Monday, September 06, 2010

Homeschooling and Community Colleges

This may sound off the wall...I don't usually write about homeschooling. But I'm also very proud to have been homeschooled and now homeschool my kids. As a result, I've got a heart for those who are homeschooling. Having both perspectives gives me a unique view.

The other day I got an email newsletter from a homeschool mom who has developed an expertise in preparing our kids for college -- a very needed niche. But she wrote something that bothers me. She suggested that homeschooled teenagers going to community colleges is a very bad idea. After listing several reasons, I knew she firmly believed her position, but it still bothered me.

I started college at a community college at the age of 16. The smartest thing my parents did was support me in my dream of starting college then, but also by being extremely firm that I would do it from home. Fortunately, North Platte has Mid-Plains Community College and I was able to take a full load of classes there while still living at home. Here are a few reasons that I plan to follow the same course with our kids.

1) I was able to test everything I learned at home in the college environment -- but with the big advantage of being able to come home and get added resources and arguments as needed. For example, I was prepared for evolution to be part of the coursework in science, but when the first day of world history emphasized evolution, it threw me. But I was able to go home, dig up books, and bolster my arguments with my mom to bounce them off of.

2) I wasn't an oddity as a young student. People really didn't care that I was a couple years younger than the norm, because a community college is by its very nature a mix of traditional and returning students.

3) I had amazing opportunities in the much smaller classes to test my academic and leadership abilities. The development of both led to scholarship at the university and my first nomination for the Truman Scholarship. And my younger age actually made me stand out in the hyper-competitive Truman environment, while the leadership experiences I gleaned and grades I earned completed the package.

As we've cleaned and rearranged the house, I actually found my letters of recommendation and application for the Truman scholarship. The letter I received from the then executive director encouraged me to reapply because of the way I stood out. And the only reason I could reapply is because I'd first been nominated as a community college student. Usually, the award is for juniors from four-year institutions.

4) It let me work through many of the issues students are confronted with at college while still at home. I had the accountability of both parents and formed positions that served me well at UNL. To me that just seems wise.

5) The classes are small. Have I mentioned that? I got 90% of the freshman and sophomore classes out of the way -- in classes with 20-40 students rather than 200+. I also had the accountability of being known...I couldn't slack off because the teachers knew who I was and were watching. Talk about helping me develop great study habits. I also learned that it was okay to speak up in class. My instructors actually encouraged it.

As homeschoolers, we invest years in our children. Why not help them ease into independence?

So I can see the other arguments. Really. But at this point still plan on the community college transition for our kids.


Casey said...

I was homeschooled for 12 years, the greatest blessing in my life! My parents were extremely dedicated and prepared me for the world. I think there should be no fear in homeschool parents in sending their kids off to college or jobs or the world.... if.... they have taught them well. I believe mine did. And like you said, I have the wonderful added benefit of bouncing ideas or topics or worries off of them were as if I didn't have that, I would feel lost. But because of my homeschool background and godly parents and faith (certainly not last by far) I believe I can step forward in confidance.

There is such a misconception in homeschooling, that it isolates and makes the children within it's folds weaker. Just. The. Opposite. And you know that first hand.

I am always so thrilled to find other homeschoolers. We are a rare breed, but one I believe with all my heart that God is at the center of.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

apple blossom said...

I was not homeschooled as a high schooler; however, I went to our church school. I did go on to a Christian college. I had a hard time at first in college learning to take notes and listen because our HS used ACE. Don't know if you are familiar with that, but anyway . there is no teacher lecture and taking notes per say in ACE.

When my oldest now a 2nd year community college student was a Senior in HS we decided to visit perspective colleges. There was concern there as we had homeschooled my daughter from K-12 using the ACE. So we wanted the transition into college to be a positive one not negative. After talking with a Christian college department head he gave us many good things to chew on and one was taking basics (2 years) at our community college and then transferring on to 4 year college. We considered the pros and cons and ran with the idea. My daughter has done well and is looking forward to graduating from community college in May 2011 and going on to 4 year college, living in dorm and all is exciting to her now. She was terrified at first to leave home. Now, she is ready. She has done well. Was just elected for an Honors award come Spring graduation. Has been able to speak out on what she believes in class and many of the instructors have told her they'd never seen it the way she puts things. Gives them something to chew on. She's had a chance to be a witness and let others know what she believes. I can say this has been an excellent experience for her. She has gotten scholarships and grant. she has only had to pay about $5,000 compared to a 4 year college where she would have paid out over $50,000 for the two years of education. Guess what, she's even seriously considering going to a very small conservative secular college for her transfer. The classes are going to be even smaller than what she has now. Smaller gets the best education. It's been proven. We have a great peace about the college she is seriously considering. Better than any "Christian" one we've found yet.

OK so I'd better move on. I highly recommend community colleges it greatly helps in transitions for both students and parents.


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