“Can you tell us about some of your leadership experience?”
For some homeschoolers, this is a daunting question to be asked during a college interview. Yet college applications and interviewers frequently ask questions regarding leadership. Having leadership experience significantly improves a student’s chances of being accepted into a college or receiving scholarship money. Regardless of whether or not a student has aspirations of attending college, leadership skills are valuable for everyday life, and good leadership is highly regarded in the Bible as well.
Leadership skills can look like anything from managing people well to communicating ideas effectively to planning and executing goals. A student who dreams of becoming a homeschooling mother of seven needs to be able to manage seven children well and communicate expectations. A student who wants to own a business needs to be able to achieve goals and hold employees to high standards. In any future possibilities for students, the Lord calls up leaders to serve Him by serving others well, to shepherd whatever flock may come their way with provision, protection, and guidance.
But how do homeschoolers acquire these skills?
In public school, leadership opportunities are numerous—from joining student government, to becoming the captain of an athletic team, to mentoring younger students, to getting involved in the many clubs offered in school. While these options may be easier for public school students to come by, many are, in fact, also available for homeschoolers!
Programs as big as TeenPact or as small as your local VBS are available to homeschoolers and are completely separate from the public school system. Depending on the laws of individual states, other public-school-sponsored programs like sports, fine arts, 4-H, and FFA are also available to homeschoolers, so be sure to check out the rules for your own state. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a really great source. Simply choose your state and click on “Public School Access for Homeschoolers” to learn about what extracurricular options are available for you.
Though after-school mentorship or tutoring programs may not be formally offered for homeschoolers, make your own program. Is there a younger homeschooled student in your area that your high school student could help with math once a week? Set up a time to mentor or tutor for a semester or a year. “Homeschool mentorship/tutoring program” looks much better on a resume than “I helped my little brother figure out a math problem a couple of times last year.”
Inquire about new leadership positions. When I was a homeschooler in high school, I was on a competitive rodeo drill team. This team had a coach but no captain or any leadership opportunities for many years until I asked if I could help the coach out by taking on a leadership role. I started organizing fun events outside of practices and competitions and helping to streamline communication between coach and team. Now the team always has one or two captains who gain valuable leadership experience.
Through Excelsior Classes, students have the opportunity to join clubs and honor societies. In many of these fun and engaging clubs, students are able to run for positions of leadership such as president, vice president, secretary, and social chairman. There are many current clubs and honor societies offered throughout the year! Even if students don’t seek leadership roles in these clubs, they benefit from being part of a group with common interests.
Gaining leadership skills does not have to be a scary task—for parents or students! Though some of these options are more difficult or time consuming than others, manageable and fun ways to learn how to serve, lead , and work with others are also readily available for homeschoolers as long as you know where to look.
Ansley Burnette holds a BA in Theatre and a BA in English with a film studies concentration from Samford University. She has published a children’s book, two film essays in the Wide Angle Journal of Literature and Film, and a cinematic novel. Ansley has traveled all around the US to educational conferences with her family’s publishing company. She has also had the opportunity to work on the National Broadway tours of Waitress and Escape to Margaritaville. Ansley currently works at Sight & Sound Theatres as an animal handler and gets to work on stage with a variety animals including horses, macaws, camels, llamas, and pretty much every other animal you can think of.