Posted in Curriculum, Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment

The Great Books (48 UL Credits)

It’s not cheap*, it’s not fast, it’s not easy – but it is a homeschooling for college credit option! The Great Books program consists of eight semesters (four years) of online classes meeting 2 hour per week, September-May, discussing the reading from one of the great classics of Western civilization – Great Books – done that week.  The structure follows a typical 4-year high school set up, but you’d have to provide everything else (Math, Science, etc.)
*While researching this program, I found a FREE online open resource for K-12 Great Books study.  I don’t think it is enough to stand alone as a substitute for this program, but it certainly contains enough resources to DIY a program!  The Great Books Free Resources
The curriculum contains LOTS of reading and writing. You must be 14 to enroll, but interestingly, there is no upper age limit. No other entry requirements listed. Regarding the program, I reviewed a parent-submitted Sample Schedule and it freaked me out just a little.  My Master’s program was less work.  No, really.  I expect the majority of students in the program are also devoting a great deal of time to learning Latin.
Who will like this kind of program?  I think this program is most like Classical Conversations in approach (very classical, Latin, very academic, the Trivium approach) but without the group meeting requirement.  The online option means you can do it from anywhere it in the world that has an internet connection.  That appeals to many families, especially those that are turned off by the meeting requirements of Classical Conversations.
How many books?  Depending on the reference you check, it’s about 150.  To give you an idea of the type of books, here are the first 20 (listed chronologically on Wikipedia)
  1. HomerIliad; Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
  4. Sophocles – Tragedies
  5. HerodotusHistories
  6. Euripides – Tragedies
  7. ThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes – Comedies
  10. Plato – Dialogues
  11. Aristotle – Works
  12. Epicurus – “Letter to Herodotus”; “Letter to Menoecus”
  13. EuclidElements
  14. Archimedes – Works
  15. ApolloniusConics
  16. Cicero – Works (esp. Orations; On Friendship; On Old Age; Republic; Laws; Tusculan Disputations; Offices)
  17. LucretiusOn the Nature of Things
  18. Virgil – Works (esp. Aeneid)
  19. Horace – Works (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry)
  20. LivyHistory of Rome
Here’s the big deal…the end result is 48 UPPER-LEVEL college credits (ACE).
Upper-level college credit is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HARD TO GET while homeschooling in high school.  In fact, it’s the hardest type of credit to get.  (Reading The Great Books, also pretty hard.)
What can you do with 48 upper-level credits in humanities/liberal arts/religion/literature?  In theory, that credit exceeds the requirement for a major at any of The BIG 3 colleges. I have not *yet* met anyone who finished this program and submitted their credit for evaluation.  If you have, tell me about it.  Based on past behavior of the Big 3, this is the type of credit they always accept, so I put it in the “excellent” transfer-ability category when earning a Liberal Arts/ Liberal Studies / Humanities / Literature  / Religion degree.  When applying to a traditional or elite college, the likelihood of transfer is limited to small.

If you’re not interested in The Great Books as the foundation of your high school program, but like the idea of a college degree, there is an ENTIRE college degree option built around the Great Books.  Thomas Aquinas College (California) holds Regional Accreditation (the golden standard) and is very homeschool friendly.  Their degree in Liberal Arts is typically considered preparatory for graduate study in medicine, law, education, etc.

If your student studies Latin, be sure they attempt the Latin exam options for college credit.  Foreign Language for College Credit