Higher Education

When all is said and done, when twelve years of at-home-schooling are finished, major changes stare our kids in the face. They are legal adults, they are expected to start making some major decisions, and the world can seem like a scary place.

One of the largest choices looming before them is whether or not they are going to college. By now they have hopefully researched where they would like to attend, they have applied for grants, and things are running smoothly.

On the other hand, perhaps they have slacked off and waited until the last-minute to figure things out. Maybe they have yet to decide what they want to do with their lives.

On a completely different level are the kids who never intend to acquire a higher education in the first place. College just isn’t for them, but they have a plan for their lives and are going to actively pursue it.

As a parent, it can be hard to watch our children grow up and start to take control of their own lives. After spending years making major decisions on their behalf, we wait with bated breath to see what they will do with their new-found freedom.

As homeschooling parents, we can be doubly anxious, wondering if all our hard work has “payed off” and our children have what they need to move into adulthood.

One hot topic in the homeschooling world seems to revolve around the idea of “higher education”; meaning college. Do we plan for our children to go? Do we force them to attend? Exactly how is this all supposed to work out?

I have some friends who are absolutely against the idea of their children attending college. They are concerned about their children’s faith and not at all sure the expense of college is worth the end product.

I think there are some valid arguments against whether or not college is for everyone. Not every child should go to college. If you plan to go into a trade, why waste the money? However, if you plan to be a doctor, college is a must.

For those worried about their children’s faith, I would start questioning the discipleship that is taking place in your own home If your children haven’t learned enough about their faith and cannot defend their beliefs, why weren’t they challenged more when they were under your care? Our job isn’t just to fill their heads with facts, but to give a reason for why we believe. (1 Peter 3:15) College shouldn’t be a worry if they have a good, strong foundation in their faith.

Others would argue that college is an absolute must! There is no way their child isn’t going to college. It is not debatable, they go or they get kicked out.

This position also seems to have problems, to my way of thinking. Again, what if the child simply wishes to attend trade school or wants to work until they can be a stay-at-home mom (in the case of girls).

For some, not only are they adamant about their child attending college, but mom and dad are picking out which school they will attend. After all, they know which are the best, and why should such an important decision be left up to the kids?

While I am sure all of these parents are well meaning, it seems to defeat the purpose in both being a parent and homeschooling. My job as a parent is to work myself out of a job. In other words, I am supposed to do such a good job training them to be functioning adults, that one day they will no longer need me and can make educated, well informed decisions on their own.

Whether or not my child attends college, isn’t my choice! Would I like for my child to appreciate my input? Yes! If I have done my job right, my child will not only want my input, but respect what I have to say.

However, the actual choice for higher education remains completely in my child’s hands. My job has always been to train them up to the best of my ability, to give them the skills they will need no matter which field they find themselves. Their job is to heed the voice of the Lord and do what He tells them, not I!

I have one daughter who more than likely will go to college and I will do my best to guide her on the path the Lord lays before her. I will help her do research, locate some colleges that might fit her major, and do whatever else she might need. Ultimately though, she is the one who will have to decide if this is best for her. She will have to choose which school is best and make those choices for herself.

My second daughter has no interest in college. She intends on pursuing the domestic arts. She wants to sew, bake, crochet, and knit. She would like to spend her time working at the church and perhaps helping in a day care until she finally gets married and “does what mommy does”. That is perfectly acceptable!

My two younger children are a little too small to know which paths their lives are taking, but I am sure with time they will begin to develop a sense of where the Lord is leading.

My point is simply this… If we have done our jobs correctly and raised our children to be mature adults, then all decisions regarding higher education are out of our hands. These are decisions that our children should be making for themselves.

Our children’s adulthood should not be something we fear, but something we look forward to with great anticipation. For years our children have been developing their wings and learning how to succeed; now is the time to watch them fly.

Are your children planning on college?

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19 thoughts on “Higher Education

  1. My mom told me, “Girls just go to college to find a husband and get married.” Quite hilarious coming from a woman who has raised one medical doctor and two doctors of optometry! But that was her take on college! Gotta’ love my mom!

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  2. As a college professor, I can tell you from experience that kids who are forced to go to college, who aren’t given a choice at all, see college as just another chore, like high school, and have no investment in their own education. These students do the minimum they have to to pass the class. Every now and then a class will spark something in them and they will blossom; but not usually.

    No, college is NOT for everyone. And frankly, college is often wasted on the young, who cannot understand why knowing about astronomy or geology or algebra really DOES matter and really CAN make a difference to their lives. I believe kids should have a break between high school and college — work a little, live on your own, experience life, figure out who you are and who you want to become. THEN go to college — you’ll get so much more out of it, especially if you aren’t going in knowing exactly what you want to do.

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  3. I am a huge proponent of higher education for a multitude of reasons.

    1) My husband, a casualty of the recession, was unemployed for two years. He has a 2-yr degree and was automatically excluded from 75% of the jobs for which he was qualified. With a saturated applicant pool, companies can modify job descriptions to require college degrees – even specific degree programs – and exclude “or equivalent experience” all together. With machines performing the first round reviews for large companies – good cover letters with no degree are useless.

    2) I, too, work in higher education at a large public university. From a professional standpoint, there are “entry-level” jobs that historically required a highschool diploma. Now, to be an admin, you need to have a Bachelors. A 4-year degree is the new high school diploma.

    3) Higher education provides endless opportunities – study abroad in France with an art intensive, Spring Break in Costa Rica teaching composting to villagers, summer in Africa working on an elephant refuge as a Vet school internship, semester in California working for Vans. Experiences that have meaning, that make a difference, are what the current generation wants – and the opportunities are there for the taking. I

    4) Even if your daughter wants to be a stay at home mom – why not encourage continuing education? Think how beneficial a BS in Business would be – it would help her manage the family finances, save for her kid’s future and make wise investment decisions.

    5) So – to answer your question – yes, my son is going to college. If he can prove he has the skills to be successful in another field (i.e., culinary school, skilled trades, etc.) we’ll take that route. If not – Masters degree it is.

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    • It isn’t that I WON’T encourage higher education, but that I won’t demand it. My husband has mentioned she might pursue a teaching degree so that if homeschooling laws are later changed, she is accredited.

      While I feel for those who would like to go and are not able, having a degree does not necessarily mean that you will get a great job or find a meaningful one you enjoy. Neither does it mean you cannot find a great job without one.

      Not all children are cut out for college, and, as Tia Nene mentioned, those who are forced to attend, hold little regard for the education being hoisted upon them.

      While I have absolutely no problem with college, I think each person should think carefully before deciding to attend. This is a decision they should be making for themselves and not something that is forced upon them. Again, that is the point of them becoming adults. If they aren’t mature enough to make decisions about their schooling, then why are we calling them adults?

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  4. While I support my daughter’s choice not to go, I would most definitely encourage her. It seems many jobs that didn’t used to require a 4 year degree now do, it is almost the new high school diploma. I’m watching how much effort we are going through trying to get my husband started on a degree before we leave for America because in Denmark he simply doesn’t need one and can still make 70k a year. As we all know, without a trade (that is hard to get into) or a degree, a salary like that is almost impossible in America. I see him working towards becoming a physics teacher as something that will help him better provide for his family.

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  5. I agree with vbluementhal that higher ed does indeed offer opportunities that might not be available otherwise. More and more schools are actually requiring study abroad as a way to create more well-rounded students (although it isn’t always affordable for everyone — it’s not always the same cost, depending on where a student goes and for how long). And it’s true that more and more jobs are requiring degrees, “just like a high school degree.” But that’s the problem — the jobs don’t seem to care WHAT the degree is for, only that they have one. How crazy is that? So it doesn’t matter if it’s engineering, Spanish, or philosophy? It doesn’t even seem to matter if they graduated in the top 10% or bottom 10% (I always say, there are too many students who do believe “D” is for degree)? So what’s the point? Let’s make them go to High School 2.0, let’s cost the family $60 to $100k, so they can get a job as a glorified receptionist?

    The problem is that we’ve eliminated most of our trade schools (community colleges have some vocational training, but not enough) and we’ve pretty much decimated apprenticeship programs that served people well for decades. Both of these would go a long way to serving the economic sector more.

    Don’t get me wrong — I am a HUGE advocate of a liberal arts education (something that’s also under attack because it’s not seen as “practical” or “applied,” which is a mistake!) But the reality is still that college isn’t for everyone and kids shouldn’t be forced into it because chances are they won’t get enough out of it.

    Higher ed today is under attack and budgets are getting slashed because our conservative, uber-capitalistic culture DOESN’T see enough “outcomes” from a college education. Maybe if parents stopped forcing their kids into going, kids who won’t put any energy into making the most of it so that they HAVEN’T come out with any “value added,,” then maybe those who DO want to go and CAN make something of it would show us that it IS worthwhile and not just another “for profit” business.

    Oh, and Cristina…I found this site and thought it had your name written all over it…in case you want to snazzy up your own with vintage stuff: http://shabbyblogs.com/ 🙂

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  6. Your opinion on the matter is just about spot on with mine. My wife and I both got bachelor degrees from a well thought of liberal arts college and were fortunate enough to leave our school without student debt, my wife because she had scholarships, and I because I had a lawn care company that I worked my tail off at during the summers. We both also had some support from our parents. My wife is now a physician and we have med school debt.

    In my mind, if the student isn’t willing, it is a lot of money to spend if you aren’t going to get everything you can out of it. I have friends who spent $60-100k on school for a teachers degree and now cannot find a job that was at best going to start them at $45k a year.

    I thought this was an interesting article about a school that is in the same conference that I was and similar academically.
    http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/12/liberal_arts_colleges_forced_t.html

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  7. Your article is spot on. Just recently Marco Rubio questioned why trade schools are looked down on this country. If you want any plastering done in your old house – you have to get someone from Mexico to do it! My brother does custom wood work (stair cases) for wealthy homeowners. He is artistic, never went to college, and barely attended high school (busy working.) Yet he makes far more money than his friends with degrees, and loves his work.

    My home schooled son has decided to delay college for a few years. In the meantime he is a corporate trainer (facilitates trainers) for a large restaurant chain. He gets paid hotel and travel expenses, with great benefits. He passed over many people with degrees in business admin. because of his public speaking skills – but he’s only 20 years old. Yet he takes command of a classroom of adults without a blink.

    Sending everyone to college (after dumbing down the previous 12 grades and making the SAT easier) is the last chance liberals have to change the world view of young adults before their pre-frontal cortex finishes developing at 20-21 years of age. As a long time Bible teacher – I can not tell you how many parents have come to me in frantic desperation, telling me that their baptized children, who made confessions of faith in front of a whole congregation – are now different people after a few years of “higher learning” under faculty with an agenda. As we understand that young people do not fully understand sin, or the consequences of it until the age of 20, it stands to reason that Satan would relish this opportunity to get his hooks in at this vulnerable time.

    Exodus 30:14
    Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord.

    Numbers 1:3
    From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

    http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_assistance/etraining/adolescent_brain/Development/prefrontal_cortex/

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  8. I’m torn. I’ve always told my kids that we expect them to earn at least an associates degree because many people won’t recognize a homeschool diploma. More and more I see people with a bachelors laid off and having to go back to school for a masters degree to get hired doing what they were already doing. BUT electricians make pretty good money without any college. Dental assistants only have 9 months of training and make an okay wage. I’d probably be okay with trade school if that’s the direction God leads my kids.

    My oldest is in his first year of college, studying engineering at LeTourneau University in Texas. He has shown an aptitude for engineering since he was 4 years old, so when he started looking at colleges, I recalled reading something about a school in RG LeTourneau’s autobiography (excellent book, hightly recommended) and we pulled up the school’s website. It didn’t take long to know that was where he wanted to go. The professors are Christian and some of them homeschool their own children; about 17% of the student body is homeschooled. Our son is getting an excellent education and is not having his beliefs attacked.

    My second child wants to be a paramedic. We thought she would do EMT basic next year, then take classes at a community college while getting in her work experience so that when she is ready to take the paramedic course, she’d have her associates degree. After that, she was going to transfer to a Bible school and get a degree in missions aviation while working as a paramedic. BUT a few years ago our family took a vaction touring the western U.S. While driving through Colorado, my daughter spotted a Christian college out her car window. When we got home, she looked at their website and fell in love with Colorado Christian University. My husband and I both felt that the first option was more realistic, but we looked at CCU’s website and prayed about it, and (if financing comes through) it looks like our daughter is headed to Colorado next year and will be earning a degree in health sciences with a double minor in wilderness leadership and psychology (she figures that will be helpful working as a paramedic). After graduating with a bachelors, she plans to do her EMT/paramedic training and then do a paramedic-to-RN program so that she can do medical missions work. From a logical standpoint, it seems a bit backwards, but if that’s how God is leading her, then who am I to stand in the way.

    My third child has no idea what she wants to do with her life. We have pointed out that there are colleges in our home state. I’d like her to get an associates degree so that when she figures out what she wants to do, it will only take 2-3 years to complete a bachelor’s, instead of needing to spend 4-5 more years in school. If she prefers trade school (beautician, dental hygenist, plumber, electrician…), I’m okay with that. The key is finding what God has in store for her and being obedient.

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  9. I love this post! If I have done my job well, then whatever path my child chooses, I will be happy with. I will have “worked myself out of a job.”

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  10. this is an interesting topic. I thank God i was led into your blog! I was looking for resources on homeschooling and I was led here. To me, there is a cultural dimension to consider when we send our children to college. Most of us Asians, believe that this is one of the best legacies we can leave to our children. But as a child of God, truth is there is nothing to worry. We know that our children are set apart for a greater purpose. We have to pray that their decision as adults will always be in tune to His will for their lives. I admire you for homeschooling all 4 kids! Amazing!

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