When I started homeschooling 24 years ago, a lot of people had opinions about our children’s education. After you homeschool for a number of years, and it’s working well, you start to realize that non-traditional college options might be worth considering too. After all, you’ve already discovered that “one-size-fits-all-education” is a myth, what if “one-size-fits-all-college” is also a myth?
Are you using non-traditional approaches to your teen’s college education?
- earning college credit in high school
- using CLEP or AP exams to test out of freshman classes
- using distance learning instead of driving to campus
- working during college so you can cash-flow the process
- living at home vs. on campus in a dorm
- starting at the community college instead of a university
- graduating from college faster than normal
- day 1 college your teen is already a junior
Sometimes people frame their judgments as a question to appear polite, but have no fear, in this post, I will help you “decipher” these questions so you can REALLY understand their concerns.
Warning: this post contains humor
What they say: “That’s where you meet most of your life-long friends.”
The real judgment: “I had a blast at my college, it was fun. What your doing doesn’t sound fun- if you take “social” out of college, all you have left is learning, and who wants to do that?? Dude, the parties were the only good thing about college!”
What they say: “That’s where you’ll probably meet your future spouse.”
The real judgment: “I hung out with a different girl every weekend! It was great! We’re all thankful I didn’t marry the FIRST girl I hooked up with! Whew! How will your kid find someone special if they don’t go out on a ton of dates?”
What they say: “Something must be said for being in a classroom and having a professor share his/her knowledge with you.”
The real judgment: ” I had to sit there, so should you! Showing up to lecture that was canceled the last minute or led by a teaching assistant is a total waste of time, but it’s a right of passage. It’s part of the experience. Besides, I did have that one professor that I really liked – that was good.”
What they say: “Don’t worry about student loans- that’s GOOD DEBT.”
The real judgment: “You could go anywhere you wanted just by signing on the dotted line, you’re selling yourself short by focusing on money now, there’s time to worry about that kind of stuff later when you’re an adult- besides you’ll be making good money and can pay all that back easily.”
What they say: “The college experience is something that will shape your life.”
The truth: “The college experience will shape your life – sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad.”
Since 50% of people who start college NEVER finish, it’s worth looking at the college experience, especially since it usually doesn’t include a degree and it usually does include a student loan.
My personal experience and opinion about college attendance are that it isn’t all good or all bad. There is merit in the jokes, but the truth isn’t in the extremes, it’s in the middle. If you find yourself getting overly caught up in hard rules, or the “importance” of your teen attending one specific college, you are probably living in the extreme. The truth is that there are over 3,000 regionally accredited colleges and universities in this country. Over 90% offer distance learning, over 75% allow you to use credit by exam, and over 50% of them allow you to transfer in 50% of the degree from a community college.
Another truth, is that it takes the average person 19 years to repay a 10-year student loan, but even the group that didn’t graduate still has to repay it. Often, they’re carrying the debt because they expected to have a degree and a good paying job to support their loans. We’re seeing more young adults returning to live with their parents because they aren’t earning a living wage. Add to the mix the hard decisions our kids will make between repaying a student loan (work) vs. raising our grandkids, and you appreciate how long the ripple of a 19-year long loan will play out. When you resourcefully plan to pay cash for the first couple years by taking advantage of dual enrollment, CLEP and AP exams, or attending a community college – you’re already starting out ahead! Working a few hours per week has shown to improve a student’s GPA, not lower it. When a parent continues to be their teen’s guidance counselor through this next phase of education, decisions are made with wisdom instead of emotion.
Remember, getting into college is easy, it’s getting out that’s hard – do whatever you can do to bring your teen’s goalpost (college graduation) as close to them as possible for as little cost as possible so they can finish as fast as possible. If you can swing that, you’re beating the odds and they’ll be living the dream! (Hopefully not in your basement!)