You Can Homeschool - Community College


What Do I Do On Monday?
Our Homeschool Journey
One Homeschooler's Story
Reading for Homeschoolers
Games as Learning Tools
Homeschooling and Socialization
High School Learning for Homeschoolers
Preparing Homeschoolers for College
Community College as a Homeschooling Tool
Who are Homeschoolers?
Homeschooling Materials and Resources
Field Trips a Great Homeschooling Tool  
XIII. Homeschooling Groups and Coops  



“Will my homeschool child be able to get into college?”

This is a question new homeschooling partents ask frequently.   I can answer that question and others from my own experiences only, so I can make no guarantees about any one child. I can share what I’ve learned from fifteen years of homeschooling experience of my three children and what I’ve observed from meeting with other homeschool families.  That will be my starting point for this blog but it may take me a while to fully answer that question as it leads to many others about homeschooling and how children learn and develop.

My oldest son, Brian, got into both the colleges he applied to.  Penn State was fairly straightforward and easy in the process as they are very used to dealing with homeschoolers.  There is actually one person in the admissions office who handles all the homeschool applications, I will tell you about a conversation I had with her later..  University of Nevada was more difficult, but it winds up the year he applied was the first year they started excepting homeschoolers, though they hid that fact until the end of the process.  Brian will be graduating Penn State in 2010 where he has been on the Dean’s list every semester but his first one. Read more in "Our Journey".

There are lots of ways to go about college.  First I personally am a big believer that not every child needs to go to a four-year college at 18, especially if they don’t have a specific career they are interested in.  Community colleges offer lots of advantages.  First most community colleges, at least those in our area will take students on a part time basis while they are still “in high school”.  For homeschoolers this means often they can start taking classes at 16 or even younger if they can handle the work and the setting.  It is a great way for them to be introduced to different subjects, meet a variety of people and gain credits you can use for High School as well toward a college degree.

Community Colleges and Homeschooling

My first experience with Community College was when Brian was in his “junior year of High School”.  We choose to start him at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ.  We met with a member of their staff that dealt with admissions and guidance for High School students taking classes.  We brought the transcripts we had put together, more on that later too.  He had taken the SAT’s but didn’t have his scores yet, or he could have skipped the placement testing.  Actually he might not have taken the placement testing until after his first course, I don’t remember but when I talk about my daughter’s experience later you will see that often they one need to take those tests when they want to take relevant classes or after so many credits are earned.  For his first semester I had him take one class and helped him choose one in his field of interest, which for him meant taking an “Intro to Theater Course”.   After that semester he took two classes a semester, one that he really wanted and one that I thought would be helpful to him in his college applications.  In the end he had taken the Theater Course, another Tech Theater Course, Freshman English, Spanish and a Philosophy Course in Logic.  He then started his 4 year college with 16 College credits and was able to bypass Freshman English and other requirements and be more flexible in his scheduling.

As I said before I became a big fan of Community College. Not only is a less expensive way to get college credits and a great way for a homeschooler to transition to an academic atmosphere but it has other benefits as well.  I was really impressed with the teachers Brian had, they are not there to do research or achieve tenure, they are there to teach unlike many professors at 4 year universities, at least when I went.  The students to are of a different type.  There is a real diversity in ages and backgrounds.  The students aren’t there to party and enjoy freedom, most are holding down full time jobs and are taking these courses seriously as a way to move ahead.  Now you might wonder how I know this since I wasn’t at the college with my son.  When he took the Theater class, one of the requirements was to go see a play at the college.  We went as a family before the show and during intermission many of his classmate stopped over to talk so I got some idea of the people he was in class with.  I also saw the variety of people he would be talking to while waiting for me to pick him up after classes. 

Now my second child, Hillary is a student part-time at Gloucester County Community College.  She is finishing homeschool this year and has no interest in pursuing a college degree at this point but I have also had her taking courses one or two at a time to try different things and to accumulate credits should she decide later to go for a degree.  I also had her take a math course last semester instead of finishing another math class at home, which she wasn’t motivated to do.  She did not refresh herself on her math before taking the placement test so I think she could have handled a higher level class but it was a good refresher for her and good for her to have someone else to work with besides her dad.  One warning from Hillary’s experience, we really wanted her to take a business course, as it would be good for her job, we choose a telecourse (which is on video tape) since it fit well into her schedule and thought since she was used to learning at home it would be good.  The course required her to take four tests at the college computer lab and that was her grade for the course.  We found the problem with the course is that unlike in a classroom where the instructor usually gives students an idea of which material is most important and of course clarifies material students are having difficulty grasping there is no feedback.  When time came to study for the test, it meant the student had to try and figure out what the important concepts were and what to skim and it was really difficult.  By the third test we would help her by asking questions from the book but I don’t think she really learned a lot from that course and has been reluctant to take any more business courses since.