Thank you for going against the tide by dealing with this Community College Issue! I hear about this 'option' frequently from other homeschoolers and am very concerned about the continuing purity of those students. Our children are doing CLEP testing - 15 credits by 13 years old for under $400! That's value AND we get to choose the books!
I so disagree with your take on Dual Enrollment. Our very shy daughter has grown into a confident , independent thinker, partially thanks to the amazing professors she has researched and chosen at our Community College. Since beginning her studies at 16 , she has amassed 32 transferable college credits and is constantly sought by top schools. Duke sent her SIX invites to attend /apply in ONE week. This contact from Duke came unsolicited by us . Her German professor contacted Duke on her behalf - solely on the basis of her stellar GPA of 4th level German. She received most of her classes free through Dual Enrollment. Recently, our state discontinued allowing Dual Enrollment of academics. Our response was to graduate her early. Our daughter so highly values this opportunity that gives her a huge edge on college scholarships that she paid for her own final level German($400) and Sociology class ($ 400) so that she might study with outstanding professors. Please don't sell your audience short by assuming we are all fearful of allowing our children the opportunities that will facilitate their dreams. My child will attend the college of her choice on scholarship and study International Ethics, going on to serve as a voice and advocate for those who aren't as fortunate. As a former educator, with 20 years in the public and private sectors, I am blessed with all our Community College has offered my child. By the way , having your child on a college campus while still under your control is a great way to bridge the transfer from home to dorm. Every day is a conversation of how to best handle situations that would she , otherwise would have faced for the 1st time ,alone and scared stiff as an on-campus freshman. Now she knows she can handle herself with professors and students comfortably. She can focus on the reason she is there - learning.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your very candid article on the dual enrollment option for homeschoolers. You covered many realistic and relevant things to consider before sending kids to community college as highschoolers. Thank you for speaking up and going against the tide of the current homeschool fad. Yes, I have felt the pressure of sending my bright, engineering oriented son to community college as a highschooler. He's my oldest, so these options are all new for us. Many of my friends with public school kids also are feeling the pressure. The big carrot that always comes up is the "free" college education...but your article very aptly spells out what "cost" we may be paying with our kids. Thank you again for you boldness on this issue and your encouragement to teach our kids all the way through highschool.
I do appreciate you speaking up about your experiences. Unfortunately, we don't have a choice but to utilize community college in our circumstances. I can't help think that Daniel, thousands of years ago, had to deal with similar circumstances in his Babylonian "college experience". The biggest hurdle for our kids is how to love sinners in the midst of their sin. By the time we send our "children" off to college, they should be grounded enough in their faith to resist the temptations they encounter. As far as the new ideas, if we exposed them to differing viewpoints, age appropriately, of course, they'd be able to withstand the assault.
Thank you so much for the column on the trend to go to Community College. I agree with everything you said. I have not seen it as a positive thing and have found that those who have gone wanted to graduate and not homeschool at all anymore. Also many dating relationships have started there since there are no watching eyes. My son has decided to attend Liberty and they clearly lay out how to take the CLEP test to test out of much of the General Ed you must take the first two years. This sounds like a much more productive use of time to us with no risks!
We've had quite the different experience with the local community college from what you describe in your latest article. Our daughters' experiences there have been very productive and effective. It's given them a chance to experience a regular classroom environment. They have proven to themselves that they are capable of excelling in college. The quality of education isn't as good at the community college as it now is for my daughter enrolled at a major university, but it was a good place for her to get her feet wet. Our daughters have experienced few of the negatives that you describe, especially not to that degree. Things aren't perfect, but they're certainly better than a public school environment and they've learned a lot from it. Now, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to enroll our high-schoolers into the community college full-time. Our oldest took a single class. Our next daughter is taking one class this semester and possibly another the next semester. It makes for a good adjunct to all of the other stuff she's doing, math, English, college geology text, college biology text. In a number of these things, I think it's a lot better at this time to get her college-level texts than to try and enroll her in actual college courses. The community college course is more for the experience, the learning how to get along in that environment. I think you do your readers a disservice by coming out so strident against community college. As with everything there is good and bad. You have to make wise choices and be wise consumers. However, with the right choices, community college courses can be very valuable.
The latest article about Community College couldn't be more right on. I think it works for a very, very, very small percentage of families, but for most I would agree with the Rated R environment. We know of four families who have proceeded with the "Running Start" program. One family has two boys, then two girls. After having their two boys complete their Running Start, they decided never again and that they would not put their 16 year old daughter into that environment on the campus. I would venture to say it was a detriment to their boys. Not so much academically, more spiritually and socially. Other families have had similar experiences. The one family that it did work for was a family whose daughter was very mature spiritually. She only took online classes, and received her AA degree in that way.
I appreciate the "other side of the coin" in your article. I think it is only fair to point out that a 4 year college is not much better. Unless you attend one of the Christian universities that still holds fast to the faith (many don't), then you will be faced with the same problems as community college. Everything from the emphasis on sex, evolution, Marxism, pornography, to the convicted felons. College in general can be a cesspool.
You're right, Ivette!
That's why Lee really stresses making visits to colleges (whether children attend community college or not) so you can get a feel for the community at each campus.
Assistant to The HomeScholar
It's unfortunate to hear such "horror" stories about ones experience at a community college, but I have to disagree that they are all the same. I work in an administrative position within a rural community college, and if we operated our school the way your article described we wouldn't have any students! Our professors are quite professional. They are there to educate any student a curriculum that is college level. If a parent does not want a student to receive a college level education, then the student should not participate. Our bookstore does NOT sell pornographic materials. It's a shame that such an excellent head-start on life gets downplayed by a few unruly community colleges. I enjoy hearing from graduates that did participate in dual enrollment classes. Their success makes me hopeful for our future generation.
Thankfully, our local community college is not as "R rated" as some others. We live in a rural area as well, but when we lived in a more populated area, we heard from friends about similar "horror" stories. I found it most helpful to discuss the teachers and classes with other parents, to decipher which of them would be the best fit for our children.
Assistant to The HomeScholar
Hi Lee, as I've said before, we have used the Community College route ourselves. The first time it was an emergency measure, since I really had no resources for schooling through high school (15 years ago! Wow!). It was a difficult road, but, my son did make it through and transferred to a wonderful school. All told, he did fine. Now, after I said we wouldn't do it again, we are doing it again. We are finding there are more and more classes online! This boy never has to go to class at all. Drawback: the teaching could be lacking or missing in some of these classes. Some have no teaching at all! Professor says, read this, write this. So for the autodidact, it is a good fit. We are hoping to start the CLEP tests this fall though.
We have not had any children attend CC, but having attended public school and college, I can say that there are as many different experiences as there are professors and students. There are good professors and bad ones. There are better structured/"safer" atmospheres than others. I believe the whole idea for Lee's post is to make people aware of the choices they need to make for each individual child--just like we've been doing all along in our home schools. CC can be a wonderful opportunity, and I believe that it usually is a fine choice, but I like the comment above about checking out the professors ahead of time on ratemyprofessor.com. I would be terribly disappointed if one of my children got a dirty old man professor who flaunted his perversion instead of teaching the course, or even a well-intentioned but incapable person whose class isn't worth the money, so a website that helps you choose whom to take a class from is wonderful!
Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Lee!
I've had three children attend college early. My eldest took Calculus (at community college) and Chemistry I/II online (w/labs at community college) - no problems. My son took Calculus and Music Appreciation at the local university. Again he had no issues. Both were seniors when they took these courses.
My middle dd took classes through an online Early College/DE program. She studied Composition, Anthropology, Psychology and a computer course. She had more interaction with her classmates but all were high achieving high school students and they were monitored by the professors
I am another retired homeschool mom (in Illinois) saying Community College was/is a *very* positive experience for our family. I agree with the other positive comments about young students still living at home with wise counsel/parents to talk thru any tough situations and I will add that our local CC is top notch academically. We have instructors from the top area state & private colleges/universities teaching the same gen-Ed's for a fraction of the cost and with much smaller classes/more attention. Also, we have all found in classes at the CC that many students are *more* serious about coursework; they are often working themselves thru life at an early age AND paying for their own education. During summer classes, my daughters met many nice/interested students from other colleges-- colleges which recommended that those students utilize the CC's to earn extra credits/get more gen-Ed's out of the way before returning to University. I am sure there are some "stuck in high school" social kids/groups at our CC and I am sure there are similarly less mature students on most 4yr college campuses...we needn't let that stop our students from getting an education and having the exposure & learning priorities and making good choices.
In addition to all of this, there are tremendous opportunities for leadership and service at our CC and opportunities for academic excellence and invitations into various honor societies, i.e. Phi Theta Kappa, which offers leadership & service ops, automatic transfer scholarships to many 4 yr colleges/Uni's, special college search helps and other scholarships for which to apply. Also often overlooked are the professional programs such as Nursing, Radiology, Paramedic, Occ therepy Asst, or the trades, such as welding, all pf which earnest students may complete in just 2 yrs time -- and then be hired quickly with a living wage as young as age 20.
In Illinois, CC's are run by elected members and our local "ICC" has a history of excellent board members, humble President & caring staff at every level, including instructors and advisors. If your CC is elected officials and tax payer supported and it has issues, you need to speak up.
My son and I struggled through high school mathematics from Algebra 1 through Geometry. We must have considered every math program out there, and supplemented with many remedial programs as well. We worked at it until my son could pull at least a C+ on his tests, but it was not easy for either of us. It took us through 2nd semester junior year to finish through Geometry (and we left 1/4 of the work undone). I could not bear the thought of the continuing struggle, guessing we would barely finish Algebra 2 before graduation.
Long story short, he passed the placement test for Algebra 2 at our local community college quite comfortably (I must have been doing something right!). He completed his Algebra 2 requirement in one semester at community college, with no blood, sweat, and tears (as we had been used to experiencing). And hee got the highest grades in his class (though he DID tell me the class was a lot easier than the homeschool curriculum we had been using through high school).
Downside: no doubt the class did not compare to a comparable homeschool curriculum. Also, we had to pay out of pocket for tuition, but the credit can be used for college credit in community college.
Upside: my son does not need to take another math (though we will do personal finance senior year), as he has completed his high school math requirements. I was thrilled to get it done by the end of junior year, and he was thrilled to be top of his class, especially after the struggles we had had at home.
I think the community college was a very positive experience all-in-all. He did not socialize with the students, as I drove him there and back. The math professor was head of the department, competent, and not offensive as far as I know. So there was really no bad influence. It was his first time taking a class outside our home, and we both enjoyed our twice weekly outing.
You should be mature enough to know right from wrong, and respect other people's opinions. You can't shelter your kids forever, at some point you'll have to let them be exposed to new ideas.
Community College has been a very positive experience for my daughter. She needed to complete as many courses as possible in order to enter into the accelerated RN program at our Community College. By completing these courses ahead, she has made the next 2 years much easier, since many students will have already completed all of their education courses. Her goal is to become a nurse practitioner and she wants to speed up the process as much as she is able. It has built her confidence level and has been a great bridge from homeschooling to high school. She has never taken more than 2 classes at a time and continued her homeschool work. I drove her to her first class for most of the semester. She has been at the top of most of her classes and has been asked to tutor 2 very difficult classes, including Anatomy & Physiology. My daughter is very secure spiritually and wants to start a Bible Study with the nursing students next fall. She has encountered "believers" and unbelievers alike that have worldly lifestyles and immoral conversations. While she is at home she has asked questions and is now able to navigate the environment with the knowledge that she is there to change the atmosphere and to be a light for Christ. My son has taken one course at CC online and did very well, though I had to monitor him too closely, making sure he had done the work every week. He scored very well on placement exams, but I feel he still needs more thorough academics at home and more organizational skills. He is taking an AP class with Patrick Henry online & an honors PreCalculus with a Co-Op. Every child is different spiritually. My children have been raised to be comfortable standing alone in their beliefs and are very opposed to dating until old enough for marriage. Some children are much more persuaded by peer pressure, and don't have the same vision toward dating that there parents do, so it's important to know your child! I definitely wouldn't recommend even some Co-Ops if they are insecure and easily influenced by their peer group.
My daughter started taking college courses at the age of 14. I was initially worried about her young age, but it has been a fabulous experience overall. It provided a different in-person learning environment and gave her a ton of confidence. There are many areas/departments that she can explore and the opportunity to use a real lab, rather than our kitchen, for science is a real bonus. She has not experienced any of the negative consequences you've described. Her only frustration was with the low expectations of one class (of three so far) and that some students clearly did not want to learn. I should note that she did not attend the local community college, but a private 4-year university instead. I would suggest that the idea of dual enrollment not be crossed off all together, but for parents to consider all the educational institutions in their area and see what is available. We also used http://www.ratemyprofessor.com when deciding on courses.
Lee, thanks so much, this IS uncharted territory for many. We were able to do dual enrollment years ago with our oldest, and now are beginning it with our second young man. I'm a little surprised about all these bad reports...that's how secular university was when I was there, and I'm 51. Have other people had a more wholesome experience? It is the world these kids are entering, and the colleges and universities will not be much different from the world, though I think they can be more damaging because of the place of authority professors have. If there are schools where this isn't the case, I'd love to know about them. Maybe I'm wrong that I thought it was like this everywhere. (We always begin with taking all the online classes possible!) Please fill me in on wholesome colleges!
I read this and it reminded me of my Humanities classes and the variation by professor when I went to college - and it was NOT a comm. college - full fledged University back in the early 90's. I was mostly a night class student (although, I occasionally took the crack of dawn classes & then would go straight to work). One semester, I took both of my humanities classes. Human-1 at 6 & Human-2 at 8. The professors were different for the 2 classes. I had a reg. one for 1 and an adjunct for 2. #1 was a filthy old man. All the art/sculptures had to do with s*x and anything pervy he could come up with & his tests were no better (and it wasn't that the art/sculptur was icky, HE had something icky to try to make them icky!). #2 was a great teacher and I learned so much under him, the readings were great (included Bible readings! My mom went to my classes one week for me when I had to travel. She was horrified by the handling of the Human-1 class by the prof and reported #1 to the dean of the department. Little did #1 know that my mom worked in another dept. I saw for myself the cheating in the Human-1 class and I saw cheating during tests in my upper level math classes. The profs would regularly leave the rooms during tests and nothing was ever done, even if the students were reported.
I sent my son to the community college because they have great services for learning disabled students. He took a developmental writing class and it made him produce work on time and with quality. He tends to resist me at home in terms of quality and amount of time he'd spend on assignments.
We've saved little for college, since his special needs ate up the money along the way when you are not using the public schools for services. I thought this would be a good solution for us for the special needs and financially. Today, he told me at mid-term, that he is uncomfortable with the atmosphere. He characterized his fellow students as those who don't care and couldn't get in anywhere else. He feels the atmosphere is very negative and unchristian. I think it has made him somewhat nervous. I do know decent kids are going there, many whose parents can't afford anything else....But, they are a handful. My friends daughter at age 16, had to endure 3 speeches about STD's that were graphic when she was 16. Her parents chose to talk to her about the situation, but kept her there to finish her AA because they couldn't afford anything else and she needed more of a challenge. My son asked today not to go back even though the class itself was helpful. He asked to wait until he is older, if this is truely all we can afford done the line. At first, I didnt' agree with this article, since scholarships will never be for our family since he has LDs, but now I've gotten first hand experience with a 16 yr. old's discomfort. He will not be going back unless we can do online.
Dual-enrollment at community college seems to be a perfect stepping stone for our home-schooled daughter, age 17 1/2. Unlike high school, where students attend because they must, the community college is filled with students who are attending because they choose to do so. Therefore, the level of motivation and seriousness of study is higher.
My daughter's classroom instructors have proven to be responsible adults who treat their students in a professional manner. The daughter's assigned readings for her American Literature course are all published in the Norton Intro to Literature text, 10th edition, which is a staple among college campuses everywhere.
I would hope that at almost age 18 my daughter would have the spiritual maturity to determine for herself what is and what is not appropriate. If at this point she isn't capable of doing so, I will feel that I have not fulfilled my job as a parent.
I think it depends on the child, the school, and the homeschool community. We have many kids in our groups that take classes together in dual enrolled programs. We had a very positive experience. Now all of these kids are in college, and it was nice to have those credits.