Many parents choose to home school for religious reasons, and Post Secondary Enrollment Option classes, in many ways, mean a release into a campus environment where their children are exposed, in a more sustained way, to opinions and theories that may conflict with their Christian faith.
Audrey Walters, a Dodge Center mother of nine children, said she chose to home-school her children, because it allowed her to teach her "our morals and values at a very young age" without worrying that those efforts might be undermined by the public schools or other peer groups.
"You have some people will say, 'well, what about the socialization thing?' That's kind of the main reason we home-school them," she said.
But she is more confident of her children's ability to withstand those secular pressures and viewpoints once they are in high school and eligible for PSEO. They are older and their views more rooted. As juniors, her children, Joshua, 17 and Nathanael, 16, took online courses from RCTC. If her children had any questions about what they were being taught, their parents were there to answer them.
Later, when they took PSEO courses on campus, they were taught evolution in one of their classes. The theory was not new to her children, because they had been taught the concept in home-school, even though the family doesn't believe in it.
"I know they have to teach evolution," Walters said. "They boys had a teacher (who) didn't like home-schoolers because they don't teach evolution. Well, we teach evolution. We just don't believe in evolution."
Apparently that lack of belief didn't hurt their grade. Near test time, some students jokingly asked the instructor who among their peers they should sit next to during test time, the better to cheat off their papers. The question was asked in jest, but the instructor reluctantly admitted that the home-school students were among those who were performing well, Walters said.
"For whatever reason, he didn't think the home-schoolers would be doing as well," Walters said.
Barb VanHavermaet, whose three children, including Samuel who is at Rochester Community and Technical College now, took PSEO courses at RCTC, said she could always tell if one her children had been bothered by something brought up in a lecture.
"There were multiple times I had to help different children figure out how to write a paper or answer a question so that they could still state their faith without being offensive in a public setting," Barb VanHavermaet said. "That's a life skill that everybody needs to learn, and it was basically teaching them how to be tactful."
Generally, though, home-school parents and students say the transition from home to college PSEO doesn't involve too many bumps.
"I felt a little awkward at first. I hadn't been in a big classroom experience," said Samuel VanHavermaet, who always been the youngest kid in the class. "But I got used to it pretty quickly."