I recently wrote about Hayley Bower, a homeschool graduate who earned a degree in Engineering Physics. When I interviewed her for that article, I also interviewed her boyfriend, Robert Rowlett. He is just as impressive as Hayley, but in a completely different way. He was homeschooled for thirteen years, kindergarten through 12th grade, and he had a very traditional experience. Unlike most homeschooled students, he didn’t get together every week with other homeschoolers in a co-op setting. Instead, he learned on his own and was entirely taught at home. His only co-op experience was teaching a co-op class.
By the time he was in high school, his parents noticed that he took after his grandfather, who had been a chancery court judge in Tennessee for 25 years. As a result, they signed him up for a homeschool speech and debate team. Initially, he found the public speaking experience nerve-wracking, but he got over that pretty quickly. As he told me:
It didn’t take six months of competing [in debate tournaments] and it became my entire high school…It’s what I loved doing, and I did it all the time.
Not surprisingly, the class he taught at co-op was a speech and debate class.
As you would expect from someone who loves speech and debate, he wanted to be an attorney. He decided to major in biology at Anderson University and then go to law school. As time went on, however, he found that the biology program was largely focused on preparing students for the medical profession, so he switched majors to political science. He ended up graduating in three and a half years magna cum laude as a member of the AU Honors Program. His B.A. is in political science with a minor in biology.
The semester before Robert graduated, an AU chemistry professor asked him to speak to a group of six incoming freshman who were recent homeschool graduates. The professor wanted Robert to share his thoughts on the transition from homeschooling to university. Guess who was one of those incoming freshmen? Hayley Bower! That’s how they met. So you could say that homeschooling is what brought them together.
How does Robert think homeschooling prepared him for university?
Homeschooling made me a lot better prepared for college than most of the incoming people. For example, a lot of the freshman…from public school lacked basic English skills, basic public speaking skills, and basic research skills…The self-study, the writing, the research and the public speaking I did in homeschooling put me far ahead of the other incoming people.
One thing he was not quite prepared for, however, was observing the poor choices that many of his fellow students at university made. He said that it was quite a shock to see how some of these students used the freedom they had at university to do immoral things. He stated that parents of university-bound children need to
Continue to stress with your children that when they go to college, they will have a lot of opportunit[ies] to make bad choices…Tell them, “When you see all of your friends going to the bar, and they are all underage…just don’t be stupid. Don’t go.”
He also has some advice for university-bound students:
Focus on the things that you have skills in, but don’t be afraid to move around. I switched majors. I started in biology, switched around, and still graduated early. If you get in marketing, for example, and hate it and want to switch to psychology or dance, do it.
Robert attended the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University (Bloomington) and graduated cum laude three years later. He participated in moot court and was a Senior Managing Editor for the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. Then came the real test of his education and his commitment to becoming an attorney – he had to take the bar exam. As he says:
The bar was the worst experience of my life. I have learned that’s pretty much what any attorney will tell you.
He studied 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week, for three solid months. The hard work paid off, however, because he passed the bar exam on his first attempt.
Now that he is a full-fledged attorney, he works at the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. He was accepted into the Intensive Deputy Attorney General (“I-DAG”) Program, a litigation-focused training program for promising young attorneys that wish to become Deputy Attorneys General. As a result of completing the I-DAG Program, his official title is Deputy Attorney General for the Administrative and Regulatory Enforcement Litigation section. He litigates cases, performs case analysis, completes legal research, writes briefs, and appears and orally defends cases in court. In fact, he even contributed a section to a brief that went to the Supreme Court of the United States! That’s quite an accomplishment for an attorney who is so young.
Robert says that he is a “big fan” of homeschooling and plans to homeschool his own children one day. It’s easy to see why.