06/18/2013 10:58 am ET Updated Aug 18, 2013

Room to Breathe

There are a million different factors that went into me being homeschooled and, towards the middle of my junior year, my parents and I sat down and decided it was what was best for me. I would be doing all my classes online and honestly, I was skeptical. I thought that there was only so much you could learn online. And I was right.

But, as I soon came to realize, homeschooling isn't about sitting at home and Googling how to expand binomials. It's an opportunity to take charge of your learning. While other kids were sitting in school buildings seven hours a day, I was traveling and visiting museums. I would get bored online and walk to the library, where I would learn so much more than chemistry and pre-calc.

My mom's one of those people who like to plan things an hour before they happen. Her spontaneity mixed with my extremely flexible schedule led to several random road trips. I never even really sat down and thought about how much I had learned. But, in reality, I was learning everywhere I went. Once I started realizing that it wasn't "homeschooling" anymore. It was more like "Anywhere-and-everywhereschooling." I started a program at an elementary school where I got to teach kids about going green using art. We met once a week and I probably learned a lot more from them they ever could have from me.

The library became almost like a sanctuary to me. I would go there every chance I got. There's always this feeling in the air when you enter a library and it's simply blissful. I would go into the adult nonfiction section and randomly choose a book and that would be the topic I devoted myself to for the next several days. I learned a lot that was outside my curriculum and, lately, I've been absolutely obsessed with dark matter. A subject we touched on in school but never really dove into.

When I wasn't attempting to busy myself by volunteering or going to the library, I would go to the park and just walk. It felt so weird. I went from being a super involved AP student who barely had time to sleep to being able to just take walks. And I would think. If there was something in math I wasn't quite understanding, I had teachers I could call but weren't much help, I would leave everything and just think. It certainly wasn't traditional, but, looking back, I think I learned a lot more about me and the world around me by being "homeschooled" than when I was in public school. There was always this pressure to succeed by other people's standards so I never had time to sit down and think about how I define success.

I didn't have room in my schedule to take a music class at school and I was already stretching myself so thin that my violin sat in a corner collecting dust. I started playing a lot more once I realized I had the time to do so. I also started reading poetry. I went through a phase where it interested me, but, once again, I never really had time for it. With all this abundance of time, I didn't know what to do with myself. I took several extra classes and graduated early and now I plan to take a gap year before going to college.

Taking a gap year doesn't mean I plan to stop learning. I've already started studying Greek and Italian and I plan to keep on studying Swahili and Spanish. I definitely want to travel a lot more. I definitely want to keep up my "homeschooling" because choosing to leave public school was one of the best decisions I ever made. I'm not saying it's for everyone, because it's not. But it does allow students to control their education and gives them a lot of room to breathe, something not really offered within our education system today.