Instead of marching off to the school cafeteria with her peers, Caitlin Yoder marches through the jungle on the backs of elephants. Having given up a traditional school in the fourth grade, Yoder joined MU High School as a freshman and has been an online student ever since.
Now a junior, Yoder lives with her mom, dad and two siblings in Southeast Asia — where the family moved in 2006 to help local relief and recovery efforts after a tsunami. “I don’t think we could ever imagine not living here. It’s beautiful — and a great place to raise a family,” says Yoder.
Although Yoder admits life near the jungle is not without challenges, she says she will never regret her time in Asia, or the lessons it’s taught her. “I don’t take things for granted, because I know what it’s like to live without modern conveniences.”
Of course, living in Asia would not have been possible had it not been for MU High School, which accommodated her extreme distance and need for flexibility. “I choose when I start and end my school year and when I start and finish each day,” Yoder says.
Yoder also wanted a school that would honor credit for courses taken through another program and that would award her with a diploma at graduation. “MUHS allowed me to do all of this,” she says.
Once she began MU High’s classes, Yoder found there was much more to love than flexibility and a diploma. “I don’t have to choose a class just because it’s the only one you can take. Also, I never have to worry about missing out on electives, and I love that I’m able to earn practical credit for piano or working out.”
Piano and exercise notwithstanding, the most surprising thing about her online education was that a course she used to dread became a favorite. “Usually, I don’t like English at all. It is always so boring, and I usually hate having to write papers. But something about this course made me love English!”
Another benefit gained from her online studies is discipline. “If I don’t make the right choices, then the consequences can be huge,” she says. “I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that I’m really disciplined because I work so hard; I don’t think they would be able to say that if I hadn’t chosen MU High.”
“I’m not nervous about having to work really hard during college or make time to study on my own without parents or teachers telling me to. Without MUHS, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have been greatly blessed to have great instructors who have helped me through the rough spots and excellent courses that have challenged me to try my best.”
Her hard work soon will come to fruition when she receives her high school diploma in December. Until then, Yoder will continue exploring with her family until she embarks on her next adventure — moving back to the States to attend college and study nursing.
This story was published in the Spring 2011 issue of “the Student Connection.” (April 2011).