As a homeschool student, it might feel like you’re the only one who has tried to navigate the sometimes foreign world of college admissions, new classroom settings and the ups and downs of leaving home. But every year, hundreds of students just like you come to Word of Life Bible Institute (WOLBI) and not only transition to college like champs but also thrive in God’s calling for their lives.
To help you feel not so alone, we called upon one of our alumni, Hannah Cushman, who was homeschooled for her entire life before coming to Word of Life Bible Institute. Hannah shares how her two years at WOLBI were the perfect transition between homeschool and pursuing an intensive biology degree at a four-year school. From adapting to the classroom to the support all around on campus, Hannah’s story shows just how easy a transition at Word of Life Bible Institute can be and the power of listening to God’s voice and laying a biblical foundation for life.
BECOME A STUDENT
WHAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN MAKING PLANS FOR WHAT TO DO AFTER HIGH SCHOOL? WHAT OPTIONS DID YOU CONSIDER?
Like almost every other high school student, I graduated starry-eyed and very unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I loved science, especially biology, and wanted to pursue an occupation down that path. I prayed and prayed about what to do, but I didn’t seem to get any clarification on what I should be doing. To some, it would have felt like God was not answering their prayers. But in reality, He was. It just was not in the way I expected or even wanted.
So, I committed to a year at Word of Life Bible Institute because I was not 100% confident about what I wanted to do. Instead of taking a gap year, I choose to spend a year studying and immersing myself in the Word of God.
WHAT MADE YOU ULTIMATELY DECIDE TO CHOOSE WOLBI?
I was trying to decide between a few different places, but ultimately it was my admissions counselor who helped me make the decision to go. She constantly called me and checked in with me. Some may have found it to be annoying, but I saw it as an action of genuine interest in me. Sometimes when we chatted, she did not even once talk about coming to the WOLBI. This demonstrated that she saw me for me, not just as another high school student she had to entice into coming.
WHAT WERE YOU MOST NERVOUS AND MOST EXCITED ABOUT WHEN IT CAME TO THE TRANSITION FROM HOMESCHOOL TO COLLEGE?
The most obvious answer is that I was most nervous about being away from home. My entire life, I was schooled at home, so the very idea of going to a school away from my dining room was incredibly nerve-racking.
In turn, I was most excited to try something new. All my other siblings had attended a school nearby my house and never actually “moved out.” I was the first of my family members to do something like this. I was excited for an adventure.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WEEK AT WOLBI LIKE?
My first week at Word of Life Bible Institute was a blur. Thankfully, we have all of our classes in the same room, so I never found myself wandering around looking for a classroom. That helped calm my nerves for the first week.
Furthermore, my first week was a lot of trial and error – figuring out what worked for me and what did not. This included ways on how to include studying, personal time, time with Jesus, work and other such things into my daily life. It was practice saying “no” to some things so that I could go to bed earlier or study for an extra hour. That first week was definitely an opportunity to put my priorities in the correct order.
WERE THERE ANY UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES ABOUT THE TRANSITION BETWEEN HOMESCHOOL AND COLLEGE?
Not really. I went into school knowing what the hardest changes would likely be to navigate – especially for those who were not used to sharing a room or a bathroom. So, I knew that a lot of patience was going to be in order, especially those first couple of weeks.
One thing I found to be true for myself was the fact that even though I went to classes now, I still did a lot of self-teaching. So many of my classmates felt frustrated or discouraged when they left class not entirely understanding what was happening. But for me, that was just another opportunity to re-teach what had just been taught to myself. I had figured that once I graduated from homeschooling, all my days of self-teaching were going to be over. I was surprised to find out that was not entirely the case.
DID YOU FEEL SUPPORTED IN NAVIGATING THESE CHALLENGES? WHAT ABOUT WOLBI HELPED YOU FEEL MOST SUPPORTED?
I definitely felt supported. I felt supported by all my professors and especially my resident director. But I realized that it was my job to speak up and ask for help when I needed support. Every staff member I met was more than willing and excited to help students; they just needed to know.
In all the different aspects of WOLBI, whether it was student life or ministry teams or work shifts, I feel like Word of Life Bible Institute did a really fantastic job of not just telling us to do something but also explaining the “why” behind it. This helped me whenever I felt confused or frustrated about something.
HOW DO YOU THINK WOLBI UNIQUELY HELPED YOU TRANSITION FROM HOMESCHOOL TO COLLEGE?
The structure of the classrooms was a really helpful transition from my dining room to now full-blown college. Another thing I really appreciated about WOLBI was the way they recognized the need for structure. So many of us were 18 year olds straight out of high school. We had little to no experience living on our own and budgeting our time or our life. Word of Life Bible Institute provided just enough structure to keep us from floundering all over the place.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR WORD OF LIFE BIBLE INSTITUTE EXPERIENCE?
My favorite part of my time at Word of Life Bible Institute was the ministry teams. In first year, I went out with my ministry team and helped serve at Word of Life’s Lodge. There I met couples who had been married for 67 years and newlyweds who had not gotten over the honeymoon stage. I met families traveling up from New York City who had never seen anything but the city. I served alongside other students who were trying to figure out life like myself. I worked under staff members who were by no means perfect but who still sought to glorify God in everything they did and said. Additionally, Open Air Evangelism was the most frightening and most incredible thing I have ever done. It truly was an indescribable experience. I look back and am grateful for the five days that we were in NYC, doing something that forced me to rely completely and wholly upon God.
WHAT DID YOU GO ON TO DO AFTER WOLBI?
After finishing my two years at Word of Life, I transitioned to Clarks Summit University in Pennsylvania where I am now in their intensive biology program. It is very demanding, but I thoroughly enjoy the challenge.
HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WOLBI HELP PREPARE YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY?
Word of Life Bible Institute taught me to find an adventure in everything. It taught me about structure and good disciplines that I use even to this day. Most of all, it taught me to go outside, see the surrounding mountains, and realize just how small and insignificant I was yet how big and awesome God is. It instilled in me this realization that all too often, my priorities can get rearranged, and I need to be faithful in repositioning them when they do.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER HOMESCHOOL STUDENTS WHO ARE TRYING TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?
I would say that the safest and best place to be is in the center of God’s will. For me and others, that meant going to Word of Life Bible Institute. For some, that is not the case.
But I found it humorous that as I was seeking God and pursuing His heart, He did not reveal His plans for me but instead He showed me his heart. That revealing was a process that came through studying His Word at Word of Life Bible Institute. My encouragement would be that if you are not sensing God leading you in one particular direction, then there is nothing to lose by spending a year (or maybe two) studying the only thing that will last for eternity: God’s Word.
WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND WOLBI TO OTHER HOMESCHOOLED STUDENTS?
Looking back, Word of Life Bible Institute was a beautiful place of transition for me, and the campus is literally one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It was a safe place for me to have the freedom to try new things. And if I did not like something, I was only there for a year. But when I found something that resonated with my heart, I knew that I could carry that over with me to the next school I attended and ultimately for the rest of my life.
A big thanks to Hannah for sharing her story with us! We hope this helps you realize that you have so many options for after high school – and at Word of Life Bible Institute, there is a loving community of students, professors and staff who understand homeschool students and are here to help you make the transition from your dining room to the classroom.