Note: The following essay was written by my daughter, Caitlin Podemski, for her college admission applications when she was seventeen. Caitlin was accepted into the four colleges she applied to and decided to attend Drake University where she graduated cum laude with a music business degree. Last year, she received a second degree from Alverno College in music therapy and is completing her music therapy internship at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas. Caitlin’s looking forward to starting her music therapy career and getting married next summer.
A Typical Thursday
My name is Caitlin Podemski, I am a homeschooler and I love my life. I follow my own interests, not someone else’s, and I plan and carry out my education according to those interests. Performing a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, singing in Europe, raising butterflies in my backyard, studying the piano with a Belgian concert pianist, learning how to speak French from a native speaker in Belgium, attending community college at age 15, and reading the works of Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare, among others, have all been part of the education that I planned.
People often wonder what homeschoolers do. Let me just say we do not sit at home all day and never go out, in fact, we are rarely home. Here is an example of what I do on Thursdays:
7:30 a.m. Wake up, read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
8:00 a.m. Research possible uses for super absorbent sodium polyacrylate for chemistry homework
9:00 a.m. Eat breakfast, shower
10:00 a.m. Learn how to control my breath and intonation, and sing works from operas and other types of music in my voice lessson at Rock Valley College
10:30 a.m. Practice Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, and Gershwin on the piano in the practice rooms at the college, lunch
12:15 p.m. Sing the works of Brahms, Ticheli, and Quick with The Rock Valley College Chamber Singers
1:40 p.m. Participate in a discussion of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller in English 103
2:55 p.m. Talk to fellow classmates
3:00 p.m. Teach beginning piano to one of my students
3:30 p.m. Talk to Wesley, a 16-year-old cellist, about collaborating on a cello accompaniment for my solo “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar for my Broadway Bound Variety Show in December
4:00 p.m. Learn how to converse and conjugate verbs in French 203
5:15 p.m. Go home, work on a draft of my paper on Hamlet for English 103, play songs by David Lanz, Yanni, and Patrick Doyle on the piano, analyze a Sonata by Beethoven for theory, relax
I love how every day of the week is a different adventure for me. Because I have been able to learn what I want, when I want to, I am more open and excited to imagine, discover, and create. Whether I am at Rock Valley Community College, at home, or at the Rockford Music Academy, my education never stops. I am perfecting my writing skills right now as I compose this essay.
Some people don’t understand or appreciate homeschooling. “Your mom must be a saint. I know I couldn’t handle homeschooling my children.” I had heard this and many other comments like it hundreds of times throughout my childhood. Grocery store workers, neighbors, and people out doing their shopping would give me the “evil eye” and I knew they were thinking, Why isn’t this little girl in school? Sometimes they asked “No school today?” I would always answer proudly that I am homeschooled and smile at their disapproving looks. These people have a very narrow view of education.
Sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing by not going to public school; if I am learning enough on my own. These doubts have been squashed as I have held conversations completely in French in Saint Pierre, France; sung “O Shone Nacht” by Brahms at the age of 16, taught nine-year-old Amelia how to play “Ode to Joy” on the piano. My friends Stephan, Benjamin, and Sarah, who attend public school, tell me how lucky I am to be homeschooled and they are right, I am extremely fortunate.
I can’t wait to continue the adventure of learning in college.