Life after ACE schooling (and hello!)

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Sasha's picture
Life after ACE schooling (and hello!)

Hello everyone,

I'm a new member here. Primarily decided to join to talk to others who have experienced a difficult transition out of extreme Christian backgrounds as its an area which I have never had the chance to really 'vent' as I suppose my background is a bit of a rarer thing to see in the UK, but it does still happen.

I don't know how well-known ACE schooling is, or whether anyone has heard of it on here, but its an American cirriculum and stands for 'Accelerated Christian Education'. They are strict, exclusive and closed group, employing very out-dated and archaic teachings and traditions. Although my school was of the more 'gentle' of them and never abused us, the mental struggles after being to such an isolating and educationally inferior school took its toll on me, even eight years on.

Although religion has no threat to me anymore, having been raised from primary through to secondary in the same secluded environment (only eight pupils attended the school) has really messed with my head. The education was laughable, all the teachers were mums who were volunteering. We weren't allowed to talk about anything 'wordly' as they put it, were made to memorise and repeat Bible verses and give out tracts in the street in order to go on field trips and we actively taught against science, questioning minds, homosexuality, ungodly-music and movies. Oh and you couldnt say the word sex.

Due to the terrible education I basically came out with a qualification that doesn't mean anything and eight years later I'm stuck studying at my parents house with a distance learning course which has thrown me back into isolation again, as I can't go to a proper university due to my lack of qualifications. Pretty angry and frustrated about the whole thing, schools like this should no be running anymore!

Has anyone here been to an extreme religious school or heard of ACE? I'd love to hear your feedback!


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Cognostic's picture
Wow! Thanks for sharing.

Wow! Thanks for sharing. Hang in there, stay focused, and you can get all you want.

My situation was not similar, but for the school part. Lucky for me I went to public schools. Unlucky for me I attended at a time where they just passed everyone no matter what. On top of that, I dropped out as a sophomore. My family was poor and parents abusive so I left home at 15, I returned to school by going to "Continuation School." And after that to a Junior College, but I was still just doing enough to pass.

At Junior College and I could pass a class as long as I payed my money and do a minimum. So I made it through HS and JC and then on to University.

First semester, Academic probation. I could not read or write. Second Semester; academic suspension. I had never cracked a book the entire time I attended school. I listened to the teachers, accepted my C's and D's as passing, and happily went on my way.

Once I was kicked out of university, I went back to JC with the determination to succeed. I taught myself to write by taking notes and typing them after every class. (I also taught myself to type.) The first time in my life I ever studied seriously. I got on the dean's list. Top 2% of the school. I got a great little letter from the school and I cried as I read it. "I was not stupid."

After that, I was off and running. I never looked back. I now have two university degrees. And I got them while working a full time job. I am now a professor and counselor at a university in Korea. It is an international business school and I work with all English speaking students. My life is great.

YOU HANG IN THERE. Keep your goal in your mind. It does not matter if you have to do an extension course. It does not matter that you went to a shit school. Nothing matters but your own drive and your own effort. You are extremely lucky to have a family. Twice in my university life I had to live in my car and shower in the gym because I had no job. No matter the hardship, anyone with drive and determination can make it. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Sasha's picture
@cognostic Thank you for this

@cognostic Thank you for this encouraging reply. You had me at "I was not stupid". It must be so great to come to this conclusion after such a rough time in education, I can really relate to this. Due to my said upbringing it has never been clear to me whether I am the slow stupid one or I really can blame the dumb school I went to (turns out I'm dyslexic but that word was not even in my schools vocabulary). I have this deep down fear its the former, and due to having gone through that 'soul-winning Bible bashing evangelical' faze myself also sence I have been plastered with the 'low IQ' brush by non-religious friends and family in the past. I suppose studying science is my way of trying to prove to myself this isn't the case. Being considered as dumb has to be the most awful thing that I experience...But your story really lifted me up today and I am really happy that despite all those setbacks you acheived so much and are well respected in your field now, I just hope I can employ the same level of determination!

Rohan M.'s picture
@Sasha You're not the one to

@Sasha You're not the one to blame. It's that stupid indoctrination-school that you went to.

David Killens's picture
Hello Sasha, welcome to this

Hello Sasha, welcome to this forum. It pains me to hear such stories of cruelty and stupidity. But it gives me pleasure knowing you have broken the evil shackles of religion and can now spread your wings.

As Cognostic stated, YOU CAN DO IT.

The only limitation on you is what you personally accept. You are no longer defined by what others think of you. Although your education and personal growth was retarded, that does not mean you have to stay at the back of the bus. You may arrive at your destination a few years older than average, but it can be done.

I do offer a word of caution though. Your intellectual growth was stalled because of this program, and sadly, it also implies that your personal and interpersonal skills may have also suffered. So if you suffer any setbacks in that area (dating, friendships) please do not despair. You have a long life ahead of you, and all you need to do is learn from your mistakes and keep pushing on.

Sasha's picture
@david killens Thank you for

@david killens Thank you for the welcome! Your words have many truths that reflect on what I experienced in the first five years after graduating from this religious school and becoming an atheist. Social difficulties were my biggest issue. Having never drunk alcohol or had any experience with 'typical' teens my age their lives were almost 'aggressive' to me, when most of them were just having fun. I was bullied many times, probably due to my awkwardness and uncontrollable judgments towards their 'wilder' lives. I probably deserved it to be honest! So I have always been pretty solitary and only now do I realise that it was in big part because the school I went to made me into a vulnerable anxious flower.

Cognostic's picture
It's unfortunate that this

It's unfortunate that this Guy is a Christian. From his lectures he does not do a whole lot of preaching. He is one of my favorite motivational speakers regardless of religious BS. Enjoy!

Sasha's picture
@cognostic Wow, really puts

@cognostic Wow, really puts things in perspective when you see a guy like that still smiling. I need a good kick up the ass everytime I feel sorry for myself now! Thanks for sharing :)

arakish's picture
Welcome Sasha!

Welcome Sasha!

You go girl! You KNOW you can do it!

Funny, I have a lady friend who has been a long-time email friend named Sasha who lives in Samara, Russia.

Best advice I can give, IGNORE all else and KEEP your eyes on the prize.


Sasha's picture
@arakish Thank you for the

@arakish Thank you for the motivating comments, its been really refreshing and encouraging hearing from quite a few supportive atheists on here on my first post!

Talyyn's picture
Welcome Sasha! Pretty bad

Welcome Sasha! Pretty bad situation, I hope you will recover and be able to study, I was in a private, catholic scholl from middle to high school.

Fortunately, they did not do much indoctrination, apart from the habitual rites once you reach a certain age.

Again, I hope you will succeed!

Sasha's picture
@Talyyn Thank you for the

@Talyyn Thank you for the welcome and kind words! I haven't had any bad experiences with catholicism funnily enough. I was brought up being taught they were all going to hell and were strict and bad as puritanical evangelical and Catholics are like arch enemies haha. But my dad goes to a catholic church and I know a few catholics and they are super chilled guys! Shame my school wasn't catholic, think I'd take that over what I went through!

LogicFTW's picture
Welcome to the boards Sasha!

Welcome to the boards Sasha! Please feel free to chime in on a post or create your own, I think just about everyone here wants people to throw in their 2 cents and to meet new people in this growing community.

I like others had a disadvantage in school, (while my school was not nearly as bad as yours, I went to a "south florida public school" for high school, and anyone in the area can tell you, the HS degree is barely worth the paper it was printed on. I went to college (scored well on sat) and hit a brick wall, I did not have the base tools to succeed, calculus, chemistry, physics etc kicked my butt. I had to drop all those classes and start back with college algebra and intro to chemistry etc, I learned nothing in HS to prepare me for college. Except I read a lot of fiction books in HS so my reading and writing skills were good.

It was not easy, but I went to a community college and took all the classes that I should of learned in HS, with the base knowledge once I moved to college level classes, and they were almost easy, (Okay my 3rd calculus class with engineering applications was not, I snuck out of that class with a b minus.)

Depending what kind of learner you are, if you can self motivate, and are more of a visual learner, you can pick up free online books to teach the basics in math and science, and even free online courses to do the same, so you do not have to pay for the intro classes. And can learn at your own pace to whatever schedule. Do those and you can typically place into college level classes and make up that lost time in a "school" that only taught you to memorize certain sections of the bible.

Your writing skills seem to be more than adequate and I assume you reading skills are the same or better this will also help.

Feel free to talk or rant here, lots of really smart folks too that may even be able to help you if you get stuck somewhere.

Finally, I am really impressed that despite the rather extreme religious indoctrination you got, that you were able to figure out it was all a lie, that speaks volumes of your intelligence and critical thinking skills, I imagine with a proper education you would flourish.



I am an atheist that always likes a good debate
Please include @LogicFTW for responses to me
Tips on forum use. ▮ A.R. Member since 2016.

Sasha's picture
@LogicFTW Thank you for the

@LogicFTW Thank you for the welcome! I appreciate your encouragement having had a rough education yourself. Can totally relate to your issues on maths and physics. I'm having to take broad natural sciences as a re-requisite for studying chemistry and wow has that been an eye opener. I don't know whether to cry with terror that I recognised how poor my knowledge was coming out of that school or cry with joy that I at least did something about it relatively early on. This time last year I hadn't even touched algebra (how is it even allowed that I could have graduated without that?). Oh, but I got an A* in New Testement Survey, thats the most important thing, right...studying all of this and catching up is pretty hardcore, especially when chemistry should really have a practical side!

Nyarlathotep's picture

Yes, as others have said, junior/community college is a great place to get started in higher education if you are a "non-traditional student"; and would seem to fit your needs and lack of credentials. If you do well there, you won't have any problem getting into universities later.

Sasha's picture
@nyarlathotep This is

@nyarlathotep This is definitely an option I'm considering, I think it might be my only option! Thanks for the suggestion

Tin-Man's picture
Hello there, Sasha. A warm

Hello there, Sasha. A warm welcome to you. Glad you found us here at the AR. A nice little pocket of sanity where you can come in, kick off your shoes, lay back, and just chill if you want. Or you can get into the debate area and mix it up and have a grand ol' time duking it out with whatever theist of the month happens to be available. Can actually be entertaining at times... *chuckle*...

So, from what I gather, you had one helluva time growing up. I honestly cannot imagine. Granted, I was raised in a very Christian family in a small town Christian environment, but nothing as severe as what you described. That being said, it took me well over forty years of my life to finally fully escape the religious bonds that kept me bound to indecision and fear of hell for all of those years. Therefore, after reading your OP, I think it is truly amazing that you have been able to "escape" that trap so quickly. Good for you, young lady! That is fantastic! (Heck, I may even be a bit jealous of your ability to do so... *chuckle*...)

As for the education part, my personal opinion is that should actually be easy compared to your getting out from under those religious bonds. As others have already said, you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to doing. Totally up to you as to how far you go. Only YOU can limit your own mind. Allow me to share a story with you real quick...

I have a cousin who is a couple of years older than I am (I'm 50, by the way.), and she was raised on a farm out in the middle of nowhere (very rural area). We're talking 1970's and early 1980's. Her mother (my aunt) was VERY Christian, and her stepfather was a rather abusive and mysogynistic bully. Plus, she was the youngest daughter of six children, with the two older brothers being stepbrothers who were much like their father. As you might imagine, females getting a good education in that family was not exactly encouraged (putting it lightly). More accurately, you could say it was strongly DIScouraged. Ended up she was taken out of school when she was fifteen or sixteen. Long story short, she is socially awkward and has a very low self-esteem (to say the least) even to this day. And last year her husband of almost thirty years (a great guy, thankfully) passed away, leaving her with their teenage daughter and no job. Without getting into too much detail, she never got her G.E.D. She tried a couple of times in the past, but could never pass the tests. (Her biggest problem is math.) Well, now she is at a point to where she REALLY does need to get her G.E.D. in order to more easily get a job somewhere. That is where I come in, because she knows math is something I have always enjoyed, and she asked me to help her study. "Sure! Absolutely! Would love to help." Here is the interesting part, though.... Very little time has been spent on studying the actual math. Most of the time spent with her is mainly focused on my helping to boost her self-esteem and self-confidence. See, the funny thing is that she is fully capable of being able to perform the functions/equations/calculations well enough to pass the test. However, she totally psyches herself out and convinces herself that she is "too stupid" to be able to do anything beyond simple addition/subtraction. Suffice it to say, tearing down those mental blocks she has developed over the years has been quite a battle. And it is all because of how she was treated during the most critical formative years of her life.

Now, you may be wondering, "Why is he telling me this? Doesn't sound very encouraging." Well, I share this with you to allow you to see how you are already several steps ahead in the game. One, you are still young and you seem to have a pretty good head on your shoulders. Two, despite the horrid raising you had in that "school", you were able to realize for yourself just how detrimental it and the whole religious concept are. In other words, you were able to exercise rational reasoning and see through all of the bullshit that was force-fed to you for so many years. (Oh, forgot to mention that my cousin still clings doggedly to her Christian faith.) And three (and this is the best part...*grin*...), you were smart enough to join this site and connect with folks who are genuinely concerned about your success in life. So, as you can see, you are off to a fantastic start. And the more you learn, then the easier it will be to learn more. Rather like an avalanche once you get going. And it is always fun to learn new things. Again, welcome aboard, young lady. Hope to see you around the boards. Please keep us posted on your progress if you don't mind.

David Killens's picture
I would like to add to Tin

I would like to add to Tin-Man's comments. I would not state this if I did not sincerely believe it.

Sasha, based on how you construct your thoughts and use of language, you are definitely not "dumb". In fact, I estimate your IQ (not that any IQ test carries any weight) is above average.

Sasha's picture
@david killens Thank you, I

@David Killens Thank you, I don't know how much grammar/language can show intelligence but I do try to be as best I can to write correctly, I think it always allows arguments to stand up better in debates. I suppose I feel like I want some sort of credentials in order to 'prove' I'm not stupid and now I'm one step further away from that then it hit me pretty hard. It all started when I tried arguing science for evolution and realising that really I had no authority to say any of the 'facts' I was shouting out. Ever since then I've been hot on imagining myself in an argument with some religious nutter and being like "actually, I have a masters in biochemistry..." haha, its petty but must feel so good.

arakish's picture
Sasha: "I suppose I feel like

Sasha: "I suppose I feel like I want some sort of credentials in order to 'prove' I'm not stupid …"

BTW: For formatting help, peruse this post by Nyarlathotep.

From what I have seen in my many decades of living, sometimes no number of credentials can actually help proving one is "not stupid." I have seem some with degrees much higher than mine, yet they still believe in irrational and stupid beliefs. From what I have seen from your posts, you seem to be quite intelligent. Your thoughts are cogent and easily understood. I cannot say the same for some who post here.

Stay frosty, me lady.


Sasha's picture
@Tin-Man Thank you for your

@Tin-Man Thank you for your reply! It is always sad but reassuring when I hear of stories such as these where others have also had a bad experience with a religious upbringing, especially women who's confidences were destroyed at an early age, good for her for her determination. My school was sexist in a very disguised way, so although they never verbally discouraged girls from education we were very aware of an unspoken expectation that women obey the men because god created them as the leaders. I remember the assistant supervisor (who was a woman) actually telling me that "women don't have the emotional ability to preach, they would go crazy". Haha well I suppose that's fine, I'll have to dump my ambitions of becoming a fairytale preacher and become a chemical engineer instead seeming as I'm not up to the mental challenge and may have the need to rant about menopause when I hit my 40s to the congregation *sigh*.

Thank you for the words in relation to me breaking out of the indoctrination, this really means a lot to me because really no body appreciates how hard it was other than people like you who went through it themselves, and pretty much everyone from my school are still living in this lie. My parents sent me to the school because at the time they were quite devout Christians, but not as 'strict' as my school. Funnily enough ever since I left that school their faith really broke down, my mum is now an agnostic and my dad is sort of still clinging on to spirituality in the form of going to church but he never talks about it. I am relieved they are out of it more or less but this still doesn't prevent my anger to the fact that for a whole ten years of my life was wasted and for what? They aren't even following religion now, and I'm left picking up the pieces in the form of paying for my education in adulthood and delaying my career. I feel like joining this site may help with finally distinguishing my anger and I hope I can just let this rest!

David Killens's picture
Sasha, an easy search in your

Sasha, an easy search in your memory easily reveals that as far as religion is concerned, women are second class, always a level below the male. That is one thing religion hammers into everyone, men speak, women obey.

To which I reject soundly.

Please, never forget that you are limited only by your own self-imposed boundaries. Not what others think of you or what they tell you.

arakish's picture
David: "To which I reject

David: "To which I reject soundly."

To which I also vehemently reject.

For me, me wife was my Queen, our daughters, my Princesses, and me, their lowly servant. That is how I viewed our marriage.

Religions misogyny of women is abhorrent. Never, ever, believe it. You are better than that.


Tin-Man's picture
@Sasha Re: "I am relieved

@Sasha Re: "I am relieved they are out of it more or less but this still doesn't prevent my anger to the fact that for a whole ten years of my life was wasted and for what?"

Yep. I can relate to that anger. Although I did not realize it at the time, when I first joined this sight a little over a year ago, I apparently had a "bit" of repressed anger concerning all those years of my life I spent in mental turmoil and indecision due to my religious indoctrination. (I had finally fully admitted my atheism to myself only a couple of weeks before joining the AR.) During my first couple or three months on here, I did a great deal of "venting" and "lashing out", sometimes in considerably vicious rants. So much so that I almost got kicked out of here a couple of times. And it is only recently that I have been able to look back and realize the truth behind my anger. I am very happy to say, though, that I am totally past all of that now. And if I am able to move on after over forty years of "wasted time", then I am quite confident you will be able to move along after your ten years. Yes, it is easy to be resentful of those who forced that "torture" on you. I understand. However, you have to look at it from a different angle now. Remember, you have escaped. You are free. You are no longer wearing those blinders that obstruct your vision and hinder your progress. You see more clearly now. You think more freely now. Gone is the fear of worrying about whether you have done good enough to avoid hell. You can think for yourself now. YOU make your own boundaries. You now have the luxury of being able to see religion for what it truly is and know you are no longer controlled by it like some programmed automaton. For me personally, these are things to be happy about and celebrate. Staying angry about that "lost time" only causes you to lose MORE time that you could be enjoying with your new freedom. Because if you allow that anger to continue, then - in an indirect way - you are still allowing yourself to be controlled by the religion from which you finally escaped. And all you have to do is simply lay that anger down and leave it on the path behind you. Start being happy. Pretty sure you have earned that at this point.

arakish's picture
@ Tin-Man

@ Tin-Man

Hurrah! Full, absolute agreement. I also have a mountain of repressed memories and joining this site has helped me to bring them out. Although I was horrendously angry about it, this site also helped me to delegate them back where they belong. Repulsive actions others took against my atheism. Actions that only show how religion is Pure Evil.

It is long story of what I went through. I am currently re-writing two books into one, with some addenda, and trying to re-write in such a way that it is not from a pure anger stand point. Just may be awhile since I am now working on getting my background information for my fantasy novel re-organized. And that job ain't proving to be easy since I have so much information to sift through and re-organize. Yesterday, I spent almost ten hours working on it without realizing so much passed.

Anyway, I am ranting.


Sasha's picture
@Tin-Man Totally relate to

@Tin-Man Totally relate to the vicious rants. Looking back I am a little embarrassed how I handled things when I went through that phase but perhaps it was inevitable. Glad to see you didn't get chucked off the site at least!

"Because if you allow that anger to continue, then - in an indirect way - you are still allowing yourself to be controlled by the religion from which you finally escaped." You are totally right. It should not threaten me any longer. I'm going to practice acceptance and inner peace! I already feel a lot better just from being on this site and talking it out.

arakish's picture
@ Sasha

@ Sasha

Funny. Me wife and I had twin daughters that were dyslexic. They were such great geniuses that they self-compensated for their dyslexia so well, no one knew they were dyslexic. If my daughters could do that, then you know you can do it. Hell, I always had been told that I was quite intelligent by others. After finding out me daughters were dyslexic and fooled everyone, me and me wife included, I now considered my self nothing more than an imbecilic retard. Shame they were killed. That kind of genius in twins, they could changed the world.

As for feeling sorry for yourself, as long as you do not let it completely destroy you, as it did me at one time, there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it can a great motivator. Mine motivated me. Just took quite a few years. Lots of struggle involved. Very long story.


Sasha's picture
@arakish It saddens me to

@arakish It saddens me to hear about your daughters, it sounds like they were truly bright individuals having deceived everyone of their dyslexia in such a way, I am lost for words. I just hope I can strive to overcome emotions in the same way that you have described to me. May I ask how you managed to overcome such struggles, evidently you did not let it destroy you completely?

arakish's picture
@ Sasha

@ Sasha

"May I ask how you managed to overcome such struggles, evidently you did not let it destroy you completely?"

That is a very long story. I am still working on re-writing it for a new book. Last time I checked, it was over 60 pages of text in an ODT file using Libre Office.

And no, it did not completely destroy me. However, it came damned close. It took many years to get over it. What helped most was going back to college and taking many psychology courses. Basically, those courses gave me the knowledge to know what I was suffering in the aftermath. And knowing helped me to deal with it more than the psychiatrists and therapist did. Although I still see a therapist occasionally, I have found another outlet was speaking about it. Instead of keeping all those thoughts bouncing around inside my mind, getting them out for others has helped tremendously.

Perhaps I'll pull that text out and PM a link for you to download. Would that be OK?


Sasha's picture
@arakish It sounds like you

@arakish It sounds like you mentally will-powered your way out of one hell of a hole. Who needs religion when we can unleash such great potential from within ourselves, even in times of despair like this, it goes to show. And yes please do send me a PM with the link, I will be very interested to give it a read if you are willing to share.

Cognostic's picture
Sasha: Just sharing this.

Sasha: Just sharing this. One of the greatest things you can do for yourself is understand that you have a perfect memory. Education does not teach you how to access your memory, Mnemonics does. I highly recommend "The Roman Room" It will cut your study time in half. I never would have made it through university without good reading skills and mnemonics.

If you want more on this you can send me a PM. The video is similar but instead of going through the entire house, a person would put one subject in one room. Then you walk through the door to the room and turn left or right, as you like, and begin imagining concepts attached to the things in the room while exaggerating them.

Playing word games is also very useful. The Planets - "My Violent Evil Monster Just Scared Us Nuts. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, (Pluto is no longer a planet.)

Find something that works, study some of these techniques on line. Your memory will increase instantly and you will be shocked at how fast you remember things.

Memory works in two ways. Familiarity and Extreme. We remember familiar things easily. Your mother's face. Your room. etc... We remember extreme things instantly. A car crash, a volcano erupting, our most outrageous life moments.

What mnemonics teaches is to pair new information with information that we already know and exaggerate it. When you recall the old information, items in your room, you also recall the new information, things you have attached to those items.

This guy does the same thing with his body instead of a room.



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