Here’s what to do when homeschoolers aren’t college material.
What to Do When Homeschoolers Aren’t College Material
As homeschooler with high school students, we parents often feel great pressure to get our kids ready for college. A GREAT college, usually. Oh, and our kid should be a strong contender for a full-ride scholarship if possible, right?
According to the US Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66% of high school graduates nationwide are enrolled in a 4-year college by the fall of that year. That right there tells me that only 2/3 of high school grads nationwide even enroll in a 4-year college.
But look a little further down the road. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics , 58% of students who enroll in a 4-year college graduate with a bachelor’s degree (and their study gave them 6 years to accomplish the goal, not 4!).
As a homeschooler, I need to embrace the truth that lots of people do not earn college degrees. Based on the following VERY unscientific data from my own experiences and observations, here’s what I am finding is important about this subject.
- Lots of successful people do not go to college at all. One of my homeschool grads is a barber. The world needs barbers. He is also a musician; while he does not yet make much money from his music, his vocation as a barber keeps his evenings and weekends available for pursuing his creative goals. The world also needs musicians.
- Lots of people start college but never earn a degree. My husband is one of them. I am one of them. We both fell into the statistic of people who started college but did not finish. We have both been very successful in diverse endeavors- financially as well as other measures of success – without college degrees.
- Lots of people gain the skills they desire without following a traditional 4-year college model. One of my homeschool grads enrolled in particular college classes that met his goals in video production and photography. He chose to obtain that education from a local 2-year college with a strong video department. By attending college classes part-time (while working full-time in retail, and then as an optical technician) he was able to pay as he went along, and has no crippling debt to deal with. He also developed a tremendous work ethic and is not afraid to “think outside the box” as he supports himself but continues to go after his dreams as a screenwriter and director.
- Vocational training is often unfairly frowned upon. There are lots of excellent trade schools, apprenticeship programs and 2-year Associates Degrees or Certificate Programs that equip people to work in industries for which they are well-suited. For some odd reason, we homeschoolers often feel nervous if our kid seems wired for HVAC excellence rather than a Medieval History BA. I have to question the wisdom of that position when my air conditioning goes on the fritz during a heat wave!
Now, please don’t misunderstand me! I am all for college degrees – and graduate degrees – if that’s what my child is to achieve. I was absolutely tickled pink to cheer loudly for my step-son as he graduated from dental school last weekend. Being able to call him Dr. Jay is lots of fun — but only because he has wanted to be a dentist for as long as anyone can remember. My own father has a Ph.D. in Classics, so I was raised by a man with a tremendous love for learning and books and ideas. Higher education is tremendously important…for those who are well-suited to higher education.
But I worry that as a homeschooler I may succumb to the temptation to set an unreasonable standard for evaluating the success of our homeschool. Lots of very smart, very talented people are not wise to enroll in college directly out of high school. What is my standard for evaluation? Is it college? Or is my goal to equip my child to understand the plans God has for him or her, and encourage a heart and mind and hands that will cooperate with those plans enthusiastically?
If your homeschool high schooler isn’t called to go to college or isn’t *college material* don’t give into pressure or feel guilty. God made ALL kinds of teens with all kinds of gifts. Listen to this episode from Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network, where 7 Sisters’ Vicki explains that all kids are gifted: that ordinary teens aren’t ordinary in God’s eyes.
Also, prepare your non-college-bound teen for his/her career with Career Exploration from 7SistersHomeschool.com. This user-friendly course will help your teen explore strengths, gifts, interests, values and God’s will. Download yours today. Your teens will feel more prepared for the next phases of life!