’s parents decided to home-school their children to help them “grow and mature following a Godly example,” said Wescott. She has five siblings—two older sisters, two younger sisters and one younger brother.
Through home schooling, Wescott said she developed deep connections with her siblings and grew up in a close-knit family.
Wescott plays cello in a quartet with her older sisters and younger brother. They started their own music business, Wescottage Music, two years ago and play at weddings and holiday and church events.
“We had a school on wheels sometimes,” said Wescott. When one sibling had a music lesson, the whole family would come along and have school in their van.
Wescott considers herself very competitive and has enjoyed playing softball since she was 10-years-old. Wescott started on a recreational softball team and advanced to play travel softball and compete in many tournaments. In spring 2011, Wescott coached the middle school softball team at Covenant Day School, a private Christian school in Matthews, N.C.
“I loved working with the girls [on the team]. It was really eye opening to see that’s how I was when I first started [playing softball]. I had amazing coaches over the years and was able to apply what I was taught to coaching the team,” said Wescott.
While she coached, Wescott was a full-time student at CPCC. She began dual enrollment at CPCC in high school and enrolled full-time when she finished her senior year of high school a semester early.
Wescott came to UNC Charlotte with the college credits of a first semester sophomore and pursues a major in marketing and minors in music and communications.
DeCoste and Wescott commute to school from their homes in Charlotte. They said they miss teaching themselves at home but have adjusted well to life at the university. Both said taking classes at CPCC helped prepare them for the college environment.