by Mike McHugh
A growing number of home school parents are in the position of looking for appropriate career or vocational training for their children once they finish high school. For at least some families, it is a case of too many options and too little money! The question is often whether to encourage your graduate to jump right into a four-year program at a Christian college far from home, or perhaps direct him to consider working for a year or two at the local level in order to earn money for his post high school education.
In the case of our home school family, however, we have taken a somewhat different path with our graduates. My wife and I have found it beneficial to encourage our children to attend our local junior college after they have graduated from high school. Although this is not always a desirable (or even feasible) alternative for every family to pursue, it has been an excellent option for our graduates. Some of the benefits of attending a local two-year junior college program are as follows:
This option lessens the stress associated with the transition into college, for students can take classes during the day and still return home at night without having to endure the “shock” of dorm life far from those they love. Far too many parents underestimate the problems that can develop when inexperienced young people are placed into a situation in which they must face immense pressure and temptations without the support of family and church members. Most young people will benefit from having the opportunity to slowly and gradually mature in a local college environment for a period of a year or two, before jumping in to the deeper waters of a college far from home.
A local junior college is often far less stressful on the pocketbook of whoever is paying for the courses. Two-year colleges have a lower base tuition, no housing costs, and permit students to pursue a part-time job in their spare time if they so desire. The overall savings gained over a two year period at a local community college can often enable most students to transfer to a four year college in order to complete their degree track virtually debt free! Our family has been able to cut the cost of college by nearly one half, due to the fact that we are only having to pay for two years of tuition at a major Christian college or university instead of four!
Junior colleges are commonly very strong at providing a wide range of vocational or technical courses that can benefit those students who may not feel called to pursue a college degree. Some home school graduates, after all, would much rather invest their time and energy in the direction of starting their own business while taking an occasional college course during the afternoon or evening to give them specialized training in their chosen profession. Once again, the local junior college is often the best option for young adults who simply want to take a few college level courses to help them reach their career goals, or for the purpose of self-improvement.
As previously stated, no one option for college or career is best for all graduates of Christian home schools. Nevertheless, for the reasons mentioned above, families should take the time to investigate the quality and variety of courses that may be available through their local community colleges. In many cases at least, families may well discover that a local two-year college may provide their high school graduates with practical and affordable options when compared to the four-year college or university scene.
Copyright 2007 Michael J. McHugh
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