Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Posts tagged ‘college’

College Degree by 18 Pitfalls

Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

I have four children who have graduated from our home school, and three more to go. Over the years I have seen many different home schooling trends, and one that crops up frequently, and is very appealing to many home school families is the idea that home schoolers can get their college degree, or at least a few college course, out of the way while they are still in high school. And it is true, you can do this, but there are some things you need to be careful of before you waste a lot of time and money…

1. Some courses will not count towards your student’s major.
Course like Algebra and Trigonometry are expected to be taken in high school. Yes, they are offered by many colleges for those who need a refresher, but they may not count towards the major your student is pursuing. For example, if your child wishes to go into an engineering field, they will be expected to take Calculus their freshman year. It will not be necessary to have college credits in Algebra for this degree. Check to see what your child will need, and do not enroll them in courses that will not count towards their major, unless you are unable to teach it yourself. By paying for this course you may be throwing money away.

2. Some courses do not transfer to other colleges.
In the New Mexico state college system all courses transfer to all other colleges in the system, but the grades for those course do not. If you are looking to bolster your student’s GPA by taking courses elsewhere, this will not help. Further, many colleges will only except transfer credits for general education course (gen. eds.) and you must take most, if not all, the courses for your major at the college you plan to graduate from.

3. Some colleges do not recognize the accreditation of the college your student enrolled in.
Colleges do not have to accept courses from another college. Make sure the courses fully transfer to the college of your choice before you enroll.

4. Some colleges limit the amount of transfer credit they are willing to accept.
Your student may have 30 hours of college credit, but if the college only recognizes 15 of those hours, that is what they will receive credit for.

5. Some degrees are only recognized by certain organizations.
One of my friend’s children received her teaching degree from a Christian college. This degree was not accepted in the state they lived in, and was only good at Christian schools that recognized this college as having a valid program. This limited her daughter’s options for employment.
Another friend’s child received his degree in ministry at 18. He will be pursuing his masters and is hoping to become a pastor. This is good. Most pastoral search committees are only interested in your knowledge, and not where your degree came from. Unfortunately some Bible colleges are not recognized by other Bible colleges, and you may not qualify for their master’s program, or to be hired as a professor (even if you have obtained a PhD) if you do not have a degree from a college they approve of. Many colleges who allow a student to start college as a freshman in high school have a tendency to not be recognized by other colleges.

6. Having enough credits to make you a ‘junior’ does not mean you will graduate in two-years.
Every major has certain requirements that must be met before you graduate. Most courses taken in high school will not fulfill these requirements, even if the college accepts them for credit. Many students enter college having paid for a boatload of credits, only to find out that their courses only count as gen ed, saving them the equivalent of a semester’s worth of course work.

7. Most majors you can graduate with at 18 do not result in ‘real world’ jobs.
Challenging majors require challenging pre-requisites in high school. Most children beginning high school do not have advanced math and science courses under their belt and will therefore not succeed in these majors. Majors that do not require a lot of math, or science, or even advanced writing skills often do not have much of a market for employment.

8. Even if you have a degree, there may not be employment for an 18 year old in that field.
Police officers must be 21 to apply. Social workers, pastors, military officers etc are also people who are expected to be older. Medical, dental and law schools also dislike accepting students who are very young (though they will make exceptions for really high scorers on their placement exams). At 18 years old there are few people who will hire you. If your child is not planning on a masters or PhD in their field, early college may just result in a frustrating job search.

9. The reason many of us home school is to teach our values to our children.
Teens are just beginning to understand mature concepts. This is the time for them to explore their faith. By placing them full-time into a college environment they will be spending more time exploring the beliefs of their professors than they will learning those their parents’ believe in. While I do believe in exposing my children to many different ideas, I also believe in teaching them well what I believe to be right as a foundation for future learning. Depending on what college you choose, this may not occur.

Don’t get me wrong, there are advantages to obtaining a college degree early. Dual degrees are impressive. (I graduated with two under-graduate degrees and a minor before going for my masters.) But, they are also costly if you do them over the course of eight years. (Receiving a dual degree because you took the maximum number of credits each semester is different since colleges typically charge a flat fee for full time students who, when I attended could take 15-23 credits per semester.) An early masters or PhD, or dual PhDs is also not a bad idea, if your child can handle the course work.

So, if your student is truly a protégée, then go for it! Why hold them up in life? If you have the money to invest in their education, and do not feel you can teach more advanced high school courses in your home, your local college may be a better option than your local high school. But, if you and your children are like most of us, graduating early may only place them in an awkward position, and may cost you more in the long run than you planned to spend.

(If you do have questions, call the college’s admissions office. They are there to help!)


Photo by Matija Barrett

Photo by Matija Barrett

Over the years I have noticed that there is a difference between the people who lived in the dorms during college and those who did not. And I love the fact that I did.

Living in the dorms teaches you that life is not always the perfect, well-planned event you thought it would be.

College dorms are perhaps an extreme in life. Whoever thought putting hundreds of 18 to 21 year olds in tight quarters with minimal supervision for nine months of the year was a good idea was probably on crack- but every year millions of kids go off to live on campus and, for the most part, it works.

It also matures you.

As strange as that sounds, since most dorms do not resemble any living style that would normally be considered ‘mature,’ it does.

With all of the immaturity, differences in background and just plain idiocy going on most people learn something important in life.

They learn not to sweat the small stuff. Lots of stuff happens in the dorms. If you get upset with it all you will not last for long. Thankfully most people figure out how to let stuff roll off their backs without needing the help of a trained psychologist. (Though there are always a few psych students who think they can help…)

They learn to stand up for what is really important to them. Not everything counts as ‘small stuff.’ What is ‘big’ is different to different people. Communicating what someone can and can’t do in your space is an important skill, and the only way you are going to truly protect your precious stash of Ramon Noodles is to set clear boundaries. Really clear. Ramon Noodles are very popular with hungry co-eds. Buy some frozen fish and it will be all yours.

They also learn to respect other people’s boundaries. Sure, you may think that everyone likes to listen to KISS FM at three in the morning, but you may be wrong. Grouchy suite mates let you know in ways that get the point across so you never, ever do this again.

They then learn not to hold a grudge about anything said by grouchy people who are awakened by KISS FM at three a.m. If you are going to cease being friends with anyone who says anything you don’t like and hold a grudge then you will not have many friends in the dorms.

They learn to live together. Living with a variety of people in close quarters takes talent. One must realize that they will have to bend and that life will not always go the way they want it to. This makes marriage so much easier.

They also learn that many of the ‘rules’ in life are optional. These are not moral codes, but things like, ‘Use a spoon, not your fingers.’ In the dorms you learn to be flexible and use what you have. You also learn that you can go nine months without vacuuming and no one will die. These are not lessons your mother will necessarily appreciate, but they will allow you to properly prioritize when life gets busy and some things need to be ignored or you will never sleep. Children do better when parents sleep, so these are lifesaving techniques.

They also learn to be themselves. They can no longer blame things on their parents, so they must fess up and tell people they really just like going to bed at nine pm. They also cannot hide their little idiosyncrasies. When you are packed in like sardines your suite-mates know everything about you. And surprisingly, unless it is really annoying, they don’t care. You are you, and they are they and it is all okay. This is perhaps the greatest gift dorm life has for a person.

So, packing young adults into living conditions we would consider immoral to house the poor in actually works. It is not always fun, but in the end I think we ended up as better people for it. (And we all have some really funny stories we promise never to share if any of us runs for public office…)

Some things we learned include…

Everyone needs a cooking buddy, everyone.

Some rules need to be written down. These rules involve cooking.

When your friend holds a funeral for a fish, you join in, even if you don’t know the friend and were just walking by. Everyone grieves in different ways; respect it.

The person you woke up at 3 a.m. wakes up at 6 a.m. Expect retribution.

Ferrets do not like being wet.

If you cook fish, not your friend’s fish, you will find there are new cooking rules for the dorm. (Fish cooked in enclosed spaces smells, especially if it is cooked in a microwave…)

Playing hacky sac with Ramon Noodles is not a good idea. But surprisingly it does not require a vacuum to clean up.

Giving everyone a care package at the beginning of the year that includes shaving cream is not a good idea.

Female shaving creams act like carpet freshener- an unexpected side effect after the expected shaving cream war.

Don’t expect to use your shaving cream for shaving. There will be a day you will find yourself in need of arms…

The cleaning lady must love you. There’s no other explanation for why she keeps this job. Treat her well. (We love you Gail!)

Mugs can be used for soup- if you can call Ramon Noodles soup.

Mugs that have been left too long without cleaning should just be thrown out. Some things cannot be cleaned.

There are people, usually male people, who think it is okay to eat the best things off your plate. It is okay to stab said people with your fork.

Male people are good for opening jars. Their masculinity requires they do not give up without succeeding. It is therefore best not to stab them too hard and hinder their abilities.

When bored, one will watch anything on T.V. Case in point: We owned one VHS tape freshman year. We watched it over, and over, and over. I cannot for the life of me remember what movie that was… T.V. is therefore a great way to turn off one’s brain when overworked.

Falling asleep during a lecture by the dorm administrator is not seen as a sign of respect. And your dorm mates will not wake you up and help you out of this one. The longer you sleep the funnier it is, especially if you snore.

Parties in the honors dorm do not resemble parties. This is why the dorm administrator cannot find them. But it really upsets him when he sees the t-shirts for them after the fact.

Garbage cans make good punch bowls. Lampshades do not.

“Sharing your most embarrassing story” does not work as an icebreaker for the beginning of the year RA lecture. Anyone living in the dorms for over a year already knows your most embarrassing story and they are not telling since you know theirs as well. But don’t worry if you are new, you will soon be privy to all the stories. They are too good not to repeat, usually at 3 a.m.

Christmas trees planted by the dorms are sometimes rare, exotic trees that the university is very attached to and should therefore not be used for Christmas trees.

It is always best not to buy a dish brush that in anyway resembles a toilet brush and leave it in the bathroom.
If someone comes to your door selling expensive brownies it is good to be frugal.

Certain foods should be treated with care. These include jello, brownies, and raisin ice cream.

Life at College… (A Joke)

A mother goes to visit her son at college and is surprised to find out that her son’s apartment mate is female.
‘Oh no, Mom, it’s not like that. We’re just roommates,’ the son assures her.
After dinner the mother leaves, and, while cleaning up the roommate notices her gravy ladle is missing.
‘You’re mother wouldn’t have taken my gravy ladle, would she?’ the female roommate asks.
The son assures her that his mother would not, but weeks go by and the gravy ladle is no-where to be found, so the female roommate pesters the son to ask his mother if she knows where it is.
So he writes an email to mom…
‘Dear Mom, I’m not saying you took the ladle, and I’m not saying you didn’t, but if you know where her ladle is could you please tell us?’
Mom replies…
‘Son, I’m not saying you’re sleeping with her, and I’m not saying you’re not, but if she was using her own bed she’d know where her ladle is!’

The joke brings up an important question: How much do parents have a right to interfere with their children’s lives once they are off to college? Especially if mom and dad are footing the bill. And, is it fair to impose consequences if the college-aged child was not aware that, because mom and dad are paying, there is still some accountability and that rent and tuition may come with a few strings attached? Should families discuss expectations and behaviors that would cause the child to lose their parents’ financial support before they send their children to college?

Photo by Matija Barrett

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